Friday, December 9, 2016

Elevator Pitch


Youth Development is a bachelors degree program at Rhode Island College, where students take classes in social work, education, non profit, as well as classes towards a concentration or minor of their choice.  We are the only bachelor degree program in the United States that also graduates with a nonprofit certification.  By the time we graduate we will also have completed a 180 hour internship in a youth setting of our choice.  The program prepares us to be mentors in youth settings outside of the classroom. 

Youth workers provide a safe space for youth to grow socially, creatively, intellectually, and more.   Youth workers aim to create individualized relationships with their youth.  We are not babysitters.  Instead, youth workers can be found in after school programs, recreational centers, juvenile justice centers, and more.  We are the adults that will actively lead with youth in helping them growing into the individuals they want to be.  We provide a listening ear, teach lessons that are not taught in the classroom, and have the ability to impact a childs life.

What Is Youth Work?

Youth Development is a bachelors degree program at Rhode Island College, where students take classes in social work, education, non profit, and classes towards a concentration or minor of their choice.  This program trains the students to become prepared professionals to go out into the world and make a difference for youth.  By the time Youth Development majors graduate they will have completed a 180 hour internship in a youth setting of their choice.  This opportunity teaches them the possibilities you have after college, the skills necessary to be a successful youth worker, and the impact you can have on youth.  Youth workers are not babysitters.  Instead, youth workers provide a safe space for youth to grow socially, creatively, intellectually, and more.  Youth workers can be found in after school programs, recreational centers, juvenile justice centers, and more.  These are the adults that your child spend time with outside of the classroom.  They provide a listening ear, teach lessons that are not taught in the classroom, and have the ability to impact a childs' life.  Youth workers aim to create relationships with their youth to help them grow to their full potential, and to create relationships between the youth to create a socially safe space.     

Rock the Vote

Doing this blog after the election changes how I feel about this past election.
The fact that Trump was elected as our next president makes me nervous for our country, and more specifically many of the clients in which we as youth workers serve.  
Many of the clients who we serve are nervous for their rights.  
This election brought to light the hatred, frustration, and need for change the country is feeling.  I could not believe the way this election spiraled out of control.  Throughout the election I keep hoping there was no way that he could win, but he did.  Seeing the outburst after he won was truly sickening.  There were instantly reports of fights, attacks against minorities, and other vandalism.  I am trying to stay hopeful that he will not do many of the things he originally stated but when watching who he appoints into his office, it is getting more difficult to stay positive.  Since I do not agree with the things he stands for it is now my job to stand up for what I believe in.  
While there are many negatives that have come from this past election the positive is that many people who may have never paid attention to politics were interested this year.  Many young voters felt this was an election they needed to be informed about.  

Context Map

Context mapping shows what is important to an individual and is a way to get to see how a person describes themselves. This is an easy way to allow people to describe themselves in a low pressure way.  There are four different types of identity.  
1.  Achieved Identity:  this is when the individual has successfully integrated his ego-identity from the past, present, and future. 
2.  Foreclosed Identity:  the identity that is either thrust upon a person or accepted. 
3.   Moratorium:  when one actively explores ones roles, beliefs, behaviors, and relationships.
4.  Diffuse Identity:  an identity with no real commitment and changes more often than not.  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Event #2

My second event was a Drums Alive Certification training.  
Drums Alive's mission is, "using rhythm as the source of inspiration to discover a new group fitness experience Drums Alive combine the benefits of a traditional physical fitness program with the brain affected benefits of music and rhythm.  Drums Alive is a program that fosters a healthy balance physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially!"
Drums Alive is the only research based fitness program.  The program has been proven to benefit individuals with dementia, Alzheimer's, social disabilities, mental disabilities, physical disabilities, as well as the "general" population.  This program allows its participants to use almost all of their senses, visual watching the teacher & drums, auditory listening to the music and instructor, touch holding the sticks.  Teaching Drums Alive has allowed me to see the benefits it can have on individuals.  This training helped me to better understand how to cater to the population in the room.  Drums alive can serve each group differently.  I was able to learn how to adapt for different groups. It can be used to teach math and other subjects as well as work as a physical therapy for others.   

Event #1

My first event was a training for my internship.  During this training we discussed how we can better serve our clients, better serve ourselves, and how we can continue to grow as individuals.  
My mentor has a new organization she is building online called, Be Human U.  
This organizations mission is to help individuals who also want to work in inclusion fitness.  It serves as a positive space online for people to ask questions, post about experiences, and investigate what their purpose is.  My mentor, Kim, worked with us at this training on finding how we can use our own personal strengths to help our clients.  We discussed where we excel and where we can grow.  I learned that my strength is teaching.  I am not afraid of leading the class, or being silly to get my students excited.  I am willing to do whatever I have to do to have the class moving in a positive direction.  Where I want to grow is simply to know more.  To have my knowledge about my students.  Before this internship I never worked with the special needs community.  While I did take special ed 300, that is no where close to enough of information to best serve my clients.  I am eager to learn more about the individual needs of my clients, based on their personalities as well as their diagnosis.     

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


My passion and mission for youth work is inspiring youth to learn social, emotional, and practical skills through movement and fitness.  The most rewarding part of the work I do is to see the small victories every class. For me, in my drums alive classes, it could be as simple a student who usually has difficulty staying at their drum following along for one song.  Or seeing what songs a student may really connect to and how I can best engage my students individually.  While many do not understand the way an activity like drums alive can influence a students social skills or emotional skills it has tremendous effects on our students.  They learn to create a community, begin to feel safe and accepted, they also are using fine motor skills, engaging in auditory, visual, and tactical ways.  

I related to the video that spoke about how their work relaxed them.  Along with the room where we lead activities we also have a sensory room where our students can go to relax themselves if they are having a difficult moment.  They learn coping skills and how to walk away to avoid a problem that can be avoided.  I also was reminded of how students often are nervous or worried when class starts and soon they are having fun in their own way.  I also related it back to myself because when I walk into Wiggle Kids no matter what kind of day I have had thus far, all my negative thoughts seem to go away and I become totally engaged in my students.  My experience there has helped me to focus on what a difference you can make when you totally commit.  

An example of what drums alive for kids would look like, this is not where I am currently interning just an example. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Ideology Inventory

I was completely surprised by the results of my ideology inventory quiz.  I scored from highest to lowest; risk/resiliency/prevention, critical youth development, then positive youth development.  I thought for sure I would score the highest in positive youth development because my main goal is to help build upon the skills the youth I work with have and their potential to be a happy, healthy, successful individual.  Even after reading the horoscope chart I still felt that my results didn't match how I want to approach my work with youth.  While I believe risk, resiliency, and prevention work is important it is not where I saw myself fitting in.


I believe all aspects of youth work is important and I find I have values that align with each sector.  Risk work is important to help teens to make the right choices for themselves.  I believe what it important in this work is to not simply tell the youth what the right choice is but to help them to understand why and what possible consequences or the impact a choice could have on their lives. Positive youth work is the work I am currently doing at my internship.  We work to build, hone, and cultivate social, emotional, and physical skills that help our students in their social and educational aspects of lives.  I find this work so rewarding because it is often noticing small victories.  When working with students in this atmosphere I am able to see that they may sing along and participate in the song we are drumming to for a couple of seconds, but for someone who has struggled to stay at their drum that it a huge victory.  We aim to give our students a space where they feel safe to make progress at their own pace.
                                check out where I am doing my internship and what we offer!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Coauthoring Lives

The people we live with, grow up around, and meet through our experiences have the potential to shape us into who were are.  Both positive and negative experiences help you to write your story.  When I think of the people who changed me the most I think of my Mom, Dad, Grandmother, Collin, Angelica, Bill, Loralee, Ms. Cav, Jenn, & Lindsay.  

One of the people on my list, Angelica, I have know for just about 5 years.  She is one of the strongest yet caring people I know.  She has taught me how to lead with strength while being motivated by your caring and compassionate goals.  She has helped me to find who I am not only as a dancer but as an individual.  She is not afraid to tell me when I'm being ridiculous or dramatic or over reacting but she also is always there to listen.  She has pushed me to my limits knowing that the limits I had set for myself were not my true limitations.  She has allowed me to make mistakes and learn how to work through them.  Most importantly she has shown me how you never have to stop reaching for what you want.  You are never too old to make goals, you never stop learning, and you never give up.  She is someone who I have grown to respect immensely.  

Ten words from the article I did not previously know:

1. Maligned
2. Pathologized
3. Work Relationally
4. Implicit Theories
5. Proximal Development
6. Impediment
7. Interpsychological Development
8. Tested Knowledge
9. Theoretical Thinking
10. Meeting of Minds

Color Blind or Color Brave

"I'm asking you not be color blind, but to be color brave." -Mellody Hobson

There are times in everyones lives where they will feel invisible.  Growing up I don't remember feeling invisible but I have had more of those experiences as I grow older.  I now see the way woman can be dismissed or how because of the career choice I have made I am judged immediately as unintelligent.  Being judged by individuals before they take the time to get to know you can feel crippling.  As a woman I am at a disadvantage in societies eyes, but as a white woman I have privileges that woman of other races do not have.

Mellody Hobson explains in her TED TALK about the profiling and judgments minorities face due to stereotypes of their race.  Mellody explains how society not only needs to accept all races and break past the constructed stereotypes but embrace and celebrate the potential of all individuals.  I believe that our media has a important impact in this.  Movies, television, and ads need to create a more widespread opportunity for all races.  I watched a video of Jesse Williams  about how black male actors often have to decide when they are first starting out whether to play the stereotypical black criminal who robs the rich white woman or pay their bills.   He explains how without real life exposer to individuals who are black the media makes everyone racist. It is unfair to stereotype the roles individuals can play based on race.  This not only happens in media but in all aspects of business.  

"We hav to be color brave.  We have to be willing, as teachers and parents and entrepreneurs, and scientists, we have to be willing to have proactive conversations about race with honesty and understanding and courage, not because its the right thing to do, but because its the smart thing to do." -Mellody Hobson

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Creating Change Through Youth Voices


Youth In Action is creating a space where the voices of youth can be not only heard but seen in the changes they have made in their community.  For 19 years Youth in Action has been giving marginalized youth a place to express their hopes, dreams, and concerns for not only themselves but their communities.  Through their model of "Leading With" youth are able to feel equal to the adults who would traditionally be in charge.  As apposed to many school systems YIA gives youth and  adults the chance to work together to accomplish a common goal, decided by the youth.  Instead of the adults telling the youth how to think, the youth are able to work through issues themselves with guidance and encouragement.

YIA allows the youth to be involved in every decision made in the organization.  This not only allows the youths opinions to be validated but it also helps youth to see the reality of running an organization.  They are able to see the behind the scenes details that go into the day to day operations of running a nonprofit.  This teaches the youth another set of skills, on top of the emotional, social, and problem solving skills they develop through creating their voices.  One of YIA's main goals besides creating change in their community through the youth is also to change the stereotype or definition of youth in the community.  YIA feels that youth should be heard, as they are the future of the community.  What they see and what they are experiencing is real and if they can help to change it it will be better for the next generation.

One of the most interesting pieces of the reading was the section about the hot seat.  YIA allows the youth to be a part of the evaluation process, not only of their fellow youth but of the adults that lead them.  This is something that I think is so important.  Allowing the youth to have a say or contribute how they think their "leaders" could be better allows the youth to be better served.  Growing up I never felt like teacher evaluations meant anything.  Sure we filled them out but were there really an repercussions or changes based on what we said? It seemed 9 times out of 10 nothing changed.  If there was a group like YIA in my high school there would have been an outlet for youth to go to with concerns with issues such as policy changes or curriculum choices.

My favorite quote from the reading was, "success is not based on a piece of paper, but on the decisions students make and the confidence they have moving forward in their lives. That’s the real success." -GIOVANNI LARRACUENT 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Chapter 1

This weeks reading from Youth Work: Preparation for Practice, introduces us to what it means to be a youth worker and the characteristics of a successful youth worker.  Not only does it take skill to be a successful youth worker but you must also have the passion to help others.  Growing up I always knew I wanted to work with children but I knew I didn't want to be a traditional teacher.  I looked up to my dance teachers, who had created such a safe environment where we all felt we could talk about our problems while learning.  My teachers would take the time to listen and give advice or simply listen and say things like, "Well good thing you are here now lets dance our problems away for the hour" and it always seemed to work.  Based on the experience I had growing up I knew I wanted to give kids a place that kept them busy, growing, and out of trouble.  Many of my friends were motivated in high school to go to parties and I simply was excited to spend the weekend at the dance studio.

This chapter discusses the seven characteristics of a youth worker; teaching an informal curriculum, youth work as a social practice, challenging inequality, young people should choose to be involved, strengthen youth voice, youth is a welfare practice, holistically working with you.

Teaching an informal curriculum:  this refers to the skills youth workers can teach the youth in which they serve.  Youth workers can teach their youth skills they can use in their day to day life.  Including things like anger management, time management, healthy choices, and many more depending on the individual child's needs.

Youth work as a social practice:  in youth work it is important to build a community within your program.  Building a strong bond between your youth will help the group to grow along with each individual.  Creating activities that allow students to see their commonalities as well as what makes them different can help to build a sense of unity.  For students who struggle with social situations this can help to show them they have a safe space to express themselves openly.

Challenging inequality:  Number one in the youth space it needs to be clear that everyone is equal.  Allow the kids to express what is important to them and create rules or morals of their community.  Once they have created their ideal space you can then talk about the injustice or inequality they may see or experience out in the community and discuss how they can make their community better.

Youth should choose to be involved:  The youth in your program should want to come back.  Although the initial involvement may not be the youths choice you want to create a space they feel comfortable coming back and grow to want to come back.

Strengthen youth voice:  I believe this is one of the most important aspects of youth work.  As a child I was always encouraged by my mother to stand up for myself. She taught me to always be respectful but to know my value, worth, and morals and stand up for what I believe.  Although I had people who tried to tell me otherwise I always knew that I was right for standing up for myself, it didn't mean I was always right but it taught me to work through confrontation or debates without cowering down.  I learned to express myself in a manner that made people listen and I learned to listen in return.  As a youth worker you want to teach the youth to express their opinion and emotions.

Youth work is a welfare practice:  Youth work is about meeting the youth where they are at and helping them to improve their situation or problem that they are struggling with.  It can require you to help them solve the problem but while doing this you must teach them how to help themselves.

Holistically working with youth:  As a youth worker you want to help the students get to the reasons why they are feeling the way they are feeling.  Helping them to feel emotionally sound and help them to get to the healthiest happiest version of themselves.  Most individuals feel best when they are leading healthy lives.  Helping children to identify the true source of their problem can help to release the some of the stress they are feeling.  

Going into the future I plan to create a safe space for children to be exposed to arts, primarily dance.  Where  those who don't feel speaking about their problems is their option of choice, can still express themselves.  I have found that many who don't succeed academically excel in the arts.  I believe that it is so important to show children that success in life means much more than getting the highest grade the math test, or getting into the "best" college, or having the nicest clothes.  Success means something different to each individual and that is ok.

Monday, September 5, 2016

About Me!

                                                          My name is Nicole Chagnon.  
I am 23 years old and from Somerset, Ma.  Of course I am a Youth Development major but I have also completed a Dance Performance degree here at RIC.  When I am not in class I am usually running around because I'm not great at relaxing.  I work three-four jobs a week which keeps me busy, just the way I like it.  I am a dance teacher at the studio I grew up dancing at, Loralee's Dance Studio, in Swansea, Ma.  I love being able to help to create an atmosphere that allows the students to grow both as dancers and as individuals.  It was such a safe space for me growing up that I am so proud to help give to the next generation.   I also work at Wiggle Kids, which is a fitness center for all ages all abilities, where I am planning to do my internship.   I am also the rehearsal director for the Rhode Island College Dance Company.  It's safe to say I am usually running around from place to place on most days.  When I'm not working I love to spend my free time being active by doing things like yoga, hiking, and canoeing.  The most exciting thing I did this summer was skydiving for my birthday! I am excited for my senior year and ready to get started on my internship.  I'm looking forward to moving next fall after graduation to New York to pursue a career using both of my majors.  The url link I'm posting is of Beyonce because I am going to see her in concert on Wednesday and could not be more excited!!!!

A recent performance of Triptych, choreographed by Larry Keigwin!

My boyfriend and best friend.

Skydiving for the first time!!

My amazing, supportive, and crazy family.

Some of my favorite LDS dancers, love being their teacher!