Mom and Child from La Posada outside Long Beach Aquarium
Parenting Classes That Work The Center cosponsors 10 week, intensive parenting courses to teen mothers at
La Posada, a transitional housing project in Los Angeles. This program
has provided much-needed parent education in an intimate, non-threatening group
setting where young mothers can express their concerns freely. The
sessions, led by parent educator, Dr. Marta Alquijay, focus on both general
parenting issues and those specific to teen parents and include plenty of time
for open discussions.
Standard parenting classes focus on parents
who juggle two worlds, work and parenting. Young single mothers juggle
three: work, family and their own late-adolescent issues. We talk about
issues that are particular to their circumstances. Many have witnessed or
been subjected to domestic or sexual abuse. Most of our moms are no longer with
the father of their babies. They are either in a new relationship or
looking for one. We discuss how to recognize an unhealthy relationship.
We are seeking funding to produce a manual and
accompanying video that will allow us to take our ten-year program and expand
its influence to a wider audience. With funding, we will distribute our
manual and video to California community groups, church groups, schools and
other organizations who work with teen mothers. In the future we plan to expand
to other states.
While it isn't possible to offer everyone our direct services,
taught by a clinical psychologist who is experienced with counseling adolescent
parents, this video and manual will give other organizations the tools to
accomplish what we have. The video will show the atmosphere, the flow and
spontaneity of the classes. The manual will provide detailed information
for each session plus copies of all handouts used during class. .
Healing Through Play This program reaches out to families in the Pico Union/Westlake neighborhoods,
addressing the dire need for a mental health program for children in downtown
L.A. This is a community that suffers greatly from anxiety, depression and
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- not just adults, who came here from
poor cities and villages, often war-torn. Their fears affect the entire family,
even the youngest children. And this is compounded by current living
situations: high crime and gang neighborhoods, overcrowding in small
apartments. Even the separation and reunification of children and their parents
that is often part of the move to this country can cause anxiety, depression
and PTSD. Children with untreated PTSD lose their childhood. We stress how
children learn through play as well as heal through play.
Our project is located at an apartment complex
La Villa Mariposa, owned by NEW (New Economics for Women), where we are drawing
on their position of trust in the community. To be effective, a program must be
culturally relevant and sensitive to the community. Our therapists are not only
bilingual, they are thoroughly versed in the recent immigrant Latino culture.
The toys we use in the sessions (dolls, for example) are culturally appropriate.
We cite “Dichos” (familiar sayings) in discussions with parents and use stories
from the family’s country of origin.
The California Endowment is a generous funder
to this five-year project, Additional funding has come from the Robert Ellis
Simon Foundation, the Weingart Foundation, Ralph Parsons Foundation and First5
& Compadres:Neighbors Helping
Neighbors in a Time of Catastrophe Our newest program focuses on proving crisis intervention during a catastrophe
in LA, whether it be an earthquake or terrorist attack. We will train
civic-minded volunteers in four large apartment complexes near Downtown Los
Angeles, where we already have an existing mental health program (see Healing
through Play below). Our volunteers will be trained by a bilingual psychologist
to provide crisis intervention, support and comfort during and after a
catastrophe. We believe that one of the most important lessons from Hurricane
Katrina is that first responders and others who can and are expected to provide
aid may not be willing to leave their own families during the extreme phase of
a catastrophe. People an affected area will be on their own during the worst
stage. Because they live on site, our volunteers will not have to leave their
families to provide help to others.
Parenting Education Project The Kanjobal are an indigenous people, Maya, from Guatemala. An estimated
10-15,000 Kanjobal live in L.A. Because they are from Guatemala, there is an
erroneous assumption that they speak Spanish. Many do not. This has created a
situation of extensive neglect and isolation and has prevented them from
receiving many health and social services.
With the guidance of parent educator Dr. Marta
Alquijay, we trained five Kanjobal speakers to lead 10-week parenting class in
the community. The classes covered topics such as: discipline, child
development, positive reinforcement, advocating for your child, understanding
acculturation of children, countering child abuse and neglect, avoiding gang
involvement. There were also discussions of child protection laws. Kanjobal
parents (as well as parents from other cultures) bring with them to this
country their traditional ways of childrearing which can be in conflict with
our regulations. For example, a Kanjobal parent may continue the practice of
her village of leaving children home alone. The mother may not know that is
against the law here until she is reported to authorities for neglect.
This program will serve as a model for other
parenting classes, reaching other isolated communities in Los Angeles, such as
the Zapotec and Mixtec of Southern Mexico and the Quiche and Mam of Guatemala.
Hopscotch City Our first step in developing our Festival of Children's Play is Hopscotch City
-- a chance to learn about hopscotch games from all over the world. The Roman
gladiators played it to develop strength and agility. Every country has its own
variation -- France’s is shaped like a snail, Britain’s looks like a dart
board. The Japanese version is shaped like a snake.
We’ve brought Hopscotch City to the Theater
Festival for Youth at USC and to the L.A. Times Festival of Health and Fitness,
also on the USC campus. We have trained fifth through seventh graders as our
“explainers” -- they teach the games to other children. We continue to explore
ways to bring creative play back into childhood.
We hope that Hopscotch City will lead to a
citywide Festival of Children’s play were all sorts of traditional games
(jacks, marbles, rhymes, jump rope, etc.) will be celebrated.
Lo Que Mama y Papa Deberian
Saber (What Mom and Dad Should Know) This 71-minute video, made in collaboration with Oscar Romero Clinic, was
created to reach parents who would not be likely to participate in formal
parenting classes and so was designed to be shown in clinic waiting rooms
reaching a "captive audience." The video, made directly in
Spanish, consists of six vignettes of everyday family issues, followed by
discussions with parents about constructive ways to handle those
situations. It has been distributed to 52 community clinics in LA County
as well as to 300 LAUSD Parent Centers, 275 Early Head Start programs in over
40 states, 350 Head Start Migrant Worker Programs in over 20 states, 154 Head
Start Programs in 7 states and Planned Parenthood's Promotoras Program in Los
Deserving Another Chance: Teen Parents, Their
Children and Play This 30-minute video focuses on the work of Ruth Beaglehole and her teen parent
program at Los Angeles Unified School Districts LA Tech Center. Her exemplary
program encourages play and open communication between parent and child and
helps young parents create more a stable, less violent family life.
Our video has been shown National Conference
Zero to three and is distributed nationally through Child Development Media.
to Learn/Learn to Play In a three year period, The Center brought over 1700 teen families from 18
local high schools to the Los Angeles Children's Museum for a morning devoted
to play and learning about its importance in children's lives. These
visits were made on days the museum was closed to the public so that the
families could have the place and the staff all to themselves. All
families received a free yearlong family membership so that the could return on
their own as many times as they wished.
Enrichment Program for Teen Families This program was created to remedy the isolated lives that many teen families
lead. We have developed a series of family outings designed to explore
the diverse riches of Los Angeles life, giving teen moms the opportunity
to learn about what is available for families and that it is available to them.
Developing this sense of entitlement to the city's cultural and
recreational offerings is essential to feeling a part of the community and to
creating a strong family life. Teen families have been to the LA Zoo,
UCLA, Nature Festival in Temescal Canyon, nature walks in the Santa Monica
Mountains, the Getty Center, Santa Monica Pier, LACMA, children's theater,
Cabrillo Aquarium and the beach
Enrichment Program for Families-At Risk This program evolved from The Center's Enrichment Program for Teen Families and
stems from the same point of view: that families-at-risk need help in becoming
aware and familiar with the many cultural and recreational possibilities Los
Angeles has to offer. In collaboration with California Hospital's Family
Preservation Unit, and working with families that have received intensive
counseling there, we have introduced families to the Getty Center, UCLA, Nature
Festival in Temescal Canyon, a tide pool walk, Cabrillo Aquarium and the LA
Oral Histories: Grandparents Remember
Childhood Play We believe strongly that it is important to preserve memories of childhood
play, encourage intergenerational conversations and keep the details of
childhood alive. Toward these ends, we have recorded recollections of
grandparents, about play in a simpler time, at the Children’s Literature
Department of the LA Public Library?s Central Library. Folklorist Judith Haut
and three other folklorists have interviewed dozens of grandparents and we will
continue to compile this important archive. Our ultimate goal is to produce a
book of excerpts of these oral histories.