KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Students in the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tennessee Valley’s YouthForce program are using their creativity to find solutions to problems. 

Paula Penson teaches a LEGO problem-solving class to high school students enrolled in YouthForce University. The intensive soft skills training program for teens is part of the programming at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. 

“The biggest opportunity that we have is to be able to get to know kids, to get to know high school students, and be able to teach them how important it is to have those workforce development skills to then go on and do big things in life,” said Xavier Bridges, the assistant director of YouthForce. 

Penson uses LEGO blocks because it requires kids to think about how the pieces fit together and teaches problem-solving skills, teamwork, communication, and conflict resolution. 

“The first time, through this LEGO activity, they are supposed to fail. They are given materials that are not suitable for success. They are told that they can’t talk, they are told that they cannot move and sit in certain places. They have to sit exactly where she wants them to sit,” said Bridges. 

Students follow a diagram to reproduce a specific design. In this case, five airplanes in ten minutes. Bridges said by the second try the groups usually succeed and they also learn a valuable lesson. 

“They would see doctors, they’d see lawyers, they’d see welders, they’d see nurses, they’d see all these people in these places, but they wouldn’t see how to get there. They wouldn’t understand how to get there, and I feel like the YouthForce program does a really good job of showing them how to get there and how realistic it is for them,” said Bridges. 

Students interested in applying for the YouthForce program need to fill out an application. Visit to find more information.