Child and family development student puts learning into practice to help create a thriving community for youth

Contact: Chris Hybels

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Carly Smith, a student in Western Michigan University's child and family development program, is putting learning into practice at her internship with the Kalamazoo Youth Development (KYD) Network. This after-school care program is an organization that uses data-driven models to partner with out-of-school programs, creating a thriving community for youth. The skill and hands-on learning gained from faculty and courses at Western have prepared Smith to be effective in after-school care programs.  

Carly Smith introducing the circle of control activity.

At her internship, Smith facilitates small group social-emotional learning sessions using the curriculum from the WhyTry Program. The curriculum provides simple, hands-on solutions for dropout prevention, violence prevention, truancy reduction and increased academic success. It is used to teach students social and emotional concepts in the form of engaging lessons that they can absorb and understand.

One of the places she uses the WhyTry curriculum is at Eastside Youth Strong’s after-school program, which is a part of the Eastside Neighborhood Association in Kalamazoo. She visits the program weekly and leads students in different activities, like the circle of control.

“The circle of control is important for youth to understand what things are inside of their control and outside of their control when growing up,” explained Smith. “So, we had them trace their hand, and inside of their hand they would write things in their control and outside are things out of their control. It is important for them to understand things you’re able to fix and not able to fix at all.”

Once she graduates, she plans to continue her education at Eastern Michigan University as a part of their school counseling master's program. Once she completes the program, she wants to pursue a career as a school counselor and help contribute to the growth and success of students.  

To learn more about Carly and her internship at KYD Network visit her testimonial page.

ABOUT  child development and services at wmu

The family science and human development: child development (formerly child and family development) and services concentration prepares individuals to work with children, and their families, in a range of care and service settings. This concentration centers on the development of children, birth through school age, and the cultivation of skills, environments, and programs that promote healthy child development and outcomes. Interpersonal relationships and communications; diverse family systems; parent education; family law and policy; and professional ethics and competencies are emphasized. For more information about the concentration, visit the program overview page.