About the Book

Special Events for Youth Programs is a collection of creative activities and games for youth, targeting groups as small as eight or as large as 300. Based on tried and true program launches by Danielle Fabela and her colleagues, they are sure to be a hit while, at the same time, nurturing social skills and promoting character development.

Collectively, this repertoire of activities can contribute, in rich ways, to program planning by educational and recreational professionals – from residential and day camp staff to after-school providers, teachers at all levels (from preschool through high school), special education instructors, and directors of private, public, and non-profit agencies.

The premise that inspired this collection is that character development can be accelerated when interwoven with fun-filled activities. Thus, the book is intended as a tool and potentially powerful catalyst for so much, to:

:: Enhance self-esteem
:: Build team skills
:: Stimulate creativity
:: Inspire educational activities
:: Foster mutual respect
:: Expand communication abilities
:: Deepen camaraderie
:: Nurture a sense of endless possibilities

All of this unfolds in the context of activities that induce laughter and imagination. They are a vehicle for elementary school children to develop in ways that otherwise might not come till later.For teenagers, they offer a cornucopia of pleasures that evoke the playful abandonment of younger days. They also bestow the thrills of team competition, in refreshing new ways that contrast with traditional sports.

Whether kids are gathered around a campfire in a mountain wilderness or in a school yard within a congested city, these activities offer endless forms of delight while “sneaking in” strategies to nurture inner growth and cognitive skills. Disguises, treasure hunts, inventions, puppetry, transport back to the Gold Rush, the Wild West, and the era of dashing pirates – all of this and more come into play, literally.

In the process of developing and collecting these activities, Fabela observed how children and teenagers “came into their own.” If withdrawn, sullen, stubborn, unmotivated, or disruptive in the classroom, once they got onto the “playing field” of these events, much and sometimes everything seemed to change. Transformation is not too strong a word, in some cases.

The sullen teenager became cheerful, often vivacious. The stubborn child revealed a different side: eager to try new things.The unmotivated kid was inspired to stretch his/her capacities. The disruptive or aggressive young person showed himself/herself to have great potential for compatibility and agile team work.

Much can unfold through this wealth of activities that is startling, exciting, and inspiring for professionals serving youth. The boy who seemed impassive and bored in the classroom expressed, through these activities, a huge capacity for joy. The girl who was shy to a crippling extent showed her expressive side, like never before.

And so Fabela was inspired to offer this unique assemblage, put together with passion. She hopes you will take as much pleasure in implementing the activities as she did in envisioning them.

Jenny Lenore Rosenbaum
San Francisco, California, March 2007

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