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  • September 2014
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Art of Resilience

Starr’s founder once said, “Beauty is a silent teacher.” Floyd Starr also maintained a strong interest in the arts, collecting a significant number of fine works, including paintings, sculptures and furniture, encouraging Starr’s students to explore their creative side.

He knew how powerful creative expression and an appreciation of the arts could be in the development of a young person, and for decades this philosophy has played a significant role in the youth development models of Starr Commonwealth.

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The Art of Resilience Starr Summer Youth Festival celebrated the resilience of the people of Detroit.

Overcoming challenges, building on your strengths, bouncing back from adversity, giving back to the community — this is resilience, another fundamental part of Starr’s positive youth development. So, what happens when you combine art and resilience?

On Sunday, Aug. 10, Starr Commonwealth launched the Art of Resilience campaign with a major new event in Detroit called the Starr Summer Youth Festival, designed to celebrate the strengths and resilience of young people across the Detroit region.

Approximately 300 young people from more than 40 different youth organizations sang, danced, acted, read their original writing or displayed visual art. Another 17 youth and cultural organizations provided information to help young people find new artistic and educational opportunities.

Dr. Martin Mitchell, president and CEO of Starr Commonwealth, said: “We have long seen the impact of the arts in the development of our students, and we believe strongly in building on the resilience of each individual, as well as families and communities. The Art of Resilience project aims to celebrate examples and stories of resilience from young people and communities across metro Detroit, recognizing the importance of positive youth development and the role the arts can play in that.

Dancers

The Starr Summer Youth Festival included performances from local dance groups, musicians, spoken word poets and more.

The Starr Summer Youth was a fantastic launch for the Art of Resilience and has generated not only incredible experiences for hundreds of young people, but also a wide range of community partnerships, which we aim to develop further in the coming year. We want to celebrate the inspiring work being done by youth and arts organizations throughout the community. By showcasing the many great stories of resilience from our youth, we can help tackle the negative stigma that so many young people face.”

The festival attracted an audience of around 2,000 members of the Detroit community, with children and families enjoying performances on three stages over a period of six hours. Five hundred young people were provided with free, healthy meals as part of a program sponsored by Samaritan Homes.

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Marcus Belgrave (right) receiving his award from Starr president Marty Mitchell (center) and director of communications John Hollingsworth (left).

The event also honored jazz legend Marcus Belgrave with the new “Starr Commonwealth Art of Resilience Award” for his extraordinary contribution to not only the arts but positive youth development. Belgrave has mentored dozens of young people in Detroit and beyond, including highly acclaimed musicians such as Rodney Whitaker, Kenny Garrett, Robert Hurst, Regina Carter, James Carter, Geri Allen, Karriem Riggins and Carlos McKinney.

John Hollingsworth, director of the Starr Summer Youth Festival, said: “We are delighted with the Detroit community’s response to our Art of Resilience project. Not only did we see dozens of youth groups come forward to be in the festival but thousands of people came out to support the talented young artists. We are also thankful to have been supported in this project by foundations and other community leading organizations in the Detroit area.”

The Art of Resilience project has received support from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, the Knight Foundation and StarrVista. It is being driven by an advisory group comprised of the Carr Center, ARISE Detroit, City Connect Detroit, the City of Detroit, New Detroit, Starr Educational Services, and the Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO).

For more pictures from the festival, check out our photo gallery.

Starr Commonwealth stands ready to offer shelter and support to undocumented children

In keeping with its 100-year history of serving vulnerable children from across the world, Starr Commonwealth stands ready to work with partner agencies and government on the shelter and care of undocumented children, should the need arise.

Starr is continually in discussions with other human service organizations about how it can serve more children and families, and as the significant need for support of children coming to the United States from Central America has become evident, Starr has made it clear that it’s facilities would be made available to this population.

Currently, Starr Commonwealth has no arrangement or agreement in place to provide services or support to undocumented children. However, Starr continues to explore potential collaborations with partner agencies, such as Sequel Youth and Family Services, that could provide important care for vulnerable children from Central America and to other populations of children in need.

Dr. Martin Mitchell, President and CEO of Starr Commonwealth, said: “At Starr Commonwealth, we believe firmly that all children deserve a safe and caring environment. Since our founding over a century ago, we have created not only safety, but positive youth development experiences for children in many countries across the world, and if called upon to do so, we would offer as much support as we are able to children from Central America, or any other country.

The children who have arrived in our country from Central America have often been through very traumatic experiences, the like of which no child should suffer, and just as we would step in to support children and families affected by a hurricane or a tsunami, we will respond to this humanitarian issue as strongly as possible with our human service partners, making sure the needs of children come first.”

Notes

For more information from Starr Commonwealth, please contact John Hollingsworth, Director of Communications: phone: 517 630 1504 email: hollingsworthj@starr.org

Starr Summer Youth Festival Receives $5000 Foundation Grant

Detroit, Mich.

A new initiative designed to promote the resilience of Detroit’s children, families and communities has been boosted by a grant of $5000 from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan.

The Art of Resilience Project and its main event, the Starr Summer Youth Festival, are designed to capture stories that reflect the strengths of the region’s young people. The project is led by Starr Commonwealth, a social services nonprofit with over 100 years’ experience of supporting Detroit’s youth.

The festival, which is to be held on Sunday August 10th at the Carr Center and in Paradise Valley Park (formerly Harmonie Park), will see hundreds of Detroit youth using music, dance, theatre, visual art and spoken word to demonstrate their resilience.

John Hollingsworth, director of the Starr Summer Youth Festival, said: “We want the festival to be the culminating event of the summer for young artists across the city – a space in which a diverse group of young Detroiters come together to demonstrate the creativity and strength that defines the city. We invite people from across the community to come and enjoy this great celebration – a day dedicated to the positive stories of our youngest residents.”

“Starr has successfully used art and creativity in its youth development programs for decades, and we know that many other community organizations and leaders are having this kind of impact across the city. The festival provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate this work. We want the positive stories of children and their families to be recognized more than their challenges, better reflecting the communities of Detroit,” he added.

Youth program directors are invited to submit applications for their young artists and performers by visiting the event web site at www.artofresilience.org  or calling 313-923-7353 and proposing a performance or exhibition around the theme of resilience.  Performances may include music, dance, theatre, short film, visual arts and/or written and spoken word. A Youth Arts Market will also enable young artists to sell original artwork.

The festival is a free event with family-friendly activities including make & take art stations and face-painting.  Starr is partnering with Samaritan Homes to provide a free meal to all children 18 and under who are participating in or attending the festival.

Transportation to and from the event may also be provided to groups that demonstrate the need.  In addition to certificates of participation, all young artists will also receive free t-shirts and wristbands. They will also be connected with representatives from arts programs with opportunities for continuing their artistic pursuits during the school year.

The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan is a full service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations committed to the future of southeast Michigan, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefitting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than 615 million through nearly 48,000 grants to nonprofit organization throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St Clair and Livingston Counties. For more information please visit www.cfsem.org

For more information on the Art of Resilience Project and the Starr Summer Youth Festival, contact John Hollingsworth: 517 630 1504 – hollingsworthj@starr.org

Calling all Detroit summer youth programs!

Starr Commonwealth is launching a new event that celebrates the resilience of Detroit’s young people and their neighborhoods.

On Sunday, August 10, 2014, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Starr will host the first Starr Summer Youth Festival, a new one-day event designed to spotlight youth, ages 6-18, attending summer arts programs throughout Detroit. Plans are taking shape for the festival to include three performance stages presenting 30 to 40 performances, and to exhibit dozens of visual arts projects. A Youth Arts Market will feature young artists selling their original artwork.

The event, which will take place in and around Paradise Valley Park and the Carr Center along E. Grand River and Centre Streets in downtown Detroit, is part of Starr’s Art of Resilience Project, an initiative designed to promote positive stories that demonstrate the resilience of young people and the neighborhoods of Detroit.

Program directors are invited to submit applications for their young artists and performers by visiting the event web site or calling 313-923-7353 and proposing a performance or exhibition around the theme of resilience.  Performances may include music, dance, theatre, short film, visual arts and/or written and spoken word. The Youth Arts Market is for original artwork only.

The festival is a free event with family-friendly activities including make & take art stations and face-painting.  Everyone is invited to attend the festival and support young people from across the city as they express the festival’s theme of resilience through their art.

Transportation to and from the event may also be provided to groups that demonstrate the need.  In addition to certificates of participation, all young artists will also receive free t-shirts and wristbands. They will also be connected with representatives from arts programs with opportunities for continuing their artistic pursuits during the school year.

“We want the festival to be a forum for creative expression, with young people demonstrating their resilience and the community celebrating their achievements,” said John Hollingsworth, director of the festival.

“Starr has successfully used art and creativity in its youth development programs for decades and we know that many other community groups and leaders are having this great impact in communities across the city. We want the positive stories of children and their families to be recognized more than their challenges, reflecting a more genuine image for our city.”

 

For more information about the Art of Resilience Project and the Starr Summer Youth Festival visit www.artofresilience.org  or call 313-923-7353.

 

Starr Commonwealth launches its Art of Resilience Project

By C. L. Price
First printed in the Michigan Chronicle

Art of Resilience

The Art of Resilience Festival will be held on August 10, 2014 at the Carr Center in Detroit.

Resilience is a major part of Detroiters’ DNA. That’s the premise of Starr Commonwealth’s Art of Resilience Project focused on showcasing the strength and creativity of young Detroiters.

The campaign will kick off this summer when it launches the Starr Summer Youth Festival.

This new one-day event is designed to showcase visual and performing arts projects created by young people, age 6 -18, attending summer youth programs throughout Detroit.

The young performers will tell their stories of resilience through the visual and performing arts. The festival will take place on Sunday, Aug. 10 at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center and nearby Paradise Valley Park.

With more than 100 years’ experience in serving as an advocate for children, Starr Commonwealth is uniquely suited to head the effort.

“We believe it’s time to recognize and celebrate young people and the many acts of resilience we witness every day. We want to help them tell their stories and that’s why we are proud to introduce the Art of Resilience Project,” said Dr. Martin Mitchell, president and CEO of Starr Commonwealth.

The multimedia effort, aimed at showcasing the artistic efforts of Detroit’s youngest residents, promises to feature a cross-section of artists, musicians, dancers and poets who, together, create a canvas that is uniquely Detroit.

“Art serves as a creative expression of our inner soul, showcasing our inner strength, determination and grit,” said Oliver Ragsdale, president of the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center, one of the largest minority arts organizations in the state of Michigan.

The Next Chapter

The Art of Resilience Project represents a long-term storytelling initiative, said to John Hollingsworth, project director and communications director at Starr Commonwealth.

“In addition to the Starr Summer Youth Festival, which we hope will become a much-anticipated annual event, the
project will feature ongoing activities that will chronicle and promote the strengths and resilience of Detroit’s young people, neighborhoods and community advocates,” he said.

Though Starr Commonwealth conceived of the Art of Resilience Project, Dr. Mitchell doesn’t view it as a one-organization initiative.

“In order for the Art of Resilience Project to be successful, we need the participation of like-minded community partners – individuals and organizations who like us see, and want to encourage, the best in young people,” he said.

“We have really just started The Art of Resilience. Already we have some great partners on board and are open to others who would like to support the project.”

To date, ARISE Detroit!, New Detroit, Inc., City Connect Detroit, the Michigan Chronicle, the Carr Center and the City
of Detroit Recreation Department have joined in supporting the initiative.

“Given all that Detroit has gone through this past decade, it’s important that we pause to recognize and celebrate our tenacity,” said Luther Keith, executive director of ARISE Detroit! and an Art of Resilience advisory group member.

“While the media often focuses on the negative challenges Detroiters face, this campaign provides an opportunity for the community to tell its own unique stories.”

Luther Keith is also former editor of the Detroit News in addition to being an accomplished musician.

Ultimately, organizers hope to further unify Detroiters under a banner of hope, progress and celebration.

“There are some great things happening with young people across Detroit,” said Hollingsworth.

“Hundreds of inspiring community organizations and programs are empowering young people to make positive, often very creative, contributions to their neighborhoods and the city.

“By highlighting their stories of resilience we hope to tackle some of the negative stigma our young people can come up against. Together, we can make a real difference.”

How to Work on Your Child’s Social Skills During Everyday Life

Social skill deficits may be a large barrier for children with autism spectrum disorders in their future lives. Developing social skills — the ability to understand and use specific and general communication and interaction skills to develop interpersonal relationships — can be accomplished through group therapeutic interventions. But, even if you can find an adequate social skill group for your child, his or her learning experiences in that group will not apply to the real world without natural “real world” experiences.

So how can a parent or other caregiver help? Just like with any new skill, practice makes perfect. Make sure your child has opportunities to work on social skills with peers or siblings. Help your child join small group activities or set up play dates with other children with whom they can interact. Find a common ground that all the children involved may like. This can be the cement that holds the event together, even if the specific interactions are not occurring as desired. In the early stages of a child’s social skill learning, you (or an older sibling or friend) may have to hover a bit to help keep things rolling, but care must be taken to avoid being too present and potentially stopping the natural flow between the children.

Setting expectations and practicing before any event happens is always a good idea. Explain to your child the purpose of the event, what he or she is expected to do socially, and then practice the specific skills to see if they can carry out your expectations. For example, if you are hosting a holiday dinner, make sure that your child knows that he or she must speak to everyone there, at least to say “hello.” Also rehearse a few topics to discuss at dinner, and remind your child that they are expected to ‘chime in’ (even if you give them some pat answers before hand). After the event give the child feedback regarding how they did and ways that they can improve. Praise any and all attempts at being social descriptively so that they know what they did correctly. Finally you may want to give a tangible reward (such as a special outing, privilege or a “point” on their point system) for exemplary performance. Don’t save these strategies for just special occasions. Use the basic strategy above anytime that you would expect your child to interact with others. Remember, practice makes perfect!

 

Gary Carone, M.S., L.L.P., L.M.S.W., B.C.B.A.
Co-Executive Director of PsychSystems, a program of Starr Commonwealth

Being Safe Around Water

Many children with autism and other developmental disabilities are powerfully drawn to water but do not understand the dangers. Parents and caregivers can help protect their children by assisting with the development of proper water safety skills.

Here are a few things parents can do with their children:

  • Take adaptive swim classes with your child at an early age at a local YMCA or other recreational facilities in your community. If he or she cannot learn conventional stokes, have the child learn “drown proofing,” a water survival technique that will help him or her stay afloat until help arrives.
  • Find the correct life jacket that best meets your child’s needs to wear anytime the child is near water such as a pool, lake, river, fountain, pond, hot tub or any other open water.
  • In a lake or pool, make a rule that they cannot go past their “water marker,” i.e. their belly button or navel – whichever one is appropriate to their level of swimming ability.
  • Always be within arm’s reach of the child when he or she is in or around any open water.
  • Be sure to drain bathtubs and other small containers of water when you are finished using them. If your concern is serious, consider putting safety locks on toilet seats if needed. Put motion detector alarms/safety locks on all hot tubs, landscape ponds or other water sources around your home.

Remember that safety is essential when dealing with potentially dangerous situations. There will be several opportunities at teachable moments, which can help you show your child or other children with autism how to remain safe in and around water.

Alison Donigan, M.S., L.L.P.
Co-Executive Director of PsychSystems, a program of Starr Commonwealth

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