THE REVIVAL OF THE STREETGAMES
DiRe Streets (Digitally Registered Street games & arts)
SAFE in SCHOOLS has developed a wonderful leadership program - evidence-based and science inspired (*1) - to get true PLAY (*2) back into every young person's life. We present a program that (re-) introduces many classic schoolyard/neighbourhood games while adding social circus skills and freestyle sports tricks.
The Streetgames Revival project is designed with elementary leadership students in mind (grades 5 and 6). However the concept can easily be adapted for leadership groups in any other youth organization. We offer the program under the name DiRe Streets for high schools, community centers, rehabilatation centers, neighbourhoods of cities, small villages, indigenous communities, refugee camps; anywhere where there is a community of youth who ''grow up'' together.
To find the most exciting and efficient way to promote a wide variety of old and new street arts & games, we looked at three succesful youth cultures; skateboarding (*3), video gaming (*4) and martial arts (*5).
The leadershipgroup can be from an already existing leadership program or it can be a newly created group. We call it's members the SAFE AREA Directors (SAD). The SAD will be ''almost'' in full charge (see Positive Peer Culture). However the ''official'' responsibility is in the hands of at least one adult; a ''free-range supervisor'', who is able to apply Goethe's observation:
Treat people as though they already are
what they are capable of becoming,
and you help them become that
We call the supervisor(s) the SAFE AREA Producer(s) or SAP. Usually in a school this is the special care counselor or a teacher, however it can also be a great program for volunteer parents (who have supervising skills). In other organizations, it can be a program director, a youthcare worker or any other type of professional or volunteer who works ''on the floor''. It can even be done through the initiative of a visionary individual (or group) outside the usual infra-structures (who usually will ''end up'' hooking up with a school or other center in the area). What counts is that the SAP has a good understanding of the youth community around him / her and is able to choose a leadership group of SAD among the youngsters.
We tailor our services to the experience of the SAP in working with young people in sports arts or education and to the experience of the SAD to be "leaders". We can initiate the project through ''live'' presentations and playshops. However for experienced teachers, counselors, animators, etc. working with experienced leadership groups lots can be also done through phone-meetings, e-mail and video clips. The program is designed to ''run on its own''.
The main task of the SAP is to supervise the SAD in all their tasks and to guide and - if necessary - help them out, yet leaving the program ''in their hands''.
The tasks of the SAD are:
* To organize a SAFE AREA playshop open for the whole youth community at least once a week. This can be an intra or extra curricular class or session in a school, a program in a community center, a regular neighbourhood event, etc. This includes reserving an appropiate space for the playshops, collecting and taking care of the material, setting up & cleaning up, preparing an inspiring music playlist, etc.
* To download the SAFE AREA Skill Charts, tranfer them to a simple computer program and start the proces of changing and adding names of skills, creating or re-arranging the colour levels index and (from the start or later) adding other street arts and games, according to what is popular in their own peer culture, like dance styles or tradtional cultural games.
* To be active players or player/facilitators using the SAFE Method and inspire - if needed - other players to also play with Respect, Focus and Fun.
* To organize ways to verify all players' level of ''mastery'' and register their names on the Skill Charts, according to the colour levels, following the colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, etc. Usually the verifying part takes place during the weekly playshop. The SAD will develop ways to do this without losing too much of their own playtime.
* To publish the Skill Charts on wall postings, smart boards, newsletters, Facebook pages, etc. on a regular basis, in order for the whole community (including teachers, parents, sponsors, etc.) to follow the program.
* To involve staff and other resources in the community to make the SAFE program sustainable (see Sponsors & Donors) and - if needed - to help out in parallel projects (Project-Based Learning, Multimedia Projects, Fundraiser Shows).
We are developing a network of SAFE AREAS and will support all SAFE communities with SAFE AREA Posters & Manuals and with introduction video clips. What is so special about the project is that - once it has started - it will ''run by itself''. Each one of the old or new street arts and games has a strong autotelic power (= attraction from within) and a direct, ''little hypnotic'' effect on all players. Like the skateboarders and videogamers, players ''don't need adults''. However, unlike skaters and gamers, it is the community who fully supports the program and all - continuously developing - skills are seen & appreciated by everyone! The colour levels will be treated in the same respectful way as in Martial Arts, while creating a natural self teach & peer inspiration culture
*1 We are, for example, inspired by research of the National Institute for Play. Another organization we follow is the HeartMath Institute who has developed devices that can monitor various human functions that are related to a wide range of "human moods". SAFE in SCHOOLS is inspired by these scientific organizations, but uses in the first place its own "scientific device"; our thumbs, from down to up, regarding the quality of our contact with our ball or any other art tool we use. See the SAFE AREA Manual.
*2 On the Benefits of Street Games & Arts form we define true PLAY as playful activities that are fully physical, kinesthetic and autotelic.
*3 We looked at the present day street games cultures (skateboard, break dance, free run) and at the “old neighbourhood" scenes. Some of these games, from hoola hoop and skipping to freestyle football (soccer), have been practised for many years about everywhere in the world! What they have in common is that during these practice sessions there are / were most of the time no adults around. Self-teaching and peer-inspiration are the norm. Tricks and moves get passed on among players and along generations. They all have specific names and everybody uses them. Furthermore there often is a common view about the level of difficulty of each trick and about the didactic build-up towards the mastery of it. Like in the streets of the past, in those (emptier!) of today, young people have to look around how others do it and then figure out themselves how to do it too. Many great athletes and artists are living proof of the powerful results of childhood auto-didactics.
*4 Throughout the many years we have worked in schools with Happy Youth Creations (here is one of our video clips), we noticed it was getting harder & harder to inspire the young generations to get into Street Arts and practise also anywhere in their own time; we are up against video games, TV, Youtube, Facebook, etc. Many parents and teachers know how hard it can be these days to "unplug" their children from these digital attractions. So we designed a way to register all achievements of all students (players, members, etc.) in the way videogames involve their gamers into moving on from one level to the next. The continuously revised charts in the computer program can be published regularly on walls (paper diagrams), smartboards, school journals, newsletters, Facebook pages, etc. The whole school, organization, neighbourhood or village, including the sponsors and donors, can keep track of all the achievements. Filming the happenings can be done and published too. One great possibility is to show all the students showcasing some of their best moments, on a great soundtrack (see Multimedia Projects).
*5 Whereas the various martial arts use their own specific colours to indicate the various levels of accomplishment, DiRe Streets uses the colours of the rainbow. In our Skill Charts models we only leveled each street game or art until level yellow, green or level blue. This is all to be adapted and extended by each leadership group (consulted by the specialists in each domain). Feel free to ask us to send you these models to check out!