Disadvantaged youth in the Bronx and Harlem are at high risk for negative behaviors such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy, violence, and dropping out of school. Research shows that youth begin abusing substances (cannabis,cocaine,alcohol,heroine) between the ages of 10 and 15 and that young people often become sexually active at early teen and even pre-teen years. Daily they face harmful influences such as peer pressure, gang activity, poor role models and a culture of violence.
Our agents for change are educational services and the arts. Chief among the former is our mentoring program: professional personnel (carefully selected, screened and trained) provide 1:1 tutoring and guidance. Among our arts programs is Theatre for Development. Actors (participants) dramatize relevant social situations (e.g., substance abuse and dropping out of school). Audiences express ideas during the performance. This serves to identify problems and suggests solutions.
Measured outcomes fall into two categories-pro-social and academic achievement for these youth. Pro-social development includes increased self-esteem, improved relations with adults, positive peer associations and reduced incidence of destructive behaviors (re drugs, pregnancy, and violence). Re academics: Our goal is for 80% to improve school attendance and 75% to improve their grades. This will prevent and protect our participants from joining gang related activities.