PHILADELPHIA — Two professors from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education are teaming up with the Urban Youth Association at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia to help adolescents manage personal conflicts through interactive basketball games, starting in October.
Howard Stevenson and Duane Thomas are leading Peacemakers, a two-year parent-development component of the Preventing Long-term Anger and Aggression in Youth project, or PLAAY, and teaching 150 parents to become supportive life coaches for 150 children in seventh and eighth grades before, during and after peer conflicts.
“Through play, parents can learn to teach youth about life and settling disputes without speeches or nagging. If your parent is in your corner, then disputes with others don’t define who you are,” Howard Stevenson, associate professor in Penn GSE. “We underestimate how much teenagers long for their parents to invest in their emotional development as they face conflicts that have serious life consequences.”
The program incorporates Cultural Pride Reinforcement, or CPR, a group-therapy and education element involving small group discussions on topics relevant to the adolescents’ lives, such as street-life survival and relationship issues. CPR also teaches the adolescents to solve gender, racial and academic conflicts without turning to violence.
As a part of the W.E.B. DuBois Collective Research Institute at Penn and the University of Chicago, PLAAY integrates a creative combination of intervention and research strategies to bring positive changes in the lives of young people, including improving school attendance and reaching achievement and maintaining better family relationships.