The Young Pioneer Project is an innovative, creative, multi-disciplinary team approach to behavioral change, leadership development and academic proficiency. We create tomorrow’s leaders. If you are interested in developing leadership and character in our children, especially those at risk, read on.
Visitors to any given session of The Young Pioneer Project are likely to be pleasantly surprised. For this is not your standard classroom program. Nor is it the usual mixture of afterschool activities designed to entertain young people or keep them busy.
Walk into a session of The Young Pioneer Project and you will observe 4 to 5 specialists utilizing music, art, storytelling, cultural awareness, role-playing, and training in conflict resolution and principles of character and leadership to motivate and encourage positive changes in attitude and behavior.
Many hands-on interactive activities are designed into the curriculum. Additional components added to the curriculum are entrepreneurial and job-readiness training. Students are asked to become “young pioneers” and regularly, repetitiously recite a “Young Pioneer Pledge” as well as the “8 Qualities of a Young Pioneer.”
The Young Pioneer Project is a concept of a village where the elders (the Specialists) stimulate the young pioneers to base their actions and thoughts on the NGUZO SABA or Seven Principles of KWANZAA. This team approach is unique; Specialists are concerned, dedicated persons who have expertise as educators, artists, playwrights, musicians, poets and conflict negotiators.
The Young Pioneer Project was piloted in 6 public schools in the Greater Cleveland area and a neighborhood center. Judging from the feedback and evaluations we received from students, parents, teachers and administrators, the participants grew in character and positive actions.
Many of the children who were selected to be part of the project were extremely disruptive, rude, and uncooperative and generally labeled “at risk.” While we are aware that change doesn’t occur overnight and that many other factors impact our youth, we’re confident that the long-term (and some short-term) effects of this serious project will be of great benefit to the children and the community at large.
Contemporary sociologists and social workers are examining the troubling statistics among youth and particularly inner city youth who are often considered “at risk.” Many factors impact our children: the high numbers of unwed teen pregnancies, substance abuse, poverty and single mothers struggling to raise children who are sometimes angry and frustrated, media which bombards our young people with programs and often music that demoralizes and degrades while glamorizing a culture of disrespect, violence and immorality.
The impact is a frightening situation of many children who are delinquent, truant and lacking the positive character traits that promote healthy social interaction, academic well-being and self-sufficiency.
Shifting the Paradigm: The Foundation of the Young Pioneer Project
The metamorphosis through which our youth must go in order to become intelligent, cooperative and compassionate participants in a healthy society, necessitates a vast transformation in character and behavior. In order to bring about such a transformation in the behavior of many of today’s youth, the Dasi-Ziyad Family Institute explored the concept of changing the mind or thought patterns which are the framework for behavior.
In other words, change the mental and emotional outlook, provide strong role models in a supportive environment and changes in behavior will follow. Thus was born The Young Pioneer Project, an innovative, creative multi-disciplinary Team approach to behavioral change and academic enrichment. It is a comprehensive project which impacts the social, academic and spiritual dimensions of a young person.
Practical Application of the Young Pioneer Project
A team of specialists including musicians, educators, artists, poets, martial artists and mediators with expertise in conflict resolution, bring an extraordinary level of commitment and skill to the project. The team operates together in each session in the concept of a village where the specialists are the “elders” and the students are the “young pioneers.”
This village is based on the seven Kwanzaa principles or the Nguzo Saba: Unity, self-determination, collective work & responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. There are 8 qualities of a young pioneer which are continuously emphasized and a Young Pioneer Pledge which is recited daily. Students quickly take to the team of skilled, caring professionals and the unusual curriculum.
This exciting, innovative Young Pioneer Project was implemented in 6 greater Cleveland Public schools and a neighborhood center during the 2001-2002 school year, and served approximately 200 children, most of whom were labeled “at risk”. The curriculum for the Young Pioneer Project is a unique one which fosters character and leadership development, cultural awareness, life skills, reading and math enrichment, utilizing music, art, drama and training in communication, goal-setting and conflict resolution. For older students, job readiness, financial literacy and career exploration are added features of the curriculum.
While we initially began with one class at each school, upon noting the effectiveness of The Young Pioneer Project curriculum, some school administrators requested that we conduct other Young Pioneer Project sessions with additional classes at their schools. The curriculum of The Young Pioneer Project is a highly interactive and practical one wherein students learn by doing.
For implementation of The Young Pioneer Project in your school, agency or neighborhood center, please contact us.