Process over Product: How Creative Youth Development Can Lead to Peace

(Reposted from: Afterschool Matters, no. 29,  pp. 1-8 Spring 2019)

By Adam Jacobs


Kids Creative is a New York City nonprofit that runs afterschool and summer programs with over 1,000 youth each year. The programs they run use this creativity-oriented process to produce original musicals, works of art, videos, dances, and more. When Kids Creative received grant funding, they were able to include more youth and add homework help, science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) activities, and sports to their arts offerings. Throughout this expansion, they have maintained their process-oriented educational structures. Whether they are creating a musical play or a Lego robot, playing chess or learning a martial art, all participants have a voice as contributors and collaborators. At Kids Creative, the arts, science, and sports are vehicles for individual and community growth. Kids Creative see themselves as a creative youth development (CYD) program engaged in peace education. Their vision is that “a better, more peaceful future is achievable by teaching youth the creative, critical thinking, and social skills necessary to make peace within themselves and in society.” Their process-oriented approach to creativity builds what Elise Boulding (2000) calls a “peace culture.” She writes, “Peace cultures thrive on and are nourished by visions of how things might be, in a world where sharing and caring are part of the accepted lifeways for everyone” (p. 29). The author, a co-founder of Kids Creative, examines what is creative youth development and how Kids Creative supports a peace culture.

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