Product Review - Vstreet.com
While looking through my SocialLearning.com catalog I came across a listing for an online service they provide called
Vstreet.com. It is advertised as a web site for life skills training. It is certainly that (It has several full length curriculums as well as many stories and short animations that teach life skills. But it is also an online community that includes E-mail, chat, bulletin boards and a private journal.
I became interested in it because I have worked at facilities that don't have a strong independent living/life skill training programs and I am always looking for something I can do on my own if I have to. I paid the $24 for a one year subscription for the individual account and was immediately impressed with everything it had (though I recommend the organization account when possible). There are six online training courses that cover several subjects to include: Apartment Hunting, Buying a car, Private Lives (Course on HIV & STDs), Career Spins, Options to Anger and Take this job and keep it. (Options to Anger and Take this job and keep it are meant to supplement the courses and workbooks sold by SocialLearning.com by the same name, but provides a good deal of information as they are.)
NOTICE: the course - Options to Anger - contains raw language (Profanity). It is designed to reach teens in the language many are familiar with and which they use on the street with their friends. I viewed it and will be honest that the language made me uncomfortable but the information presented was very good and I realize that the children we care for are much more comfortable with that language and it is one way to present them with information they need.
My favorite feature of Vstreet.com is the Getting Ready eZines. Each eZine contains stories written by the children about life skills subjects, simple teen friendly recipes, and short animations on life skill subjects. I just counted and there are currently 22 different issues, which on their own would provide several hours worth of information.
The other thing I liked as a staff member was being able to view the poetry and art (submitted by the youth) sections as well as the forum. These areas gave me insight into the various issues these teens are facing in society and their perspective.
For agencies that are looking for a life skills training resource I recommend calling the 800 number and getting an agency subscription even if you are a small organization. With the agency subscription you get the administrators office which can be used to set up an organizational e-mail system, bulletin board, chat and calendar. You are also able to view the log-in habits of the youth in your organization as well as their progress in completing courses. You can start with only a few subscriptions and add more as needed. I spoke with Susan Larson with North West Media (The company that created Vstreet.com) and she was very helpful guiding me through the site and explaining it's features. She is also the one that sets up the organizational accounts.
I don't really have room to cover all the features here but you can get more information by going to www.vstreet.com and taking the online tour or calling them at 800.777.6636.
I receive no compensation for recommending this service, I simply see it as a useful resource, especially for agencies that currently don't have or have a limited life skills training program. I think it is a good starting point.
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