PLATFORM FOUR: COMING OF AGE IN AMERICA YOUTH PROGRAM: MENTORING OUR YOUTH

Our Fourth Platform develops special after-school programs to engage junior-high school students who are at risk or come from low-income or poverty environments. The goal is to develop creative models that reach youth at a critical stage in their lives when they are developing their own self-awareness, identities and values. Our programs involve mentoring, community and civic engagement, role-playing civic and history-based games and other models all focused on providing students with a safe and supportive space to become successful citizens.

We have partnered with the Maine Youth Alliance better known as "The Game Loft" in Belfast, Maine which has a highly successful 20 years of experience in creative educational and mentoring programs for such youth. We currently have three major programs in operation:

We have partnered with the Game Loft in developing and evaluating these models with the hope that they will be models that can be embraced in communities throughout the nation.

"I KNOW ME" MENTORING PROGRAM

"I Know ME" is a six-year program of mentoring, support, outreach for at risk students and those from low-income and poverty backgrounds. Student participants join in the seventh grade and continue through high school. The program is designed to achieve the following goals:

COMING OF AGE IN AMERICA

Game Loft1

This program is designed for high school students and is currently run as an Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) for elective credit through a local public high school. It focuses on the lives and histories of young people growing up in Maine. It is “learning history by being history.”

Key Program Components:

HISTORIC CIVIC ROLE-PLAYING GAMES

Williamsburg Magazine

This program develops role-playing games that younger students quickly grasp and fully engage. Coming of age in an era of “Dungeons and Dragons” and “E-Sports” role-playing is in their DNA. But rather than being confrontational and war-like games, our historic based games are collaborative and cooperative. The goal is to confront a given historical event that is most often confrontational and divisive and to engage in resolving that challenge in a way that preserves our values and reaches a common good. The games we have developed and tested are effective because they are experiential, empathetic and engaging. Role play enhances students understanding of story and narrative because it functions like a living text that includes character and plot development, comedy and tragedy, theme and mood, time and setting. In a role play game the students are not passive spectators or recipients of programmed knowledge but active participants as co-authors of the historic based story.

We recently developed an historic based role playing game for Colonial Williamsburg Foundation entitled: “The Magazine Episode at Williamsburg: A Royal Theft.” This is the story of two points of view. One point of view is Lord Dunmore’s. The world, as he sees it is part of the ever-more-mighty British Empire. The other point of view is yours (meaning student game participant). You are a character in a drama. The town you live in, Williamsburg in the Colony of Virginia, is about to be a stage for this drama. You will play a part in the dramatic collision between your point of view and the Governor’s point of view, between what you see as your world and what he sees as his world.

You can call this play a drama. You can call it a game. How you and your colleagues play your part will determine whose world view wins: The Idea of Empire or the Idea of America.

See our website “ideaofamericanetwork.org” for instruction manual and other resource material regarding how we developed this particular game which can serve as guidance for others to develop similar games. We have the experience and expertise to assist you in these efforts. Just contact us!

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