“It really makes me feel like I can do something and be someone.”
Y.E.T. participant in Lancaster, Ohio
How Y.E.T. Began
A Boys’ Clubs of America official heard Dr. Gordon give a speech in Washington, D.C. in the early 1970’s and had the idea of teaching the P.E.T. skills to youth. As a result, Gordon Training International (GTI) was awarded a contract by the Boys’ Clubs of America and asked to provide a course for “junior staffers” –teenagers the clubs hired to help their professional staff with the members who were kids from ages 6-12. “Junior Staffers” were usually neighborhood teenagers who had demonstrated leadership among their peers, but who were not all that excited about school.
Jane Murphy, a P.E.T. Instructor in Pasadena, California, who had experience in teaching the Gordon skills to the children of her P.E.T. parents adapted the P.E.T. course for use by youth. The resulting Boys’ Club program, “Junior Staffer Effectiveness Training (J.S.E.T.)” was taught in 1974 in three states by specially qualified GTI Instructors. The next phase called for training the Executive Director and a staff member of each of 24 Boys’ Clubs throughout the U.S. so that club personnel could conduct this program themselves.
Because of its great success within the Boys’ Clubs, Dr. Gordon, Jean Hall, Y.E.T. Program Director, and Tony Zener re-designed the course to broaden its applicability to all youth and the course was named Youth Effectiveness Training (Y.E.T.).
Between 1978 and 1998, over 42,000 youth participated in Y.E.T. in the U.S. and an additional 19,000 took the course in other countries including Sweden, Finland, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Hungary, South Africa, The Netherlands and Madagascar. These courses were sponsored and funded by a wide variety of institutions including many public and parochial high schools, both as a life skills course and a peer leadership course during the school day and as an after school program; churches through summer camp programs, weekend retreats and Sunday School (the Lutheran Church both in the U.S. and in Finland was a major sponsor); social service agencies and the military. A number of P.E.T. Instructors in the US received ongoing funding to teach both P.E.T. and Y.E.T. through juvenile court systems. These courts chose Y.E.T. because it was an effective tool for reducing the incidence of juvenile disruptive behavior. It was seen as both preventive and correctional. In 1979, Baltimore, Maryland received funds to help high school dropouts make the difficult transition from the street world to the school and work world. As a part of that project, 2,300 dropouts, ages 16-21, participated in the Y.E.T. course. As one adolescent put it, “The only problem is that you shouldn’t have to drop out of school to get this Y.E.T. course.”
In 1991, Wilna Weeda, GTI’s Dutch Representative, and Bruno Savoyat, the French-Swiss Representative, created a project they called Youth for Peace. Their goal was to help European youth develop peace values through the use of the Gordon skills. This project took place in the summer of 1991, the beginning of the European Community (“the new Europe”).
Finland is the place where Y.E.T. (Nuisku!) has experienced by far more success than anywhere else in the world. It began there in 1981 when Steve Emmons, GTI Master Trainer, conducted a workshop for Swedish-speaking Finns. Because of Y.E.T.’s success in Sweden, a group of Swedish Instructors worked with a Swedish NGO, Folkhalsen, to make the course available in Finland, too. In 1982, Liisa Tuovinen, GTI’s Finnish Representative, officially launched the course in Finnish. Many Lutheran church youth workers were in that first workshop. In the 30 years since then, 30,000 youth have participated in Y.E.T. Terttu Staffans, Perti Salominen and most notably, Markus Talvio, were each very instrumental in getting Y.E.T. established, funded, accepted and taught through youth associations and schools throughout Finland. Since 1995, Nuorten Keskus has been responsible for Y.E.T. The European Union, the National Board of Education, the Ministry of Education, the Finnish Slot Machine Association, the Church Council and the Common Responsibility Campaign all have provided their financial support during the last two decades.
In 2010, GTI’s Chinese P.E.T. Representative let us know that she wanted to offer Y.E.T. in China. Because the course had not been taught in the U.S. for quite a long time and was very much out of date, we decided to revive it. That turned into a major rewrite which is now completed.
Y.E.T. will start up later this year in China. It has already begun in South Korea where 71 students have participated in the course at school. And the GTI Representatives in Poland and Lithuania will launch Y.E.T. later this year. In Lithuania, 10 schools will implement Y.E.T. along with P.E.T. and T.E.T. Our representative there said “the interest from institutions is absolutely stunning”.
We are very excited about Y.E.T. future around the world. What they have accomplished in Finland is a shining example for others to follow.
President and CEO, Gordon Training International
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