One challenge for many OYA youth in turning away from their past behaviors is knowing what to do with their downtime, and how to stay out of trouble when they’re not at school or work.
As five Marion County youth learned this summer, finding positive activities they can share with their family and friends is key — even something as simple as gardening.
Led by several staff members from OYA’s Marion field office, the youth spent a day touring Guentner’s Gardens and Nursery in Salem. There, they learned about the business of running a nursery and did hands-on work transplanting blueberries from four-inch containers to gallon-sized pots.
In the process, tour leader Corie Potthoff with Guentner’s helped them connect the plants’ growth with their own development. Just like plants need nutrients to thrive, the youth need the right vitamins and nutrition. Plants need water and the right environment to stay healthy and grow; similarly, the youth need to find ways to nurture themselves back to good health.
At the end of the day, the youth took their transplanted blueberries home, where they could watch them grow and eat the fruits of their labor.
Ardell Bailey, youth services coordinator with OYA’s Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations, said the youth gave positive feedback at the end of the day and that the Marion office hopes to host more of these outings during future school breaks.
“These social outings allow the youth to think about new activities and give them access to something they may never have done before,” Bailey says. “We believe the involvement of youth in positive social activities serves the function of making them aware of and able to accept the social norms of society. This involvement will bring positive changes to the youth and consequently benefit society as a whole.”