APPy Hour for Teens, by Angela Reynolds
Appetizers and iPads, what could be more fun? In our small town, the teens who attended the APPy Hour program would say, “Not MUCH!”
APPy Hour was born from an idea that the local RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties for those non-Canadian readers) brought to me. After a much-publicized online bullying incident that resulted in a tragic suicide, Nova Scotians were shocked into getting behind the idea of pro-active lessons for teens. We decided to start them off right when they are young, before they even think about doing something thoughtless and hurtful. So we put together a program that would be fun but also had a learning component.
We started APPy Hour with an ice-breaker, then had teens team up in pairs to do Crazy Hair makeovers with the Crazy Hair app. Then a quick demo of an app called BSafe, which makes a very loud alarm and can send a GPS location text to pre-set “guardians.” One boy downloaded the app immediately when reminded that his parents might let him be out a bit later if he could prove he knew how to be safe! Then we set out the appetizers, and while we chowed down on garlic fingers and rolled tortillas & cream cheese, the teens took turns playing songs from their iPods.
Next up: Time for the serious stuff—the RCMP officer gave a flashy 10 minute presentation about online safety, texting, and gaming which lead to a very interesting discussion and the handing out of “Bags of Awesome,” which were grab-bags from the RCMP officer. These 12, 13, and 14 year olds were either really thinking about this stuff, or they knew how to answer the questions Just Right (interestingly, none of them had phones yet, but they all had iPods, tablets, or computers).
Our next activity was iPads. I have 6 iPad minis loaded with apps for teens & kids. They got to test out new apps, play new games, and generally mess about with the iPads. I had to set a timer to let them know when we were going to put them away, because they really wanted to keep going. Best comment, from a 13 year old boy: “You should do this every week. No, wait, Every DAY!” Kid, if I had unlimited resources, I would. I would have staff and iPads to do this every day. But the real world limits me, so I am thinking of planning a monthly fall program where I partner with a local restaurant to bring in the fixings to teach them how to make an easy, healthy appetizer, then they can spend the rest of the time with the iPads. Easy-peasy, and they even asked for it. I get to model some fun apps that they may not have heard of (Angry Birds is NOT on my iPads), and they get to hang out and do what they enjoy doing. And I might even be able to entice them into a book now and then.Angela Reynolds
Head of Youth Services
Annapolis Valley Regional Library