August 1997 // Volume 35 // Number 4 // Ideas at Work // 4IAW1

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Celebration of Youth: Creativity in Textiles

Celebration of Youth: Creativity in Textiles is a program providing a yearly juried exhibition for 15 4-H youth in the Textiles, Clothing and Design Gallery on the University of Nebraska East Campus. Exhibits are selected from outstanding clothing and home environment Nebraska State Fair entries. Youth are honored at an opening reception, recognized for their achievements, and are asked to share their unique, creative abilities with the general public. Impact of this program was measured by a survey from 22 youth and 22 parents. Youth and parents indicated that self-confidence was increased and self-esteem was strengthened.

Rose Marie Tondl
Extension Clothing Specialist
Internet address:

Shirley Niemeyer
Extension Home Environment/Housing Specialist

Judy Buss
Textiles, Clothing and Design Gallery Manager

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska

Recognition of one's work is important in the development of the self-esteem of youth. Self-esteem is a person's own attitude toward self (Joseph, 1994). It is shaped and reshaped as we interact with each other and our environment (Curry & Johnson, 1990). The Michigan Early Adolescent Survey reported that self- esteem is important to everything that people do and that developing and maintaining good feelings is an important developmental task for early adolescents. Parents indicated that their children gained self-esteem, subject matter knowledge and skills plus social and personal skills by belonging to a youth group (Keith & Hoopfer, 1983).

One 4-H youth activity created to increase recognition and strengthen self-esteem is the "Celebration of Youth: Creativity in Textiles" program conducted by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension staff in the Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design.

Rewarding youth for outstanding creative work provides inspiration for possible future creative designers. Youth aspiring to become artists/designers have limited access to a forum for exhibition and recognition of their work. Many enter their work in competition only at county and state fairs or school fairs. This program provides an opportunity for young creative designers to participate in a juried exhibition.

The Textiles, Clothing and Design Gallery provides an opportunity for a yearly juried exhibit for 4-H youth. During the past two years, 30 4-H youth have been invited to display their clothing or home environment state fair entries in the gallery on the University of Nebraska campus. The purposes for this gallery exhibition are to provide youth with opportunities to share their unique, creative abilities with the general public, to recognize their achievements, to provide a forum for talking about their accomplishments, and provide an opportunity for youth and their families to visit the University of Nebraska Campus and the textiles, clothing and design department at the exhibition opening.

Youth and their parents are invited for a weekend of activities in the Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design. Hands-on activities are provided by the faculty during the day and an evening banquet and speaker are highlights of the first day. An opening reception for the public to view the work of the youth is held on the second day. Each youth is given an opportunity to speak before the group to explain their creative work.

Accessing Impact

To determine the impact of this program during the past two years, youth and parent surveys were mailed to 29 youth and their parents in March 1996. Forty-four of the surveys (76%) were returned for both youth and parents. Educational activities and the opening reception were evaluated based on a scale of 1 (high- very worthwhile) to 5 (low-of little value). Other statements used were educational-not educational, learned a lot-learned very little, interesting-boring, and positive experience-negative experience.

A composite mean score of 1.49 from the youth survey on the first day indicated they felt positive, interested, and learned a lot by participating in worthwhile educational activities. Youth responses about the opening reception indicated they strengthened their self-esteem (a mean of 1.86), increased their self- confidence-1.77, valued being recognized for their achievement (1.05), and had a positive experience (1.23). Overall the youth rated the importance of this personal weekend experience a 1.59.

From the parent survey on the first day, the mean score of 1.37 indicated they felt the educational activities for their child were worthwhile, educational, interesting, and a positive experience. As a result of the opening reception, parents felt their children strengthened their self-esteem (a mean of 1.36), increased their self-confidence (1.27), had a positive experience (1.09), and having their child recognized (1.04). Parents rated the overall weekend experiences as a mean of 1.36.


"Celebration of Youth: Creativity in Textiles" has been successful in providing 4-H youth a way of presenting their design work to the public in a formal gallery setting while increasing their self-esteem and self-confidence through educational experiences and presenting their work to the public. This event is unique and fosters an interest in design. It has been exceptionally well received by the public and University faculty and administration. Area newspapers where the youth live were provided with pictures and stories by the university that brought additional recognition to them.

Examples of comments from youth taken from the surveys said: "Being given the honor to attend this weekend really helped me gain self-confidence, knowing that I do have talent in this area." "The reception and exhibition were great." "I enjoyed it a lot! My favorite part was working with the computers to create designs." Example of parent comments were as follows: "This was a very positive experience for my daughter, especially in the area of self-confidence and self-esteem. I think we sometime forget to recognize children and their efforts to the degree they deserve." "A very positive recognition activity for very creative young people!"


Curry, N. E. & Johnson, C. N. (1990) Beyond self-esteem: Developing a genuine sense of human value. (Research Monograph of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Volume 4): Washington, DC

Joseph, J. M. (1994). The resilient child. New York: Plenum Press.

Keith, J. and Hoopfer, L. (1983). Michigan early adolescent survey (4-H 1338). East Lansing, MI. Michigan State University.