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LA VIDA Summer Program for Teens

Jessie Urban
Children and Youth Coordinator/Prevention Coordinator
LA VIDA Program/CHASS Clinic
5635 W. Fort St.
Detroit, MI  48209
313.849.3104
313.849.0824 (fax)
email: jurban@chasscenter.org


Background 

The LA VIDA Program is a community-based participatory research program that works with Latina survivors of domestic violence and their children, and the southwest Detroit community.  This program operates out of Community Health and Social Services Center, Inc., a community health center situated in southwest Detroit providing health care for the uninsured and underinsured.  The LA VIDA program was designed through community input and offers short-term counseling and safety planning for victims of domestic violence, court advocacy and translation, Amigas support groups for women, counseling for children and teens who witness domestic violence, counseling for teen survivors of dating violence and sexual assault, and prevention programs that focus on the faith communities and children and youth.  A Spanish speaking male batterer intervention is also offered.  The LA VIDA Program is affiliated with the Urban Research Center (URC), housed at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.  This program brief spotlights a summer program for teen girls that took place from July through August, 2005.

Program Description

The LA VIDA Summer Program for teens was a subprogram of the LA VIDA Partnership and fell under objectives written into a grant that targeted prevention programs in adolescent teens.  The program received funding from the Michigan Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The LA VIDA Partnership was originally funded by a grant from the Skillman Foundation.  Space and logistical support were donated by Latino Family Services. 

The goals of the LA VIDA summer program were:

Goal 1:  To increase knowledge of participants in the program around healthy and unhealthy relationships, dating violence and sexual assault.

Goal 2:  To provide participants with skills which reduce the likelihood of becoming involved in unhealthy relationships later in life.

Goal 3:  To enable participants to spread the information and skills they have learned in this program to teach other teens about sexual assault and dating violence. 

Sessions were designed to be interactive and included artwork and poetry.  Activities were incorporated from several curricula, including “Reaching and Teaching Teens to Stop Violence,” “Safedates,” and LA VIDA’s Amigas curriculum.  Participants met for two sessions per week, each session lasting two hours over the course of five weeks and discussed and explored the themes outlined in the curriculum box (see Box 1 below).  The program was held at Latino Family Services’ Youth Program, a neighboring non-profit located within southwest Detroit.  At the end of the sessions, an art display was held at CHASS Center to showcase participants’ artwork and poetry, and this display was attended by participants, family members, friends and community members.

LA VIDA Summer Program Curriculum and Content*

Session 1:  Violence in Society: Media Stereotypes
Session 2:  Self-awareness: Who am I?
Session 3:  Self-esteem: Building Myself
Session 4:  Handling Challenging Emotions:  Anger Management and Depression – How do I deal? 
Session 5:  Gender Issues
Session 6:  Unhealthy Relationships
Session 7:  Healthy Relationships
Session 8:  Dating Violence
Session 9:  Sexual Assault
Session 10:  Peer Education:  Talking to Other Teens

Celebration:  Display of Artwork/Closing Remarks/Certificates

*Art projects, poetry and interactive displays are used during each session to explore these themes


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Target Population

The LA VIDA Summer Prevention Program was targeted to Latina and other southwest Detroit teen girls.  Specific needs of this population include cultural sensitivity and incorporation of culture throughout the program, and fun and interactive sessions where teens could explore their identities.  Participants were recruited from the local high school through partnerships formed with the CHASS school-based clinic and from individuals already enrolled in the summer program held at Latino Family Services, a local community-based organization.

Results

The program was piloted during the summer of 2005 with two culturally diverse groups of female adolescents.   The first group had 10 participants: 3 Hispanic, 1 Caucasian, and 6 African-American teens.  The second group had 11 participants: 4 girls from Hispanic backgrounds, 2 participants who were Native American, and 5 African-American participants. Attendance rates were high, and despite three dropouts, the program was at capacity and we had to turn away applicants.  Our targeted enrollment was ten to sixteen participants and the program maintained enrollment of twenty-one girls over the span of the program, well above the initial recruitment goal.

“Preliminary findings indicate that the program was effective in improving the self-esteem of individuals with lower self assessment of their worth than the participants overall”

The evaluation design involved a pre/post test, journaling throughout each session and a qualitative post reflection on the results, accomplishments, facilitating factors and challenges.  All 21 teens completed the pre/post test.  Outcome data is still being analyzed.  Preliminary findings indicate that the program was effective in improving the self-esteem of individuals with lower self assessment of their worth than the participants overall.  The overall satisfaction with the program averaged out to be 9.1 on a 10 point scale.  All participants said that they would recommend this program to a friend.   Additionally, many of the participants shared stories around discussing the information provided in the program with their relatives and peers, indicating the reach of this information went beyond just the participants.

Although this program was not designed to be a group for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and never evolved into a therapy group, the girls who had experienced abuse  indicated that the activities done in the sessions were therapeutic in terms of helping them to process and move forward. 

Facilitating Factors

One aspect of the program that made it more enjoyable for the participants was the inclusion of art and poetry.  Rather than participants simply being lectured at, the structure of the sessions promoted engagement and critical thinking skills.  Recruitment was facilitated by working with an existing youth program whose staff members were eager to promote the activity.  Also, recruiting from the local high school that we have worked with extensively allowed for a larger pool of interested participants. 

Challenges

Initially, we had planned to partner with a different local agency, however, the agency lost local funding and was unable to host the program.  Through this agency, the program would have recruited one group of males and one group of females.  The agency we ended up working with had a lower population of girls in the 12-15 year age range and had younger girls so the recruitment from that agency ended up being lower than expected.  Due to having only one facilitator, we were not equipped to provide services for one special needs teen with a learning disability.  An additional challenge involved outside issues being brought into the group through volunteers at the host site and their relationships with program participants.

This curriculum is not currently available to the public. For more information on this program and resources, contact:

Jessie Urban
Children and Youth Coordinator/Prevention Coordinator
LA VIDA Program/CHASS Clinic
5635 W. Fort St.
Detroit, MI  48209
313.849.3104
313.849.0824 (fax)
jurban@chasscenter.org

Dolores Gonzalez-Ramirez
Program Manager
LA VIDA Program/CHASS Clinic
5635 W. Fort St.
Detroit, MI  48209
313.849.3104
313.849.0824 (fax)
dgr@chasscenter.org

Ricardo Guzman, CEO
CHASS Clinic
5635 W. Fort St.
Detroit, MI  48209
313.849.3104
313.849.0824 (fax)
rguzman@chasscenter.org

Family Violence Prevention Fund Health eJournal

ISSN 1556-4827
Copyright © 2006 Family Violence Prevention Fund
All rights reserved