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National Rites of Passage Institute Unveiling: An Intentional Conversation on Rites of Passage May 11th 2010!

National Rites Of Passage Institute

Posted May 8th 2010

Founder of East End Neighborhood House Hopes for National

Program Integration into Schools and Communities Across the Country!

Cleveland, OH – The National Rites of Passage Institute (NROPI), in conjunction with program sponsor, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will unveil the breakthrough program to educators, practitioners, philanthropists, policy makers, and scholars from all over the country on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Enterprise in Lyndhurst (1950 Richmond Rd).  NROPI was founded by Paul Hill Jr., a Social Worker and President/CEO of East End Neighborhood House, a multi-service, neighborhood center located in Cleveland, and founded in the settlement house tradition in 1907.

The “Rites of Passage” is a timeless African tradition that intentionally guides a person’s holistic development through life’s transitions using rituals and ceremonies for the discovery of their purpose and responsibility to build healthy and just communities.  The ultimate goal of NROPI is to utilize the program as a strategy for the development of young children and youth, and the communities in which they live.

Hill’s interest in the practice began with his work to support his own children’s development and coming of age; he continued the work with youth gang intervention, fatherhood development, and in corporate America around issues of diversity.  He was selected as a W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow, and given the opportunity to research how indigenous cultures from all over the world socialize their children into adulthood.  As a result, Hill traveled over 200,000 miles on the Continent of Africa, New Zealand, Australia, South America and Cuba, searching for answers.  These answers, his experiences, and insights are detailed in his book, “Coming of Age”, which is still in publication.

“Rites of Passage is nothing more than a process for developing and regenerating the community,” says Hill.  “It’s nothing more than the creation of a cultural antihistamine – something to keep young people from having an allergic reaction to the socially toxic environments that they live in.  It’s a value-driven, culturally specific and nature-based program utilizing ritual and ceremony.  It provides an intergenerational, holistic approach to help individuals in whatever life stage they’re in, to answer the questions, ‘Who am I, relative to my purpose for being?’; ‘What do I need at this stage in my life?’; and ‘How do I get to where I want to go in this stage in my life?’  We’re at a disconnect between humanity and earth itself.  There’s an arrogance in human beings – an overemphasis on technology and individual development, and not enough on nature.  “Me” is more important than “we”.  And that creates problems between the family, the nation, and globally.  And when all of this plateaus, you reach a point of diminishing returns.  And we’ve reached that point,” says Hill.

Overall, the event will feature national experts, special presentations and intentional dialogue.  The event will premier a documentary on culturally-based rites of passage programs using the story and history of the National Rites of Passage Institute.  Participants will explore the value, efficacy and impact of rites of passage as a strategy for youth and community development and its implications nationally.  Practitioners will share their own real life experiences utilizing the program.  A team will present their findings on the impact the program is having in communities.  And there will be further discussion on how rites of passage can be integrated into programs and institutions serving young children and youth.

Special Guests and Speakers will include:

  • Gregory B. Taylor, Vice President for Programs, W.K. Kellogg Foundation,
  • Scott McFarland, President, The Wellness Center Enterprise at Cleveland Clinic
  • Nadia Brigham, Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Roderick Watts, PhD, Professor of Community Psychology, Georgia State University
  • Deborah Wasserman, PhD, Professor of  Psychology, Ohio State University;
  • David Blumenkrantz, PhD, Founder of Center for the Advancement of Youth, Family and Community Services, Inc., Glaston, CT.
  • Rev. Nolan Shaw, PhD, Founder of Boys to Men, Chicago, IL
  • · Paul Hill, Jr., Social Worker, Founder of the National Rites of Passage Institute and President/CEO, East End Neighborhood House

The unveiling will also include a special presentation of the documentary on NROPI, that documents the impact of rites of passage programs through practitioners, participants, teachers, scholars and others involved with the National Rites of Passage Institute.

Hill’s hope for the National Rites of Passage Institute event is that attendees will come out with an increased appreciation of the Rites of Passage process.  “The ultimate goal is take it to scale,” says Hill.  “I envision Rites of Passage programs being integrated into curriculums and communities all over the country,” he said.

For more information on the National Rites of Passage Institute unveiling, please contact the National Rites of Passage Institute at 216-707-6030.


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