"Still I Rise…" Youth Outreach

"Still I Rise" is a program to be implemented for the purpose of instilling the principles of good character and discipline in young people in Union County, South Carolina. The program is being developed and initiated by Pastor and Mrs. J. Archie Calhoun of Corinth Baptist Church. It will be administered through the Corinth Community Development Corporation, a non-profit faith based organization which was established under the guidance of Pastor Calhoun in September, 1999. Corinth Community Development Corporation 501©3 is registered with The South Carolina Secretary of State Office as a charitable organization.

According to statistics from the South Carolina Bureau of Labor Statistics, Union County has one of the lowest economic bases in South Carolina. Approximately 17% of Union County residents are living in poverty. A great percentage of children in the school system are listed either at the poverty level or below.

Researchers such as "South Carolina Kids Count" reports that the success of our children in school, largely depends on their home environment. In fact, the following is a direct quote of their 2007 Union County Kids Count Summary:

"Facing the scope of Problems: The data on families, economic status, health, readiness, school achievement, and adolescent risk behaviors provide a troublesome picture of the condition of children in Union. The 36.4 % of children in single-parent families, 19.4 % in poverty, 30.8 % not graduating from school, 31.9 % of high school students using alcohol and 15.2 % using drugs each month, and other data profiled in this report suggest that too many children are at risk of not growing up to become self-supporting adults, good family members, and responsible community citizens."

Therefore, when there are issues which are so difficult to handle, issues such as crime and poverty, the end result will be low achievement in society. It is our hope to turn around the expectations of many of our young parents, and children that are underachievers because of their environment. As we all know, it must be our personal desire to reach up for the next level in society.

As we move forward in bringing "Still I Rise" to the community, standards set forth in this publication are only a trial in the beginning. We realize that as time progresses, many different approaches may be implemented, therefore, changing courses will not be out of the question. Evaluation of our progress will be ongoing.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this program will be to bring about a sense of pride, while raising the level of academic achievement in low achieving individuals as we involve parents in the process.

Goal

The goal is to provide the participants with a reason for positive thinking that will eventually lead to positive living. The ultimate goal is to increase the level of intrinsic motivation to obtain a good educational foundation, so much so, the participants will have a natural desire to go to college and become self-sufficient and productive citizens.

Plan

The initial plan is to begin with 40 youth, 20 young men and 20 young women, ages 6-12. These young people will be sought, first, from among the residents of the Union Housing Authority of Union and, later, the community "at large", 10 boys and 10 girls from each geographical area, possibly. After the first 4 weeks of meetings, we will seek other young people that may or may not be under achievers. Each child will be provided with the basic necessities to succeed in the program, as well as the necessary tools for learning in school. It will be the parent's responsibility to provide support for the child and make to make sure the child attends the meeting.

Criteria for participation in the program will be as follows, initially:

  1. Must be a Union County resident
  2. May or may not be a low achiever, but must have demonstrated potential
  3. Must not be involved in any illegal activity
  4. Must be actively enrolled in school
  5. Must display a willingness to cooperate
  6. Must not be disrespectful
  7. Must be available for bi-weekly meetings
  8. Must maintain a clean discipline record at school
  9. Must dress properly, respectfully
  10. Must learn "Still I Rise" by Mya Angelou during the first year in the program

Program

Participants will meet weekly for one hour for the first three months. Parents will be expected to meet for at least the first month. The components of the program will include;

  1. Family pride - knowing who I am
  2. Character building & self esteem
  3. First impression, lasting impression (personal appearance)
  4. Exposure to the arts
  5. Visit City and County government
  6. Reading for life
  7. Developing proper relationships
  8. School and me - foundation for the future - what college offers
  9. Staying away from violence, drugs and alcohol
  10. What are my talents

Each participant will be assigned a formal uniform. The uniform will consist of black pants and white shirts for boys, with a SIR neck-tie. Girls uniform will consist of black skirts and white blouses with a SIR scarf. Dress shoes and socks will be worn by both, boys and girls.

Once there is a working relationship established between the participants and the facilitators, out-of-town educational trips will be considered.

There will be a planned annual event to recognize the good behavior and good work of the participants.