comprehensive prevention effort to eradicate the propensity towards, and the actual usage of, substances in the black community
It is based on the assumption that programs or activities directed at the black community cannot "just reapply standardized prevention models, methodologies, and materials that do not take into consideration the richness, uniqueness, and peculiar needs of the black community.” Winners’ represents a "pro-blackness or strong racial identity strategy" as an alternative to the strong emphasis on "typical anti-drug tactics" found in the majority of substance abuse programs.
Winners views its self-esteem/racial identity oriented activities as being crucial. The importance of a healthy self-concept has been well documented in recent years and has developed into an integral ingredient in all substance abuse prevention and health promotion ventures and related curricula. While both prevention/health promotion programs and the schools have made a conscious effort to deal with this facet of the affective domain, it has not been addressed from a cultural, pro-blackness perspective. While it is important that our youth develop a sense of confidence in their capabilities and come to accept and like themselves as individuals, it is equally as important that our black youth come to see and like themselves as black youth - bearers of a rich, historical heritage, and shouldered with a unique responsibility. Instead of being vague, general, or generic, Winners approaches self-esteem from a pro-black orientation.
The potential importance of Winners' creative writing activities cannot be understated. It is of extreme importance that ethnic youth and parents have a positive self-esteem; so much depends on it. Many of the problems that have plagued the black community are direct results of low levels of self-esteem and low levels of pride in one's community. This low level of self-esteem and community pride is reflected in our alcohol and drug abuse, the many cases of "mental sickness", the cases of domestic violence, family break-up, vandalism, black-on-black homicides, etc., that are a part of everyday life in our communities of color. Winners will equip youth with a source of information, inspiration, and a sense of direction, which will add up to a higher level/sense of self and heritage.
Heritage, a sense of tradition and history, is treated as a cornerstone of a healthy self-concept. Knowledge that our youth come from a long line of people stretching back to the days before Christ, innovators, Kings and Queens, courtesans of the Arts will give youth a truer gauge by which to measure their self-esteems. If they have high levels of self-esteem, they will continue to soar at that level; if their self-esteem is low, it will rise as they are propelled on by this new knowledge of self and heritage. As youth learn about and understand their past, they become better prepared to confront the challenges of the future.
The major approach to the Winners Workbook Series is the written medium. Youth are made to think and to write. This approach believes that by having a creative writing emphasis, one is in the position of having the greatest impact on the lives of youth. This approach is very complimentary to and reinforces the efforts of classroom instructors in regards to the acquisition of basic academic skills and abilities.
Winners, formatted around the alphabet, uses positive black role models as vehicles for presenting facts and concepts of importance to black youth.
Winners is all about "having fun as we learn about ourselves and others, and acquire the dignity, pride, and love of self (and community) so necessary to live drug-free lives."
However, it is imperative that we don't forget that for any prevention effort to be truly effective, it must attempt to impact, or include school, family, and community. Black-focused prevention curricula/workbooks like Winners attempt to address the needs of youth in our schools. However, the concepts included in Winners "will not reach home", will not have a positive and lasting impact on our youth, if prevention activities and creative new materials are not targeted to our families and communities of color. Sporadic, disjointed, and incomprehensive prevention efforts will only render sporadic and short-term results at best.
If we are seriously intent upon eradicating drugs and alcohol from our communities and re-institutionalizing a lifestyle and value system in our youth which is achievement-oriented, as opposed to substance-dependent, our black cultural heritage cannot be ignored.
Just as important is our approach to the problem. We have to realize that a problem as comprehensive and all-encompassing as the drug and alcohol problem in the black community requires a prevention strategy that is comprehensive and all-encompassing. Winners represent one segment of the prevention strategy, targeting specifically school-aged ethnic youth. Additional family and community-focused prevention efforts are necessary to ensure that the message, NO DRUGS HERE, sinks in and becomes a community norm.
Pencils, Pens, Erasers, Markers
Lined Scratch Paper
Facilitators should open session "setting up the activity." This includes defining, or breaking terms used in the assignment down to the level of the class. The facilitator should relate personal examples or experiences to help youth better understand what the lesson involves, and solicit examples from participants to gauge how well they understand a lesson.
Following lesson introduction, youth are to spend approximately 25 minutes completing their worksheets. They should be encouraged to "fill up" the entire worksheet. Facilitator expectations should be related to the age or grade level of participants, previous writing experiences of youth, and extent of experiences with program and facilitator (you would expect more in week #3 compared to week #1).
As youth are working on their papers, the facilitator should be “floating” around classroom encouraging youth to not give up, giving youth “clues” as to how they can expand their “stories”, and giving positive feedback on what the youth have written.
After papers are completed, 15 - 20 minutes should be devoted to having youth read their papers aloud...either soliciting volunteers or recruiting youth. If youth are recruited, always give them the option of "passing" (not reading their papers if they really object to it). Youth should not be allowed to have others read their papers for them. One of the objectives of this activity is to improve the youth’s confidence in his work and values.
The remainder of the class time (@10 - 15 minutes) should be spent discussing any issues or recurrent themes from youth papers. This is an opportunity to really hear youth values and feelings, and to interject your own feelings and values. This portion of the lesson should produce many “teachable moments” - instances when you can intervene and provide youth with some “perspective”, or direction.
The facilitator should try to make the lesson as lively, animated, and relevant as possible. The facilitator who is “real” and who shares his personality with youth in this setting will be extremely successful in “reaching youth”.
Ideally, lessons should be utilized a minimum of one per week for @ 55 minutes to 90 minutes. It is most useful to deal with one section at a time, as opposed to pulling lessons in a random fashion; it greatly minimizes youth confusion and it allows each lesson to reinforce the previous one.
For classes, or youth groupings, in which writing is “impossible”, the lessons/ worksheets can be used as themes and topics for discussion.