By Josh Ko, Youth Workforce Development Manager
BATS Improv team has operated as one of the top and longest-running improv schools in the Bay Area since 1986. Personally, I have always loved to watch improv comedy, and one of the transformational experiences of my college life was taking a course on improvisational leadership. I was excited to have our Youth Council, a year-long leadership development program for our young people, get to play and learn from them.
During Youth Council, I lead youth through conversations centered on personal and professional development and how they always work in tandem. We’ve moved from fun leadership games and activities to actively creating and pursuing projects to educate other young people about what they’ve learned at Enterprise for Youth. In an increasingly digital world, it takes extra dedication and intentionality to create a connection. Our young people have put in so much work and time to get to know each other outside of meetings, leaving their cameras on to see each other’s faces, and supporting everyone in the chat. Being able to take leadership and ownership during this difficult time is not easy, and being able to play and laugh with the BATS Improv team was a pure delight.
Through each game led by BATS Improv, there was a big emphasis on being able to embrace choices we thought were mistakes. People supported and applauded fun dramatic ideas that their peers came up with. Afterwards, I asked Youth Councilors what their takeaways were, and what to bring back to future workshops and projects. Their answers were profound. So much of leadership and improvisation is about learning to speak up and show up, coming into one’s own and building off of other people’s ideas. Youth connected games to learning how to grow more confident in professional settings. One youth wrote, “It’s so important to be vocal in teams like Youth Council, because when we aren’t, we miss out on good ideas, perspectives, and connections.” Another young person chimed in to say, “This program helped me to know that there will always be someone to support me and create a community. It’s alright to get out of your comfort zone and make bold choices and connections.”
Thank you to BATS Improv for crafting such a fun and meaningful workshop for our youth!