Thursday, December 8, 2016

EVENT #2 Governor's walk with PASA at Del Sesto

For my second event, I was inclined to go because it was another opportunity for selling the Youth Development brand to individuals and legislators who are unfamiliar with its scope and impact. On Monday December 5th, RI Governor Gina Raimondo planned a visit to Del Sesto middle school to peek in on PASA (Providence Afterschool Alliance) afterschool programming. In addition to a few a handful of other students in the major, we walked into each room that held a different sort of activity (sewing in the home ec room), (stress balloon making), (dance team) etc. Once the governor toured through the rooms, she sat across the table from us for a chance to deliver a more elaborate elevator speech to enlighten her on what she just saw in terms of examples that resonate as cornerstones in the field like building relationships, creating safe spaces, leading with, and recognizing context and individual strengths/needs. For about 45 minutes prior to our walkthrough, we structured a dialogue that each of us would offer examples around each of four cornerstones to Youth Development that we wanted to convey. When the time came to actually deliver that information, our planned turn taking to speak on got thrown off with the governor diverting to a question of why some of chose to switch from Education into Youth Development. I am quite proud of myself for using that opportunity to insert my point about creating safe spaces and that basically I wouldn't be able to if I hadn't picked this path because a lot of times that isn't as easy or within the methodology of running a strictly academic classroom. It was an honor to represent our program and speak on its behalf with Governor Raimondo and right up my sleeve of wanting to be an advocate for the youth at a higher level.

EVENT #1 RIC Open House

For my first event, I attended the open house at Rhode Island College on November 12th. It was an awesome opportunity to refine my elevator speech for selling the program as a high school graduates intended major or as new information to adults and other young people presenting it as an option for the first time ever. As I am reminded that our BA program is the only one available in the northeast, I thought it interesting to insert in my speech. I wanted to go because I get so many questions from family members and friends like, "so what will you have a degree in when you graduate, again?" or "What can you do with Youth Development?" It almost seems ignorant of them to ask, but in most cases, it hasn't been heard of enough. In relation to course themes, I would say this event allowed me to practice advocating for the youth at a different level. I say that from the perspective of how I want to do work in the field as I've started to develop working with United Way. I acted as an advocate that day to recruit the next cohorts of youth workers and grow the field. Without skilled individuals working with them in their programs and helping them realize their strengths and building on those, they have less of a chance to flourish. That extra support outside of the academic environment and away from home is where youth workers practice. Giving the youth voice and choice, building better relationships, and learning to be an advocate WITH them starts when you get to college and make that decision and in professional development opportunities.  There was a slow turn out by our table at the event, and we got a few names interested in the program so it was a mildly successful platform for getting the major out as a new brand.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

When you say Y, I say....

     When a family member during the upcoming holiday gatherings asks about what I'm majoring in and studying within my academic career, I will feel more than equipped to answer with my content knowledge and reading through Strengthening the Youth Development/After-school Workforce. Youth Development is studied through the lenses of social work practice, special education, and nonprofit studies. As practicing youth workers, our cornerstones for practice are leading with youth, creating safe spaces, tailoring content in recognizing specific skill sets, and building relationships.
     I liked the visual the article gives:
     The pipeline is chronological starting with early childhood on the left running through work and career to the right with the supports of family, peers, and community members. Youth workers are a major part of the insulating material. A student's learning, enrichment, and self expression cannot all take place between the hours of 8a to 2p. Youth Development exists as a field because there's a need for higher quality afterschool programming and support for young people rather than just throwing federal funding at the programs themselves. There's a real demand for high quality youth workers. That's a job title that people need to start accepting as more than babysitting. In the way I envision the kind of work I want to get into, I choose to work more behind the scenes for our youth in policy and advocacy. I want to stand with counselors, mentors, coaches, and librarians and support them as youth professionals and figure out what the youth need and even through the rest of their pipeline.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fostering Resilience in Youth Right in RI

This week, we were directed to research a RI based nonprofit called the Center for Resilience. They are really about empowering students, still through the Common Core curriculum, to take care of their own stress and really de-escalate themselves when they think they could have some kind of negative behavior. Not only does the center empower students, but the nonprofit empowers the adults working with the students. I enjoyed watching the testimonials on how the students demonstrate their breathing, palm, catching exercises to calm them down, de stress, or even help them quiet their minds to fall asleep at night. The statistics from East Providence, Central Falls, and Providence showing a drop in behavior referrals and less stressed students speaks to the nature of the center's curriculum. I think that even adults can benefit from this program, because I've come across a few that need some de-stressing and calming down before a more charged negative behavior shows itself. The young people we work with day in and day out need to find their own calming rituals and safer spaces within themselves sometimes to be ready to learn and focus. As one teacher explained, the resilient methods may take minutes from learning academic skills, but you will get those minutes back tenfold when successful.
Image result for resilient youth

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Election Buzz 2016

There has been a buzz in my ear since the start of the campaign trail heat between Hillary and Donald. I think it fits to use their first names here since they have both handled this election with a degree of immaturity, one candidate more than the other of course. I truly want to vote to stop one of whom I believe to be the greater of two evils. When I see evil, I mean not as much how many more skeletons, but how much less moral standing and experience this particular candidate has. I don't want to shy away from the booth this election season because every little voice needs to be taken into consideration when picking the next President, now more than ever. I could be more informed about the issues and the backgrounds of the candidates, but I believe that I have seen what I need to see in the debates, the decorum displayed, the detail of plan from Madam Secretary's side, and the true character comes out. Ending the racial elephant in the room within law enforcement world right now, giving immigrant children the spark to ignite their US education pathway fire, and being about debt relief for current students, youth workers have reason to stand behind the former Secretary of State for the future, what education will look like and access to the kinds of opportunities the youth we service have available to them. Image result for clinton vs trump

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nakkula and Toshalis (2010) Reflection

From Nakkula and Toshalis (2010) Chap 2 which is what we were assigned to read this week, context mapping is used as a tool between the psychologist Mitch and adolescent Julian. Context mapping is used as a tool when dissecting issues within one's world that could be directly or indirectly involved at the core of a presenting problem. Because once Julian opens up, he mentions his mom, home, dad, and other components that sound all over the place, a visual map makes an understanding easier. I linked the all of the result images that come up when searching for a context map on Google because it can look like many different things and is used in different fields for groupings of items for various audiences. I like lists better than I like the jumbled circle venn diagram look so I listed what mine might contain below:

    1. Home Depot                            2. Home                      3. My Aunt's farm
  • supervisor Beth                                     homemaker                horse caretaker (Jasmine, Zoe)
  • customers                                              partner to Jamie           farm hand
  • other associates/my cashier team                                              dog sitter  (Kizmet,Diego)
  • store manager Steve
The four identities described by the authors are foreclosed, diffuse, moratorium, and achieved.
     Foreclosed identity- one that assumed as one's only option given their circumstances or opportunities available to him/her. This individual would be committed to this way of being without exploring carefully or experimenting w/ alternatives.

     Diffuse identity- Individuals who fall under this one category are what I like to call followers, not leaders. They have little exploration or active consideration of a particular identity and no psychological commitment to one. They're easily influenced by others and often change rapidly from one belief or representation to another to fit into changing contexts.

     Identity Moratorium- This is a developmental state that I first came across in my Developmental Psych course required at CCRI, This is when an individual experiences a crisis of identity with no commitment, usually happens during college years or when an individual goes off in the armed forces.

     Achieved Identity- This stage occurs after the identity crisis is resolved and the commitment to the selected identity is high, It's like perfect integration, Needs from the past, within the present, and into the future display self-acceptance and ego strength across the contexts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Taking Inventory on Myself

Image result for horoscope signsThis week's inventory task made me feel like I changed my own perspective on youth work since the last time I took the quiz as a written sort of thing in the Spring. What I learned in relation with how I am around other people including friends which I believe could have been taken after family members is I feel like I need to be there for the youth that need a tour guide. I was going to go with the word fixing but I didn't find that appropriate. Learning I am aligned with Risk, Resiliency, and Prevention, I would be focused on decreasing rates of teen pregnancy, school failures, and gang violence. Those are just some of the things that youth are at risk for.
                                                          To me, the result of this inventory horoscope activity makes sense because I am the friend that tries to look for ways and words in which I can inspire change in particular friends who might be going through something all the time. They just don't know how to think about their life situation differently. For at risk youth, I think this starts with creating a safe space. Interestingly enough, my Toolbox will be around how to foster a safe space for my youth group that I might be working with. Cutting back on pregnancy rates, violence, and substance abuse amongst teens is not something that is going to happen overnight. I am pretty sure that is why there is a whole core value system and philosophy which youth workers may fall under to practice towards.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Coauthoring a Youth's Development

Image result for writing a book    10 intriguing/new vocab words from Nakkula & Toshalis:
                                                         1. competing peer groups  (p1)
                                                         2. tangential discussions (p2)
                                                         3. increasingly lackluster performance (p3)
                                                         4. interpretation
                                                         5. multiauthored (p7)
                                                         6. litany of such questions (p8)
                                                         7. concerted effort (p9) 
                                                         8. reticent to take on challenging material (p12) 
                                                         9. commonly espoused belief (p13)
                                                         10.actualize (p15)

In keeping with the theme of Nakkula & Toshalis' writing, ten people I could list whom have coauthored my life story are named (1) Barbara (2) Patti (3) Gail (4) Joseph (5) Matt (6) Jamie (7) Zachary (8) Isaiah (9) Angie (10) Lauren. I kept the list to ten, even though I could go on and on including encounters, acquaintances, and continuing friendships! Looking back at this list, I chose Joseph to show and tell about how he has his hand in my story. Joseph was picked to demonstrate the missing presence of a component in a story can have a profound impact in the way the rest of the story reads. Joe was supposed to be a father figure in my life story, and decided to deny me as his legitimate offspring and succumb to his mental illness and brain damage as a result of an accident he had. I actively sought him out a few years ago and was very disappointed with what I found. Some things should be left alone and hidden away, but I could not let that be one of those things, because I also needed to confront my unrealistic superhero father role model vision in my head after that experience. Positives which came from that chapter are the drive and motivation to be a present, involved and better parent and my own self-discovery in expectations.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Clearing up Color Blindness

Man giving hugs to try to calm racial tensions
A demonstration of peace and color braveness in Charlotte, NC
In this moment, I cannot remember a situation or event during which I felt invisible. Melody Hobson, a successful chairwoman and president of a financial firm and only one of two black women chairpersons of publicly traded companies, made me think about visibility in terms of privilege and how much harder black people and other minorities have to work sometimes to be seen and/or heard. In light of super recent events in Charlotte, NC this TEDtalk came into my queue at a perfect time to be reminded of disparities in advantage and voice between groups of people. The incidence involving Hobson and her friend attending an editorial luncheon and being directed to an area under assumption of being kitchen help on the prejudice of their skin color is bizarre. In walks a wealthy black women dressed to the nines accompanied by a similarly dressed black male and they are supposed to be wearing something other than what they have on and in a different role than guests according to the perspective of white privilege. Hobson, having a thick shell recalls her mother asking of her upon return from an all white birthday party how the other kids treated her. My parents, in my own experience, would have never asked that as a question unless I seemed emotionally distressed. It should not still exist that minorities are treated without the same "privilege". Her argument of 70% of corporation board seats composed of white men is more fuel for the argument of an entire culture of blindness. The allusion to her words resonating with admissions officers or hiring professors really made me more interested in her Talk because of my internship.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Youth in Providence Have the Power

YIA (Youth in Action) Historically- This nonprofit was started in 1997 (when I was 2 years old) to recognize marginalized underprivileged youth and bring them into a space where they could have influence i.e. school reform, politics, organizing...

Young People at Center of Change- Large scale social change wouldn't be successful without youth inclusion. For many young people of color, they feel powerless for the long history of adversity that has pushed down their throats (figuratively) so that their voices cannot be heard when it counts. The tide in Providence is changing to take after the youth space YIA in that leaders are coming around to a new perception of youth being innovation pioneers.

Part of a Place Where Having Opinions Makes Stronger- As described in first person testimony, youth bring a lot of their own values and opinions to the nonprofit space, and they often get into heated debates which are perceived as healthy and welcomed. This is reverse of the school community culture in which per say, a student gets pregnant and because of her own cultural norms and pressures against the 'taboo' of conceiving at an early age, she leaves school. If more schools take the shift to a YPI culture, she should be reassured and welcomed back into the school environment.

Exceeding Other's Expectations- One of the speakers in the article attended Brown University. That is significant because she is of a minority background and went to a school that doesn't groom the kind of youth that go to Brown (or at least that is what her demeaning guidance counselor said to her. The problem with some adults in our education system and holding positions as community leaders, is they are not supporting youth vision of success and big ideas for change. If you're not part of the change, you're part of the problem. How many more students that one school staff member affects every day with negativity is the kind of mindset that I, as a youth worker can turn around.

There had never been a time in my own experience as a youth that I was asked to co-construct a bigger picture. It is inspiring and awesome to see the work that YPI does for the community of Providence. Leading a great model to cultivate the innovators of the future. For marginalized (or any) youth to feel as though they can make a difference, they must have the right platform to be heard on, the conditions to thrive. Many of us in the Youth Development field can be thankful for nonprofits like that, and participants there in can look forward to giving back as agents of change in this field.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"Youth Work" Seven Characteristics

  1. Youth work is an educational practice: Youth workers and educators act in the same way, in the respect of delivering activities and intervening in a young person's life with the purpose of getting that young person to have their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas about the social world around them. Youth work has a methodology just as teaching, in the way of creating opportunities for learning and offering choice to youth otherwise denied that freedom. 
  2. Youth work is a social practice: Case work approaches circling around personal info, advice, and guidance in groups are effective. This characteristic tests the way youth may work and display values, attitudes, and behaviors with others. Ex. At Calcutt middle school in YDEV 250, some of us mentors were assigned to more than one student and that group became a platform for social practice, or nurturing collective association amongst young people as the chapter describes it. 
  3. Youth workers actively challenge inequality and work towards social justice: Ah, the reason there are Youth Development majors concentrating in social justice. Often, we youth workers encounter youth marginalized by personal, cultural, or structural barriers. It is our job to act help them reach an understanding of oppression and power, get them to reflect, critically analyze, and approach how they could grease the wheels of change. 
  4. Where possible, young people choose to be involved: Less like classroom environments, young people engage themselves rather than participate because they feel compelled to. Youth work and informal education should take place in schools in order to positively contribute to the personal and social development of young people so says the authors in the chapter 'Preparation for Practice'.
  5. Youth work seeks to strengthen the voice and influence of young people: In some settings, the younger you are, the less you are likely to be seen (not literally) and credited with anything you say. Youth workers want young people to influence the environment in which they live. Having influence and making decisions is empowering to youth in a society. 
  6. Youth work is a welfare practice: We will encounter youth that are in greater need and deprived of much. A teenage pregnancy reduction project would be something a youth worker could get involved with that stands for and works towards valuable desired outcomes. 
  7. Youth work works with young people 'holistically': We approach our kid clients as an area the world of medicine is moving into. Labels should not be placed on the types of youth we work with (to classify them as pregnant teens or offenders). To only focus on the narrow policy defined problem the youth is attached to by nature of label would have limited impact. We need not do the work for the purpose of social policy objectives, but the primary work for the youth. I added the following hyperlink because (Ken Robinsons talk) is a good reminder of how the institution of education kills off a piece that youth workers count on, confront, and include in their purposeful play.

All There is to Know About Me at this Moment

 WHO I AM...

Horse Lover
Dog Lover

My roommate/better half
Jackie Sharples Cyr' LaBrie's Profile Photo
Some of the "village"
Hey visitors! I'm Cody, a senior at Rhode Island College studying Youth Development. As if most of you didn't already know that, right? I would label this part of my life, "in flux". Truthfully, I haven't stopped. This summer, I moved in with my boyfriend, traveled to Cancun with some really great friends, spent some time in P-town on the Cape, and lived on the beach in the Outer Banks for two weeks with my family. I'm usually the one to say what everybody else is thinking...THANK YOU senior year is here! When I'm not competing for a parking spot on campus, I am working at the Home Depot, taking care of my family's horses, or finding a different way to decorate my living space.