COMPENDIUM OF PROMISING PRACTICES TO REDUCE VIOLENCE AND INCREASE SAFETY OF ABORIGINAL WOMEN IN CANADA – COMPENDIUM ANNEX: DETAILED PRACTICE DESCRIPTIONS
INTERACTIONS WITHIN COMMUNITIES
Healthy Relationships: Children and Youth
- Program name:
"Our Gang" After School Life Skills Program
Kahnawake Shakotiia'takehnhas Community Services (KSCS)
- Target Group:
Children (ages 6-12).
- Contact Name:
Lisa Two-Axe, Team Leader
In 1993, a proposal was submitted to the Kahnawake Brighter Futures Initiative and once approved, programming began in 1994. Initially the program was primarily concerned with providing life skills with the goal to prevent Kahnawakes' number one health issue which was alcohol and drug abuse. Since 1994 the program has changed, adapted and grown, always based on the community needs identified in the Kahnawake Brighter Futures Initiative. Our Gang extended its programming and offers three summer camps. The summer camp program offers an opportunity for children attending school off reserve to reconnect with others within the community, keeps group cohesion of interested members and gives the opportunity to get the message of living a healthy lifestyle out consistently to youth.
- Goals & Objectives:
To promote respect and responsibility through Mohawk values, culture and traditions; to create an understanding of the Medicine Wheel and holistic wellness; to encourage family unity; to educate children about protecting themselves from sexual predators and how to seek help; to encourage positive self-esteem and self-image in children through a variety of sources, activities and community awareness; and to make children, parents and the community more aware of the dangers of alcohol, drugs and other addictions.
- Traditional/Indigenous ways:
The basic Mohawk values are the promotion and practice of respect and responsibility for oneself and others as Mohawk people. Respect and responsibility are linked in to everyday activities and tasks. Teachings on the Mohawk ceremonies are incorporated at the appropriate times of the year.
- Components of program:
The program is a free, community-based social/life skills program for Mohawk children between the ages of 6-12 years. It is prevention based and focuses on group inclusion, self-awareness, understanding relationships, decision-making, culture awareness and the world around us. The program staff believe in role modelling a healthy lifestyle, and in promoting responsibility. The activities of the program include lesson plans, guest speakers, art activities, games, role playing and presentations. The group runs from 2:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday to Friday throughout the school year. Group members learn to take pride in being Mohawk and learn to appreciate what other cultures represent. By exposing the members to different cultures and other belief systems they learn acceptance of and appreciation for people's differences, as well as learning to take pride in who they are.
- Services/How they work:
Services are provided on site at the facility.
Funding is provided by the Kahnawake Brighter Futures Initiative.
Relationships and Stakeholders
- Involvement of Target Groups:
To promote family unity, the parents are included in many of the activities. Meetings are mandatory for parents, it is also mandatory for parents to pick up their child at the end of the day. This allows facilitators to connect with parents and discuss any issues or concerns parents may have. When hosting community events, other organizations, programs and/or campaigns are invited to display their information to the targeted group.
Support and Services staff from Kahnawake Shakotiia'takehnhas Community Services (KSCS); Making Adult Decision Group (M.A.D.); the Kahnawake Parenting Program; local schools; the Mohawk Council.
- Other relationships:
Details of Program Evaluation
An evaluation has been completed.
- Highlights of Evaluation Findings:
The report was not made available publicly, and no specific results can be provided.
- Measures of Success:
Success is measured by: daily evaluations on lesson plans to make appropriate changes to activities; monthly reports; yearly parent evaluations; monthly supervision; final report and evaluation; interviews with parents & group members; profile reports on group members and their progress within the group; and assisting members in creating & reaching personal goals.
A major accomplishment is that the community members want to be involved with the program; they feel safe and trust the staff and program. This has led to its longevity and success. Another accomplishment is to see the children who have been involved with the program living a healthy lifestyle.
The most difficult challenge has been getting parent involvement. The return rate on parent evaluations has always been low. The reality is that many parents do not have the time they used to. The staff are also challenged with working with children with learning disabilities or with children who are not at the same reading and writing levels as other children.
Things to Know to Replicate
- Replication Advice:
The program is considered replicable. Depending on the communities' language, community needs, culture and traditions all aspects of the program could be incorporated. The program does not require a huge budget to run adequately and possibly could be part of the school system. There are several things that are very important for success 1) need a committed group of facilitators/staff that are living a healthy lifestyle and are good role models and 2) ensure that the message is community wide and supported. The community has to buy in to the program otherwise it will not work.
Adequate funding and trained staff are necessary to ensure program success.
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