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Our mission is to support youth with dynamic and positive alternatives to pop culture and media that support their emotional well-being and growth.

Raising The Standard With Positive Words!!


By David “Mello-D” Sawicki, Youth Under Construction

In a time when stress, conflict, violence, fear and anxiety have become normal activity for today’s youth, how can we help them cope? Here are some ideas that may help to lift the spirits of the young people in your life.

I believe it all comes down to a simple concept: WORDS. Poignant, carefully chosen, timely words. Words are thoughts that we manifest in the form of communication. Words create feelings and emotions that lead to action. The task that we all must take on is how we will frame our words. Will we use positive or negative words? Will our words create or destroy?

Youth are overwhelmed with negativity. Some of you may have read my articles in the Edutech section of this publication where, on a monthly basis, I strive to build up the youth of metro Detroit with words of hope, motivation and inspiration. I consider myself a “positive words messenger” who understands the need for brevity and consistency in the words I choose. I also understand that words that talk down or insult a youths’ maturity are a waste of time. Not to discredit words of discipline, more about that later.

I am also the director and producer of Youth Under Construction, the positive music performing group that has toured this state for over 8 years.  This Program helps aspiring performing artists learn how to rap to a beat, while teaching them positive life messages through the songs lyrics which involve standing up against bullies and staying substance free. Back in August of 2006, the group presented a live show at a national conference, here in Detroit, for the Microsociety Organization, based out of Philadelphia. At this educational event, I was blessed with the opportunity to listen to a speech delivered by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest daughter, the Reverend Bernice King.

This is a woman that is carrying on the legacy of her father in a very powerful way. She referred to the hip hop culture as one of the most destructive forces on youth today. She encouraged the audience of teachers, superintendents and educators, to become revolutionaries in the cause of youth.

After the speech, I purchased her book and met with Bernice King. She signed the book: “To David and Lisa Sawicki- Raise the Standard!!” Now, she may sign many books that way, however, those words struck me in an odd way. “I am already doing my best to raise the standard,” I thought. Well, maybe yes, maybe no…

Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with Lisa Sawicki and Mello-D from Youth Under Construction

Sure, my phone may ring on a daily basis with people asking about how they can become involved with our positive music movement. However, are my words and tone communicating the true urgency that is necessary for those callers to understand that this movement IS making a difference with youth? With teen violence and suicide at epidemic levels, is my message that there ARE positive entertainment alternatives RIGHT NOW really coming across? Or, I might also ask myself, “Is anybody listening?”

Let’s examine the pop culture that is heavily promoted to youth today. Statistics show that the average student listens to 40 hours of music PER WEEK. These students take their music very seriously, in fact, they might even hurt you if you try to take it away from them. Yet Entertainment Monitor reports that less than 10 of the top 40 popular releases are free from graphic violence or sexual references, inappropriate for youth. The negative programming is subtle and clever, and yet diabolical in nature.

Parental advisory labels actually attract youth and record companies market these products directly to youth while stores do not hesitate to sell it to them. In fact, if you tell a young person NOT to listen to this or that, and they will become curious and seek to discover just why it raises so much controversy. A parent can try to keep it out of their home, yet the culture is present everywhere- on TV, as background music in stores and malls, on the internet, blasting out of car stereos as you wait for a light to change… you get the idea. We cannot control what comes out of the airwaves, which many feel have become so lax in their attitude of how this may affect this young generation.

“Oh, I don’t listen to the words, I just like the beat!” is the default phrase of a young person that is challenged on their music choices. Yet watch their lips recite the lyrics as a song is played. Understand, I am not an artist- or genre-basher. Many people have fought long and hard to reduce censorship standards. But have we gone too far? Just what kind of life and future are we creating for these youth, our future leaders?

Now, some tough questions, dear reader. What kind of entertainment will YOU promote to the youth in your life that are past the Sesame Street phase? Choose wisely and you may help contribute to a young persons well-being and confidence. Encouraging self-discipline for youth is absolutely necessary.

Pardon a little shameless self-promotion here. The Youth Under Construction CD has NO parental advisory labels. It does however, have labels from 2 of the 4 national parenting related competitions that we have won- at the top levels. Parenting Magazine has us listed on their website in the Parenting Pick’s- music section. I mention these endorsements to underscore the fact that this is a quality, sophisticated production that is youth-appropriate and has earned the right to become a part of every single young person’s CD or digital music collection. It took 15 years of my life to make that possible. And I did this for YOU.

I’m just trying to raise the standard… are you listening?

For anyone curious about what “positive pop music, appropriate for teens and pre-teens” sounds like, please visit this page to sample full-length songs with an option to purchase downloads: 

Click to Preview & Purchase Music of the Youth Under Construction Project

Be sure to check out the “anti-bully” song: “Opinions- Don’t Bully Me!” 

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