– by Katie Sill, Program Manager
We recently came across a Research Brief from the Center for Promise titled Defining Webs of Support: A New Framework to Advance Understanding of Relationships and Youth Development that discusses the frameworks of webs of support that are effective in positively impacting youth. This report, written by Shannon M. Varga and Jonathan F. Zaff, defines “Webs of Support” as the “intersection of a multilayered ecology filled with a network of relationships that provide social supports.”
The report helpfully breaks that down for us:
Relationships with people
Relationships with institutions
Relationships with their broader environment
This concept is what drove us to shape our Ideal Program Model, which is to bring together schools, parents, and other adult community leaders like librarians, museum docents, seniors and others to build networks that support youth in ongoing, positive ways. When Story Tapestries connects with a community in need, we work together with that community to develop a strategy based on the following model:
Observing the community and working together to Assess what they Need
Come in to do a Series of Workshops culminating in some form of Community Event
Work with educators through Professional Development workshops
Work with parents and community members through Community Engagement Events
Reflect on the success of the program by Measuring the Impact
Our network of teaching artists, educators, and community leaders come together during this process to focus on literacy strategies, STEM, 21st Century Skills, and/or social development, depending on the unique needs of the school, utilizing art forms such as storytelling, hip hop/rap, poetry, theatre, dance, visual arts, and much more. We envision this collaboration forming a tapestry weaving together the needs of the community with the creativity and innovation that the arts provide.
One of the ways we’ve seen how the ARTS can be used to weave a tapestry of support for the children we work with is through the impact on LITERACY. The arts are languages that all people speak – they cut across racial, cultural, social, education, and economic barriers and enhance cultural appreciation and awareness. This means the arts can be used to facilitate communication between students and teachers, between parents and schools, and between community members.
We’re excited to see the Center for Promise further developing and growing this idea of youth being supported by a network of relationships with the individuals, institutions, and environment that surrounds them. The more we know about the complex environments that shape the lives of youth, the more tools we have in our toolbox to support them. You can download the full report here.