The Hook: Cherie Kabba Knows How To Connect With Youth

Guest post by Cherie Kabba

Now that my daughters are in college, heading back to school means something very different for me. New clothes, shoes or notebooks is no longer “cool” for these college chicas. New friends, new classes or professors also did not rank high on the list of highlights for the upcoming school year. Seems college students, now adults, have a sense of seniority when it comes to school and the new “cool” is actually trendsetting and becoming an expert in a hobby. My daughters are poets. From wearing old clothes with new accessories to embracing much of the retro gear, leggings with prints, shoes much like clogs and boots worn in the summer, boots with short skirts and boots with just about anything, as long as they can express themselves verbally, they’re happy.

My eyes had been opened. It was then I realized that there are no rules when it comes to stylin’ and profilin’. And … one of the most contributing factors of being an individual that is “cool” is being comfortable in the clothes you wear, the hats you rock or the jumpers you’re sportin’, as long as there can be some verbal expression.

So … mathematically 1 + 1 = 2, right? Well, I started to do the math. As an Adobe Youth Voices Lead Educator, one of the unwritten rules is to be able to connect with the youth long enough to engage them. Let’s call this lesson The Hook. Hook is figuratively a thing designed to catch people’s attention. It’s like a chorus or repeated instrumental passage in a piece of music that gives it immediate appeal and makes it easy to remember.

I put on a pair of boots, matching earrings and necklaces and get this … I got may nails done in two colors that matched the uniformed shirt I wear to work daily. It created dialog from the many of teens (over 15) and all of the tweens (10 – 13). I am sure many of you are cringing at the idea of changing to gain the attention of a group of youth that are younger than your biological children … but give me a moment … it wasn’t a change for me.

Changing occurred when I graduated from college and joined the routine of corporate America. Blouses, suits and heels make women look and feel very feminine. Starting work a 9 am, then leaving at 5pm seemed ideal, but my feet would hurt and the evenings allowed me enough time to relax, have dinner, watch TV and prepare for the routine of tomorrow. Honestly, some days I am just a Neil Diamond kind of girl and will forever be in blue jeans, an oversized t-shirt with bare feet.

My “look” was appealing to the youth. My Adobe Youth Voices group started with 3 and has now reached more than 15 by the end of the first month back to school. I decorated the walls with their print projects and we are always brain storming new ideas. I thought of innovative ways to “hook” them into telling their story and the “hook” of spoken word was helpful to assist in the introductory lessons. Rhythm and rhyme always helps pass the time away and stirs up the creative process. We are building bonds.

Each educator has secrets, tips and even tricks to lure the young people. But for me, my hook comes in many disguises, faces and talents…

“… See … I teach the youth to fall in love with technology
play Cupid and metaphorically my arrow is imagery
Please allow me to explain
In the stages of infancy
even a craftsman chooses a topic to study
and develops a discipline of mastery
in short
I lure the young people in the ICC
by bringing life to originality
And secretly, I show them how to increase their vocabulary
through spoken words …”

“In order to have what you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done.”

Cherie Kabba,
Adobe Youth Voices Master Educator