ASPIRA of Illinois – Leadership Through Education
Leadership Development – ASPIRA Clubs
Pantoja, a social worker and researcher, believed the development of our youths self-esteem was a precondition for academic excellence and it required the students understanding and appreciation for their cultural heritage. After extensive research on youth, she developed an approach known as the ASPIRA Process and it remains the core of all ASPIRA activities.
ASPIRA uses a club structure as a means for carrying out this process that involves three core concepts used for youth leadership development: Awareness, Analysis and Action.
AWARENESS: WHAT DO I KNOW?
The first step is to develop self-value and value of others. Here students express what they already know about themselves and the world they live in and by doing so are able to validate personal perception and awareness.
ANALYSIS: WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Critical thinking is taught in work group setting to expand their knowledge about themselves and of others. Emphasis is placed on the analysis of race, gender, culture and history.
ACTION: MAKING IT HAPPEN.
Student puts into action the knowledge and skills they have learned to the benefit of oneself, one’s family and one’s community.
At first, students may have to make a conscious effort to become aware, analyze and act. Later, as they mature and gain the experience, knowledge and skills, they begin to automatically apply the process throughout their lives. By helping youth to establish pride in their cultural heritage and their own individuality, they are able to realize individual potential in the larger society.