Philosophy & Curriculum
We define violence broadly, as physical act, but also as the forceful result of uncontrolled feeling. As such, Destiny Arts Center believes that a comprehensive violence prevention program must address the complex causes of violence. Our philosophy of non-violence, therefore, combines arts programming with a clearly articulated philosophy and methodology of peaceful conflict resolution to assist youth in avoiding or diffusing potentially violent situations, build a more holistic sense of self, increase empathy for others, and augment youths’ capacity for productive self expression. It is this focus on engendering peace in the hearts and minds of our students that makes Destiny Arts Center effective and unique.
We believe that violence is perpetrated physically, verbally, emotionally and sexually; affecting individuals, families and communities.
We believe that all youth are “at-risk.” They are at-risk for prejudice that leads to violence, and they are at-risk of self-destructive and anti-social behavior, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference or socio-economic status. Thus, we believe that to be most effective in the long-term, violence prevention programs must expose young people to others from diverse socio-economic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.
We believe young people experience or perpetrate violence due to isolation and prejudice of all kinds, and that these factors increase feelings of despair, anger, and/or depression, all of which may lead to aggression.
We believe that providing meaningful experiences in the performing and martial arts with practical skill building in violence prevention (conflict resolution and self-defense) is a powerful way to address issues of isolation, prejudice and violence in the lives of young people.
We believe that violence prevention training is most effective when students feel an authentic sense of community with other young people and caring, skilled adults.
We believe that violence prevention includes building skill in finding creative ways to stop the momentum from emotion to violence, and that sometimes the most courageous action is to walk away from a potentially violent conflict. We also believe that young people develop confidence when they know how to defend themselves and that this confidence often stops them from being targets of violence.
We believe that, to be most effective, programs must reach young people where and when they are most in need — in their neighborhoods and during after-school, weekend and summer hours.
Ultimately, we believe young people are their own best teachers. That’s why we develop our students as active leaders, conflict managers and advocates for nonviolence in their communities and beyond.
Destiny Arts Center moves young people to peace using practical, teachable skills that stay with our students long after their time with Destiny. Our curriculum was developed to give young people tools to combat preventable acts of violence such as bullying, gangs, physical or sexual assault, harassment and kidnapping. Through sensitive and skillful introduction of the principles of the Warrior’s Code, the steps outlined in the Five Fingers of Violence Prevention and the Seven Steps to Conflict Resolution, youth transform fear into power and move about with confidence and resiliency.
the warrior’s code
All Destiny students and staff learn to embrace this code of self-respect, honor and courage. Our programs are meant to serve as courses in self-defense, not aggressive action. Students learn that sometimes the best way to ‘win’ a conflict is to simply walk away from it.
A Warrior is skilled in body and kind in heart.
A Warrior respects her/himself and all living things.
A Warrior believes that caring for her or himself means caring for our world.
A Warrior takes responsibility for her or his own actions and makes a superior effort in every situation.
A Warrior uses fighting skills honorably only to protect self and loved ones. A warrior never raises a fist in anger.
A true Warrior lives by this code and firmly believes that the greatest warrior is the one that stands for peace.
Download: Warrior’s Code
the five fingers of violence prevention
Created as a practical and teachable tool for young people ages three and above, the Five Fingers of Violence Prevention is taught in every class. Students learn the Five Fingers through strategic discussion, using concrete examples or scenarios, repetition of games, activities and exercises that reinforce the principles of the Five Fingers.
First Finger: Use Your Head
- Understanding and basic awareness skills
- Understanding anger vs. danger situations
Second Finger: Use Your Mouth
- Learning and practicing self defense ‘kiai” or yell
- Using the voice assertively
- Using the 7-Steps to Conflict Resolution (see below) including “I” statements and mirroring
Third Finger: Use Your Feet
- Leaving a situation that is dangerous or feels uncomfortable
- Self defense running
Fourth Finger: Use Your Fighting Skills BUT Only If You Have To
- Learning when it is necessary to use fighting skills
- Learning primary targets and natural weapons
- Learning basic grab/release techniques
Fifth Finger: Tell Somebody What Happened
- Identify a trusted adult to whom they can report tough situations or any time they had to employ any of the first four fingers
seven steps to conflict resolution
Developed by Head Martial Arts Instructor, Sifu Anthony Daniels, the Seven Steps are commonly in use throughout the organization by staff, students and board members when conflicts and differences of opinion arise. Though it is not applicable for resolving conflicts with strangers, all the skills learned by practicing this model can be applied to any conflict situation.
- Set and Agree to the Ground Rules, for example
- No name calling, put downs or insults
- No interrupting
- No physical contact or fighting
- First person tells his or her side of the story using “I MESSAGES”
- Second Person listens and then repeats what the first person has said
- Second Person tells his or her side of the story using “I MESSAGES”
- First person listens and then repeats what the second person has said
- Each person makes suggestions to resolve the conflict (note, if more clarification is needed to understand each other, repeat steps 2, 3, 4 and 5)
- Both people agree on a particular resolution. If that is impossible, both people agree to disagree and move on.
Our Youth On The Move! guide targets teens and their instructors, and guides both parties in co-creating original movement/theater productions from beginning to end.
Our Five Fingers of Violence Prevention guide provides the practical skills that support our Warrior’s Code. We integrate the curriculum with our performing and martial arts programs to 1) teach youth to deal peacefully and creatively with potentially violent situations; and 2) inspire youth to become conflict managers and advocates for nonviolence in their communities and beyond.