Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘teens’

untitled-1-1000x777

Photo: Bruce Mendelsohn
A teen at a Youth Services center in Massachusetts takes a turn at conducting musicians from the Sarasa Chamber Music Ensemble.

Years ago, just before Christmas every year, I would receive a funding request from a volunteer who was concerned for teens held in state custody. He would write that these young people were largely forgotten at the holidays, and he would take whatever donations he could round up and go buy them small gifts. I always thought he sounded like a very kind person.

This past holiday season, I heard about a similar outreach to youth in trouble and wanted to tell you about it.

Cintia Lopez reported at WBUR radio, “On a recent morning, a teen living at the Metro Regional Center, a Department of Youth Services facility, nervously stood in front of a string quartet in a windowless recreation room. Trying his hand at conducting a group of classically trained musicians, he tentatively moved his hands like a conductor, setting the tempo for the musicians as they played Bach’s ‘The Art of Fugue.’

“His peers laughed in the background, while the musicians offered words of encouragement. When he got a better feel for the music, he began to dance, pointing his fingers up and down, bobbing his head and rolling his arms to the rhythm of the music.

“ ‘It kind of gave me a warm and kind of calm feeling and then as the tempo got a little bit higher it kind of gave me like a little adrenaline rush,’ another teen said of the classical performance. …

“The teens were being visited by musicians from Sarasa, a Boston-based chamber ensemble. Artistic Director Timothy Merton said he likes helping the teens talk about the music.

“ ‘They don’t have much contact with the outside while they’re there. And certainly not with arts programs,’ Merton said. He founded Sarasa about 20 years ago. … The group now performs in youth service facilities about a dozen times a year.

“For the teen, Sarasa taught him that he can listen to classical music to calm down when he is feeling angry.

‘I think it’s a very good experience for the youth here,’ he said. ‘Just to show culture that people aren’t always exposed to and it’s kind of like getting everyone to see other parts of cultures and kind of the diversity that the world has.’ …

“Later in the visit, violinist Rodolfo Richter played Krzysztof Penderecki’s ‘Cadenza’ for a second group of teens. The teens perked up at the speed at which Richter played, seemingly with ease. One teen likened the piece to an old ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon. …

“Here are teens, who in some ways have been hardened by life’s turns, awed by the sounds of a cartoon, revealing how much innocence they still possess.

“Seeing the teens connect with the music reminds cellist Jennifer Morsches of her own discovery of classical music.

“ ‘That’s where I learned much about classical music, watching “Bugs Bunny,” ‘ Morsches said. ‘And a lot of people react, young kids, react that way. It’s true and it does sound like Tom and Jerry chasing.’ ”

More at WBUR, here.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Christian Science Monitor
Iceland has cut teen alcohol and drug use with fun after-school activities and a 10 pm curfew (age 18 and under).

Sometimes it takes a huge, intractable problem to motivate people to find serious solutions. That’s what Iceland discovered after it was overwhelmed by an epidemic of teen substance abuse.

Sara Miller Llana writes at the Christian Science Monitor, “In the late 1980s, when Björgvin Ívar Guðbrandsson was a teenager, alcohol and school dances went hand-in-hand. While he was later to drinking than his peers – more interested in playing soccer and guitar – when he did start around age 16, he would smuggle alcohol in his guitar case into school events.

“ ‘I think the adults just turned a blind eye,’ says Mr. Guðbrandsson. ‘The culture was, I think, “they’re just kids. As long as they aren’t fighting, it’s okay.” ‘

“Today, as a teacher at Langholt school in Reykjavik where he once studied, he says that if a student were to show up drunk to a dance, it would  be such a scandal that the school principal would likely call child protective services.

“In reality, that rarely happens because substance abuse on a wide scale has essentially become a ‘non-issue,’ says Guðbrandsson. Alcohol and school dances, in other words, don’t go together in Iceland today.

“This school is hardly alone. Teen drinking – as well as teen smoking, marijuana use, and abuse of other drugs – has plummeted across Iceland in the past two decades as academics, policy makers, and parents joined forces to clamp down. …

“Beyond adolescent alcohol and drug use, Iceland has shifted thinking on youth culture itself, making it by many accounts more innocent and carefree. It has expanded parents’ notions of childhood and the importance of family time, while reinforcing the maxim that it ‘takes a village’ to raise a child, says Hrefna Sigurjónsdóttir, director of the national umbrella for parental organizations in schools, Home and School, one of the key players in the federal-state government program now known as Youth in Iceland.

“She calls it an ‘awakening’ that has taken place at home, school, and beyond. ‘I think people are not confused anymore about, “is this kid an adult or not.” ‘ ”

Just-say-no substance-abuse prevention programs didn’t work.

“Substance use kept going up, says Inga Dora Sigfúsdóttir, cofounder of the Icelandic Center for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA), which is the data hub for Youth in Iceland. ‘A group of people came together, sat down and said, “we need to find a different approach. This is obviously not working.” ‘

“One of the problems was an ambiguous view of the line between child and adulthood, she says.

“One of the most absolute rules to take effect was legal curfews: Kids ages 12 and younger must be home at 8 p.m. in the winter and 10 p.m. in the summer. Thirteen to 16-year-olds must be home at 10 p.m. in the winter and by midnight in the summer, even when the sun is still blazing. …

“Parents began to sign agreements, through schools and parental organizations, with various pledges such as not allowing unsupervised parties in their homes or spending at least an hour a day with their children. …

“Municipalities funded and expanded after-school activities, from sports to gymnastics, to music, art, and ballet. The basic idea is to keep kids busy – and out of trouble – and help them find meaning in their lives that dissuades them from seeking alcohol or drugs in the first place.

“At its heart, it takes the onus off the teens themselves – the opposite of the D.A.R.E. approach – and places it on the community. …

“ ‘It does not concern teaching individual children about responsible choices, or even about making them responsible for their own behavior,’ says Álfgeir Kristjánsson, a former data analyst at ICSRA who is now an assistant professor of public health at West Virginia University. ‘The Icelandic approach … is to strengthen the societal and protective factors and drive down risk factors.’ ”

Makes such sense. When I was a teacher decades ago, I really didn’t buy into the idea that students who got in trouble were always making “choices.” If there was trouble at home, for example, kids were often tumbling into risky behaviors because of depression or other psychological stressors. The Icelandic approach seems to have opened the eyes of more adults to the complexity of the issue.

More here.

Read Full Post »

Love this story by Leigh Vincola at EcoRI News.

“The Harvest Kitchen Project is one of the many arms of Farm Fresh Rhode Island that keeps local food circulating in our communities. The program takes area youth, ages 16-19, who are involved with juvenile corrections, and puts them to work making sauces, pickles and other preserves.

“The teenagers participate in a 20-week job-readiness program that prepares them for employment in the food industry. The program touches not only on kitchen skills but the on the many aspects of work in the culinary industry, from sales and customer service to local farm sourcing to teamwork and cooperation. …

“For the past several years, Harvest Kitchen has operated out of a commercial kitchen space in Pawtucket.”

But when Pawtucket Central Falls Development (PCF) “approached Farm Fresh with its rehabilitation plan for 2 Bayley St., a downtown [Pawtucket] multi-use building that would include affordable housing, retail space and job-training opportunities, the match seemed perfect.” More  at EcoRI, here.

I’ve been buying Harvest Kitchen’s applesauce at the Burnside Farmers Market, and I’m being completely honest when I say it’s the best applesauce I’ve had in years. That’s partly because I love chunks in my applesauce, but also because it’s sweet with no sugar added. If you return the empty jar, you get 25 cents back on the next jar.

Harvest Kitchen offers cranberry and strawberry applesauce, too. Other products include dried apple slices, peach slices in season, whole tomatoes, pickles with veggies, dilly beans and onion relish.

In addition to PCF, organizations that have helped to make this happen include Rhode Island Housing, RI Department of Children Youth and Families (Division of Juvenile Correction), Amgen Foundation, Fresh Sound Foundation, The Rhode Island Foundation and TriMix Foundation.

Find sales locations here.

Photo: FarmFreshRI

Read Full Post »

Do you ever read Kevin Lewis’s Sunday Globe column, “Uncommon Knowledge”? He covers new research in the social sciences. Thanks to him, I learned about this study on helping minority boys get engaged in education.

“A disproportionate number of students struggling academically are minorities, ” he writes. “Can we do better?

“In what they claim is the first credible study of the effect of an ethnically grounded education, researchers at Stanford analyzed the effect of a ninth-grade course offered in several San Francisco public schools covering ‘themes of social justice, discrimination, stereotypes, and social movements from US history spanning the late 18th century until the 1970s’ and requiring students ‘to design and implement service-learning projects based on their study of their local community.’…

“The researchers found that taking the course ‘increased attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23 credits (or roughly four courses).’ They call the results ‘surprisingly large effects,’ which were concentrated among boys.”

The paper, by Thomas S. Dee, and Emily Penner, is The Causal Effects of Cultural Relevance: Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum.” It was posted at the National Bureau of Economic Research in January.

More here.

Photo: Stanford University
Teacher David Ko instructs an ethnic studies class at Washington High School in San Francisco. A Stanford study found students benefit from such courses. Here, Ko is explaining an assignment about the role of advertising in reinforcing cultural stereotypes.

Read Full Post »

Holly Hall writes at the Chronicle of Philanthropy that teens are more likely to do volunteer work if there’s a social aspect.

“More than half of American teenagers and young adults volunteered [in 2011], and the best way to enlist this group turns out to be peer pressure: Three quarters of people ages 13 to 22 whose friends volunteer regularly also do so, which is nearly twice the number of those who pursue voluntary activities based on their concern about particular social issues. …

“Those were the key findings of new research results released [Oct. 24] by DoSomething.org, a group working to get young people involved in social change.” More.

At the high school Suzanne and John attended, volunteering was required. But they also did things that just interested them. I remember Suzanne in a play targeting the cycle of domestic violence and John working on peace and justice activities.

The organization pictured below is City Year, “an education focused, nonprofit organization that unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service to keep students in school and on track to graduation.”

Suzanne’s friend Lisa did a City Year and thought it very worthwhile. Today, I often see the kids in their distinctive jackets on the train, and I once went door-to-door to help City Year’s public-spirited cofounder in a primary election for the Senate.

Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP/File
City Year volunteers sing the national anthem outside Faneuil Hall in Boston. The volunteers age 17 to 24 will work in a variety of community-service programs. The best way to encourage teens to volunteer is to make it a way to get together with their friends, a new report suggests.

 

Read Full Post »

My colleague Bob put me on to a NY Times blog called “Lens,” and in particular, a post by James Estrin about a modest 2013 version of the Farm Security Administration’s photographic outreach of the 1930s.

He writes, “Just as the Farm Security Administration unleashed a team of photographers to chronicle the United States in the 1930s, Lens is beginning a new interactive project called ‘My Hometown.’

“In the coming months, we are asking high school students to help create a 21st century portrait of America, turning their cameras on their neighborhoods, families, friends and schools. …

“Participants must either be enrolled in high school or be 14 to 18 years old. All submissions must be uploaded under the supervision of a photography class teacher or program instructor by the May 1 deadline. …

“The resulting collection of photographs will be shown in an interactive gallery of several thousand pictures that will be sortable by geography or theme. We will also highlight select images in a series of posts on the Lens Blog. Many of the photos will be archived at the Library of Congress (just like the Farm Security Administration) photos. …

“If your high school or community-based photography program wants to participate, the instructor should contact the Lens editors by e-mail at lens.projects@gmail.com. …

“We will start accepting entries on March 20.” More.

As Bob commented to me, an initiative like this is likely to appeal to kids. Writing essays about one’s hometown might be harder to get charged up about, especially if you don’t feel like a writer. But everyone takes pictures, and some teens will be inspired to be artful with them.


Photograph: Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress/Farm Security Administration

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: