Monday, February 21, 2011

Self-Image Collage at Dobie School

You look in the mirror and you are either pleased with what you see or not. You may be looking at your physical appearance - skin, hair, clothes, or the image you portray - being confident or shy. Our self image plays an important part in how we feel about ourselves and how we think others perceive us. Our self-esteem, confidence and ability to communicate with others are closely linked with how we view ourselves. 

The hypothesis is that there is a correlation between participation in youth development programs and self-image. Although the studies show no significant direct relationship between participation in youth programs and self-image, the results do indicate a relationship between development of the 5 C’s and self-image in young people. The data suggest that youth development programs can still be a useful tool in helping to develop a positive self-image in youth, and that it is important to provide program options which emphasize development of each of the 5 C’s and positive self-image.

So Stephanie, Anna, and I decided to see how our Dobie middle schoolers see themselves. For that, we decided to organize a self-image collage activity. We gathered some magazines (it turned out pretty difficult to find magazines which would be interesting for kids since students obviously have different interests), put together a small activity plan, and went to Dobie on Thursday, February 10.

The idea was that kids draw themselves on a piece of paper, and then cut out images from the magazines which, in their opinion, describe their lives, or dreams and aspirations. At first we discussed with kids what self-image is and why we need it, and then we started working on the collage. In the beginning, the kids seemed to be much more interested in going through of magazines and looking at pictures, showing them to each other and, at times, picking on each other. But gradually they started getting very involved in the activity. Stephanie, Anna, and  were making collages as well (serving as good role models). We even involved Lee in the activity! As he told us later, neither he or the kids have done anything like that before. No wonder we had troubles later trying to wrap the activity up!

The collages turned out to be great! They all had positive, happy images. Some cut out images of cars, cell phones and other material belongings. Others found pictures which would describe their hobbies (traveling, reading, and even cooking). There were a few which described future professions (one girl wants to be a doctor). Kids seemed to be very happy about their results, and were eager to tell the others about what they had on their collages.

At the end, we discussed with the kids what they learned about each other that day. And I think that was one of the most important parts of the activities. Here is a short dialogue between me and the 2 boys which shows that in some way the activity became an eye-opener for them:

Me: Michael, what did you learn about Rickey today?
Michael: I learned that he likes bears (there was a picture of a mama and cub bears).
Rickey: I like animals, not just bears
Me: Michael, did you know that Rickey liked animals?
Michael: No, I didn't . I always thought he wanted to kill animals.

This short funny dialogue shows that it is very simple to organize a setting in which the kids can truly learn a lot of new things about each other. I stronger believe that the more kids stayed involved with the after-school program, the more diverse and complete their self-image collage will get. So I hope that the next time the kids get to make a self-image collage, they will also include pictures that shows friendship, success, and accomplishment.

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