With the support of the schools, Project HELP’s pilot program successfully reached its targeted populations. Under-resourced children (Pre-K to 5th grade), their parents and siblings, primary caregivers (often a grandparent) and blended households represented the diverse population targeted in the grant proposal.
Individual Counseling Sessions: By grant’s end, 87 individuals (48 male/32 female), representing over 60 families were served thru individual counseling. Approximately 72% were white, 23% African American and 3% other (bi-racial). By school 49% were from Lenwil, 25.5% from each Riser and Riverbend
Situations ranged from mild to extreme conduct concerns; attachment, attention, and abandonment disorders; and inappropriate sexual exposure and hygiene issues. Financial concerns, transportation and housing issues, lack of running water, unemployment, and incarceration / probation concerns were among the care givers concerns addressed with the family coordinator.
A total of 859 sessions were participated in. One hundred seventeen (117) goals were set in the areas listed below; 112 or 96% were achieved or partially achieved and amazingly only two (2) families abandoned the Project HELP program! Student and Caregiver Goals:
Increase Emotional Wellness
Increase Mental Wellness
Increase Physical Wellness
Increase Social Wellness
Increase Spiritual Wellness
Encourage the delay in childhood sexual activity
Increase academic focus in classroom
Increase grades where needed
Decrease conduct marks
Enhance Parenting/ Child care
Decrease Substance abuse/misuse in parents
In addition to professional counseling, classroom presentations and parent/student workshops were offered to re-enforce counseling sessions, to provide parental involvement opportunities and to reach beyond those most in need - stretching resources even farther.
Classroom Presentations: Two optional class room presentations were offer to the schools – “Good GRIEF” and “Media Safety: Internet & Texting”.
86 students participating in the Good GRIEF classroom presentation.
97 students participating in the Media Use Safety, classroom presentations 1
Student/Parent Workshops: Three workshops were ‘tested’ by the team for participation and feedback during the school year:
A national mother/daughter’s conference was held in Ouachita Parish in February. Thirty six daughters and mothers/mentors participated. Mother’s and daughters were led through various age appropriate topics such as modesty, beauty, intergrity and healthy friendships. The mom’s and daughters unanimously agreed this experience strengthen their relationship with each other, enhanced their life skills and communication.
Pretty ‘n Pink
This workshop was piloted at Lenwil, the smallest of 3 campuses. This workshop included guess speakers Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and a grand finale Daddy/Daughter type luncheon on Thursday. The goals for Pretty ‘n Pink was for the girls to:
Increase feelings of self-worth
Increase healthy body awareness
Increase social skills and confidence
Provide skills, hope and opportunities for healing
During Pretty ‘N Pink Week, the 5th grade girls were treated to classroom presentations by representatives from Mary Kay discussing skin care & beauty inside and out; LSU Ag Center, discussing etiquette, modesty and manners; and Lisa Alsobrooks, Lenwil school nurse, discussing puberty and personal hygiene. A festive luncheon for the girls and their dads was held at the end of the week, with Donna Avant from First West speaking about the special relationships between fathers and daughters. The dad’s/male guests agreed or strongly agreed “the event was helpful to me as a parent and provided ideas for me as a dad”. Of the daughters (19/23) who completed evaluations, more than ninety percent agreed or strongly agreed “the speakers related to my life as a young lady, helped my relationship with my dad/guest and will be helpful as I make decisions for my future”.
B.L.A.S.T.: (Boyz Leading a Strong Tomorrow)
This workshop was piloted for the 5th grade boys at Lenwil. During B.L.A.S.T. week, the 5th grade boys had classroom presentations by Bill Smith from First West about outdoor activities and rope tying; Richard Gardner from Jazz Automotive, about automobile repair; and C.J. Beck with the West Monroe Police Department, about law enforcement demonstration with a police car and various police tools and equipment. The goals for B.L.A.S.T. were for the boys to:
Gain a deeper understanding of self-worth
Increase social skills and confidence
Gain practical life skills
Gain a vision and desire to seek future opportunities
Develop a value of teamwork
Connect choices of today with opportunities/consequences of tomorrow
At the end of the week, the boys were honored with a picnic where Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals (Big Whit Foundation link) shared his personal values of faith, hope, and love of and in self, family, community and God that he attributes to his success. The boys and their fathers were treated to hamburgers provided by United Home Care and served by members of the West Monroe High School Rebel football team organized by teacher Stacy Knox, INTERACT Club Sponsor. Twenty-three (23) boys participated commenting that this week “taught me life skills, teamwork, and self-worth.
Interact Club of WMHS and Project HELP: On December 16 & 17, 2009, Project HELP teamed up with the Interact Club from West Monroe High School creating a community service opportunity for the teens and meeting needs for students. Hosting Christmas parties at Lenwil and Riser Elementary Schools met physical, social and emotional needs of the students. The Interact Club sponsor Stacey Knox and 15 to 20 Interact members shopped for and delivered gifts for 1 & 2 grades classes at Riser and Pre-K and Kindergarten Classes at Lenwil.
Goals for the students included:
Increase social skills and expand comfort levels
Teach healthy boundaries
Increase awareness of outside support systems
Increase/expand awareness of hope
Goals for Interact Club:
Increase awareness of needs in local community
Increase skill and deepen desire to serve in local community
Exposure to mentoring children
Offer service opportunities for club members
Opportunity to give of their own resources (time, money and talents/gifts)
The Interact Club provided food, drinks, music and gift bags for the students. Gifts included practical items such as socks, and gloves, team/family activities like board games/card games and individual items for self play. The members interacted with the children thru face painting, painting nails, playing the board games and tossing footballs. Pictures were taken to capture the event. Volunteer hours: approximately 15 students x 8hrs of service =120 hrs.
Pastries for Parents: Project HELP teamed up with the Parent Teacher Committee at Riverbend to pilot Pastries for Parents. These events are designed to provide parent-to- parent social, emotional and paternal support related to parenting and child care; provide develop effective skill sets - mental and emotional issues related to parenting, socialization, child care, neglect and abuse, pregnancy, family relations, child rearing. Information was available on how to effectively access mental, medical and social services including maternal substance abuse counseling. Of the 17 parents who came, 12 completed evaluations resulting in 100% “strongly agree” that this event enhanced my self-worth as a parent, the information will be helpful in working with my children and would attend other events/recommend to my friends.
Teacher’s In-services: 210 teachers engaged in a series of three in-services included information of community resources. Teacher in-service evaluations indicated 95 to 100% agreed or strongly agree with the questions asked.
Working with families in domestic violence:
Teacher Evaluation Summary
Domestic Violence Impacts Everyone!
The trainer was knowledgeable of the material presented. 98%
I feel that I have a better understanding of Domestic Violence. 95%
The information presented will be helpful in working with my students and their parents. 97%
I would recommend this training to others. 91%
Working with Children in Poverty:
Teacher Evaluation Summary
Understanding Poverty & How to Help Families Move out of it
Of the 58 teachers participating in this training, 100% agreed or strongly agreed to the following statements:
The trainer was knowledgeable of the material presented.
I feel that I have a better understanding of Poverty.
The information presented will be helpful in working with my students and their parents.
I would recommend this training to others.
Working with children in Grief:
Teacher In-service Evaluation
Of the 17 teachers participating in this training 100% agreed or strong agreed with the following statements:
This information has helped me understand more about children in grief.
I feel this information has helped me explore ways children process grief.
The trainer was knowledgeable of the topic, helpful and easy to follow.
This information will help me in the classroom as my students experience loss/grief.
I would recommend this to other teachers.
Outcomes and Results 2010-11
GOALS & OUTCOMES:
Improve child health in the Living Well Foundation service area through counseling, education, support group and mentoring services, as measured by an increase in grades, test scores, and child physical and mental health and social development.
Eighty-five (85) students representing 76 families in emotional, social or academic crisis were served thru 1,263 professional mental health sessions. Families who could not afford to access services outside Project HELP funding.
Over 90% of the 258 goals set were met or partially met; 7.3% represent students who relocated out of the Project HELP service area – common for the under-resourced families served through Project HELP
Quotes from teachers:
“…this student was basically nonverbal and very withdrawn due to a tragic loss of his mother….gone as far as choking himself …thanks to Project HELP he is a thriving and social child... is in the gifted program and loves to talk…”
“…3 of my students have met regularly with her (Project HELP counselor) and are thriving…all their grades have improved along with their social skills and attitudes…they are ignoring mean words and apologizing when they do something inconsiderate to another…more receptive in the classroom…she is a consistent ‘go-to’ person”
“…no incident reports since starting counseling…smiling more, brining books to class, working harder and paying attention…” Mom now in counseling as a result of son’s progress…
Quotes from elementary students
“it help me calm down. it help me get along. it help me to stop saying ‘kill me'. It help me with my worry.”
“…help me stay away from people I don’t like…stop fighting…and helps us and … gives us some hugs”
Quote from Middle School students
“…teach you not to lose control of my anger, if you lose a really close family member they will help you feel better…I love to go to counseling…”
Quotes from parents:
“Project HELP has been a wonderful in helping with my family this year. …a difficult death in November …have been a great help in the healing process…”
“…two boys in program…doing much better…thank you for giving my children a safe place to express themselves with no concern of hurting anyone’s feelings.”
“My family faced a horrible tragedy…3 funerals in 3 days…the program at First West Counseling Center is extraordinary…my family has been extremely blessed…I don’t know what we would have done…” This family could not afford counseling - Project HELP grant was this family’s lifeline.
Education - 609 students
Broaden Horizons Summer Program: The Project HELP team provided weekly psycho educational sessions with 49 students ranging from 11 to 17 during the summer of 2010. Curriculum and activities included health, wellness, social and emotional boundaries in relationships/environments. As well as healing from and overcoming pain and disappointments of this world.
Care*ageous Kids: Smart kids are Courageous and Kind. Over 180 4th and 5th graders from all three elementary schools participated in the 9-12 week evidence-based healthy relationships curriculum underwritten by Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault
Bullying Takes Many Forms - Students gain knowledge and skills thru bullying workshops. All Riser Middle School 6th (180+) and 7th (200+) graders participated. This program took a holistic approach addressing the bully, the victim and the by-standers.
Life Skills- 150 students
Pretty ‘n Pink Week: A week honoring 5th grade girls while preparing them for middle school. Topics and activities centered on true beauty, hygiene, puberty, appropriate dress, etiquette, and manners. Celebration Luncheon included an opportunity to practice their new skills while having a dad/adult male join them for special lesson, music, professional pictures and goody bags.
B.L.A.S.T. Week: A week to challenge the 5th grade boys with life skills like rope and knot tying, mechanics, law enforcement, trust, serve, protect, choices, and teamwork. Father/son cookout provided special opportunity for time together. Father/son presentation from an Eagle Scout and did his father challenge them how “know where they are going, have a plan, a back up plan, except detours and know when and to whom to ask help and
direction”. Each young man received a compass and crescent wrench as a reminder of the week’s lessons and a symbol of passing into a new stage of life.
Enhance support and resources for parents and teachers.
Teacher support and in-services: working with children living in poverty, domestic violence and loss
Multiple small teacher group sessions were facilitated by Project HELP staff
Family assessments were provided by Project HELP family coordinator with 291 advocacies and referrals made. Education, employment, family stability, health, self sufficiency, interpersonal skills and mental health encompassed the 75+ parent/caregiver goals tackled.
Two First West Counseling Center professionals became certified in the international recognized evidence-based Positive Partnering Program (Triple P). Ten families successfully completed Triple P this spring.
Six “Pastries for Parents” events provided social and emotional support and collaboration among parents with children on the same campuses. Over 50 parents participated.
Formulation of working agreements with schools and social services
Memorandums of Understanding were compiled and signed with OPSB, Lenwil, Riser Elementary, Riser Middle and Riverbend;
Community Partnerships include Broaden Horizons, Children’s Coalition, First Baptist Church West Monroe, K-Sera, VOA, ULM, United Home Services and The Wellspring.
Curriculum development and implementation
Curriculum was developed for Broaden Horizon, Pretty and Pink
B.L.A.S.T. (Boys Leading a Strong Tomorrow)
Partnered with Children’s Coalition and The Wellspring on Evidence-based curriculum Care*ageous Kids and Triple P
Grow a full schedule of Project HELP counseling/ mentoring/education.
Over 1200 individual sessions on 4 school campuses were provided by 7 counselors
Family coordinator provided 291 advocacies and referrals for family stability and self-sufficiency
Outcomes and results 2011-12 (mid-term)
Six Month Goals & Outcomes
1. Provide access to health care to the under-resourced members of our community, specifically child health care in the Living Well Foundation service area through counseling, educational, and mentoring services, as measured by an increase in child physical and mental health and social development, classroom scores and attendance.
Six month Result:
Five mental health professionals and one social worker provide on-
campus services to 4 under-resourced campuses. Each campus averages
two days a week of services in addition to visits to caregiver homes, work-
sites or neutral meeting locations.
2. Provide on-site mental health care and wellness services to three elementary schools and one middle school, the feeder of the elementary schools.
Six month Result:
Seventy seven (77) students representing 54 families, have engaged in 630
individual professional mental health sessions to-date. These students and
families represent the under-resourced families of our community who
otherwise would not have access to mental health, life skill or
parenting resources due to cost, transportation or culture barriers. An additional 1
students have been referred but not been seen.
A weekly Teacher Process Group has been established at Riser Middle School at the request of the teachers and with approval of the administration. This group is focused specific to the personal mental and emotional needs of the teachers.
Project HELP staff attends grade-specific teacher planning sessions weekly at Riser Middle to facilitate student/classroom specific problem solving and brainstorm creative classroom management and current trends and needs of middle school students..
Broaden Horizons Summer Program: The Project HELP team provided eight weekly psycho-educational sessions with 64 students ranging from 11 to 17 this summer. Curriculum and activities included health, wellness, social and emotional boundaries in relationships/environments; as well as healing from and overcoming pain and disappointments of this world.
Care*ageous Kids: Smart kids are Courageous and Kind. Lenwil and Riser 5th grade students (98) completed 6 weeks of this evidence-based healthy
relationships curriculum underwritten by Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault. Care*ageous Kids, is an evidence-based prevention program that develops positive social skills. The program honors the role of parents as the ‘primary teacher’ of values and provides take-home family sheets. The program teaches 9-10 year olds about the importance of making and keeping healthy friendships, setting appropriate boundaries, and standing up for others. Violence Prevention skills are also taught through topics like: Every action has a consequence, impact of TV and gaming device violence and Bullying. Sadly Bullying is an inevitable aspect of childhood. Students learned critical social and communication skills - giving students resources to grow up healthy and well adjusted. Care*ageous Kids was facilitated by our community partner The Wellspring.
New Generations After-school Program: 30 Riverbend Elementary School second grade students participate in weekly psycho-social skill development.
Parent/Caregiver: Two “Pastries for Parents” events have been hosted thus far at Riverbend Elementary providing social, emotional and academic support. Forty-six (46) parents/caregivers with students on the same campus participated in this collaboration of minds and hearts.
Two First West Counseling Center professionals became certified in a second level of the international recognized evidence-based Positive Partnering Program (Triple P). FWCC represents 2 or 6 Level 4 Triple P trained practitioners are from NELA, and 2 of the 3 Level 2 Triple P trained practitioners are from NELA.