Having students engage with homeless youth and adults in Chicano Park and surrounding areas in the downtown San Diego area as a direct type of service would be an ideal service learning project for the kids in our classrooms. Amongst the street art in the park, students would interact with one another and with the people who reside there by creating artwork (i.e. hemp bracelets, portraits, watercolor paintings, chalk art etc.) alongside their classmates and the locals in Chicano Park. There will be exchanges of a variety of types of art, conversations, storytelling, and community building. By spending a day in the park, this service learning project will inspire creativity and humanize the often de-humanized, ultimately creating and fostering a healthy image of self-esteem and exploring identity through different mediums.
Being able to create Chicano-inspired art in the heart of San Diego's Chicano park will aid in building a community with other students, and also homeless persons in the area.
1. Investigation: Students will research homelessness and the top 10 common causes of homelessness. Students will be placed into 10 different groups with a different cause for each group. The groups will investigate one of the following topics: addiction, domestic violence, mental illness, job loss and unemployment, foreclosure, post-traumatic stress, throw away teens, relational brokenness, grief, and despair.
2. Preparation/Planning: Before going to Chicano Park, each group will present their section and students will fill in a graphic organizer (sample) that has a section for each cause of homelessness presented. Teachers will provide students with materials for the variety of mediums going to be used in the art projects. Students will create slogans (one for each of the 10 groups) that they will integrate into their artwork. For example, if a students' group's slogan is "You Matter", the students could spell it out with beads on a hemp bracelet, or put it into their chalk art.
3. Action: Students will go to Chicano Park on a field trip, and spend the day there as a class. Firstly, they will observe, appreciate, and talk about the art. Then the students will talk and converse with the homeless people around the park. Each student will have to find at least one homeless person to converse with and to give their artwork too. The students will have the tools, graphic organizer, background, and be able to empathize with people in the park. During this time, they will have to document their day with photographs using phones, cameras, etc.
4. Reflection: Back in the classroom, they will do a quick write/reflection on what they learned, what their experience was like, the positives and the negatives, and what they gained from the experience. Students will then share with a partner what they wrote in their reflection verbally.
5. Demonstration/Celebration: Students will share their experience and photographs with the school newspaper, yearbook, or daily announcements.
6. Evaluation: Teachers will evaluate students on their service learning project by using a rubric/checklist (pictured left).