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6/03/2005

 
Literacy Program channels Hip Hop to create Educational Revolution

TORONTO, June 2 /CNW/ - Literacy Through Hip Hop (LTHH), an educational program being launched in Toronto's Regent Park, is providing an innovative opportunity for students aged 7-12 who are struggling with literacy. Beginning on Monday June 6th, the program will teach basic reading and writing skills to youth who have been identified as having literacy problems, with hip hop being the primary teaching tool. LTHH was developed in part by Kristin Phan, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Toronto.

"Literacy Through Hip Hop is planting the seeds for an educational revolution. LTHH uses material which youth can both relate to and enjoy. The program's success will be due, in large part, to the fact that students have been a part of the decision making process." said Phan.

Literacy Through Hip Hop was initially created two years ago by Shahmeer Ansari and Jason Shrouder-Henry of the Canadian Council of Equity Peace & Development. The two university students looked to formulate a program that struggling students would want to take part in. A secondary goal of the program is to illustrate the constructive capabilities of hip hop by utilizing it as a positive force.

"The main goal of this program is to teach literacy. However, hip hop was initially a tool used to spread social consciousness and strengthen communities. We want to remind our students that the music and culture can still be used positively. We all know that 50 Cent and Eminem make for poor role models, but artists such as Mos Def and Immortal Technique, who go unnoticed by the mainstream, have much to offer to our youth," says Ansari.

The program has been divided into five stages, each using music to strengthen a different component of the students' literacy. The program's initial stage involves students singing and rapping along to the lyrics of well known songs. Students will then begin to transcribe these lyrics, and read lyrics from other songs. The program's text is comprised of a selection of hip hop based short essays, each including follow up questions to measure student success. In the program's final stages, students will begin to examine different writing styles, and will ultimately begin to create their own compositions and stories.

LTHH takes place in Regent Park from Monday-Friday; 4-6pm. The program lasts for one month and will culminate with students traveling to a community recording studio to perform and record their writings. Students will also be performing at the Regent Park community event Sunday In The Park, on July 11th.

Shahmeer Ansari, at s.ansari@utoronto.ca, or call (647) 896-7424

Distribution Source : Canada NewsWire




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