Newest CROYA youth workers say they’re ‘big kids’
Kristen Skiston and Steve Creighton said being "big kids" themselves helps them succeed in their jobs as youth workers at CROYA. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 25, 2013 8:55AM
LAKE FOREST — CROYA, the Committee Representing Our Young Adults, welcomed Kristen Skiston to the staff in January.
Skiston joins Steve Creighton as a youth worker serving the teens in Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Knollwood. Creighton started his work with CROYA a year ago. The nonprofit group runs part of its programs at the Student Union, which is connected to the Lake Forest Recreation Center.
Q. What does the role of youth worker entail?
A. Kristen: I work with both high school and middle school students here, at the Student Union, after school and in the evening. I go to the schools, too.
Steve: I work primarily with the middle schools: Deer Path, Lake Bluff and a little bit with St. Mary’s and Lake Forest Country Day School. But I go to the high schools, too. We’re here as a support system for youth to provide a place where they can be themselves and be comfortable and unwind after school in a safe and comforting environment.
Q. What drew you to CROYA?
A. Kristen: I just graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in coaching and youth sports development and I also worked with park districts and have coached a lot of teams. That’s an aspect of the job where I can contribute a lot, once the weather gets better. I really like working with teens.
Steve: I taught elementary school in Santa Barbara, (Calif.), was a high school resident counselor and coach in St. Louis, (Mo.), did outdoor education in Michigan and was a hiking guide in Chile. This was an opportunity to work with teens in a very unique organization that is highly driven by the youth who come and take part in activities here.
Q. What type of personality do you think works best with teens?
A. Steve: I think of myself as a big kid. I think it’s essential for a job like this. If you can’t play yourself, it could be hard to engage with them in activities.
Kristen: I do think it’s essential to be a big kid yourself to bring the energy needed to do the job and to relate to kids.
Q. What makes CROYA unique?
A. Steve: It’s different in that the kids are really the engine, the driving force, for the organization. If we come to them with an idea and it’s something they’re not interested in, we scrap the idea or go in a different direction.
Kristen: I also like that CROYA is run by the kids. I have not seen an organization like that before. I wish I had a place I could go like this after school when I was younger and just be able to hang out and eat good snacks in a safe environment.
Q. What is your goal at CROYA?
A. Kristen: Right now, because I’m still so new, it’s to build relationships with the kids first and get my ideas out there. I’m getting to know them and what they like to do and don’t like to do.
Steve: For all of us, we work to develop relationships with the kids. As those relationships build, we’re then able to help youth recognize their needs and some of their challenges and help assist them in ways to cope in a healthy way and direct them to appropriate services.
Q. What do you do when you’re not working at CROYA?
A. Steve: I’m training for a marathon right now. I would like to get into triathlons over the summer. I love the outdoors, rock climbing, canoeing, hiking, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.
Kristen: I want to do a triathlon this summer. And I like doing everything outside, too. I really like snowboarding and I play soccer and swim a lot.