The InterAction Collection

"Youth Lenses"

Viewing young people from a different perspective

Jan 12, 2021

Joe Chan

Reviewed by Tara Gretton

“Be inspired by him”

A first for Asia and a first for me! My first experience of an interactive book! On one of my favourite topics, young people! It was a wonderful experience, that I am excited to tell you about!

Joe Chan and I have never met; however, we connect on social media and I often watch Joe with admiration as he takes on the most exhilarating physical challenges, all in the name of his work with young people in Singapore! We also have a shared passion for work with young people. So, I was particularly interested to read his book. 

Joe describes: “the birth and inspiration of the book is a desire and hope to see how I can impact more people out there as they interact with young people regularly”. 

Joe has a background in social work, is trained in the Solution Focus (SF) approach and talks candidly about his turbulent adolescence as well as his young experience of youth mentoring. It was Joe’s major in social work that kicked off his ‘inspirational journey of working with young people and their families’.

 As I have said, I have not met Joe; however, as you start to read his book, you begin to get a true sense of who he is, and you can’t help but like and be inspired by him. Joe’s passions jump out from the text, images and videos. He also demonstrates such gratitude for everyone in his life; his mentors, family and all the young people with whom he has worked. All of this gives real context and meaning to how Joe developed this book.

In making his book interactive, Joe’s has made it inspiring! It’s like opening up a box of delights. In doing this, he has realised his hope of making it as accessible as possible for all. 

“A short, captivating read”

The book is a short, captivating read, filled with thoughtful graphics, images, enlarged text and the piece de resistance (which I thoroughly enjoyed), Joe’s unique QR codes which you access with your phone camera. When you do, Joe whisks you off to Singapore for his 90-second video clips. In these, he highlights his key content for each chapter, with even more graphics to further highlight his useful points about how readers can interact differently with young people.

There are six chapters in the book titled as follow:

  1. How we view problems
  2. How we view solutions
  3. A state of curiosity
  4. Using our creativity
  5. Taking small steps
  6. Closing thoughts.

Each chapter invites the reader to participate in a journey through how the SF approach works when working directly with young people. It asks them not only to read about and explore what Joe suggests but also to interact with the book and to try things out throughout it. Joe invites the reader to take a step back, to breathe; to notice and to truly consider how they can interact in a genuinely meaningful and enabling way with young people. 

“The interactional view of Solution Focus” 

Joe also highlights to the reader the interactional view of SF within this book, underscoring its importance, i.e. that they should focus on interacting with young people, rather than focus on ‘what is wrong inside a young person’. I love this! This interactional view is paramount, and it is beneficial when Joe invites readers to experience and experiment with this as well as read about it. 

“Make the young people most visible”

Something that Joe also does throughout the book, which resonated with me and in my view is integral in our work with young people, is to make the young people most visible throughout; “Seeing life from the individual young person’s perspective”. Joe invites the reader to learn and understand the magic of the SF approach and asks them to notice how important, wise, resourceful and inspiring young people are.  Several quotes highlight this, such as – 

  • “Learn to pay close attention to what young people bring along!”
  • “Give space for young people to decide, express and apply their thoughts.”
  • “Taking time to identify, acknowledge and affirm what is positively present.”

“See young people as experts in their own lives”

I also think the way Joe highlights and invites the reader to notice how they can view solutions differently, is clear, to the point and empowering for the reader, and also for the young people with whom they will work. It truly inspires them to see young people as experts in their own lives, by having the reader adopt a mindset of:

  1. ‘Not our solutions’
  2. ‘Not the fixer of problems’ 
  3. ‘Build a collaborative mindset’. 

There are so many excerpts that I could share that highlight what Joe invites those who work with young people to notice! Joe’s words are clear, succinct and inviting, which shows great humility and modesty. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed Joe’s book”

I think it’s clear to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Joe’s book! I highly recommend it to anyone working with children and young people in schools and the community!

Video share

You can watch one of Joe’s videos here.

Joe Chan
Joe Chan
InterAction Contributor
SFiO Contributor

Joe works and collaborates with government agencies, community grassroots organisations, schools, other social service agencies and the corporate sector to bring about changes in people’s lives. He is a Certified Professional Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation and also a Registered Social Worker (RSW) with the Singapore Association of Social Workers.

Tara Gretton
Tara Gretton
InterAction Contributor
SFiO Contributor

Tara Gretton is the founder of ‘Solution Revolution’, is an accredited Solution Focus practitioner, consultant, trainer and social worker. Tara has extensive experience of using the Solution Focus approach with children, young people and their families across Bath, Bristol and Wiltshire in schools and in the community supporting them to achieve their best hopes.