The Final Step: Implementation and Celebration!

The Marshall Middle School students in action:

After brainstorming and mind mapping, they decided to create a place where everybody could go and have a good time.

Some of their suggestions based on what they felt the community lacked included: benches, dog house, brick patterns for the ground filled with words of encouragement, hope, peace…

In the Northside, the project was finalized thanks to the hard work of the students, some members of the dedicated Texan-French Alliance for the Arts “From A Space To A Place” team (Marjon Aucoin, Sabrina Bernhard, Jakob Bressler, Noël Bezette-Flores, David Graeve,  Karine Parker, Hadia Mawlawi), ​and the support of the Northside community, including Go Neighborhood/Avenue CDC and Avance Houston.

  • No One Left Behind
  • Work hard, stay humble
  • Love the life you have
  • Homies help Homies

Stage 2: Team Building & The Power of Image and Language

               Explore Strengths, Needs and Opportunities

During this phase, the youth learn different ways to approach photography with the formal elements of composition, such as close-ups, wide shots, medium shots, and various points of perspective. They also learn how to read and infer the context of photographs, ask questions about them, and use creative writing to expand upon the images at hand.

If the youth are more verbal than visual, we teach them a creative writing technique called “Found Poetry,” in which they analyze articles on social issues, select words and phrases that resonate with them, and rearrange these excerpts to form powerful poems. This exercise teaches them the power of their words while allowing them to explore their inner creativity.

The students are asked to reflect, think critically, and work in small groups which, along with other creative group exercises, helps them learn the value of teamwork and successful collaboration. This stage helps them to broaden their viewpoints, both physically and mentally.

Below are some of the students' mottos:

  • Change the future to peacefulness and happiness
  • Open your heart and take it to the sky
  • Be bright, don’t fight, be in peace
  • Friends help friends. Champs are not born. They are made!
  • Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try. Be brave and strong
  • Beauty awakens the soul to act. I am different but that what makes me great
  • Giving up is not an option. That is when it is time to dig deep and find the courage to push some more
  •  Always be yourself, you were born to be real, not to be perfect, you are here to be you, not to be what someone else wants you to be.

The Change Happens students in action:

After brainstorming and mind mapping, the students from Change Happens decided to educate their community about certain social issues. They created powerful “Found Poems” to spread awareness about teen pregnancy, gang violence, racism, and beautification. Using their creativity, the students brought their poetry to life with beats and practiced performing them with the help of Rachel Dickson from Driven Theater Company.

The students performed their educational rap poetry at Sunny Side Park as well as at the main stage of Discovery Green. In addition to these successful performances, the students’ poetry was published and featured in the first issue of ArtHouston, a magazine dedicated to arts of all disciplines.

In the Third Ward, the project was finalized thanks to the hard work of the students, some members of the dedicated Texan-French Alliance for the Arts “From A Space To A Place” team (Marjon Aucoin, Sabrina Bernhard, Jakob Bressler, Noël Bezette-Flores, David Graeve,  Karine Parker, Britain Venner), and the support of the community, including Rachel Dickson from Driven Theater, Sunny Side Park, and Discovery Green.

Stage 4: Teambuilding, Mind Mapping and Project Management

During this stage, the students learn mind mapping, a thinking tool that triggers new thought and ideas and maps them out in a visual way.

We conduct a small-group brainstorming session where we ask the youth to share  their thoughts about their community, resulting in a lively exchange about the pros and cons of our neighborhoods. Some of the comments made are related to stray animals and a lack of fresh food, while others mention excessive noise and violence.

We ask the students, “How can we improve the quality of life in our community?” and let them use the mind mapping technique to propose answers and solutions to the question.

The students use various software solutions to define their vision, and are shown a presentation about Project Management to help them understand the different steps that are necessary to completing a project successfully. This is a preparation to STEM.

Our FASTAP students have had a range of ideas including:

  • “I would enjoy seeing my friends in this community; I would love to see them in this wonderful school” 
  • “Sure, life is too short to sit and wait, let’s just sit for 5 minutes”
  • “Try to stop violence”
  • “I would like to see people caring for each other, to care for bullies, to show the love you have for them”
  • “Educate younger kids about preventing teen pregnancy, hold community meetings/ hand out protection”
  • “Have helpful community gatherings, food drives”
  • “Address gang violence”
  • “Address racism by holding people from different backgrounds together and by teaching them that there is no difference between races”

Stages and Sessions

Our curriculum can be summarized into five major stages (listed below). These five stages can be further divided into sub-stages, consisting of focused sessions that address different issues: 1) Self-discovery, 2) Identifying Strengths, Challenges & Weaknesses, 3) Being and Creating Together, 4-6) Exploring, Discovering, Reinventing & Inspiring Possibilities, 7-14) Defining, Designing, Structuring & Planning, Implementing the Vision, 15-16) Celebrating and Sharing

Stage 3: Strength and Needs: Looking for clues

               Reenvision my environment

We invite several diverse community leaders, encompassing a wide range of involvement, to visit with the students about their work. The students, who are taught interview techniques in a prior session, then interview the community leaders. Through this process, the children learn a fair amount about each leader’s motivations, visions, dreams, professional background and commitment to their community. The youth are truly inspired by these accessible, accomplished individuals and the tangible impacts they have made on their neighborhoods.

Meeting and interacting with these leaders helps the students learn more about their community from various points of view. They are able to observe the strengths of their neighborhood and its people, but also discover some of the challenges they face. After being informed about these matters, the children are compelled to alleviate the needs of their community.

Stage 1: Who Am I? My Motto, My Values…

The first stage allows each student to reflect on his or her own sense of self and purpose, while learning about William the Conqueror and the history and values of chivalry in France and England. After investigating and identifying themselves, each child creates a personal crest, or “un blazon” in French, that illustrates his/her values, vision and motto. Through this process of self-discovery, the students learn to accept and appreciate the diverse views and beliefs of others in addition to their own. This provides the youth with sustainable and creative tools that will help them become effective and considerate leaders.