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Human Development System

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The LPTM Human Development SystemTM is a concrete set of beliefs and strategies that addresses the challenges that our young people and their families face through artistic expression, increased self-awareness, and positive decision-making. It is a proven system that enables our Apprentices to build a positive sense of identity and to develop the tools needed to navigate through challenging circumstances, prepare for their own futures, and give back to their communities.

The Human Development System is the heart of all of our work at Life Pieces. Recognizing that all of us are on a shared journey of growth, we don't only teach it to our young men - we expect everyone who touches our mission to learn it, commit to it, and live it.

Simple enough to be learned by our 3-year-olds but profound enough to contain daily lessons for even the oldest of us, the Human Development System is based around four key elements:


For any individual or organization, a sense of purpose is the necessary foundation that makes consistent growth and positive change possible. That's why we love to say that when youth are awakened to a sense of purpose, their power is limitless. 

At LPTM, our Purpose is to provide opportunities to African American males ages 3 to 25 to discover and activate their innate creative abilities to change challenges into possibilities.

A mouthful maybe, but this Purpose is the heart of our work. Everyone faces challenges - some are shared by all people, some are unique to an individual's background, environment, or experiences. But by developing our own innate creative abilities - the set of skills, talents, and positive traits that makes every individual unique - we can always find the opportunity for growth that those challenges present. 


Once you have a sense of purpose, you need the core beliefs and guiding principles that will help you orient yourself and stay true to that purpose during your every day life. We express our Premise through two simple equations:

Love + Security + Expression = Life; No Love + No Security + No Expression = Death.

Every day, we work to establish an environment where our young men feel consistent, unwavering love; where they know they are safe and secure; and where they can fully express every aspect of themselves and their identities. When these three primary needs are met, individuals are able to pursue their own highest good.


How do I put my purpose into action? How do I act out my Premise? To answer those questions, you need a Process: the steps you take to get things done. The Process at Life Pieces is what we call the 4 C's:

Connect, Create, Contribute, Celebrate.

The 4 C's are the structure around which we build all of our programs, lessons, and activities. We create space for Apprentices to connect with each other and with themselves; we give them opportunities to create through art, writing, music, and other outlets; we ensure that all Apprentices contribute by sharing their skills, talents, and abilities with the group; and we always make time to celebrate their accomplishments, big and small. 

Decision-Making Tool

Even with all these pieces in place, every individual faces challenging decisions and difficult choices. How do I know which action to choose? How can I make positive decisions even in a challenging environment? Those are never easy questions to answer, but a Decision-Making Tool can allow you to step back and reflect on how a decision fits into your personal values.

The LPTM Shield of FaithTM, inspired by the color wheel, is a decision-making tool that reminds Apprentices, mentors, staff members and volunteers of the core values of Life Pieces To Masterpieces. Each value is associated with a color, so that when an Apprentice sees a particular color throughout the day, he is reminded of LPTM values. Values include loving, giving, spirituality, meditation, language, arts, discipline, and leadership. The Shield serves as a behavior management tool for the youngest Apprentices; for the older boys it is a jumping off point for deeper discussions about values.

In the Life Pieces To Masterpieces character-building Human Development System™, each Apprentice is supported by LPTM’s purpose, premise, and process as they face the various challenges in their lives. Using the values we teach on the Shield of Faith™ and carefully chosen thoughts, words, and actions, Apprentices control their own destiny. They learn to balance their emotions and turn anger into courage; greed into compassion; and ignorance into wisdom -- reaching their visions of being well-balanced gentlemen, scholars, artists, and athletes.

"The shield makes you pause -- to help you think before you react. A questioning tool -- why am I in this situation and how do I want to handle it?” What decision can I make that will help me determine who I really want to be in this life? Because that one situation, that one experience could determine a lot. It could hold you back from your goals if you aren’t careful."

-- Christopher, LPTM Senior Apprentice

Learn more about our art creation process here.


Latest News

This month's featured masterpiece is titled "Masterpiece David" (2013). The artist says, "No matter what they say about me... read more
The Art by Life Pieces 2016 exhibit at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery is open to the public October 3 to  November 7, free... read more
Are you interested in impacting change in the classroom? Sign up to join Education Architects! Contact read more

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