Haitian-American Public Health Initiatives
PROMOTHING THE HEALTH AND THE WELL-BEING OF THE HAITIAN COMMUNITY SINCE 1989
1601-1603 Blue Hill Avenue, PO Box 260386 , Mattapan, MA 02126
Haitian against Drug – (School Success Program)
The Haitian Against Drug School Success program is an after school program designed to prevent juvenile delinquency, violence and drug use among Boston inner city youth by preventing school failure and drop out among at-risk middle school students. The underlying prevention strategy posits that youth who are having trouble in school are at high risk for engaging in violence and subs-tance abuse. Experiential learning activities help youth increase self-esteem and broaden their communication and social skills. Bilingual schoolteachers lead student groups.
Youth Development Leadership Project
This youth-led program seeks to increase Haitian youth’s knowledge in leadership development and organizing, and parents’ involvement in schools, the community and HAPHI’s programs. The program emphasizes the learning and articulation of individual and collective roles within communities that are conducive to the development of norms that foster long-term prevention and sustainability. It is also based on the belief that effective prevention efforts must be tailored to the cultural and linguistic needs of the target group; and, that most on-going prevention efforts do not effectively impact Haitian youth because they are not implemented in a linguistically or culturally accessible format.
For the past two years, the program has engaged in increasing teens and their parents knowledge of leadership development and organizing through a series of leadership development workshops. We have also designed a program that includes the participants as decision planners and decision makers. We have also worked with parents to inform them of why organizing and civic participation is important in their teen’s lives through participatory workshops. We have also provided critical spaces for dialogue between themselves and their teens on issues that teens face in schools and the mainstream community (e.g. racism and other forms of discrimination), and have inform them of parents’ and teens’ rights.
Summer Youth Safety Program.
The Summer Youth Safety Program is designed to provide youth a safe environment during the summer.
Violence Prevention Leadership Workshops: HAPHI provides a bilingual curriculum, which addresses the educatio-nal, social and emotional issues confronting participants. A series of bi-weekly workshops (3-5 workshops, beginning July) are presented on topics such as: the impact of violence in school, community and in the home; Resisting peer pressure, drugs, truancy and gang activities, Being involved in your community, Conflict resolution, Building partnerships with friends, Being a role model for peers, Preventing HIV/AIDS, and other topics that are essential for teens.
Field Trips: Once a week, staff coordinate field trips to the Museum of Fine Arts, (MFA), the Science Museum, the Freedom Trail, 2-3 community organizations and centers to meet other youth workers and participants, prison institutions, and the Boston Police Department to dialogue about youth violence, the impact it has on the community and the individual, and how to prevent it. Partici-pants are asked to think about questions and themes for each visit. After each field trip, participants are asked to reflect on the experience. Other field trips include recreational activities such as camping, canoeing, fishing and outdoor activities.
Parent Engagement: The Summer Leadership Program has quarterly parent and youth forums that focus on key ways to form positive relationships with parents and youth in order to promote healthy, effective, honest and open communication .
Community Celebrations and Events: In August, a final celebration (or a community picnic/barbeque) is coordinated to invite parents, youth participants, staff, volunteers and residents to congratulate participants who completed the program. Tools that youth participants gain includes networking, collaborating and building effective partnerships.
Recreational: There are four recreational components for the Summer Leadership Program. These include: bas-ketball, soccer, dance and musical performances. Youth are divided into teams of two and compete for competition in these components. For cultural shows or “break dances,” we collaborate with other organizations to recruit youth to participate and compete. Twice a week and on Saturdays, participants practice these activities and prepare to compete with their teams for a tournament.
Because school failure undermines already fragile self-perceptions and self-esteem, increases parental conflict and family discord, and the amount of unstructured time, or time spent on the street, it is positively correlated with gang involvement, drug trafficking and serious substance abuse among youth.
The objective of the School Success program is to provide the academic support and social skills building necessary to significantly increase the emotional resiliency and competencies of at-risk youth. The School Success program specifi-cally targets Haitian–American students, who are at increased risk of falling through the cracks in the educational system due to economic, social and linguistic issues stemming from their experience as immigrants. Studies show that adolescents who have recently immigrated to this country are more likely to believe that their peers engage in risk-taking activities, and in a desire to ‘fit in,’ are at increased risk for adopting these behaviors.