Jun 6, 2008    #055
Contact: John Austin

Charter school partners with UMKC to implement violence prevention curriculum Familias en Accion program designed to educate and empower Hispanic youth

Numerous studies have examined the value of early guidance and education in addressing at-risk behavior and attitudes about violence with young people. Most of these studies, however, were conducted through programs that focused on predominantly African-American or white communities. That caught the attention of Patricia J. Kelly, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., F.N.P., who holds a dual professorship at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Schools of Nursing and Medicine.

“There is quite a bit of data available suggesting the effectiveness of violence prevention programs among other populations, but very little when it comes to our Hispanic communities,” Kelly said. “I first became aware of the need to address violence with culturally relevant programs for Hispanic communities while working with San Antonio’s promotoras (community health workers). That experience led to the idea for the Familias en Accion program.”

In 2006, equipped with a four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Kelly helped to implement a pilot program in San Antonio. She and her colleagues worked with teachers of third, fourth and fifth graders in San Antonio’s largely-Hispanic Harlandale School District to integrate an anti-violence curriculum into their after-school programs. Through art, dance and drama, teachers encouraged the students to increase their self-esteem, show respect for others and express pride in their culture and their community.

Encouraged by the success of Familias en Accion in San Antonio, Kelly recruited Maithe Enriquez, Ph.D., R.N., also a faculty member at UMKC’s School of Nursing, to assist in implementing the program in Kansas City. They chose Alta Vista, a charter high school sponsored by the Guadalupe Center, to launch the Kansas City version of the program.

To get the Kansas City program started, Kelly and Enriquez arranged for teachers from the San Antonio program to come to Kansas City to introduce Alta Vista staff to the Familias en Accion curriculum. As a result, 104 ninth and tenth graders from Alta Vista, celebrated the completion of their own Familias en Accion violence prevention project this spring.

“I have received very positive feedback from both teachers and students regarding the Familias en Accion program,” said Ed Mendez, principal at Alta Vista Charter School. “It has given our students the opportunity to learn more about such values as culture, perseverance, honor and responsibility. I am grateful to UMKC for working with our staff very closely to implement such a beneficial program for our students.”

Because the funding for the research aspect of the program only covers two more years, the next step in the program involves implementing measures to sustain and continue the program, as well as develop a final curriculum and training program that can be adopted by other schools and other communities, according to Enriquez.

“When UMKC’s involvement ends, we want to be sure that the program continues,” she said. “The initial reactions to the program have been very positive, but the only way to truly measure the impact is by expanding the program and through long-term follow up of the people and the communities that participate.”

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences and urban engagement.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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