Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Promising Practices

Promising Practices
On November 7, 2015 I attended the Promising Practices: The Power of Community Partnerships Advancing Public Health & Human Rights through Education and Service. There were two sessions of the conference.
During the first part of this conference, I attended "It Takes A Village: A Collaborative Approach to Improving Diabetes Health Literacy and Clinical Outcomes for a Disparate Population".  The presentation was presented by a woman named Brenda Jenkins from Healthcentric Advisors. She explained the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it mandates development of programs to address health disparities for at-risk sub-populations. It specifically targeting certain groups. She spoke about diabetes and the lack of educational workshops for those who suffer from it and their families. At Healthcentric Advisors, Brenda assists in setting up groups of individuals to go out and speak about the challenges of having diabetes and how to manage the disease. She believes that this approach of educating this population will help promote better care and better health.
The next workshop I was registered for was "Creating Trauma Sensitive Environments: Middle School Youth and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder", but it was cancelled. My group was sent to other workshops nearby.
I ended up in "The Effect of a Healthy Diet on Brain Integrity". In this workshop I learned about the importance of a healthy/well balanced diet. We learned about the different nutrients and how each of them affects a specific part of the brain. This presentation was presented by a woman named Dr. Kathleen M. Laquale. She is a faculty member at Bridgewater State University.
Both workshops were insightful. I learned a lot and am able to apply some of the things I learned to my daily life and routine. 

Resilient Kids

Resilient Kids is a program integrated within the school day that promotes mindfulness and helps build self confidence. This program is offered to children in grades K-12.
Resilient Kids mission:
To foster the social, emotional and academic growth of children and young people through mindfulness curricula seamlessly integrated into the school culture.

Our professionally-trained, dedicated instructors work in partnership with school administrators and classroom teachers to reduce stress and behaviors that interfere with learning, to accelerate positive student outcomes.
Our vision is one of resilience:
We work in partnership to create a self-sustaining culture of fortitude for school, career, and life. We envision a community where all people live lives of strength, purpose, and compassion.
We inspire success one moment at a time
I think that this program is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn social and emotional skills they may not learn anywhere else. Often times teachers tend to focus just on the academic part of learning and forget that these children may be struggling in other areas.This program really helps these children learn how to be present with what is happening at the moment and constructs the path of a successful adult life.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Danger of a Single Story

After watching the TED Talk, I stopped to think of how many times I have heard single stories of people and never pursued or was given the opportunity to hear the "other" side. This video made me think of a little boy at my church. Currently I am a teacher assistant for Youth Group on Monday nights. I am assigned to the K-2 grade class. Because there is a significant range of levels in the room, I stick to the younger children and the teacher focuses on the older half. Before class began on the first day, the teacher pulled me aside and told me about one specific child that was going to present in the room. She explained how she had him in her class last year and he was very difficult. She was trying to prepare me for what she thought was going to happen. She continued to tell me that he takes nothing seriously, is a distraction to the other children, and often gets sent out of the room. Before I even met this boy, I already had a predisposition of what his behavior would be like. As class began I knew exactly what this teacher was saying. He was all of the things she warned me about, but I felt as if there was something more to his behavior. I started watching how he would behave/react when it came to the assignments or having to pay attention to different stories. Working with disability, I noticed there were some similar behaviors that some of my clients or other students I previously worked with possessed. Digging deeper, I was able to learn that this child had a learning disability and behaved poorly when he felt as if he could not do what the other children were doing. Now, I am able to give him more one-on-one support and help redirect him when he gets off course. His behaviors have not gone away completely, but there have been less of them. This is why it is important to be aware of the limitations imposed on youth when focusing on a single story.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The authors of your life...

As I read from Nakkula and Toshalis' first chapter titled The Construction of Adolescence (Nakkula and Toshalis Chapter 1), I noticed some vocabulary that I have seen before in other readings and classes, but also some that I have not. They weren’t too hard to figure out, however, because I was able to understand the meaning by the rest of the sentence/context.

Here are some of the vocabulary from the reading. Some have the word “essential” next to them because I feel as though these words and their meanings are crucial in ones development.
1. Cognitive Development (essential)
2. Theoretical Thinking (essential)
3. Lackluster
4. Elicits
5. Self-construction (essential)
6. Individual endeavors
7. Near-constant support (essential)
8. Scaffolding
9. Reciprocal transformation
10. Zone of proximal development (essential)

Reading this article gave me a new thought process of life. Everyone has a story and has someone, or people who have helped coauthor it. I learned that it’s your reactions to your experiences that add creativity and truly make your story unique!

I found this assignment challenging. Not because of the content, but how it made me think and reflect on my own life. As I sit here think about those who have come into my life and made an impact, good and bad, I then realize how much I have gone through. I see progress and growth in some areas and I see other areas where I still need some work. I have realized how much I’ve grown with each encounter. Without these experiences I wouldn’t have progressed and learned. Not only have I grown as a person, but I have become hardworking and determined to become the woman I envision myself to be.

Some people who have have been a coauthor in my life:
1. Jordan (my son)
2. Mother
3. Father
4. Sisters
5. Cousins
6. Antoinette
7. Dr. Bogad
8. Juan
9. Whitney
10. Kayla

First and foremost I believe that a majority of my story started at home. My mother and father have constructed an outline, a foundation, of my story beginning when I was a young child. They gave me the tools I would need not only as a little girl but eventually as an adult.

Although my parents play a big role in co-authoring my story, I think the biggest cowriter is my son, Jordan. Being a young single mother I have been through many trials and tribulations, but having him has made each one of those well worth it. I could not, and wouldn’t want to, picture my life without him. Having my son I’ve learned so much! I learned what unconditional love is, how to be selfless and care for another person, and how to be a provider. These are qualities I feel that make up who I am today. Along with these positive qualities, I have experienced great pain- the pain of raising a young boy alone in a broken home. In this experience, I have learned to be more careful in who I trust, who I invest my time in, and what qualities I would like/need in a future partner.

Luckily my story doesn't end here. There are still many more experiences to be had and people to meet! The rest remains unwritten...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Assignment #4 -Have you ever felt invisible?

This past winter I went to a tax place in Providence, RI to file my taxes. This was a place where one of my friends referred me because they had a great experience and the service pricing was attractive. Upon arriving I noticed that it was Hispanic oriented, which made sense because my friend was Dominican. I knew that they served a large Spanish population by the music they had playing and the clientele. Being here didn’t bother me as my son is also of Hispanic descent and I enjoy the culture.
Upon arrival, the woman at the front desk began speaking to me in Spanish. Although I could understand what she was saying to me, I responded in English so she knew I was not Spanish. As I was sitting in the waiting area I noticed many people coming into the office and going right in to be seen. At the time, I figured maybe they had appointments or they were there for different reasons. I waited almost an hour to be seen. This was the longest hour of my life and I contemplated getting up and leaving because it was becoming very awkward for me. Not one person spoke to me; however, they all spoke amongst themselves. It was as if I were invisible to all of these people.
When I finally got called into the office, the man behind the desk seemed very kind. Finally, there was someone in this place that smiled back at me! I provided all my information to him and answered many of his questions. He then asked me where I was from. I thought this was weird since my address was on my pay stubs and he already had all my information, but then I realized he meant ethnicity wise. Thinking I was contributing to the small talk, I explained I was half Cape Verdean and half White. At this point, I felt like the man’s personality did a 360. He made rude comments about how I probably thought I was better than everyone because of where I lived and then started inappropriately questioning me. By the end of this awkward encounter, I paid more than my Hispanic friend did for the same services and left the office basically in tears.
            After watching Hobson’s TED talk, in/visibility had a new meaning for me. It means more than what you can physically see or not see. It is being able to see someone and acknowledge them for who they are, entirely, beyond skin color/race- because skin color is something everyone can see, despite what they say. However, color should not define who someone is believed to be. I believe the people I encountered when I filed my taxes placed judgements on me because I was different than they were. I agree with Hobson in that being “color blind” is ineffective. To be color brave speaks volumes and is much more courageous. This way of thinking is positive and uplifting. It also supports all different kinds of people and who they aspire to be.
Youth in Action is a safe place where young people, many of which are minorities, can gather together and express themselves with proper guidance. They are encouraged to follow their dreams and taught to be who they desire to be. I believe this is an antidote for invisibility because they are being taught how to be color brave rather than color blind. They believe in themselves and each other rather than falling into the traps of a biased belief.  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ideology Inventory

According to the Ideology Inventory, I identify most with Risk, Resilience, and Prevention. When it comes to dealing with children I believe in being someone they can look up to, trust, and learn with. Many children do not have the supports they need at home and desperately need someone to help guide them in the right direction.

I truly believe this is my opportunity to equip them with knowledge and skills they will need to become successful and self-sufficient. As a youth worker I also know the importance of understanding the differences between each child and their social/cultural norms. It is more effective when you are speaking the same language and presenting information appropriate for that audience. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Assignment 2

This article made me appreciate Youth in Action and all the great opportunities these youth workers have to offer. Youth in Action is a great program, started in 1997, that believes “it’s critical for young people to be at the center of change in every community”. This particular organization is geared toward underprivileged teens in urban cities that desire to be the positive change in their communities.

Youth in Action provides a safe place for these teens to come together and be more than “just a teenager”, but become a voice that matters. This is a place where they can gather and be productive. The teenagers that attend, make up most of the board which goes to show how dedicated they are to this program.

What resonated with me most was the importance of building a relationship. I believe that in order to be able to help or guide the youth it is crucial that there is trust and openness. Once the teen feels they can open up and not be judged, they are more adapt to listen to advice or whatever the youth workers have to offer. Growing up I never responded well to someone I didn’t trust. It took me a while to become comfortable enough to share my ideas and ask for help when needed. However, when I began to trust someone, it became much easier for me to advocate for myself and get my needs met.

One of the Youth in Action’s traditions is Plus Delta Hot Seat. Plus Delta Hot Seat gives the teens and youth workers the opportunity to come together and figure out where they are succeeding and which areas are in need for improvement. This includes the youth workers so no one feels threatened or targeted. YIA team truly makes an effort to learn and grow with their group rather than teaching their groups, “nobody is speaking at you”. This is a great example of how the YIA workers work with, not to.