Youth Leadership & Gun Violence Prevention
(YLGVP) Curriculum Project
The overall goal of the NYAM’s curriculum intervention is both the development of youth-led compassionate communities that promote personal leadership and gun violence prevention within schools and the study of these communities’ potential to reduce gun violence and increase youth social and political capital.
Limited research on gun violence due to the Dickey Amendment’s quashing of targeted federal funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the passage of no federal firearm legislation over several decades has given the public little recourse to address what has evolved into a public health crisis. The Dickey Amendment is a provision in the appropriations legislation of the Congress, which was originally passed in 1996 and has remained in effect annually since, that mandates that "none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control." This political maneuvering of powerful interests over the well-being of a vulnerable population is a story of David versus Goliath, which is a quintessential story of inequality. This arts-based curriculum and subsequent study will help redress this imbalance by directly equipping youth with institutional supports to elevate their cause and provide new insights for the social science research community into the efficacy of arts- and education-based solutions on public health issues.
Target Population and Programmatic Goals
NYAM’s target population are high school sophomores and juniors on the west and south sides of Chicago. As part of the NYAM curriculum intervention, two services are to be provided: (1) the implementation of an arts-based youth leadership and gun violence prevention curriculum and (2) support and guidance for the development of youth-led compassionate communities in schools.
NYAM’s arts-based curriculum will provide a structured and progressive learning environment that will serve as the foundation and catalyst for youth-led compassionate communities in schools. The program-level goals of the NYAM curriculum intervention are to develop within each student and within their high schools a strong foundation for catalyzing pro-social behaviors among youth that
1) Expands their capacity for building relationships,
2) Engenders a creative orientation for addressing life's obstacles, and
3) Demonstrates through coursework how to address emotional and mental strain constructively by applying their passions and feelings of disillusionment to creative endeavors and civic and community engagement.
The curriculum has been designed into five modules to be implemented sequentially. It involves approximately 90 days of 60-minute lessons for an academic year. Teachers can choose to combine lessons to create longer class times, if needed. Also, teachers can choose how many days per week the course is offered, while keeping in mind that the curriculum needs to be completed within one year. At the close of the curriculum, the development of peer-led compassionate communities begins.