It seems that tensions are running high in our country and its trickling down to our communities. It is clear that our youth are discontent with the state of things. One of the schools that the RiseAbove program is currently in is here in Sacramento. Our goal in RiseAbove is to help youth who are experiencing homelessness or are in danger of becoming chronically homeless. There are many factors that contribute to a youths likelihood of becoming chronically homeless like being in foster care, not graduating, not having safe and stable housing and many other factors that would take its own series of posts to fully explain that I will likely get to at some point. The kids that are part of the RiseAbove program are at risk of so many negative outcomes that it’s hard to address just one. If I had to choose just one it would have to be managing their emotions through conflict. They often feel like there is no other way to resolve conflict other than violence. Yelling out racial slurs that have been used on them so many times. My heart breaks for the low expectations they have for their lives and not enough people telling them anything different. This is why our program teaches overall health to nurture a change in mindset rather than memorizing information. We do this in the hopes that the skills would be able to be used in many situations not just the most urgent.
The best way for me is to explain how and why we teach this way is to relate it to something familiar. I really love to cook. Like really love to cook. I love to cook for friends and family. People often make the remark that I should open a my own restaurant. While I appreciate the compliment, I worked as a restaurant manager for enough time to know that I should stick to what I am good at. Every year my friends and I come together the Thursday before Thanksgiving and do a huge FRIENDS-giving. It is an amazing time appreciate the blessings this year has brought and celebrate the amazing relationships we share. Often at events like these people ask for the recipes for my veggie dip, or the turkey or something else that I have made. All I do is put my hands up and shrug with a dazed look on my face and I say simply “I don’t have recipes.” I’ve never learned recipes, I learned the method, not the script. I learned how to flambé rather than learning the recipe for bananas foster. I learned how to make fruit compotes and pie crust rather than memorizing recipes for cherry, apple and blackberry pies. Learning the methods was more useful to me. I can make my own recipes with what I had, rather than becoming overwhelmed by not having all of the necessary ingredients for a recipe that I haven’t made before.
Teaching youth the method rather than the recipe is important. In order for real change to occur, their mindset has to change. The best way we can do this is to make big concepts, like managing conflict in non-destructive ways, and making them bites size and make sense to them now. Teaching them to make their own recipes with what they have. It is up to us to create a platform where their voice matters and teach them healthy coping skills. Then we have give them room to make mistakes and help them identify ways to minimize the affects. This also works for adults and youth alike. Work on the method and you’ll be a better problem solver. Also, This post might be a shameful plug for my Istagram food blog which you can follow @masonstable.