This fall marked the kickoff of an exciting new project at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs: the Parent Organizing Project! There are mountains of research to show why parent engagement is good for young people- it results in better behavior, higher academic achievement, and enhanced social skills. It also makes it less likely that young people take unhealthy risks like using tobacco, alcohol, and drugs or engaging in risky sexual behavior. Plus, engaged families, communities and schools are part of St. Stephen’s long term plan of providing a circle of care for every young person who walks through our doors.
Over 50 parents were involved in the parent organizing project this fall. Through one-to-one meetings, the parent organizer built relationships with parents and learned about both the aspects of their schools that are awesome, and the aspects that could benefit from more parent involvement. Over 70% of these parents who had one-to-one meetings then attended monthly bilingual Parent Organizing Project meetings, in which parents get to know each other, find shared issues, and work together to solve them. Many of these parents have stepped up as leaders in unbelievable ways- from planning meetings, facilitating activities, translating meetings, and making reminder calls, to bringing a boombox and bachata music!
Not only are parents working together on their shared passion for giving their children the best education possible, but they are also using the connections they build with each other through the meetings. A happy mom remarked, “Because of the meeting, I got my son into baseball on Saturdays. I met another mom who told me about the program!”
This semester has lots of exciting parent organizing opportunities in store. We’ll be tackling issues of safe entrances and exits in school, offering a series of parenting workshops, and setting up parents to volunteer their time in their children’s classrooms. Stay tuned! For more information, contact Ariel (firstname.lastname@example.org).