Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This is Youth Work

To me,

Youth Work and Youth Development is about empowering youth to lead in their communities and world, making their voices matter and helping them to become the best versions of themselves.  For me, youth work is about helping marginalized youth who face extreme and mild cases of oppression in our world.  To think that a child has to feel like they do not belong makes it hard for me to sleep at night.  All I want is for every youth to feel empowered, and like their voices matter.  Oppressed youth are SOOOO much more than the stereotypes they are given.  They are passionate, strong, independent, hard-working, dedicated, mature, and so on.  I have worked with many youth in oppressed populations, and there is no better feeling than to lead with such powerful young individuals.  

The goal in doing youth work is making sure that your youth have all the resources, and guidance that they need to reach their goals.  I feel as a youth worker I am helping youth lay their foundation to build a beautiful life off of.  I want their foundation to be filled with hope, knowledge, strength, resilience, love, care, and make it unique to themselves.  I want to be a support system for youth, while giving them the major role of leading where I am there in the background the whole way.  Every individual youth has their own set of skills and abilities, so making individualized connections with youth is probably the most important part of the job.  You first need to connect with youth when trying to help them grow into the human that THEY want to be.

I am a youth worker to hopefully one day create change for my youth so that their oppression turns into opportunities, so that their doubts turn into hope, so that their goals turn into reality, and so that their hard work results in change.

I read the text This Is Youth Work, and I specifically chose to focus on chapter 3.  This chapter specifically spoke to me because it illustrates the oppression that exist in our society.  Many of the youth I work with have to experience this in their everyday lives, and can relate to the stories inside of this chapter.  Thinking about that breaks my heart, and knowing that it really happens makes me even more upset.  Why do children have to be treated like dangerous criminals when they're walking to their homes??? Why should a child be harassed and embarrassed by an individual whose supposed to protect them in their community??? And most of all why should a child of color have to try so much harder and face so much many difficulties to even grow the slightest bit? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


My ABSOLUTEEEE passion for Youth Work is working with youth on life and community skills.  Having them become actively involved in the politics, and family contexts of their community.  I feel it is just as, if not more, important to work on life skills with youth at any age.  School should not only be giving children an education, but actually talking about the reality of life outside of the text book.  I grew up in a community where I was involved in school politics, and knew about the changes and issues with my community that needed attention.  Families and youth in my community are always actively involved in it, and making sure that our community is being served correctly.  In inner-city areas, there can be a disconnect between the state and people.  So using the Youth to close that gap for the next generations is key to having those communities, and people in them, grow positively and become successful. 

After watching the videos on the Resilient Kids program, I feel completely aligned with their mission and vision.  They set out to teach important life skills inside of the classroom, which in turn lowered the bad behavior rates in school by 50%!  Giving youth the real tools and skills they need to be successful not only on a test or quiz, but in real life situations has worked about amazing for many of the schools that have implemented Resilient Kids in their classrooms.  I believe Resilient Kids should be mandatory for all schools across the nation.  I hope everyday as a future youth worker, that I can reach youth as effectively as Resilient Kids has. They are providing students with resilience to spring back into a positive place when they are in negative situations, and giving them tools to fight through the darkness to find (or make) the light. 

I hope to one day take this programs idea and push it even farther into fixing the actual system itself, so that the amount of negativity certain marginalized youth have to deal with is cut in half or completely ceased. 


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Event #2: Open House @ RIC

Open House @ RIC

Open House at RIC was an exciting event to attend! I truly enjoyed reaching out to the new incoming freshman, and explaining the Youth Development Program.  I recall being an incoming freshman and wondering where I fit in this large array of studies.  I tried fitting into Teaching, Psychology, and Criminal Justice; however, I never felt entirely comfortable with any of these choices.  I always wanted to help youth, but not in the same contexts' that I was finding.  I wanted to help youth with actual real issues that are brought on by life, and society.  

                            Majors I took:

Psychology, it viewed individuals as almost test rats; solely looking at science and not really hitting the points that I wanted to explore.  

                  Teaching offered education and help for youth more on the foundation that I wanted to work on, but still was missing the entire picture.  I did not want to focus on just strictly the multiplication tables and ABC's.  I wanted to critically think, explore, and grow in different ways that education missed.

                    Criminal Justice major was a major that I felt least aligned with.  It focused on punishment more than rehabilitation.  I found myself arguing in each class with the professors because their view was the opposite of mine. 

During this past Open House at RIC I was more than ecstatic to introduce my real passion, Youth Development.  I worked along side my classmates and professor, Lesley Bogad.  It was very powerful, and educational watching Lesley as she was leading with myself and my classmates on Saturday.  It was cool being the student and experiencing what it is like for the youth that I will be/do work with. I was provided with the tools from Lesley, and then was able to clearly and explicitly described the program and what it entails to many freshman, and their families.  With some families, the parents seemed skeptical of what Youth Development is, and would ask me questions surrounding the relevance and importance of Youth Development. I answered those questions with the passion I have for Youth, and illustrated what my classmates and I have done that has been successful in this field.  I soon turned skeptics into believers, and touched many hearts of the incoming RIC students.  I was so adamant about explaining this major thoroughly, and making sure that I reached those students, who were like myself, giving them a place where they can make a perfect fit.  

Youth Work is not for everyone, and not everyone can work with youth.  It takes a lot of passion, patience, understanding, open-mindfulness, and love to do what Youth Development Workers do.  We do not make enough money for what we do, and we may work ridiculous hours, or be in high tense situations.  But at the end of the day this job could not be more rewarding.  You are touching the lives and souls of so many youth; helping them grow into the best versions of themselves. I have never felt more at home than I do in Youth Development, and I hope I gave a home to some of the students this past Saturday. 

Event #1: Youth In Action Haunted House

I am currently an intern at Youth In Action in Providence.  Being an intern there has been one of the best experiences of my entire life.  I live the words of "work with youth", and I could not be happier.  

With this concept of work with that I have learned about in my classroom and at YIA, I was able to create a Haunted House on Friday, October 28th, 2016.  This was my first real experience of working with youth on a large project.  I have already learned so much from my mentor, Pegah, but it was such a different level of learning when I was actually doing the work.  The youth brought ideas of what they envisioned for this haunted house to me, and I was pretty much the glue to the project.  They had all the pieces, and I aided in putting those pieces together.  There was such an amazing collaboration between myself and the youth I was working with.  

The haunted house ended up being a ghost theme.  Lets just say I took that theme and ran with it! Within a week myself, youth, and some of my family members constructed a haunted house in the basement of YIA for the youth and families in YIA's community.  I had youth and other volunteers strategically placed throughout the spooky basement to scare the willing victims that went in.  We ended up having around 100 youth come through the haunted house that night.  People were very scared, and the project could not have had a better outcome.  

From this haunted house I have learned so much about working with youth and what it takes to do so.  

I needed a lot of patience, time, understanding, motivation, push, creativity, and thought for this project.  I had to be patient in working with youth, and really try and see things from their perspective.  I worked extremely hard in producing their vision of what they expected for the haunted house.  Some days the youth were absent from YIA, and other days they just had a bad day and I had to refrain from bombarding them with Haunted House discussions.  It was a learning experience, and also taught me how to work closely with certain types of youth, and certain types of personalities.  

I am just grateful that our vision came through, and that I was able to successfully work WITH youth!! 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Election Bull

This Years Election Bull

     As a non-proud member of the United States of America, I would like to display my discomfort, and issues I have with this years "election".  I feel like this election is a complete joke for starters.  The fact that we even have someone in office who has no skills for being president, and another person who has enough money to cover up her past, present, and future wrong doings makes me wonder who we even are as a country.  I tend to wonder if these rich adults (children) are taking the lives of others as seriously as myself and others I know.  This election is going to affect lives, but as to who it effects, and how negatively or positively depends, on who is in the office.  

I tend to sway more towards the democratic side, and in this election seem to agree more with Hilary than the other idiot.  However, this comes with much hesitation.  I feel completely uncomfortable and anxious about either candidate running our country.  I feel as though Hilary has lied about major major events, then to base your attacks against Trump, as being a liar, and bad person because of it is completely hypocritical.  I do not trust her in office, and I do not trust that she cares about others as much as she displays.  I have seen videos of her having young black activists being escorted out of her conferences, and now all of a sudden she is so into urban youth and helping those communities?  None of it adds up.  

As for the other disgusting/repulsive candidate, I believe he is just as bad as her, but in a blunt way.  He is the epitome of everything I fight against in my life and through my passion of social justice. He is the poster child for white supremacy and anti-blackness.   The only reason I want to vote is just so I know it will be one vote he does not receive, and one more vote that goes against him.

I feel well informed about both candidates negative impacts on our country.  I truly do not feel well informed about what they can/will positively do for America.  I have some major questions for this election, and the future of this country. I feel as though neither candidates can even understand/care to understand the lives of lower income families, and different populations that face harsh oppression.  Both come from a place of complete superiority, and supremacy.   

1. What will happen to the low sauce-economic population? Will they be helped, will more money leave the 1% and be sprinkled into the other 99% of Americans? 

2.Will there be an end to wage gap, and will either candidates fix the minimum wage to fit the cost of living?

3. Will Hillary prove herself to be not a liar, and actually follow through with all the reform and change she promises

4. Overall, How can either really help America be "great"? 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nakkula & Toshalis: Context Mapping

What is Context Mapping?

Context Mapping is a concept introduced to me by Nakkula & Toshalis in the reading Identity In Context, 2010. In the short story, the counselor Mitch requests that his youth, Julian, creates a context map. Mitch is asking Julian to write down all the various spaces, and relationships with (and) within those spaces that he comes in contact with each day.  This is because those spaces, and relationships inside them will provide information on who Julian is, and how these experiences have shaped him to be that way.

Here is my Context Map 

I personally weigh heavy on the nurture side in the whole nature vs. nurture debate.  I agree with Erikson and the ways in which he believes a persons identity is formed.  I believe that context tell a lot.  If someone is growing up in a low income home where food is not hot and ready on the dinner table every night, then why wouldn't that person steal for food?? I mean yes, they are committing a crime, but look at the context of where that person is, and the spaces and relationships that they face everyday. I truly believe there is a reason, and environmental influence for all behaviors and identities.  We as humans respond to what is around us.  Our identities and self are constructed by our experiences of what the feel, see, touch, taste, and so on. This is also known as coauthoring; when others and environments help shape your own identity.  Experiences with individuals and spaces creates the "person in personality" (Nakkula & Toshalis, 2010). 

In Erikson's model there are four different stages our identity can experience.These stages can go in any order and repeat in anyway. 

1.Achieved Identity:When a person has experienced crisis and has committed and accepted that crisis and is happy within this context.  The crisis is not something that individual can't handle, it actually is something they enjoy and are committed to.  Have found what makes them, them.
2. Foreclosed Identity: This stage is when an individuals identity is chosen for them almost.  The individual is pressured into committing to something that they've never experienced or had any form of crisis in. It is like when a child takes over a family business, they are committed before they can even experience that context to see if it fits their identity. 
3. Moratorium: Moratorium stage is when an individuals identity has experienced a context with crisis and no commitment.  In this stage an individual faces certain roles, beliefs, behaviors, and relationships where they hesitate from committing to.
4. Diffuse Identity: This stage of identity is when an individual is hesitant from experiencing any crisis or commitment. This is when someone is anxious, or feels anxiety towards experiencing new crisis and committing to one thing.  this individual is always changing and trying to fit the immediate context they are in, instead of actively exploring and committing to a particular identity. 


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ideology Horoscope

  Ideology Horoscope 

I always believe in horoscopes; there is something about the way in which they describe life events, feelings, possibilities, even characteristics, that I feel I can connect to. As I assume everyone else who believes in them does so too.  This Ideology Horoscope is one that I feel hit the nail on the head.  Prior to finding the results of the test and seeing which ideology I was, I had pre-assumptions of what I might be.  I assumed I would be in a category that involves empowering youth, and the concept of leading with.  I intern now at Youth In Action and this is one of their many beliefs about youth.  The key to me is to work with youth, empower them to be leaders so they can reach out to their communities and possibly beyond to make positive social change.  I do not believe in just giving youth the skills and abilities to just function in society and blend in.  I want to empower youth to be different, think outside the box, be bold, be confident, shoot for the stars, be the change the world needs, and most of all spread love and compassion.

So after adding up all my scores, I saw what boxes I fit into on the ideology horoscope.  I was exactly half and half with positive youth development, and critical youth development

       I was not surprised by this.  Those two rows encompass who I am as a youth worker, and how I see youth, families, and communities in the world.  I truly believe in growth, and working with a strengths base theory.  Everyone has a strength and can accomplish something, and giving someone confidence and power to know that, in my opinion, is the best thing you can do for an individual, and community.  I feel as though those two rows also represent what my internship, YIA, is functioning for.