This week for "On the Ground Ypsi," Lisa Barry and Sarah Rigg talk with a 14-year old member of the Ypsilanti District Library Teen Advisory Group about a recent grant that allowed them to expand information being handed out to local teenagers.
Sarah Rigg's Feature Article: YDL's Teen Advisory Group wins $24,000 grant to expand teen subscription pack program
Lisa Barry: You're listening to Eighty Nine One WEMU, and this is "On the Ground Ypsi," a conversation about Concentrate Media's online story concerning something positive and impactful happening in the Ypsilanti area. I'm Lisa Barry and we're joined by On the Ground Ypsi project manager Sarah Rigg to talk about what she wrote about this week. Hi, Sarah.
Sarah Rigg: Hi, Lisa.
Lisa Barry: What are we reading about this week?
Sarah Rigg: So, this week, I wrote a story about the Ypsilanti District Library's Teen Advisory Group and a project they're doing called Teen Subscription Packs. And they got a big grant from Generator Z, so they can expand the program, create more packs, and add some other components to the program. I brought with me Ayesha Nadeem, who is one of the members of the Teen Advisory Group, which they call TAG.
Lisa Barry: Hi, Ayesha. Thanks for talking to us.
Aisha Nadine: Hi, thank you for having me. So my name is Aisha, I'm 14 years old, and I'm a rising sophomore at Central Academy and I've been part of TAG since last August
Lisa Barry: TAG. Team Advisory Group. Tell us about that.
Ayesha Nadeem: So, the Teen Advisory Group is basically a diverse group of students from all over Washtenaw County. We have bi-monthly meetings where we design library programs. We make presentations to other youth organizations and come up with creative ways to engage with the youth in our community.
Lisa Barry: How long have you been a member of this group?
Ayesha Nadeem: I've been part of this since last year in August.
Lisa Barry: And what is it like for you? What do you get out of being a member of this group?
Ayesha Nadeem: So, we get to, like, build really meaningful connections with people at the library. We learn collaboration skills, budgeting skills, marketing, grant writing skills and research skills.
Lisa Barry: Can I ask you how old you are?
Ayesha Nadeem: I'm 14, but I'll be turning 15 in October.
Lisa Barry: In October. So that's a pretty ambitious goal for someone of your age and a lot of awareness to know that there are benefits to these things that you're getting from this group membership.
Ayesha Nadeem: Yeah, I love every part of it.
Lisa Barry: And, Sarah, who else did you talk to you for the article? What else did you learn?
Sarah Rigg: So, I talked to two youth librarians. I talked to Jodi Krahnke and Kelly Scott, and they're both involved with the teens. Kelly was specifically involved in creating the teen subscription packs. And I also talked to another member of the teen advisory group. So, I got both the youth and the youth librarian perspectives on that. So we talked a little bit about, you know, what the teen advisory group is, what their role is, why they decided to do these teen subscription packs, how they helped participate in the grant writing process, to get the grant expand the program. These young people, as young as age 13, the group targets youth, age 13 to 18, are learning things like how to interview or hire somebody, how to write grants, things a lot of people don't learn until much later in life. I think it's pretty cool. Maybe Ayesha can tell you more about the idea behind the teen subscription packs and what comes in them.
Ayesha Nadeem: Yeah. So, based on the youth assessment survey that was done by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, we found it found that mental health and academic stress were the most pressing issues in teens. So because of this, we wanted to provide mental health support to local youth by offering free monthly subscription packs. These free packs are to better take care of yourself and to better understand issues within the global community. So, that's some of the contents of the pack include our staff, motivational bookmarks, activities related to the group, stickers, books. So, to give an example, our recently events have included a list of local, Black-owned businesses and Juneteenth events happening both locally and online. So, each month, we have something like food drives, that's trying something new and summer camps and make sure that all the parts are really nicely presented with materials and instructions that will help to unwind, follow their families, be motivated, feel a sense of community and pick up these skills. We follow up with podcast and book discussions. We started this project in January with a library's budget, and we provided packs to around, I think, 20 people the first month. But, from there, more teenes signed up and then we developed a waiting list. So we knew that people would look at and we had the demand. So, initially, I think we had only just the budget for like three hundred fifty dollars for support. But we knew that we needed more than that to provide the highest quality of material to more people. So knowing that mental health support is what we needed most, we wanted to distribute more packs each month. So we started exploring grants to receive funding.
Lisa Barry: Is it the Teen Advisory Group members who are picking out the materials that are part of these packs?
Ayesha Nadeem: Yes, we send everything to those that can get the packs and all the following events that go along with that month's teen.
Lisa Barry: Did I hear you say you also have a podcast?
Ayesha Nadeem: Yes. We have podcasts and book discussions.
Lisa Barry: Who participates in those?
Ayesha Nadeem: It's kind of open ended. The podcast is basically TAG members and then book discussions. Anyone is able to join. We really do have a few TAG members present to kind of lead the conversation, but it's really open ended. So anyone is allowed to join.
Lisa Barry: And this is all based in the Ypsilanti District Library.
Ayesha Nadeem: Yes.
Lisa Barry: And is there still a waiting list to get in to participate?
Ayesha Nadeem: Yeah, there's still a waiting list for the subscription pack.
Lisa Barry: But you've got this grant, so hopefully that will expand that. And I don't think I've ever heard of a pack, a library putting together a pack of information, and it sounds like inspiration for area teenagers. How common is that? And Sarah, what can you tell us that you will be sharing as part of your article to expand on that?
Sarah Rigg: Well, I think the district library does run more than post and all kinds of things. And I just heard this, too. They have science kits and things for home school. So this is sort of in line with things that the library has already done. But the thing that is cool about this project that it is so youth driven. The advisory team comes up with the themes, they come up with who they're going to apply to for grants, they put the package together. they marketed it, they put the podcast together themselves. They're also going to be hiring interns--other youth interns-- during the school year to help out with the podcast, facilitate these various book groups and other events, but also the fact that these young people are running the show is really a cool part of the project.
Lisa Barry: Aisha, what do you think is your favorite part about being a member of the Ypsilanti District Library Teen Advisory Group?
Ayesha Nadeem: I guess learning new skills because, with every project we do, there is a lot that goes with it. So we learn a lot of stuff about branding, marketing, outreach, research. And it's really interesting to see the behind the logistics that go with everything that we do.
Lisa Barry: Ayesha Nadeem and Sarah Rigg. Thanks to both of you for talking to us here on 89-1 WEMU.
Sarah Rigg: Thanks, Lisa!
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