Adolescence is the bridge between childhood and adulthood. It's a rollercoaster of emotions trying to find that balance between wanting to be independent, but also needing moral support from peers. Beginning with adolescence and continuing into adulthood, this is a period of accelerated maturation and social transition, when individuals shift from a position of relative powerlessness and dependency characterizing childhood to the responsibilities and in some contexts the autonomy expected in adulthood (Paul Dorman et al., 2014). Many adolescents face lack of power and not knowing how to tackle and grasp reality. To help adolescents during this stage we created a program called Project “YOU”. Project “YOU” will help and guide adolescents, through a required program in grade eleven and grade twelve as an exit exercise to focus beyond high school. This can be implemented through schools across the nation and will be a non-profit program funded by the federal assistance. This after school program is a requirement for grades eleven and twelve and they will need to attend a minimum of three times a week during their school year. The objective of this program is for adolescents to have fun and be creative, while also being aware of “the real world.” This program will help students create and find their self-identity. It will help build social interactions and skills to help guide them through life's journey. Project “YOU” will help touch basis upon the four developmental areas: biosocial, cognitive, psychosocial, culture.
The most important areas in biosocial development in adolescence are puberty, brain development, physical development and sexuality. This specific developmental stage is marked by significant biological changes that can make the teenage years incredibly challenging (Beaver & Wright, 2005). As their bodies are rapidly maturing, many adolescents have trouble making sense of the world around them. Project “YOU” places an emphasis on these areas; by finding and creating one's identity to give a greater meaning towards life’s fulfillment and purpose. Project “YOU” will implement different types of activities that will give adolescents an understanding through such topics such as finance, health/nutrition, college/career, religion, politics, sexual identity, family/spouse relations, peer pressure and mental illness/drug abuse.
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Puberty, is a rapid physical growth and sexual maturation that ends childhood, producing a person of adult size, shape and sexuality (Berger, 2016). It happens so fast that teens do not know how to handle their cascade of hormones, heightened emotions and sexual desires. Project “YOU” will implement workshops that will discuss puberty and the changes that people their age go through by having professionals and mentors inform them, and provide information about puberty and the best advice on how to get through it. It's important to teach the youth about the body and the anatomy of it becuase our body is a temple, and it's important to treat it well and respect it. With this, it's important we understand that physical growth and nutrition plays a big part for adolescence. Most adolescents consume enough calories, but in 2013 only sixteen percent of highschool seniors ate the recommended three or more servings of vegetables a day (Berger, 2016). Many teens have a deficiency of iron, calcium and zinc. This program will offer students healthy meal options that consist of the vitamins and minerals they need. There will be provided meal options that allow them to learn and cook their own types of foods and bring it home for their families or guardians. This specific workshop will also acknowledge body dissatisfaction and eating disorders that teens face and help to counsel those who may be going through such situations.
With their childhood years coming to an end, the adolescent years come with rapid growth in the body and brain that transforms the child into a version of their adult selves. Many of the changes in this stage are a result of the cognitive development that occurs in the individual. Teenagers are able to speculate, fantasize, compare alternatives, hypothesize, plan ahead, argue more effectively, and use abstract logic (Sanders, 2013). Project “YOU” will attempt to make the adolescents aware of these issues, along with parents/guardians, so they are able to provide the support they need as their brains develop. Having a strong support system is a great tool to have, especially during adolescent years because during this time developments are happening both mentally and physically.
There are three main categories of brain changes related to puberty: (1) changes that precede puberty; (2) changes that are the consequence of puberty; and (3) changes that occur after puberty is over. These changes are the consequences of puberty which occur primarily in the brain regions closely linked to emotions, arousal, motivation, as well as to appetite and sleep patterns (Sharma et al, 2013). The ever so changing adolescent brain will affect their thinking skills. To help teens through their brain maturation process, Project “YOU” will implement AAMA, this is short for abstract, advanced, metacognition activities. There will be worksheets that give the youth sample scenarios to help them go through such situations. They will apply abstract knowledge by understanding abstract ideas through scenarios we will provide that will address factors of financial situations on how to invest and deal with money, how to eat healthier or how one can transition into a college/career pathway. Advanced reasoning will be applied as adolescents predict what their outcome will look like and strategize on how they can tackle such scenarios. Then comes metacognition, where the adolescents can reflect their thoughts and may be able to apply it towards after high school as they can gain knowledge through the guidance of these worksheet scenarios from mentors and educators at Project “YOU,” and their peers as well.
Teenagers often consume technology at higher rates compared to any other age group. There are many benefits to living in a time of digital technology. Some of which include having access to information, which can aid education and learning, and social media can bring people together. However, adolescents have also experienced several negative effects of the misuse and overuse of digital technology. For example, technology encourages quick changes in attention, which ten leads to impatience. Some other negative effects include visual learning over imaginative analysis, thoughtless multitasking, and exposure to graphic and inappropriate content has never been more accessible. Engaging in gaming, chatrooms, and social media takes time away from physical activity, schoolwork, friends, and family. Other concerns include cyberbullying and online predators. Although technology is an amazing tool that comes with a lot of opportunities, it is a tool that developing adolescents can misuse and abuse. They need to be aware of these issues and proceed with clear safety guidelines, which is what Project “YOU” will teach in various lessons.
As children grow into adolescents, they figure out who they are, passing through various stages of the four developmental aspects: biosocial, cognitive, psychosocial and cultural developments. According to Erik Erikson, life's fifth psychosocial crisis is identity versus role confusion: working through the complexities of finding one's own identity is the primary task of adolescence (Erikson, 1968). In adolescence, identity is often shaped by their impression of what others think of them as well as their own view of themselves. Their cognitive functions have improved at this stage of development and now allows them to view themselves from a psychological perspective, instead of using only concrete and specific traits. When teenagers are young, they may struggle to accept that their desired self-concept differs from their behavior. However, older teenagers are able to resolve that conflict by understanding that their behaviors may be altered by certain situations and circumstances. According to Erikson (1968), teenagers often test out various roles, activities, and ideologies in an attempt to reach identity achievement.
A teenager will progress through a time where they must find their identity, thus leaving them in a crisis. Their main goal is to focus on identity achievement. As teenagers work through these stages, it is important for parents or guardians to guide them and emphasize love and purpose in life. Adolescents may begin to develop a personal set of core beliefs and values and choose to express their faith in personal ways. Similarly, political beliefs often resemble their parents’ or guardians’ are and likely to remain constant into adulthood. Though many exciting changes occur during this period, teens also face several risk factors, such as depression, suicide, and drugs (Adams, 1996). Some contributing factors include adolescents’ emotions that are always changing and the life events that trigger grief and sadness. A huge struggle in an adolescent’s life would be their self-esteem and self-confidence, which are impacted by race, gender, and ethnicity.
Most adolescents at risk for suicide internalize their emotions, but there are those who externalize their emotions and may do so through deliquent behaviors. Adolescence is when criminal acts are most prevalent, but the majority of teens who commit crimes will outgrow their behaviors if they remain in school, avoid imprisonment and stay away from drugs. Sometimes, teens are life-course-persistent offenders and continue engaging in criminal activity throughout their life. Those individuals often struggle with neurological impairments due to an undeveloped brain. Another particularly dangerous risk to teenagers is drug use. Younger teens are often unable to understand the risks of drug use and become curious. Using drugs at a young age can cause brain damage and even death. Since the brain has not yet fully matured, these risks can halt or damage the teenagers' development. While delinquency cannot be ignored, options for discipline that avoids jail should be considered, because imprisonment has been found to increase the chance that such activity will persist lifelong (Ziendenber, 2011).
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Project “YOU” will attempt to assist adolescents during this transition period through guest speakers and educators who have been through life events and help give the youth the tools they need to cope with changing dynamics such as relationships with peers, family or their health. It will address factors that teens face, not only through guest speakers but also through therapy classes to help create a strong and healthy bond with their parents and guardians. This will help their parents/guardians by giving them the information they need to better understand the transition their child is experiencing and how to be of aid in this process. Project “YOU” will create activities to help figure out what types of interests are best fit for the youth and encourage and motivate those to pursue their interests and dreams.
Parents often become less involved in the lives of their children as they enter the middle grades, but it's important for young adolescents because they need parents or other adults who consistently provide structure and supervision that is firm and appropriate for age and development according to the Office of Communications and Outreach of the U.S Department of Education. Parenting practices are influenced by culture, and an adolescent’s upbringing is affected by the ethnic group, values, and traditions that he belongs to, as well as their socio-economic situation (Contributors, 2011). Adolescents who grow up in families where the overall cultural norms and values are different from that of his or her peers, may encounter an identity crisis which may create conflicts with themselves along with their family. Culture has a strong influence on development, behavior, values and beliefs. Familial traditions and thorough communication have a positive effect on teens. Parents who uphold positive cultural values and beliefs in their children help raise their ability to succeed and their overall self-esteem. A family’s socio-economic condition has an effect on adolescent development as economic crisis negatively affects families (Contributors, 2011). There are a number of racial and ethnic disparities that correlate to poverty rates that directly affect an adolescents’ development. Growing up in poverty has a huge impact on teens at every developmental level; physically, socially, and academically. Conversely, in more wealthy or “rich” families, adolescents face a different set of challenges. Parental pressure that focuses on social and academic achievement can cause adolescents to suffer from a higher rate of depression and anxiety (Contributors, 2011).
Project “YOU” will attempt to show the adolescent how culture has a strong influence on development, behavior, values and beliefs. This program will encourage each adolescent to learn about one’s culture through their parents/guardians, family rituals and active communication by the activities mentioned. Project “YOU” will implement events that will allow youth of different cultural backgrounds to express themselves through dances, foods or even their religious practices. It will help adolescents be open to diverse cultures, while also have them be appreciative of their ethnic background and their upbringing. It will help shape the youth morally and spiritually, which we hope to impact their lives in a positive way.
The idea of Project “YOU” stems across impacting adolescents nation wide and implementing it as an after school program to help 11-12 graders transition into the real world. Project “YOU” is a safe, open and creative environment to help adolescents build a meaningful purpose for their lives. Project “YOU” provides educators, mentors, advisors and guest speakers to collaborate with adolescents and inform them of the various activities such as finance, health/nutrition, college/career, religion, politics, sexual identity, family/spouse relations, peer pressure, mental illness/drug abuse. This program provides a reciprocal impact as it benefits adolescents and impacts their peers through the opportunities that could help them succeed in life. They are able to use what they learn to impact ages that are younger than them or those who never had this type opportunity to have an abundant amount of support and information to help them through their journey in life. This program will help build an interconnectedness with oneself and the people around them.
The objective of this program is for adolescents to have fun and be creative, while also being aware of “the real world.” This program will help students create and find their self-identity. It will help build social interactions and skills to help guide them through life's journey. The purpose of this mandatory after school program, Project “YOU”, is to improve adolescents cognitive, biosocial, psychosocial, and cultural well-being by offering developmentally appropriate activities, projects, homework, lectures, labs and counseling sessions in a safe environment to prepare them for their life after graduation.
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