January rain splattered on the windows and clouds darkened the sky – a usual Vancouver day. Youth were slumped down on the couch fixed on the television screen as a youth worker thought of an unusual idea. They were going to make some three dimensional paper robot toys. One of the youth workers had experience building these toys when he was young and felt it would be a good opportunity to show the youth something unique.
Curious, several youth peeled away from the television and joined the youth worker who was teaching the youth all the intricate folds and cuts required to create the toy. For the rest of the evening, the youth busily worked on the craft, bright colors were applied to the designs as everyone exchanged life stories and experiences. As the activity came to a close, “Jimmy” propped up and asked the youth worker, “Hey, I know how to make these ninja stars out of paper – want to learn how to make them?”
Together, “Jimmy” and the youth worker built paper ninja stars. While the youth worker managed to teach Jimmy how to make toy robots, Jimmy patiently managed to teach the youth worker how to make paper ninja stars. As it turns out, the usual rainy day turned out to be a rather unusual exchange of experiences and a great way to build on relationships. To this day, the toy robot and ninja stars sit on a display, side by side – a lasting symbol of the relationship and exchange that embodies youth work every day.