Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Blog Post- Coauthoring

There were a some words that I didn't know in this reading or I had some idea what they meant but were explained in the reading. 
1.Theoretical Thinking- didn't know at first and then was explained and also explained that adolescents use this all the time
2. Theoretical Imagination- again didn't know what it was at first and then explained that youth use this from pulling together a history of information from multiple sources to come up with possibilities that might happen. Adolescent youth use trial and error and use past history of situations they have been in or seen to draw assumptions of present situations.
3. Construction of Adolescence- This is the process in which adolescents are always constructing their lives.
4. Reciprocal Transformation
5. Applied Developmentalists- Both terms are shaped in their our professional development through the nature of their connections with the younger people they teach and support.

Those were really the only words that I didn't know what they were but then were explained more in depth in the article.  I really enjoyed the stuff on Vygotsky and I didn't put any of those words on my list because I already know what they were and what they meant from when I took Educational Psychology class.  It was a good refresher about what he is about and the Zone Of Proximal Development.  This is meeting kids where they are at and not making education or teachings too difficult or too easy for them to do.  Also scaffolding and helping kids get to solutions with some help but again not making it too easy. 

My List of People who Coauthored my Life
1. Mom (Cathy)
2. Dad (Bruce Sr)
3. Brother (Bruce Jr)
4. Wife (Jackie)
5. Gary (Friend)
6. George (Friend/Mentor)
7. Mrs. Goldberg (Mean Teacher)
8. Scott (Teacher)
9. Uncle (Walter)
10. Chris (Friend)

This list is just 10 people but there are many more, but these are the 10 that have helped me more than anyone.  There are 2 that I am going to pick because one cant go down without the other.  They are George and Gary.  Gary is one of my best friends and has always been there for me and we have been friends since we were 8 years old.  George was our mentor and friend.  Gary and I would go to the boys and girls club everyday after school and George was one of the staff members there and he would do everything with us and everything for us.  He taught us how to play basketball, how to play baseball, how to have fun, how to make new friends.  As we grew up he taught us how to be active in our community and he started the Keystone Club at the boys and girls club and we would go out into the Oakland Beach community and do clean ups and plant community gardens and fix up the parks and ball fields in the area.  As we went off to middle school and high school he became our teacher and then our coach and after that he was just our friend.  One place in Oakland Beach was the run down basketball court at the end of Oakland Beach Avenue and how it was run down and was really a hot spot for vandalism and crime and George wanted to fix it up and rebuild it.  George passed away unexpectedly and Gary and I were very upset, not only did we both lose a friend we lost a father figure and for Gary this hit hard because we buried both of Gary's parents while we were in high school.  So Gary and I wanted to do something to honor our friend and our mentor and we decided to rebuild the basketball court and fix the park area and give kids in the community a place to go.  Basically the Keystone Club became a non profit.  George and Gary are the reason I am so active in my community and will continue to be active in my community to honor him.  The video I attached is the video that we used to raise awareness of what we were doing and why we were doing it.  It also helped to raise funds for the project.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Blog #4 Ted Talk

In my lifetime I very rarely felt that I was invisible.  I had to really think about this question and how it relates to my life.  I use to feel invisible when it came to being a recovering addict.  That aspect of my life is something that is important to me and it is part of who I am.  It is part of my identity.  I would shy away from talking about and the stigma that comes along with it.  I had to become comfortable with myself and now I don't always tell everyone that I am in recovery but I am very open about it to show that yes I may be a recovering addict but I am still capable of doing great things.  People shy away from their identity in this world and that is sad.  As we work with the youth we should embrace every child's identity and not have them shy away from who they are.  It doesn't have to be about race it has to do with who they are as a human.  As humans we are all different and have different backgrounds and upbringings and we should embrace all customs and backgrounds in our settings not just the social norms of what America says we have to.  If I would with a child who doesn't celebrate Christmas I should have time set aside to teach the other children in that group about their customs and believes and that goes to say it should be done for all children who have different believes and customs so that we can educate our youth about other cultures and to be open to celebrating with them.  I know in school we never talked about other kids customs it was always the same American holidays and American culture which is sad.  It wasn't until I got to high school where I saw it more out in the open.  It was never talked about in elementary school.

The video hit on a lot of different emotions and how I feel about what goes on in this country regarding race.  I am very passionate about treating people equal but that's easy for me to say because I am white and have never had to deal with the struggles that others have had to deal with.  Being white in this country there comes a fact of white privilege, now I don't agree with this but it happens and it happens everywhere and it is very unfortunate.  Like Mellody had said, the fact that 70% of the people who run fortune 250 companies are white and out of the 1000's of publicly traded companies only 2 women head up the companies.  These numbers are facts and are despicable.  But again it goes back to the white privilege piece as well as male privilege and our country is working to be better but is still far far away from being where it should be.  I like when she said when will we think it is normal to walk into a board room and the board members are all black?  I agree with her just because it is something we done see doesn't make it abnormal.  I believe in people being treated equally and that we are all humans and we should treat others the way we want to be treated.  Not to go on and on about what I believe in because that could take up pages, I liked how Mellody talked about having the conversations and being comfortable talking about uncomfortable situations which race is.  I am a big believer in having the conversation and bring awareness to the issues which she talks about as well as YIA does very well.  YIA gives children of all different backgrounds, believes, race, sexual identity, etc. a voice and can be heard.  Not only do they do that but the keep children's dreams in tact and give them the strength to become whatever it is that they want to become.  Mellody spoke about encouraging our youth to dream and dream big and it is our responsibility to not only encourage them but to empower them.  I want to go back to the comfort piece again and when she was talking about her swim coach and how he made her swim with holding her breath and the exercise was to get her comfortable with being uncomfortable I thought that was great and I could help think about what a wise women said to me once.  This women said to me "your life begins when you step outside the comfort zone."  I hold on to that statement today and believe that you have to step outside your norm and what is comfortable in order to create change in not only yourself but in other people.  If you are inspired to change yourself and you show passion about change in you and passion in changing other things in the world you can motivate other people to do the same.  YIA empowers youth to be leaders and to have the uncomfortable conversations and raise awareness and that should be done more in the world today.      

I am attaching two videos to my blog one is a scene from Coach Carter and how he inspired his athletes and the other is a video about race and identity.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In a World Where Youth Hold the Power

Youth In Action has created a place where youth in the community of Providence can express their voice and be heard as well as make positive change not only in themselves but in their community.  They are able to live our their dreams and goals while having a say in what goes on in the community around them.  Since 1997 YIA has created this space by bringing a program called "Leading With" which makes them feel equal to adults and work hand and hand with adults.  A lot of times youth feel like they can either feel like they have hope or they are hopeless.  A lot of times the youth in a community feel overlooked and feel like they don't have a voice to make change.  But there are youth out there that look past that and have a strong sense of what they need to do and what they need to say and YIA has a wonderful program that does that.  They bring awareness to issues that most adults have a hard time talking about such as race, inequality, homeless, etc.  YIA brings these issues to light and they youth make the decisions in the program and run the facility.  They are the ones out in the trenches and making things happen.  Adults tend to overlook youth and think that they don't know what is going on and YIA lets people know that youth have a voice and see what is going on more than we know.  It also gives them the tools to speak their mind and speak their ideas and a lot of the times the youth have good ideas on how to address social issues.  Youth (children, young adults) hear and see more then we know and can understand more then we think they can state the facts and the issues better then a lot of adults.  As adults we get blinded by a lot of different things and try to say things to keep the peace where young adults speak their mind and say some of the things that adults might not say and that is what needs to happen in order to make change.  I believe in having the conversations especially the difficult ones and bringing the issues to the light and letting people draw their own opinion and that is what YIA does very well.  If you have the conversations people might not agree with you but at least they can form their own opinion on the issue and you did your job by making them passionate about a particular situation and educating.  They state the facts and bring the facts out and let people make their choices.  I love the part of the article where it said "I argue with someone at YIA at least once a week- but in a good way.  In the world, there are a lot controversial topics like race, faith, abortion, or gay marriage.  YIA is filled with different opinions and beliefs, but the trust we have in each other makes it easier to get past the controversy and find solutions."  This was my favorite paragraph from the reading because it shows that you can have a healthy argument and debate about difficult subject and still come out the other end and find solutions.  I love the fact that they talk about these issues because a lot of people think that youth are not old enough or mature enough to talk about certain subjects but yet they really are and can really have a good opinion on the issues and come up with solutions.  I relate what to what YIA does and love that they do it.  We try to do this at the non-profit I am a part of.  We try to make the youth in the community of Oakland Beach aware of the issues that their community faces and not only have the conversations but what we can do together to make it better.  It starts by showing the youth how to love the community they live in and if they care about things such as crime, littering, and vandalism they can start by doing community cleanups and showing people around the community that they are doing something to clean it up and care about the place they live.  It slowly starts to begin a trend and less of those things occur.  I look forward to learning more about what YIA does and hopefully getting some good suggestions on how to bring some of their qualities to the youth I work with in a future job as well as in the non-profit as well. 
Image result for youth have voices

Introduction from Youth Work

The seven characterizes of youth workers are youth work in an educations practice, youth work in a social practice, youth workers actively challenge inequality and work towards social justice, where possible, young people choose to be involved, youth work seeks to strengthen the voice and influence of young people, youth work is a welfare practice, and youth work works with young people ‘holistically’.  In each one of these characteristics they are important.  In the education practice the youth worker needs to have a level of understanding on how to reach the youth they are working with in order to reach them on both a formal and informal education.  What informal means here is thinking outside the box to reach the youth and meeting them where they are at and helping reach a potential that they might not know they have.  The social practice piece is important too because I believe having youth work with others and seeking relationships with their peers is important.  I think it is important that this occurs and that it is a diverse group of youth.  For example I will use the high school baseball team I coach.  Coming into the season some of the kids are friends with each other and every child has their own identity and some of the players were not in the same clique’s inside school.  Once we got on the ball field we become a family and I have all of them get to know each other but not only that I would have them eat lunch together as a team if they were in the same lunch and players would introduce the other players to their friends and little by slow each player would become friends.  By the end of the year they are working together as a team and as a family on and off the field.  Going out to team dinners after practices or games, hanging out at each other’s houses and even becoming the anti-bullying squad in the school which means they would call out bullies and stick up for other students to strike out bullying in the school.  With NO fighting of course.  That example fits in with the next characteristic of youth workers challenging inequality and work towards social justice.  The next one is the young people choose to be involved and this is important because the youth you work with have to want to be there and if you are making it interesting they will want to participate.  When it comes to strengthen the voice and influence of young people this is so important that the young people have a voice and are being empowered.  I like this one because the young people I work with I encourage to do well in school and tell them that they are important and have responsibilities and can become anything they want.  I hold study halls during the school year even in the off season to help the kids with their studies and make sure they stay on track.  I help them with senior projects and applications for colleges.  With the non-profit I help run we give college scholarships to student athletes and I help them figure out what they want to do for college and how they can get there.  The welfare practice is huge because the welfare and safety of the young people is the most important thing.  One of my players has a particularly hard home life and without getting in to too much details his outlet is baseball but he is always nervous about what mom might do to bring him down.  So we work on staying positive at home and doing what mom tells him as long as it is safe and we built a “happy playlist” on his phone to play when he is stressed or in a bad mood.  We also work together on his grades so that he can get into a good college and play ball.  I believe that this young man would benefit from going to college and living on campus and moving out of his house when he is finished with high school.  The last part of working holistically is important and the non-profit that I help run does this on a daily basis.  The youth in the community work together to clean up the neighborhoods and help restore the damaged community. 

            The last thing I want to talk about is a relatable story to what was said in the paragraph “what makes a good youth worker”.  I had a player who was 15 years old who was in and out of the training school and playing baseball was the one thing that made him happy.  I wanted to help him on a number of different levels but he had to trust me first before I could do that. One night I was coming outside from my work and he was there picking cigarette butts out of the butt bucket and smoking them.  We talked for a while and he told me he doesn’t even like to smoke he just does it to be cool or fit in.  So we came up with a plan and I shared that I have a bad habit of drinking too much coffee.  We agreed to quit both habits and would log our cravings and if we caved.  We both caved twice in the first week so we came up with a plan to call a person we trust to talk to when we got a craving and we would check in with each other at baseball every day.  By the end of the month we both had quit our habits.  After that I was able to help him with his studies and finding a job and working on some other issues that he has.  I see him occasionally and he is still not smoking and is working and staying out of he is also down 50lbs (he was a larger young man).  I have since went back to drinking coffee but instead of having 3-4 per day I only have one.  I was happy to see him doing well and still not smoking and not getting in trouble.

Who Am I Post

My name is Michael Fratus most of you know me but for those of you who do not I am 28 years old and I love working with high school youth.  My passion is in the high schools and with student athletes.  I coach baseball as well as basketball.  I am also on a board of directors for a non-profit in Warwick based in Oakland Beach.  We work with the youth in the community to keep them active and teach them about loving their community.  My passion is working with youth and I also love coaching, playing sports, and spending time with my wife.  My goal is to get my BA in Youth Development and then get my Masters in Social Work.  I want to work in the high schools and then do private practice counseling youth.  I am not the strongest with the whole internet thing and I am getting use to blogging and posting things on the internet.  I will work to get out of my comfort zone and make my blog more appealing with some backgrounds and pictures as soon as I learn how to get my pictures from my phone to the computer.  I look forward to looking at others blogs and getting some ideas and will update soon.