As parents, teachers, counselors, social workers (etc.) whether we like it or not urban youth culture, particularly Black youth are more influenced by ‘Hip-Hop’ culture and its cultural icons – ‘Rappers and Gang leaders’ than Black adults and traditional institutions. One of the prominent symbols of urban youth culture is hand gestures in general and gang signs in particular.
Youth are constantly throwing-up hand signs and being influenced by them and constantly creating new signs. In many urban neighbor-hoods gang sign graffiti is everywhere; youth can fully communicate with each other through non-verbal communication hand gestures.
Since hand gestures play such a prominent role in urban youth culture communication, why haven’t the adult community and traditional institutions created a counter positive hand gesture to influence our youth?
Overall as adults we failed to create a counter positive hand gesture because of our disregard (adultism) and our lack of youth culture competence. 4s’ Up Cs’ is this positive hand gesture; it represents youth development and creating an overall ‘considerate community’.
I believe 4s’ Up Cs’ for Learning and Life is a very effective youth development model that combines youth culture, critical thinking, social emotional learning; and the reinforcement involvement of schools, families, and communities.
Social and Emotional Learning’s Benefits:
Research shows that children and youth with well-developed social and emotional learning skills have:
*Improved attitudes, including improved academic motivation, commitment to learning, and a sense of school as a caring place
*Improved behavior, resulting in fewer absences and suspensions, more pro-social interactions, and reduced aggression, disruptive behavior, and interpersonal violence
*Skills to enable them to avoid engaging in high-risk behaviors, such as using illegal drugs and dropping out of school
*Improved academic performance, including improved skills and grades in math, language arts, and social studies, and better problem-solving and planning skills, and subject mastery
Our youth development model involves the stimulation and training of both a youth's critical thinking skills and emotional development. By strengthening and enhancing social-emotional well-being, we will increase our youth's capabilities - give them the tools to aspire to be successful in Learning and Life.
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