The Underprivileged Children’s Research Group engages with group homes serving adolescents encountering behavioral and emotional difficulties caused by toxic stress.
The goals of the UPCRG are to use innovative programming to more effectively change the perceptions and behaviors of our clients, allowing them to take charge of their lives and become productive members of society.
The methodology used in UPCRG’s approach is to enlighten the minds of the youth served through education, exposure, and structure. Throughout our efforts, we strive to instill our core values to all youth participating in our programs.
At the group homes, our organization’s “5 Pillars” curriculum is started and can follow clients to other placements should they decide to continue with the program.
The areas included in our programs are:
Pillar One: Social and Life Skills
Developed Social skills are crucial as they increase our ability to understand people and sense how they feel, as well as assess their wants and needs. Our aim here is to increase our clients’ abilities to adapt to the different social styles they encounter in their daily interactions, which will help them communicate comfortably and successfully. The desired result is that our clients will become effective in developing new connections and friendships, something many of them currently have difficulty doing.
Life Skills allow people to function on a daily basis. Self-care, hygiene, cleaning, cooking, and other aspects of daily living are things many of our clients haven’t been taught. Emphasis is placed early on in the program to ensure our clients can take care of themselves, while in their current settings and moving forward.
Pillar Two: Coping Skills & Strategies
Coping skills and strategies are the behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that are used to adjust to the changes that occur in one’s life. There are many coping strategies that people use, and some may prove more effective than others, depending on the nature of the stressful situation and the person who is employing them.
- Our clients either haven’t been taught proper coping skills and strategies or haven’t been taught how to properly use them.
Our purpose here is to emphasize the importance of finding proper coping skills and strategies for each individual client and help them put the proper mechanisms into place in their daily lives.
Pillar Three: Professional Skills Development
o Professional Skills aren’t necessarily taught in traditional coursework but are crucial for success, no matter what career path is chosen. The skills we need to think critically include observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem- solving, and decision making. Proper professional skills development teaches that we do all of these while keeping our personal and cultural biases outside the process.
Exposure to the world of work provides opportunities for students to build connections with professionals outside the “usual” networks, to which our clients typically lack access, and to learn by “doing” in real-world contexts.
Introductions to and hands-on experiences with things like automotive repair, welding, cooking, horticulture, and others help provide the experience for deciding where their interests lie and can inspire clients to set professional goals.
Pillar Four: Relationships
Relationships are imperative for many different reasons, such as increasing our emotional well-being, creating stability, learning how to be a good friend or mate, having someone to count on and trust in times of need and someone to vent to when we face challenges, and friends and mates take away loneliness and make us feel included. Each of our relationships elicits different responses internally that help us grow and learn about ourselves. Relationships often are the glue that holds us together during times of stressful situations and when we face life difficulties. Teaching our clients the value of building and assessing proper relationships and helping them understand the process of looking at the relationships they have objectively will help them in creating a proper structure of support that can help them to be even more successful in reaching their goals.
We also explore the importance of understanding the difference between the healthy relationships we have and how social media often present different styles of relationships, often based on populist concepts and forged by stereotype., Our emphasis focuses on what being a ‘real’ man or woman means in today’s society.
Pillar Five: Cultural Exposure and Cultural/Community Involvement
New experiences are powerful ways to expand the paradigms through which we view our lives. As we encourage our clients to expand the possible number of paths for their lives it is important that we provide them with experiences with different types of culture as well as different cultures.
- Exposure to art, history, science, sports, and nature can show a number of possibilities beyond the limited experiences our clients have had.
- Exposure to different cultures can help the expansion of the understanding of how and why other people do things certain ways and can also help us understand how and why we currently do the things we do.