Open Book, a program of the Insitute for Positive Living. A multi-faceted after-school program that encrourages the development of reading, writing and critical thinksing skills

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IPL Newsletter for February, 2009

IPL email newsletter banner February, 2009


A Message from Our Founder

Rev. Marrice Coverson, President, Institute for Positive Living

by Rev. Marrice Coverson
President, Institute for Positive Living

Do Like Barack Obama—Tap into you Gifts and Possibilities

Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States by tapping into his gifts and possibilities. As a young man, he took a good look at his strengths, his gifts and enhanced them. Then he capitalized on those gifts by looking exploring and pursuing the possibilities of life. One of these possibilities was a college education and a Harvard Law Degree. The possibility became reality. Another possibility was helping people by becoming a community organizer. The possibility became reality. Another possibility was becoming a State Senator in Illinois. The possibility became reality. And another was becoming a U.S. Senator. The possibility became reality. And then he pursued the possibility of becoming the first African American president of the United States. The possibility became reality—and history was made.

Everyone can’t be, or would even want to be, president. But, each of us has gifts that are equally significant. We have the gifts that make us leaders, just as Barack Obama is a leader. Many think that leaders are people who head up countries or big corporations. But, every one of us can be a leader by contributing to our families, our communities, the United States and the world.

This is what President Barack Obama meant in his Inaugural address when he said:

“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”

We at the Institute for Positive Living hear President Obama’s message loud and clear. We have been living that message since the very first day when IPL launched its Open Book pilot project. At IPL we train youth to channel their energies in positive directions.

A main focus for IPL is literacy and the love of reading. Literacy is the baseline

Channel those energies into a positive direction. Literacy defines where you are and where you can be and go in life. If a child can’t read, it is difficult for them to dream and become a visionary—or even think. The ability to read gives a child an ability to think and see a world that is beyond what they can see right in front of them. It gives the child the possibility of dreaming.

IPL also focuses on entrepreneurship. Through IPL’s Entrepreneurship Program, we help kids tap into their ideas and create small businesses. This process inspires the possibility of these youth becoming great business people in the future.

IPL also mentors young males and females. Through IPL’s Male Mentoring Program, boys see that they have great qualities that they can tap into. Just as Barack Obama has gifts, so do they. They can develop these gifts. They have the possibility of doing great things, not only for themselves, but for their communities and for the world.

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Sharon Draper Author Event
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Gregroy performs during Sharon Draper Author Event

Students Meet Award-winning Author Sharon Draper During Open Book Author Event

More than 100 African American inner city students, aged 9 – 14, got a chance to meet critically-acclaimed children’s book author Sharon Draper as part of Chicago’s unique Open Book Program during an talk-show style Student/Author Event on Saturday, December 13, at Gregory Elemetary, 3715 W. Polk St., in Chicago.The Open Book Participants prepared performance pieces and interview questions based on the best-selling books Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs: Shadows of Caesar's Creek and Romiette & Julio. Open Book is a program of the Institute of Positive Living.

During the event, Draper led the entire audience including Open Book students, their teachers, and their parents in an African “Let This Circle Not Be Broken” blessing. Participants held hands as they recited the blessing. Draper also told the students that the election of Barack Obama as president means, “there is no reason to even say I can’t do that anymore.”

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Students from Gregory Elementary School perform a skit based on Romiette & Julio by Sharon Draper.
Armstrong students get their books signed by author Sharon Draper.

Students from Armstrong Elementary School are pictured with award-wining author Sharon Draper just after getting their books signed.

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Sharon Draper Workshop

Artists and Teachers attend a workshop by author Sharon Draper.

Teachers, artists and parents in Institute from Positive Living’s Open Book Program are pictured with author/teacher Sharon Draper after attending a hands-on workshop filled with teaching tips on December 12, 2008. Sharon Draper is a National Teacher of the Year, a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Literary Award, and a New York Times bestselling author.

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What We Are Reading Now
Books we are reading now

Open Book students from Armstrong Elementary School, Copernicus Elementary, Gregory Elementary, Henderson Elementary, Mayo Elementary School, Nicholson Elementary, Open Book/Lawless Gardens, Reed Elementary, Penn Elementary, University of Chicago-Donoghue, White Career Academy, and Williams Multiplex are reading either Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs: Stars and Sparks on Stage by Sharon Draper and Stop It Now Or REGRET It Later by Catharine Ingram.

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IPL's Male Mentoring Program

Mentoring Means Helping Young Males Achieve Their Potential

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IPL Male Mentoring Program at Mayo.

These boys from Mayo Elementary School are pictured with Facilitator/Mentor Yanier Moore during an IPL Male Mentoring Book Club session.

IPL’s Male Mentoring Book Club meets everyday of the week in six different high schools and grammar schools throughout Chicago: Robeson, Phillips and Fenger High Schools, Williams, Nicholson and Mayo Elementary Schools. 

IPL mentors meet with young men at each of these schools one day per week for 1-1/2 hours. The sessions include a mentoring curriculum, reading a book, and talking about important issues in the lives of these youth. The Male Mentoring Book Club provides a safe place where youth can come and talk about important male issues with a knowledgeable and caring adult. IPL also takes youth on educational and cultural trips in order to broaden their horizons.

“Through IPL’s Male Mentoring Program, boys see that they have great qualities that they can tap into,” states IPL President Marrice Coverson. “Just as Barack Obama has gifts, so do they. They can develop these gifts. They have the possibility of doing great things, not only for themselves, but for their communities and for the world.”

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