What does it mean to thrive?

The Best Starts for Kids initiative is designed to ensure that all young people in King County are happy, healthy, safe, and thriving. In the Out-of-School Time strategy, SOWA partners with organizations providing afterschool and summer programming to elementary and middle school age youth. Supporting youth to thrive is what the youth development field is all about—no matter the circumstances. 

Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) seamlessly converted their English-language literacy program to a virtual model. Newly-arrived youth receive individualized instruction online with tailored support from tutors, helping them  navigate the  challenges of learning a new language and a new culture. In 1-on-1 tutoring sessions, youth become more confident in their English skills and ability to communicate while building caring relationships with staff.

Engaging the adults in their students’ lives is a key element in CISC’s approach to supporting young people CISC regularly hosts information sessions for parents to better navigate the public school system and partners with district and school staff to ensure that the needs of Chinese Americans are met in culturally responsive ways.

Lin’s story is just one example of how CISC helps youth thrive:

“Initially, Lin was very shy. She barely spoke a word, neither in her first language nor in English. The Reading Specialist always encouraged her to identify her current feelings by asking her to label them and by helping her become self-aware of different emotions. The Reading Specialist introduced a range of conversation topics in their sessions and invited Lin to express her views. Later, she felt more comfortable responding to the Reading Specialist’s open-ended questions and typing more in the chat. During the last week of reading sessions, the Reading Specialist helped Lin set her summer reading goals. As she was willing to open up to the RS more, she told the Reading Specialist her biggest struggles and concerns. She always wanted to learn more new words so that she could talk more fluently.

Her English pronunciation made her very self-conscious. Her sharing deeply touched the RS as she shared similar struggles as Lin when she was a little girl. The Reading Specialist expressed her empathy and provided emotional coaching for Lin. As teachers, when the Reading Specialist becomes a better listener and supporter, her students become better learners.”

Thriving is in its purest form a connection to hope, wonder, and possibility. For immigrant youth especially, it means having access to culturally-relevant spaces, programs, and mentors. With their responsiveness, dedication, and focus on relationships between all members of their students’ lives, CISC shows that thriving communities inherently center on supporting kids to thrive.