CHICAGO, IL – A team of nearly 20 professionals and youth leaders in gun violence prevention, public health, education, and the arts from across the U.S. and Canada convened to help development and implementation of this curriculum for personal leadership and gun violence prevention for high school students.
Dr. Janice Tisha Samuels, founding executive director of the National Youth Art Movement Against Gun Violence, partnered with the Great Books Foundation, and Robert Fritz Inc. Nov. 22 through Nov. 24 in Chicago to host a kick-off meeting and think tank to begin the national curriculum.
Included in this group were subject matter experts like Dr. Tanya Sharpe, Associate Professor and Factor Inwentash Chair in Social Work in the Global Community at the University of Toronto who specializes in coping mechanisms for African American victims of homicide, and Dr. Kelvin Ramirez – Assistant Professor in Expressive Arts Therapies/Global Interdisciplinary Studies at Lesley University in Boston and a board certified art therapist who achieved phenomenal success developing and implementing innovative youth support groups as a vice principal at a high school in the Bronx.
Additionally, Robert Fritz, the best-selling author of the Path of Least Resistance, and consultant led the curriculum planning sessions as well as three learning sessions on his Creative Process methodology. This methodology will serve as the foundational approach to the personal leadership and art creation components of the curriculum.
The goal of the curriculum is to develop within each student and within their schools a strong foundation for catalyzing pro-social behaviors among youth that:
- Expands their capacity for building relationships.
- Engenders a creative orientation for addressing life’s obstacles.
- Demonstrates, in hands-on activities, how to address emotional and mental strain constructively by applying their passions and feelings of disillusionment to creative endeavors and civic and community engagement.
The curriculum will launch at one school per US region for a total of five during the 2020/2021 academic year.
This curriculum is meant to be a counterbalance to the widespread anxiety and depression evoked within youth in the U.S. by increasing acts of violence in public spaces and the reality of active shooter drills in schools. It is meant to precipitate a culture shift from bullying and hatred as a norm to creating peer-to-peer compassionate communities in schools that are self-perpetuating.
The team convened to kick-off curriculum development along with additional supporters who will later become part of individual instructional support teams for teachers who choose to implement the curriculum in their classrooms.