Youth voice is essential to creative youth development. We’re asking youth leaders to speak to the power of culture as active agents in their own growth:
Youth voice is essential to creative youth development. We’re asking youth leaders to speak to the power of culture as active agents in their own growth:
Mass Cultural Council extends hearty congratulations to New Bedford Whaling Museum for receiving the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award for their High School Apprenticeship Program. The High School Apprenticeship Program immerses students in skill-based humanities and interpretive sciences projects, mentorship, and valuable life skills instruction such as financial literacy, college preparation, public speaking, and audience engagement.
For almost two decades, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has presented the NAHYP Awards, the nation’s highest honor for out of school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. Presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts , National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the award recognizes outstanding Creative Youth Development (CYD) programs from all over the country from a range of urban and rural settings. (See all 2017 Awardees.)
The NAHYP Award showcases and supports excellence in programs that open new pathways to learning, self-discovery, and achievement. Programs are also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.
To date, 51 students have graduated from the Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program, 100% have graduated from high school and 94% pursued some form of post-secondary education. About 40% of alumni have returned to the museum as part-time employees, interns, volunteers, and guest speakers.
Out of a pool of over 350 NAHYP nominations nationwide, three Massachusetts programs were also recognized as finalists this year:
- Codman Academy Summer Shakespeare Institute
Huntington Theatre Company, Boston
- RAISE (Responding to Art Involves Self Expression)
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
- Shakespeare Inside and Out
Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Somerville
The achievements of these programs speak to the exemplary work in the field of CYD happening across the Commonwealth and a strong testament to all of those committed to working with youth to achieve social change through the arts, humanities, and sciences.
Name: Deb Habib
Organization: Seeds of Solidarity
Title: Co-Founder and Director
Artistic Genre: Supporting all that is beautiful
Years in the field: 30ish
What do you do at Seeds of Solidarity?
Our mission is to ‘Awaken the power of youth, schools, and families to Grow Food Everywhere, to transform hunger to health, and create resilient lives and communities.’ I envision and run programs, and support staff to help our mission blossom and remain innovative. SOL (Seeds of Leadership) Garden for youth is our core and longest running program, and engages young people in using their bodies, minds, and hearts to cultivate food and a hopeful future.
What comes easiest to you in this work?
Forming and sustaining community partnerships and relationships—not that this is easy, but it is very gratifying, unites diverse people and organizations, and enables good work to multiply and strengthen our communities.
What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
Our motto is Grow Food Everywhere and in addition to SOL Garden, we help create gardens at local childcare centers, libraries, the county jail, health centers, and for people in recovery, plus have taught 1000s of people techniques to build healthy soil and grow food on lawns, lots, or in containers. We also started the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival with our neighbors, now a dynamic venue that supports local artists, performers and farmers while energizing our low-income rural community.
How do you blow off steam?
Dance around the house, re-center with yoga, or go out into nature for healing.
What do you create in your free time?
Writing, photography, pottery, and love to create meals of the food we grow on our farm to serve my family and whoever is at our table.
Seen any good movies lately?
The Eagle Huntress was beautiful.
What are you reading?
The Third Reconstruction. Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement by Rev. Dr William J. Barber
The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Well, soon there will be an authorized one, albeit more memoir/motivational than biography. My husband Ricky and I are currently writing “Making Love While Farming: A Field Guide to a Life of Passion and Purpose.”
Carry on with resilience and love!
On a Thursday afternoon in March, students at New Bedford Whaling Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program are diligently at work. Decked out in goggles and gloves, they use a blueprint to construct a boat – a life-size replica of a small, paper model. From assembling to smoothing, gluing and prepping, students take care of the entire operation.
Open to low-income New Bedford high school students, the Apprenticeship Program is designed to immerse students in skill-based projects in the humanities and interpretive sciences, intensive mentorship, and life skills instruction, including college preparation and financial literacy. They also receive training in public speaking, personal comportment, and audience engagement. Students meet four days a week after school in the Museum’s Apprentice Lab.
Apprentices exemplify the mission of the program with clear professionalism, goal-oriented motivation and resourcefulness. As students directed a tour through the diverse galleries describing the exhibits with a comfortable familiarity, it was clear that the museum is a second home.
“I have learned about some of the components that are used to make boats and actually how to build a boat. I have also learned how to handle my personal finances.” – Kelton, youth participant
“This program has challenged me because it’s made me more open and more comfortable talking to people.” – Darlene, youth participant
“[The Apprenticeship Program] has challenged me to practice my English” – Suely, youth participant
“The program has really challenged me to find a balance between school and work.” – Ryland, youth participant
“Traveling to Iceland [with the program] was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever been given. It really changed my outlook on people and I’d really love to go back and explore more.” – Alexandra, youth participant
To date, there have been 47 graduates from the Apprenticeship Program. 100% have graduated from high school and 93% have pursued post-secondary education. This year, an apprentice will attend an Ivy League school in the fall, the first of the program’s graduates to do so. A second program graduate is also scheduled to receive their Master’s in 2018. The program boasts a strong alumni base with past apprentices returning to the museum as part-time employees, interns, volunteers, and guest speakers.
The group’s boat is set to float at the Boat Launching Party on May 20 at the Community Boating Center of New Bedford.
The following is a letter to the editor that appeared in The Recorder. It is a fantastic reminder of how Creative Youth Development transcends discipline and allows us to honor creativity in unexpected places:
Thursday, August 6, 2015
In regards to the article “Statewide arts funding increases” (Aug. 1), in addition to wonderful arts-related programs, it is lesser known that the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) also supports several science and environmental initiatives.
Seeds of Solidarity’s SOL Garden program for North Quabbin youth relies on funding from the MCC YouthReach program (and the generosity of individuals locally and beyond) to provide low-income teenagers with a high-quality, garden-based program after school and throughout the summer. Each year, we provide hundreds of North Quabbin high school students with ecology, sustainable-agriculture and renewable-energy presentations in their school science classes. Then, throughout each spring, summer and fall, a diverse group of 25 North Quabbin teens engage in authentic learning and critical conversations on topics such as food and climate change, soil ecology and food justice plus gain real skills for resiliency through growing and cooking healthy food, and design/building projects. They learn civic engagement as they prepare community meals for those in need, help create gardens for local day cares, and educate thousands about composting at the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival, among a host of other activities.
Importantly, and amidst a social backdrop of increased opiate use, the program provides a safe setting that is a beacon of hope and lifeline to a positive future. For many of the 400 local youth who have participated in our program since 1999, SOL Garden is a focus of their college essay (often first in their family to go) and a significant volunteer and work experience helping qualify them for jobs and careers. We offer our curricula, resources and videos on our website (seedsofsolidarity.org) to help launch similar programs regionally and nationally.
We do our best to keep our local legislators informed about SOL Garden and our other programs, and are very grateful for their efforts on the recent budget and override. This “arts” funding has the added benefit of supporting innovative science and environmental education, and creatively transforming the lives of many North Quabbin youth.
Deborah Habib, is director of the Seeds of Solidarity Education Center. Seeds of Solidarity re-imagines a self sustaining farm as a space for Creative Youth Development in Orange, MA and represents a strong cohort of programs in the sciences and humanities that are supported by YouthReach, STARS, and other MCC programs.
Every young person that goes through Lowell Leaders in Stewardship has the right to say, “I am a scientist.” In fact, they are encouraged to do so. From raising snapping turtles in the classroom to monitoring water quality in local rivers, young people are learning what being a scientist means. Gwen Kozlowski, Stewardship & Education Manager of the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust, speaks of a participant who surprised the team while working on a tree-planting project. Gwen said, “The young man’s mouth ran a mile a minute and we had thought anything we said went in one ear and out the other. But we were blown away when he said at the end of the 10-week session that watching our tree had made him look around and watch the leaves on his dad’s tree open. He had never realized how fast they grew! This small observation study had transcended other places in his life and opened his eyes to the amazing sights of spring.”
The Lowell Leaders in Stewardship programs offers a place for students to expand science learning in different ways than occur within the school day. They are presented with hands- on experiences. They are able to develop their own project ideas and then complete them. The impacts, however, go beyond science learning. They grow and learn how to become leaders and how to feel like they are making a difference in their community when participating in stewardship activities. This experience can expand their visions of what might be possible for them. Kris Scopinich, Education Director at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm, shared a story of young girl in the program who was not planning on attending college. This young woman was working in the field one day with her group, studying water quality in a local river when she told a staff member that she thought that maybe she wanted to do this in college. She said she really enjoyed what she was doing. She was encouraged by the staff to pursue this dream. She learned that she is capable of being a scientist and her possibilities are endless. She changed her initial plan to going to school for environmental science.
According to Gwen, “The most rewarding aspect of the Lowell Leaders in Stewardship Program is the connection young people make to the Lowell community and other students. Friendships form and deepen through the meaningful work that is completed. Our group has often been called a ‘family’.” This is one of the key aspects to the success of creative youth development programs. This sort of feeling can be achieved using many mediums, so long as the program is safe, welcoming, inspiring, and provides a place of learning, growth, and connection. The Lowell Leaders in Stewardship program embodies all of these aspects through environmental studies and giving young people the skills and confidence to declare, “I am a scientist, and I am a valuable citizen of Lowell.”
Lowell Leaders in Stewardship is a program of the Mass. Audubon Society in partnership with Lowell Parks and Conversation Trust and the Lowell Public Schools. This post is an excerpt from a longer case study by Jenny Beers, a student at Mass. College of Liberal Arts.
Cubist Pharmaeuticals and the Cambridge Science Festival are challenging 15-20 year olds to create a video, 30 sec. – 5 min. long, that explains what a germ is to a 5th grade audience. (Contestants DO NOT need to live in Cambridge.)
Entries must be accurate, thorough, creative, engaging, and fun. Entries will be judged first by a panel of Cubist scientists and then by a panel of 5th graders.
- The individual winner will receive a GoPro video camera.
- The team/class winner will receive a $1500 gift certificate to buy hands-on science supplies.
- Deadline to enter is March 28.
Simply post the entry on YouTube or Vimeo and send the link to: CambridgeSciFest@gmail.com. Please include your full name and age in the email.
Both winning videos will be shown at the 2014 Cambridge Science Festival. Learn more.
In 2000, high school student Kacie Breault got involved with Seeds of Leadership at Seeds of Solidarity in Orange, MA. She went on to study sustainable agriculture at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, VT, and graduated in 2008. She is now working on her Masters in Education and Waldorf teacher training at Antioch University New England in Keene, NH. Here Kacie reflects on her experience at Seeds of Solidarity:
I was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school seeking a new after school routine. After school the public transit bus would pick me and other students up at the high schools. It would take 30 minutes to drive past Lake Mattawa, up the bending roads that narrowed and turned to dirt. Old stone walls bordering sugar maples stood on either side of the road, letting us know we were almost there. Seeds of Solidarity (SOS) Farm and Education Center and its SOL (Seeds of Leadership) Garden program is off the beaten path and even off the grid.
Arriving at SOL Garden, we would share healthy snacks and talk about agriculture and other environmental concerns together, then get to work. Like many out-of-school programs, SOL was based on experiential learning, mentoring, and authentic, meaningful relationships. The staff worked alongside us sharing their life stories and listening to ours. They interacted with us as young adults with something to contribute, not as dumb high school students needing to be corrected, and they gave us the opportunity to learn through doing. They allowed us to take on responsibilities and grow not only food but confidence.
I got to know the other students I worked with in the gardens really well, many of whom I would have never taken the time to befriend in school. We built friendships and camaraderie, connections you can only have with people with whom you have weeded, hauled compost, harvested endless amounts of beans, or constructed buildings. Together we sold produce from the SOL garden at the farmers market, where I found myself educating the public about local food, the biodiesel/grease conversion van, GMO’s, and the importance of using alternative fuel and solar energy to limit our dependence on oil.
The work ethic and confidence I gained through SOL garden spilled over into other parts of my life. The following year I got an A+ in my English class, and by senior year I had planned an independent study at the SOS farm to do some season-extending experiments in the greenhouse. I was self-educating and self-motivating. I applied to college and got in! I would be the first in my family to go to college. I chose to study sustainable agriculture. The seed was planted and it took root.
It has been 13 years since the first time I walked down the path to Seeds of Solidarity. When I visit, I am overcome with so many familiar smells and feelings of hope, inspiration, beauty, busting life forces, and love. I have always been drawn back to my hometown to stay involved with the ever-growing education center and farm. SOL Garden instilled a sense of responsibility in me that motivated me to become an educator. Seeds of Solidarity is living proof you can succeed in doing what you love especially when your passion is to live a more sustainable and beautiful life. The SOL garden seed continues to grow through me and sends out new shoots every time I find myself working in the garden, especially with children.
Kacie still considers herself to be an SOL Gardener and always will be. In her words, “an SOL Gardeners’ work is never done.”
Don’t forget next week’s event at the Museum of Science Boston – Insights and Innovation: Youth Speak through Media and Technology – celebrating 20 years of YouthReach through youth-led demonstrations and video screenings. 4:30-7:00 pm with a reception to follow. RSVP now.