Monday, September 28, 2015

Color Blind or Color Brave?

Today, I watched a TedTalk by Mellody Hobson called "Color Blind or Color Brave?" that talks about how being open about race can bring our society to greater places. Towards the end of Mellody's introduction, she said "The first step to every problem.." and I automatically replied "is admitting you have one," since that is how I have viewed my issues almost my entire life, but she used the words "to not hide from it" and "awareness." It reminded me of our discussion in class this past Thursday about how important wording is and how it can change the mood or reaction to something you read or hear.

 I can not personally relate to the experiences that Mellody shares with us in her talk, but I can say there have been times where I felt invisible or like I didn't belong. In totally honesty, the tweet that I have shared below is something that I can easily agree with. However, I do believe that there are times when people say things with positive intentions, but not in a way that seems positive. I know that for me, I am sometimes afraid to say what I am thinking because I am not confident enough in the terminology of the topic.

For instance, I took a Sex and Gender class for my Core Four General Education requirement, and we learned about the word "hermaphrodite." I had never heard this word a day in my life, and there was a boy in the class that raised his hand and shared with the class that he found this word to be extremely offensive, and in this, I openly learned about this offensive word when sharing it with a group I am in at Rhode Island College. I shared that the boy to offense to the word, and my advisors kindly told me it was an offensive word and to not say it so casually. I felt really bad and apologized, followed by explaining that I had never heard the word prior to the class. I was told that my response to being apologetic but open about the topic was honest and brave. With this being said, just hearing someone say these words to me was really helpful. If I am open and honest about my thoughts and ideas, perhaps it will make it easier for me to learn.

This is similar to Mellody talking about making new friends or interacting with people that aren't like you in challenging your assumptions and developing new insights. You take what you want to take to become who you are, and in that, you accept everyone else as they are to make for a better environment. When my advisors of the group told me about how great my response was, I took it to heart, and I am hoping this strength will grow in the field of youth development as I learn new values and take on new experiences. It was a little embarrassing at first, but I knew in my heart that I wasn't doing any harm, and that I was simply learning.
[ C O U R A G E ]

Mellody reminds us that we live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and it is our job to be good ROLE MODELS (YMCA!) for our future youth. "If we can learn to deal with our discomfort and just relax into it, we'll have a better life," (Mellody Hobson). Although this can be extremely difficult for some individuals, including myself, it is important to show this courage to our future youth by providing them with a positive attitude that will help them be open to other people's thoughts and ideas and more accepting of their own. Having a space where youth can talk about their experiences, have a voice, and be confident in themselves, similar to Youth in Action, we give youth the chance to feel like they can accomplish anything, similar to what Mellody's mom did for her, and what my advisors did for me, to make us not feel incapable or invisible.

"I stand here today talking about this issue of
racial discrimination because I believe it threatens
to rob another generation of all of the opportunities
that all of us want for all of our children
no matter what their color or where they come from."
-- Mellody Hobson

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Positive Youth Development.

Today, I did a Youth Development Ideology Inventory. It is a quiz that helps you see what type of Youth Development you identify with. There were three types that were listed: Risk, Resiliency, and Prevention, Positive Youth Development, and Critical Youth Development.
This is not the first time I have taken this quiz. During the first few parts, I was beginning to lean towards Critical Youth Development, and I wondered, "Have I really changed that much since last semester?" but then I ended with the result of Positive Youth Development, which is the result I got the last time I took this quiz. There were six parts to this Inventory. Although I did not score a "1" on all of the parts that were listed, and without giving too much away in case you would like to take the quiz for yourself, I find myself nodding my head and feeling passionate about a few of the statements in the inventory that matched with Positive Youth Development.
In a nutshell, Positive Youth Development wants youth to "build upon their 'developmental assests'" by discovering and accepting who they are and they believe through activities, opportunities, and experiences that allow them to "make meaning" in their own way and being fully aware of what they have to offer. Two of the statements that really struck out to me were Childhood and Evaluation. For Childhood, it stated that, "Childhood is essentially a time when youth unfold according to their own innate natures, felt needs, organic impulses, and internal timetables. The focus is on youth as they are during childhood rather than as they might be as adults." This statement is everything I could ever imagine when working with youth. When I would work with my campers at the South County YMCA, I focused on who they were at that exact moment, and what could potentially make someone their age act they way were, positive or negative. Every child is different, therefore everything they do is not exactly the same as others.
For evaluation, it spoke about continuously finding new ways to shape youth's environment based on their needs and growth. This truly spoke to me because gradually changing an activity, a lesson plan, or how you approach a situation can all depend on what group you are working with. Having your learning environment grow with your youth sounds nothing more than productive, useful, and beneficial as the environment change alongside with its youth.
After taking this quiz, I realized that no two people will have the same results. Although I identified with Positive Youth Development, there are statements I agreed most with that did not fall under that category, making my outlook on Youth Development one of a kind and unique from the forms of others.

Link to the Quiz!
What Type of Youth Development Do You Identify With?!
Youth Development Ideology Inventory

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In a World Where Youth Hold the Power.

In my experience so far with Youth Development, I have seen and heard of a variety of different organizations that help youth or lead youth in the right direction, but I have yet to hear of an organization where the youth help and the youth lead. Adeola A. Oredola, the Executive Director of Youth in Action in Providence, Rhode Island, gives readers a strong glimpse of what the organization is and what it has to offer through her words, and the words of her fellow members of this great organization. Located in a city that holds the college I attend that is not far from home, it is amazing to hear that they want youth to "take the lead" to fix problems in their city including community health, the justice system, public transportation, and education. These are all things I have experienced for myself, some more than others, and knowing that this organization is letting youth take these matters into their hands is incredible. From raising money to build the youth center to having a voice in decision making, the youth of Providence have a voice that echoes throughout the entire city, and will only get louder as more youth join their team.

"I believe it’s critical for young people
to be at the center of change in every community
if we’re ever going to see that better world
we all know is possible," -- Adeola A. Oredola

 Youth in Action has created a space for youth to feel like they have can be themselves and have a voice that is heard. This is followed by some key elements that Oredola and other Youth in Action members have created as a result of what they think Youth in Action represents and provides for their community.
  1. A New Definition of Youth. Labeling youth with specific stereotypes, thinking they don't have a say in current events, and not recognizing that your fellow youth can make a difference are all things that Youth in Action strive to show their community are false. Youth in Action is a place that gives youth the satisfaction and feeling of making a difference and having a voice. Negative behavior is present in this city, but if the positive behavior is recognized, it will grow and change the city for the better.
  2. Youth and Adults are Growing Together. My fellow classmates and advisors are familiar with this statement and I know that for me, it holds a special place in my heart. The concept of "youth workers and youth learn from each other" needs to be implemented in all environments and to expand this way of looking at any aspect of learning could improve schools, families, communities, etc.
  3. A Practice of Disagreement. To agree to disagree truly plays a huge role in every day life. Recognizing that others will not only look at things differently from you and/or others will not only help you understand and accept the opinions, thoughts, and ideas of others, but perhaps you will discover something new or look at something differently in a way you never thought of before.
  4. Learning and Speaking Truth. In this section a fellow YIA youth member spoke a great deal about the importance of numbers. He talked about how he felt about a particular topic in school, and how once he brought his opinions about the topic to others, they were able to approach the teacher and made the teacher realize their concerns. This is VERY similar when John Smith and Pocahontas wanted their voices to be heard, but they had to say something first!  The moral of the story is to always speak your mind; you never know who else is thinking the same things you are!
    5. That Better World. It's amazing what positive support can do for our youth!! With these concepts in mind, anything can be possible. If we practice this outlook of life, it can spread to not only other youth and other communities, but to other generations to come.

Some students from Youth in Action.
Picture on PVD Teachers.

Access to the article by Adeola A. Oredola: In a World Where Youth Hold the Power
Youth in Action's Website:

Monday, September 14, 2015

What is Youth Work?

  1. Youth Work is an Educational Practice.
  2. Youth Work is a Social Practice.
  3. Youth Workers Actively Challenge Inequality and Work Towards Social Justice.
  4. Youth Works Work in a Variety of Different Settings.
  5. Youth Work Seeks to Strengthen the Voice and Influence of Young People.
  6. Youth Work is a Welfare Practice.
  7. Youth Work Works with Young People "Holistically."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015