Young Boys Empowered for Life YBEL | City of Ideas

Posted 11/16/2012 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
Haitian immigrant youth are disproportionately exposed to trauma and violence prior to arrival in the US.  They have experienced devastating natural disasters and witnessed first-hand political unrest displayed through battery and homicide in a country facing chronic poverty.  Exposure to trauma puts adolescents at particularly high risk for adverse mental and physical health outcomes.  Currently, teen boys living in low income communities such as Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury, lack a healthy outlet to process and cope with their experiences and instead turn to gang involvement, drug abuse, and school absence.  Furthermore, barriers include a shortage of culturally competent mental health providers and discourage the utilization of mental health services.  Their untreated post-traumatic stress disorder is further exacerbated upon immigrating to the US.  Annually, 2-4 Haitian young men are killed in gang-related homicide in the streets of Boston and hundreds are deported due to their involvement in delinquent behavior.  Moreover, newly immigrated Haitians face language barriers and are often several grade levels behind at school because of interrupted education.  There is an apparent need for psychosocial supportive mentoring and curricula for these youth.  YOFES, along with the collaborators will address the educational, social and emotional needs of the boys involved.

Project Proposed:
A gender specific Haitian boys program will be created, making it a unique entity that brings attention to the poor outcome of black male living in the US. This forum will take advantage of several male networks that exist in the Haitian community such as: the soccer clubs and other male athletic groups, the association of religious leaders, which is over 80 % male), the numerous barber and mechanic shops, and more importantly the very large Haitian radio and TV broadcast where most host are male.   Other professional associations will be identified which can become a source of cadre to help mentoring youth in needs of services. YBEL will offer a network of opportunities where young boys ages 9-15 will be able to interact with role models, social workers, soccer and martial arts coaches, and music teachers in an after school and weekend program.  This program will provide a safe environment with culturally-appropriate mental health and academic support.  All of our partners have multilingual staff who can speak Haitian Creole, French and  English.

Role of Collaboration:
Youth and Family Enrichment Services, Inc. (YOFES) was created in 2003 to address school delinquency and increasing intergenerational gaps in support of the growing population of Haitian youth in Mattapan, Dorchester, Hyde Park and Roxbury.  Current programming includes after school music, nutrition, and youth development capacity programs, as well as an intensive summer interventions and parent workshops.  Our interventions reach over 500 Haitian children annually.  YOFES has trained 14 Haitian male youth mentors who will be utilized for their experience and cultural understanding to serve as mentors for the young Haitian men who participate in the program. 

YOFES began working with the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition to bring nutrition education to the community since 2007.  Through the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, youth will receive special training and will be able to organize healthy competitions among themselves.  Through program such as Bike A Thon, Mattapan Moving for Life, Young boys will find a niche where they can easily interact with each other and with other male adults while learning about healthy lifestyles.

The Haitian Mental Health Network (HMHN) was created in 2012 to address the mental health needs of the community.  For the past 2 years, YOFES and HMHN have collaborated in to increase awareness about post-traumatic stress syndrome for youth who entered the US after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  All 3 partners participate in monthly meetings and collaborate on several smaller projects, ad present programs on radio and TV, to educate the community about health and social issues that affect their families. YOFES will coordinate all aspects of programming through its afterschool and weekend activities.

Through the consortium of Haitian media, youth will participate in talk shows about their experience in the program and serve as role models for other young boys

YOFES activities reach over 500 youth annually. The introduction of Young Boys Empowered for Life will expand the program and reach an additional 100 boys annually.  YOFES in collaboration with the other organizations will broaden the range of services available for adolescent boys who have experienced violence and trauma and provide a culturally competent and comprehensive program to support the accessibility of mental health services.  The program will recruit healthy, successful men to be involved as counselors and mentors to youth at risk. Creating a program specifically for Haitian boys in the Haitian community will rally many Haitian male groups to one cause: Improve outcome for black male in the community. Haitian male are usually very proud of their history, having overcome slavery to become the first independent nation in the western hemisphere. The community includes real heroes, of both genders who have defied abject poverty, malnutrition, poor health and racial discrimination to become successful and contributing members of society. The intensity of Haitian ethnic pride will serve as a path to leadership for young black male in general. While serving Haitian boys predominantly, this program will also serve other young male of color who need access services.

Other information:
YOFES has been serving the community since 2003 and serves mainly youth and their families living in Mattapan, Dorchester, Hyde Park and Roxbury.  YOFES is recognized as a leader in developing culturally relevant programs for youth in the Haitian Community.  Dr. Prudent, our executive Director, has received numerous awards as a community champion and has a strong record of working with everyone in the community to bring the best possible services to the Haitian community.  Our collaborators bring the cultural knowledge needed to bring specific services to the community.  The radio and television part of our intervention will give us a voice to our young boys which will help them increase their self  confidence and self worth and also extend the impact of the program on the entire community.

Primary Contact:
Geralde V. Gabeau has been the director of the Youth and Family Enrichment Services, (YOFES) for the past 9 years and is a strong advocate for underserved youth and families living in Boston.  Geralde believes in a healthy and mature community where all the organizations work together to improve people's lives.
Youth and Family Enrichment Services is a non profit organization incorporated in the state of MA to help build strong families that can raise healthy children, even in the face of poverty and social inequity.

Partner 1:
Mattapan Food and Fitness coalition (MFFC)
MFFC draws on the wonderful ethnic and cultural diversity of the Mattapan community to promote a healthy living environment, with a focus on access to healthy foods and the promotion of physical fitness for all ages.  Created in 2007 MFFC has provided services to all members in the community and has developed a wonderful youth leadership and empowerment program called Vigorous Youth. Young Boys will be actively involved in Vigorous youths and will participate in healthy competitions which will help decrease the obesity rate among them.

Partner 2:
Haitian Mental Health Network
The Haitian Mental Health Network (HMHN) was created in 2010 to address the mental health needs of the community.  For the past 2 years, YOFES and HMHN have collaborated on several projects in to increase awareness about post-traumatic stress syndrome for youth who entered the US after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. HMHN will provide tailored mental health workshops to young boys through a culturally sensitive developed curriculum

Partner 3:
Open Access to Music Education for Chilren (OAMEC) under the director a new Artistic Director: Marie Montilla has been providing the gift of music to Haitian children who have never dreamed that they could touch an instrument in their lives.  Currently, students are performing all over Boston and are invited at major events related to the Haitian community.  As part of the collaboration OAMEC will open doors to young boys to play in a band of their choices which will increase their retention in the program.

Partner 4:
Other partners include members from the Haitian Radio and Television Network and includes the following
Jonel Dalexis: Radio Echo Evangelique.  Founded in 1983, they produce every week a Youth Corner program that focuses on issues relevant to and affecting youth and their families.
Joel Pithon: Wellness and health connection is a live TV program aired on Saturdays that cover different health topics, issues affecting the Haitian community. 
Through their own voices, Young Boys will be trained to talk on the radio or television on specific issues affected them.

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