The US Play Coalition is pleased to partner with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute for their annual Youth Development Practitioner Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services. The YLI award winner will be honored during the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play.
According to Stephen Lance, Executive Director of Youth Learning Institute, “There are many deserving practitioners across the nation and our goal is to bring recognition to this field of service.”
The 2020 YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award recipient is Jessica Hentoff, artistic/executive director of Circus Harmony in St. Louis. Jessica has been teaching and performing circus arts for over 40 years, using circus arts to motivate social change. It is both an arts education and a youth development organization. They believe that circus teaches the art of life- while children are learning circus arts, they are also learning life skills like focus, persistence, teamwork.
Jessica’s remarkable vision and use of circus arts to build character and community has brought about ground-breaking and bridge-building programs such as Circus Salaam Shalom, which brought together Jewish and Muslim children, Far East Meets Midwest, which combined Asian and Midwestern arts and artists and Peace Through Pyramids, which has brought together young people from around the world. These trademarks of Circus Harmony are the embodiment of the organization’s mission to help children “defy gravity, soar with confidence, and leap over social barriers, all at the same time.”
The 2021 YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award winner will receive a physical award, social media coverage and free full conference registration for the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play*. Given that we are virtual this year, our 2021 Award Winner will ALSO receive free conference registration for our in-person 2022 Play Conference! (Travel, lodging and other fees not included.)
*Note that registration fees will be refunded if the winner is already registered.
Deadline for 2021 YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award nominations is 12:00pm (noon) EST on March 26.
2021 Youth Development Practitioner Award Application Process
To recognize outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.
Must have operated a youth development program or service within the United States for at least 10 or more years.
Applicants should show evidence of as many of met criteria in their submitted statement.
- Accomplishments serve as an example for other youth serving programs.
- Program/service demonstrates best practices and a nurturing culture that supports inclusivity and human resilience.
- Outreach efforts promote youth development programs and encourage support and participation from the community at-large.
- Equips young people to lead and serve, through direct work with youth and by training other practitioners.
- Demonstrates positive impact on lives of young people and leads by example.
- Demonstrates high level of leadership, professionalism and integrity in the field of youth development.
- Strengthens the field of youth work by providing quality training opportunities for youth workers to maximize their investment in young people.
- Focuses on attempts to improve the quality of youth services by providing training standards and improving program function.
- Shares best practices with other youth practitioners or serves as a liaison in the community to create a network of participation and sharing of ideas/knowledge.
- Program/service demonstrates exceptional commitment to public service and/or educational leadership.
Deadline for 2021 nominations is 12:00pm (noon) EST on March 26. If you have any questions, please contact contact Melanie Hammack at firstname.lastname@example.org.