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Mission and Goals

Guiding Practices


Peace Event



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Paul Hillman

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BALSZ Promise Neighborhood Youth Advisory Council Sessions - February through March

Black History Art Walk About with art history lesson: Mr. Thomas Sejen’s National Junior Honor Society after-school class Feb. 23, 2016.

Judy Butzine, Director of the Balsz Promise Neighborhood Youth Advisory Council (BPN YAC), explains artifacts of Yoruba Culture from Nigeria, Africa, as well as the contemporary artworks by Dr. Eugene Grigsby Jr, ASU Professor Emeritus, and his former students: Sonny Sholola, Nigerian and Joe Willie Smith. These youth advisory councils in the Balsz community were identified as a community need during an ASU Community Scan for more than five years ago. They were originally funded through Valley of the Sun United Way Community Impact, facilitated by Judy Butzine, MSW, Director of the BPN YAC, and Lori Robinson, BPN Community Liaison.

Yoruba crown worn by village leader to provide honor through design linking wisdom from the ancestors and messages from the heavens. The use of color was also explained to the students as a means to achieve a visual metaphor of community harmony in the balance between the use of "HOT" colors and "Cool" colors.

Mr. Sejen. National Junior Honor Society, Balsz Elementary teacher, continues to explain to one student who came a little later about the contemporary artwork depicting the slave trade and the brutality these individuals endured in the hull of the ships. The young ladies also examine and interpret their understanding at the end of the discussion...This artwork linked the transition between the Yoruba artifacts and the contemporary art and literature...All a part of the connection to the ethics lesson linked back to the Human Rights discussion in the National Junior Honor Society students’ last session and the need for the continuity of recognizing how values, ideas and beliefs of a traditional society set a path in motion for modernity... No Slavery, No Discrimination, honoring of United Families, Women, Children and Importance of education for All Persons. The arts are also to receive the respect and be the right of persons to have creative expression and practice equality for all...

"Community developers can work with local artists to help people tell their stories: art can act to build solidarity and can be a prelude to community action" (Husteddde, p.159, quoted Jones, 1988).

Youth took notes and were asked to from their personal perspectives interpret what these artworks meant to them and its relevancy to their everyday lives... "Art is nothing if not teaching, for it teaches us, in various ways on various levels about nature, about ideas, about ourselves, and about itself." (Grudin, R., 1991, p.14)

At the end of the presentation students walked around to examine and explore these objects at greater depth. If students are not able to transform their lived experiences into knowledge and to use the already acquired knowledge as a process to unveil new knowledge, they will never be able to participate rigorously in a dialogue as a process of learning and knowing. (Freire, 2000, Pedagogy of the Oppressed)

We are very grateful for Adam in his assistance for the set up and his story of the artifacts from his lived experiences being born in Africa... INTEGRATING "STORY" INTO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT "It has been argued that we are not Homo sapiens but Homo narrans, the only species that tells stories," (Hustedde, 1998, quoted Fisher 1987, p.157). Hustedde continues by stating, "Stories are how we organize our thoughts and experiences and how we share them with others.

This work could not occur in our community without the collaboration of teachers, community workers as community liaisons and outside resources to bring a plan back to the community as a community service program in the near future. Funding through private contractors is also essential... Thank you Mr. Sejen and Lori Robinson, Balsz Community Liaison Representative.


AVID class at Camelback H.S. taught by Ms. Sayre on March 22nd, 2016,

A young man named Colby Jeffers, a local rap artist, visited the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class at Camelback H.S. taught by Ms. Sayre on March 22nd, 2016, to talk about the positiveness of shining the light in the world with this Rap song "I Can, You Can Change the World". Not only did he inspire the students with his story of service to many in areas around the world; but he discussed how the arts are a very motivational means to impact community building when one uses this creative expression in a positive manner to benefit ALL...

AVID student introduces Colby!

Thank you Victoria for bringing Colby to Camelback…This is what the Balsz Promise Neighborhood Youth Advisory Council (BPN YAC) facilitates in classroom settings, enhancing the meaning and purposefulness of the arts in our world for community building! PEACE

Students watched Colby’s rap video filmed in Cameroon with Awu and the choir of voices from both sides of the Atlantic!

The students then wrote their reflections in one world statements: I can, you can, we can change the world...

- inspiring x6

- equality x4

- meaningful x3

- love x3

- mind-opening x 2

- community

- encouraging

- motivational

- This was a very touching, powerful, amazing video. It inspired me to want to keep helping the community and speak out to help the world become better

- This activity made me realize that I can do anything to help my community and the world, I just have to try.


Tuesday, March 29th, 2016, was a day to celebrate Cesar Chavez’s birthday and the leadership skill sets he modeled for us during his lifetime in Mr. Sejen’s National Junior Honor Society after school program.

Thank you Lori Robinson, Balsz Community Liaison for bringing pizza for everyone.

Following a few words to acknowledge the honoring and celebration of Chavez’s birthday Michael Butzine, BFA, was introduced to tell the story of Sadako and facilitate an art making activity for each student, creating a peace crane...

The paper crane has become an international symbol of peace in recent years as a result of its connection to the story of a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki born in 1943. Sadako was two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. As she grew up, Sadako was a strong, courageous and athletic girl. In 1955, at age 11, while practicing for a big race, she became dizzy and fell to the ground. Sadako was diagnosed with Leukemia, "the atom bomb" disease.

Sadako's best friend told her of an old Japanese legend which said that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes would be granted a wish. Sadako hoped that the gods would grant her a wish to get well so that she could run again. She started to work on the paper cranes and completed 100’s of cranes before dying on October 25, 1955, at the age of twelve. There is a monument to her today in Hiroshima that receives paper cranes from around the world setting intentions for acts of peace making globally.

Michael instructed the students to set their individual intentions for peace as they were folding the cranes...

He also discussed this ancient art form as a scientific means to send a collapsible device into space to then be released from the carrying rocket and opened into a full size satellite form...

This instruction assists students to stick to a task for a sustained period of time, also supporting participants to focus and develop introspection. This visual arts lesson plan is multifaceted integrating language arts, art making and finally the reflective writing exercise at the end of class....

...explaining that the students are creating a visual representation of what Peace means to many people including children around the world.

Everyone was very quiet and thoughtful as the activity progressed...assisting one another as well as the attending adults helping when there was some confusion.

As a final step the students were directed to write their reflections and comments of gratitude for PEACE on a small piece of paper, a reminder of the thoughtful art making activity.

This kind of human and leadership programming would not be occurring in the classroom without the support of Mr. Thomas Sejen.

Promise Neighborhood Youth Advisory Council is a human and leadership Development program Mission:

Youth Leaders for change, collaborating with the Balsz Promise Neighborhoods to address social challenges that promote civic engagement and activities that build strong, united families and neighborhoods.