Friday, February 04, 2011

Black History Month at Cabrini Connections

Each year in the Cabrini Connections' program we come up with some type of Black History Month project/contest that looks to bring out and/or enhance the skill set of our youth. We provide projects that cause the students to do research, work on their writing skills, test their creativity, and assist them with their public speaking skills. We feel that these skills can and will be helpful not just for the Black History Month project here at Cabrini Connections, but in everyday life in the present and in the future.

This year the project comes from a short documentary that Cabrini Connections' staff members EL Da' Sheon Nix and Bradley Troast observed last year, and we have been brainstorming ways in which we could incorporate the documentary into the Cabrini Connections' program. 'The Twenty-First Century Foundation (21CF) has partnered with actor–director Mario Van Peebles and producer Karen Williams to create BRING YOUR A GAME. The film that will use screenings accompanied by community discussions as a catalyst to transform the lives of urban youth. Using a cinematic style influenced by popular culture and employing innovative technologies, the film details strategies that have improved the lives of Black men and boys. It underscores how essential educational achievement and high school graduation are to survival and success in today’s world.'

Not only is the documentary a powerful tool that many people, both old and young, could use, but the documentary is an audio and visual example of what we try to demonstrate on a weekly basis here at Cabrini Connections. We want all of our youth to understand the pros and cons of the decisions they make, to take advantage of any and all resources made available to them, to network, and to continue to strive for all of the many goals they set even through adverse conditions.

With that being said, we used the documentary as our inspiration for the 2011 Black History Month Project here at Cabrini Connections. The project is titled "Bring Your A Essay." The students will have to first view the documentary and then take the time out to complete a one-page reflective essay. The students have the opportunity to use the documentary to reflect on their life in general, the life of someone they know, or how the documentary compares to the society as a whole. The essays will be due before the last sessions of the month, and we will take time out the very last sessions of the month to allow the participating students to showcase their essay. We will also reward the student that has the winning essay with a $50 cash prize.
The value of the students participating in this project is much more than a cash prize of $50. This project will create an opportunity for the students to observe a great documentary that they can and will hopefully share with others, will provide an opportunity to enhance their writing skills and public speaking skills, and will simply be more information they can use in their everyday lives.

In 2009 Whitney Hemphill, now a senior in the program, took home first place in the Black History Month Project contest by putting together an amazing powerpoint presentation that was directed toward President Barack Obama and his Administration. The project called for students to find creative ways to communicate to President Obama about their lives and the changes they hoped that he could provide in their lives, schools, homes, and community.

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