Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Youth Development?

YDEV? Whats that?
Youth Development is a major at Rhode Island College that combines courses in education, social work and nonprofit studies that prepare professionals to work with youth outside classroom settings. Youth Development values purposeful play and encourages students to have voices of their own. Youth Development prepares future youth workers to work in a variety of settings such as after school programs, inside community schools through child centered organizations and many other settings such as hospitals and juvenile prisons.Youth Development majors at Rhode Island College must complete an 180 hour internship in a youth centered site of their choice. This internship will allow students to acquire new skills and prepare for their professional journeys. 

Youth Development is starting to grow in popularity everywhere as need for youth leaders increase. Youth leaders are not babysitters. Trained professionals help motivate students to do better and achieve their goals. According to research, "Youth development programs seek to improve the lives of children and adolescents by meeting their basic physical, developmental, and social needs and by helping them to build the competencies needed to become successful adults."  Research proves the importance of having community youth based settings that allow youth to shape their lives and form short and long term goals.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Resilient Kids

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The Center for Resilience teaches youth about mindfulness and what it means to be mindful in the classroom as well as outside the classroom. Youth are taught how to be resilient and be able to bounce back from mistakes and challenges. Many Rhode Island schools that have partnered with the Center for Resilience have seen positive changes in their classrooms, including academic performance, behaviors and the well-being of their students.

This center has curriculum that includes strategies that manage "academic, emotional, and social challenges." Educators are taught how to apply these strategies into the classroom setting for students of all ages with a variety of coping needs. These strategies benefit students that are unable to cope with uncomfortable and unfamiliar challenges. These strategies help students "re-set" their minds in a positive and healthy way. Results of the Center for Resilience show decreases in behavior referrals, stress rates, and violence within the schools.

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Providence Elementary School teacher, Amy Leclaire, talks of how the center of resilience has benefited in her Kindergarten classroom. Her class settles down quicker and more easily by practicing their mindfulness techniques, such as slowly saying words and phrases such as, "I can do this", while pressing their fingers together gently and slowly. The skills and techniques allow students to focus and settle back down into the learning environment after being outdoors. Other techniques offered on the site include glitter jars. Amy Leclaire is a family friend of mine and often talks about how much she loves her classroom and the challenges she often faces of students coming from so many different environments. These techniques have allowed her to become a great teacher!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Event #2

Totally Kids:
 Haunted Gym with a Secret Asylum

Every year, Totally Kids hosts a Halloween party. This is Totally Kids biggest event and it helps keep Bright Star ratings. This is a volunteer event, but participation is needed in order to be successful. Youth are encouraged to dress up and participate in all games and activities.

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This years event took place on October 21st. Set up began on the 19th. Staff members host this event for the youth in both the after-school program as well as the preschool. The event and set-up are both lengthy processes. The gym set-up is very elaborate; sheets need to be hung and props need to be strategically placed by themes. Apart from the gym, the main school age room needed to be rearranged to host guests as well as decorated. Staff members are given roles as characters in the haunted gym, gym tour guides, socializing with parents, helping with food and games. This is a fun event for the kids of all ages whether they want to go into the haunted gym or not. 

The concept of this event is to allow youth to actively participate in an event that is produced for them. They are able to play hands on and have fun out of their normal elements. 

Event #1

Morris Farm

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On October 14th, I volunteered to be a chaperone (unpaid) for the Totally Kids Preschool field trip to Morris Farm. The concept of this field trip was to lead with the preschoolers in learning about the farm and its hands on activities. This field trip was student centered learning.

At the farm, the preschoolers were guided in learning about greenhouses, different types of vegetables, and the processes of planting seeds. We were able to touch the different types of plants and vegetables and feel the differences in similar produce. The preschoolers were able to talk about their favorite vegetables and ask questions. We were able to explore the farm and see where the animals are kept, as well as a guided tour on hayride. Petting the horses and feeding the cows was definitely a favorite!

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This was a great learning opportunity for me. Although I work at Totally Kids, I do not work in the Preschool. I work in the After School Program which is in a separate building. I was able to lead with and work with a group of children that I was not used to working with. Working with a younger group of youth can be challenging but also rewarding. The pace of working with a younger group was a little slower but had totally different challenges (like making sure children weren't putting farm objects into their mouths). 

Leading with is a great concept to have when working with a group of younger learners. It is fun to hear them share their ideas, feelings and think in different ways! 

Youth and the Elections


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As Election Day nears, Americans host their concerns and opinions on the upcoming presidency and what our future will hold. It is important to speak to youth about politics and how to go about picking a president that is best for our country without biases. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. After exploring resources on Rock the Vote and the NYT Blogs, I still feel very unsure about this years candidates and what will be the best option for our country, never mind the concepts that would helpfully guide youth.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were both well known public figures before candidacy. Many Americans, like myself, worry about the future of the United States from watching the debates and how they often look like a skit off of SNL

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As elections near, we have to ask ourselves questions
-Why do we only have a two-party system?
-Why is this election more personal than about policy?
-Why are we electing one of the two people that have trouble telling the truth?
-Why is a sitting president allowed to campaign for a particular candidate on tax payer money?
-How is someone who is careless with classified information allowed to continue to receive info?
-Why does the media not report on issues?

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Why vote?
-Gives you a voice!
-Love for your country!
-Concern for the future of your country!
-Regardless of personal feelings over either candidate, they are going to be in control and we need representation of how the people feel!

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Do I feel well informed?
I do not feel well informed from this years candidates. Many debates have shown the two candidates true colors and how they would rather "one up" each other than run our country. I am not sure if either one of these candidates has what it takes to be a positive role model and leader. This years candidates have made me shy away from the voting booth because I am totally confused and unsure. It is hard to have a voice when both candidates voices are not what is needed to be heard.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Context Mapping

Context mapping is how we describe ourselves visually. Context mapping can help others depict relationships individuals have, roles in their lives and the ability to gain knowledge about other people. Who are you?

I am........

Achieved Identity: An identity defined and shaped by prior experiences. These experiences include past, present and future roles. 

Foreclosed Identity: An identity described as having a natural need or want without putting much thought or research behind it.

Moratorium: An identity shaped by life decisions, events and experiences. 

Diffuse Identity: An identity that changes often. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Youth Development Ideology Horoscope

Youth Development Ideology Horoscope

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Youth workers guide and work with youth in a variety of ways. While some youth workers assume the role of a positive leader or mentor, others youth workers may allow youth to lead to discussions, ideas, and foster youth empowerment.

According to the Youth Development Ideology Horoscope, there are three main concepts of how youth workers work with youth. These three concepts include:
1. Risk, Resiliency and Prevention
2. Positive Youth Development
3. Critical Youth Development

After taking the Inventory Quiz, I classified myself as a positive youth development worker.

Positive Youth Development workers "focus on fostering strengths and positive growth." I definitely value and agree with these results. As a youth worker, I am constantly pointing out youth strengths and the positive differences they are making within their communities, Positive reinforcement is a part of positive youth development. It is important for youth workers to always speak to youth in a positive way even in difficult situations.  I am a firm believer that pointing out a youths strengths empowers youth to work harder and decreases negative behaviors. Every child has values and "assets" that should be empowered. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Construction of Adolescence

“We do not construct our life stories on our own.  We are, rather, in a constant state of co-creating who we are with the people with whom we are in closest connection and within those contexts that hold the most meaning for our day to day existence."
-Nakkula and Toshalis

In The Construction of Adolescence, Nakkula and Toshalis, discuss adolescent development, life stories, mind-to-mind learning, and reciprocal coauthorship. Adolescence years are influenced by the world and people around them including parents, siblings, teachers and members of the community. These years can be both exciting and scary trying to decide what is best for the future.

“The material that comprises our life stories comes from all directions, contributed by people who care about you, are indifferent to, and feel antagonistic toward the person whose life they are helping to shape”

People I have CoAuthorized With:
  • My Mom
  • My Dad
  • Megan (Sister)
  • Olivia (Sister)
  • Derek (Boyfriend)
  • Mrs. Dwyer (3rd grade teacher)
  • Mrs. Williams (6th grade teacher)
  • Mr. Miller (High School Assistant Principal)
  • Emma (Best friend)
  • Lindsay (Cousin)

Everyone has their own life story. The people I have co-authorized with have contributed to my journey of life and the discovery of who I am and who I want to be. My Assistant Principal, Mr. Miller, influenced me in a caring way. Many high school students view Principals as "the bad guys." In my junior and senior year, I became close with my Assistant Principal when there was a shortage in advisory teachers, similar to homeroom, and he assumed that role. Mr. Miller was such a positive role model in my life story and my discovery of wanting to be a positive role model to youth as an adult. No matter how stressed he was or what kind of a day he was having, whenever he entered the room he put everything in his life and work life aside. Mr. Miller brought the students in my advisory room together by allowing us to share the positives and negatives of our days, what our plans were for the future, and allowed us to help plan school events. Mr. Miller was so influential in my life and always challenged me to do better not only as a student but also a person.

    The Construction of Adolescence : Vocabulary
    • Tested Knowledge
    • Theoretical Imagination
    • Construction of Adolescence
    • Inter-psychological Development
    • Scaffolding
    • Zone of Proximal Development
    • Reciprocal Transformation
    • Applied Develop-mentors
    • Meeting of the Minds
    • Theoretical Thinking

    Tuesday, September 20, 2016

    Hobson Ted Talk

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    Mellody Hobson/
    Youth In Action

    There may be times in a child's life where they feel invisible to the world around them. Students everyday across the United States roll through the motions of being told what to do, what to be, and how to act. Teachers often encourage creativity and ideas, but  have the last say to every lesson plan as well as incorporating their own ideas. In school, I was encouraged to share my ideas and my viewpoints. However, I was never encouraged to fully lead the class.

    Mellody Hobson, investment expert, speaks of what it means to be "Color blind or color brave?" in her TED talk. Many may question what it means to be color blind or color brave. The truth is, we witness color blindness and color bravery everyday. Color blindness and color bravery is derived from who we are and how we see the world around us. Racial inequality still exists around us, as well as the efforts to end color inequality. Hobson speaks of attending a national press dinner and being mistaken for the wait staff due to the color of her skin. She speaks of how it takes courage to stand up to racial inequality and encourage diversity in the work place. As an adult, she sees the problems that still exist, has lived through color inequality her whole life, and wants to break down the walls that still stand.

    Hobson opens the doors to seeing visibility in new ways. Hobson states that, "“Race in America makes people completely uncomfortable." Growing up, I lived in a very white neighborhood. My elementary school had less than 10 students of a minority. My junior high and high school was much more diverse. I hung out with people of all backgrounds  and have always considered myself color brave. I don't think it was until I started dating my boyfriend that I realized how much racial inequality still exists. My boyfriend is mulatto. When we talk about our experiences rolling through life, the stories are always much different. My boyfriend, who went to private school and is very well educated, has been stopped by police thinking he is up to trouble, questioned about how he can afford the things he has, and has been asked if he is a drug dealer because he has a nice car. Because of his color, he becomes invisible to people or is only seen as being black-- not an intelligent man.

    Youth in Action, YIA,  is a great antidote to invisibility. Youth in Action is "a place where youth share their stories, practice leadership, and create change in their communities."  In this setting, youth are the leaders. They are encouraged to find solutions to every day problems and are given the tools to be the leaders. With the efforts at YIA, students find their voices and are able to make changes in their own communities. Youth in Action turns color blindness into color bravery.

    Friday, September 9, 2016

    A World Where Youth Hold the Power

    Image result for youth in actionYouth In Action (YIA) has moved mountains for many Providence youth members. YIA is an nonprofit, after school program designed to promote youth by allowing youth members to run the organization and have voices of their own within their communities. Many Providence teens face barriers growing up due to the color of their skin and feel that they cannot voice their opinions due to their age. Youth In Action breaks down these barriers.

    In the document, A World Where Youth Hold the Power, Adeola Oredola and members of Youth In Action talk about their own stories and reasons to get involved as well as the importance behind it. Oredola shares her story of how her high school guidance counselor told her she would never get into Brown University because of the high school she came from. Oredola proved the guidance counselor wrong and got into the University. When she began her journey at Brown University she quickly learned the reality of lack of education many Providence students like herself face. Oredola wanted to become the voice for youth members and make the changes needed to provide underprivileged students well deserved educations.

    From experience, youth feel important and valued when they are given the opportunity to speak and show their ideas while educators and mentors take the side lines. From mentoring in a Central Falls middle school, I can relate to the feelings directors and coordinators feel at YIA-- It is empowering to allow the voices of tomorrow become the voices of today. Kids have great ideas too and want to be involved in their communities, schools, and political debates-- these things matter to them! At Central Falls middle school, colleagues and myself facilitated activities and talked about what it meant to be a "leader." Students became more confident in the time spent together. Students wanted to talk and give their ideas and lead discussions. YIA models the ability to lead with different "hats" to be able to accomplish new goals and give more youth members the confidence and justice they need in order to be successful.

    Monday, September 5, 2016

    Blog #1: Youth Work- Preparation for Practice

    Lauren Stahowiak

    Youth Work:
    Preparation for Practice

    Youth Work is an Education Practice:
                Youth workers are constantly learning and recreating their own practices. Youth workers are able to work in a variety of settings alongside a variety of youth. There is no one way to engage and work with youth- it can be molded by the youth worker with their own creative ideas, things learned throughout their journey of being a youth workers, and ideas the youth may bring. Youth workers can find success in learning where youth are rather than pre-determinations. I have found success in studying body language and behavior in youth. Every child is different and every child will behave different in changes of activities and environments. I work in a daycare with children of a variety of ages and interests. This has helped me grow and learn through my practice.
    Youth Work is a Social Practice:
                “Case work” approaches help youth workers determine youth needs. Youth surround themselves with people and scenarios they feel comfortable with. In order to understand youth members you must understand their environment. This may include attitudes, values and behaviors. It is important for youth workers to not only take youth development courses, but also social work courses that can prepare themselves for a variety of scenarios.
    Youth workers actively challenge inequality and work towards social justice:
                Youth workers recognize power-imbalances. A power imbalance can be detrimental to a child when learning to grow and succeed. The last thing a youth worker wants to see is a child fail or give up due to social injustices. The main goal for social workers is to ensure the well being of the youth they are working with.
    Where possible, young people choose to be involved:
                Youth who want to be involved- get involved. It is important to engage youth members who show interest in similar things as peers they are not necessarily comfortable with. This can be a useful tool towards building new friendships and breaking comfort level molds. “Quality of engagement” is everything. If you lose a child’s interest it can affect them negatively. At the daycare I work at, there is a huge problem with youth involvement. Some staff members do not have training or interest in working with children. Because of this- many children have lost interest in activities that get planned for the groups as well as a gained attitude for being “forced to come to daycare”
    Youth work seeks to strengthen the voice and influence of young people:
                It is important for young people to voice their opinions and ideas. Their voices now are the voices of tomorrow. The last thing a youth worker wants to do is tell youth members that their opinions or ideas are wrong- this can hinder their want to share. Instead, youth workers can redirect thoughts in a more positive and caring manner. Youth workers can encourage youth and help allow their voices to be heard. Youth workers can provide direction while youth members shape the projects. From experience, working with youth in Central Falls helped students gain importance in their community. Youth workers allowed youth to have the voice and decide on how activities would be ran. When youth feel important and valued it shows in their work.
    Youth work is a welfare practice:
                It can be challenging for youth workers to determine what is “best” for a young person. Youth workers do not design concepts or plans overnight. In many cases, it is a series of trial and error. In order to promote welfare and safety, youth workers must create goals and present opportunities to youth they are working with.
    Youth work works with young people ‘holistically’:
                It is extremely important to shape youth for the ‘better’. We want to provide the support and care youth needs and be the positive role models they need in their lives. Young people are able to change their lives around with support. It is not ethical to push young into dangerous or potentially negative situations. Youth workers must act as a youth crutch and be with them every step of their journey.


    Who Am I?

    Lauren Stahowiak

    I love the beach and being outdoors               

    My family mean the world to me.

    My best friend/ support system.
    My sisters are my best friends.