CPS Changing the World
The Sidney J. Parnes Global Fellowship in CPS helps emerging community leaders develop as creative thinkers and innovators so they can improve lives in their communities. Our first class of fellows are applying CPS to individual projects that benefit their home communities.
Maham Furqan: Lahore, Pakistan
Maham came to the Parnes Fellowship with a desire to bring your educational reform in Pakistan. After learning the CPS process, she realized that she first needed to tackle the issue of the high school drop out rate at the matriculation level. Her focus population is school-going girls in 8th through 10th grade. Her project is a 3-year mentoring program. She says, “Even at this early stage, I can report that CPS really is working. I can see the change taking place in the lives of these girls who are the doctors, engineers. and educators of the future.
Kabelo Malefane: Soweto, South Africa
KB’s initial project idea was to create a habit of reading among the youth in Kliptown, Soweto, South Africa and to open a mobile library that is a functional and study-friendly space for young people. After training in CPS, he decided to increase the number of beneficiaries of the program and figured out ways to do so while also cutting costs. KB’s focus is to create communities that read with the ultimate goal of improving school grades, which he believes will make crime and other social ills decrease. KB has already initiated his program, starting with three reading groups in Kliptown, and then expanding to other areas for a total of seven book clubs.
Justin McCarthy: Lynn, Massachusetts, USA
Justin is working to build a safe space for men in his community using hip-hop culture to create dialogue, provide mentorship, and facilitate artistic expression. Justin is partnering with local schools to identify at-risk young men to participate so he can help them develop focus, goals, and academic success, through his innovative curriculum. Justin says, “Each one of us Fellows had specific concerns about our communities, and with CPS, we were able to create four amazing projects. We are individuals who had ideas and are now actively affecting change in our world. What is cooler than that?” During the school year, Justin is working with a group of young men from Liberty High School in Bethlehem, PA to create poetry, music, and social action projects.
Daberechi Okedurum: Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos, Nigeria is facing a staggering youth unemployment crisis as a result of the declining oil industry. Dabs’ initial project idea was to support the creation of 1,000 businesses by 2029 by creating entrepreneurship hubs. CPS helped Dabs focus his project into three areas: CPS facilitation, an Ideation Weekend, and the establishment of the African Centre for Entrepreneurship Educators and Corporate Innovation. So far, Dabs has already made significant strides toward his project goal.
CPS Curbing Systemic Domestic Violence
Creative Problem Solving (CPS), developed by Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes, is a proven method for approaching a problem, challenge, or opportunity in an innovative way. It helps individuals come up with new approaches and solutions and then take action. CPS helps people get unstuck and move forward, and sometimes, it can save lives.
Kathysue Dorey uses CPS training in her Freedom Legacy Impact Study (FLIS) to help survivors of systemic domestic violence become independent, emotionally healthy leaders within their family and communities. Her goal is two-fold: first, to help the women heal and thrive; and second, to empower them to break the cycle of domestic violence.
“I get to play, dream, and have fun again.” – FLIS Participant
Kathysue’s longitudinal study combines CPS with other methodologies: the Thinking Skills Model (cognitive thinking and affective skills); Positive Psychology in the form of Personal Belief Systems; the Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 (emotional well-being competencies); and Pure Krav Maga (self-defense principles). This comprehensive approach is powerful for participants: “The attention paid to us as a whole person has allowed me to grow my skills in unison.” FLIS addresses the whole person emotionally, intellectually, and physically with resources, practices, skills, as well as principles and processes to help them live a healthy, fulfilling life.
Kathysue explained, “I set these women up for success to break the generational cycle of domestic violence by teaching in an affirmative, safe environment where creativity thrives and their emotional well-being can be supported and reinforced. I specifically look at the EQi competencies of Problem Solving, Assertiveness, Optimism, and Self-Regard, but have also found it important to teach Happiness as a competency instead of just using it as a well-being indicator.”
While Kathysue’s research continues, preliminary results have been very promising for two women (W#1,W#2). W#1 and W#2 experienced domestic violence for years, and committed to an intensive rehabilitation program at a high-security women’s shelter in upstate New York. At the shelter, they learned daily living skills, reconnected with their faith, and prepared for their GED with the intention of advancing to college and beyond. The shelter provides a necessary safe environment conducive to Kathysue’s methodologies.
W#1 is a 41-year old African-American woman who suffered from domestic violence and sexual abuse as a child and into her teenage years. Upon entering the Study, she tested on the EQi with a high Independence subscale, which actually reflected they way she isolated herself from seeking help. She also came into the Study with an unbalanced Realty Testing subscale, meaning her perceptions of reality shifted erratically. It is important to note that W#1 came to the Impact Study before moving into the women’s shelter.
After W#1 moved into the shelter and lost her independence, the reality of her situation became clear to her. As her Self-Awareness competency deepened, she had to finally face some difficult realities. While reflecting on this process, she said, “The positive environment in which this program is taught is refreshing and allows the safety of making missteps so we can become who we need to be.” By the mid-point of the Study, her scores decreased, which was anticipated. By the completion of the Impact Study, her EQi scores increased and became more balanced.
W#1’s credits CPS plus the four other methodologies taught during the Impact Study as key to her development: “This program has changed my life, my view about myself, and how I want to help others.” W#1 recently moved out of the women’s shelter into her own apartment, has facilitated as a mentor several times with the new Impact Study cohort, and continues to grow emotionally and creatively stronger every day.
W#2 is a 61-year old African-American female who suffered from years of domestic violence (physical, emotional, and financial). She had extremely low Emotional Self-Awareness and Realty Testing scores in addition to low Problem-Solving, Optimism, Assertiveness and Self-Regard scores. W#2 came to the Impact Study after six months at the women’s shelter. W#2 learned many positive skills and practices at the woman’s shelter, yet learning affirmative emotional well-being competencies was not part of the curriculum, and previously, emotional well-being practices were not specifically taught in conjunction with Creative Problem Solving and the cognitive thinking and affective skills.
W#2 had overall low EQi results; she never thought of herself as important before the program. As she participated the Impact Study, W#2’s mid-results and post-results increased. Her Problem-Solving score began at 86, went to 94, and then increased to 116. Even more exciting was her Emotional Self-Awareness score that began at 59, went to 91, and increased to 115. When Kathysue met W#2 she was an exhausted, worn out woman who was fighting her way back to life. “The importance of balancing my emotions has been bittersweet: it is a continual task and a continual gift,” she stated. Today, W#2 has moved out of the shelter and is financially and emotionally independent for the first time in her life. She always has a smile on her face and also mentors in the current cohort in the Impact Study. Her greatest accomplishment is her greatest joy: “To experience a big, old belly laugh each and every day.”
As one participant said, “The emotional skills have allowed me to quiet my mind and actually focus on whatever tasks are at hand.” To date, results from the Impact Study show that the women need to learn Creative Problem Solving skills to help them dream with optimism and create a vision for the future. They have rediscovered how happiness and playfulness are important in their daily lives: “I can become the storyteller I used to be as a child.”
Interestingly, and quite by accident, another finding has been consistent: the “AHA” moment when they realize they are intelligent and that this intelligence is their gateway to freedom. As one participant discovered, “I always thought I was a procrastinator, but now I realize I was just stuck without the ‘how to’ ability, which I now have with creative problem solving.”
W#1 and W#2 have helped Kathysue make the Freedom Legacy Impact Study even stronger as they are the ones who recommended teaching the Your Belief System (Positive Psychology) as a separate methodology, which has become the foundation for all other methodologies taught.
The Impact Study that began as a Pilot Inquiry in 2012 is now an approved longitudinal Impact Study with its third cohort completing in August 2016. Its fourth and fifth cohorts will begin September 2016 in Buffalo and Schenectady, NY respectively.