During our virtual Learn & Earn program this summer, part of our Career Works program, many youth got the chance to develop the power skills (a.k.a. “soft skills”) necessary for working in a team, including collaboration, communication, presentation, problem solving, resilience, patience, and self-efficacy. One hands-on method for teaching these skills is through LUMA Human Centered Design methods. LUMA (Looking, Understanding, and Making) Human Centered Design methods are tools to help groups work together to find innovative solutions to problems. You can learn more by watching this short video

After learning these LUMA methods and learning how they can become designers, youth were divided into teams and given the opportunity to use LUMA Human Centered Design methods to answer the question, “How might we make a positive change in our community, our school, or the Boys & Girls Club?”

Through a guided project-based learning (PBL) process, youth first observed a problem and worked together to identify a project topic. Then, youth did research for further understanding of the problem. Finally, youth were given time to create and ideate a collaborative solution for their chosen topic. 

Here’s a look at how the groups from Ms. Emily Donato’s cohort took this process and proposed solutions worth celebrating! 

Youth-Organized Protest








Image: Storyboard Design Method for Youth-Organized Protest

This group discussed the benefits of grassroots organized protests in black communities and the impact on racism and police brutality. The group developed a step by step approach to a youth organized protest, including: location and coordination, advertising and involving the media, and collaborating with community leaders and special presenters, arguing that peaceful demonstrations such as these can make communities safer by decreasing violence and hatred. 

To view this group’s slideshow, click here.

School During COVID-19








Image: Storyboard Design Method for School During Covid-19

This group highlighted the importance of students having their opinions taken into consideration when decisions are made regarding their learning. The group devised a survey to collect their peers’ opinions on the best course of action for opening schools during COVID-19, the findings of which they planned to report to the school board. The project emphasized that students should have a say in their learning and safety. 

To view this group’s live presentation, click here.

Discipline in Public High Schools








Image: LUMA Design Problem Statement for Discipline in Public High Schools

This group examined discipline strategies in public high schools. Through their efforts they discovered restorative justice, which they decided to implement in place of punitive practices such as suspension and expulsion. As high school students themselves, the group felt that restorative justice practices would be a better method for addressing the root causes of the violence. 

To view this group’s slideshow, click here








Image: Ms. Emily’s Project-Based Learning Cohort

The group process is based on project-based learning, which is a dynamic approach to learning that creates deeper connections using hands-on, real-world ideas that feel more relevant to learners. The approach not only encourages youth to develop the power skills previously discussed, it shows both learners and instructors that youth are capable of amazing work that can have a true impact on our world. Enysah R., a Learn & Earn 2020 participant, reflected on her group LUMA project: “Something that I liked about the group LUMA project…was that I got to share ideas with my group members and also listen to their different ideas. Listening to them gave me a deeper understanding of what needs to be changed. I liked how we had to focus on a particular subject and research how we can find the solution. This was a fun way to learn and also interact with people that I didn’t know too well.” 

By providing learners with tools to develop useful skills for inside the classroom or the workplace, project-based learning gives youth a meaningful outlet to provide their input as part of a greater collaborative process that can be the catalyst for true change in their lives. When youth can see the way they can impact things that are important to them, their families, and their communities, they build confidence in their ability to have a meaningful impact on the world. Because PBL and LUMA methods encourage youth to do great things every day, these methods will continue to be vital instructional techniques for all of BGCWPA Career Works participants. This is just one way that at Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania, we ensure every youth can build a great future. 

Blog post by:  Emily Donato, Manager of Career Development Programs