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Community Programs for Healing and Strengthening Native Families

Under the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Department of Social Services is the Life Enhancement and Resource Network (LEARN) Division, which houses various programs, including the SRPMIC O’odham Piipaash Fatherhood Program, the SRPMIC O’odham Piipaash Healthy Relationships Program and the SRPMIC Mentorship Program. The purpose of these programs is to promote the importance of self-esteem, responsible fatherhood and active parenting. These programs are deemed essential for the healing and strengthening of our Native families. Participation in these programs is through self-referral or by referral of a case manager.

SRPMIC O’odham Piipaash Fatherhood Program

In this 24-week-long program, which is equivalent to six months, participants meet once a week and follow a curriculum provided by staff. During the 24 weeks, the Fatherhood Program covers topics such as defining fatherhood, historical trauma, parenting styles and positive discipline, to name a few.

The Fatherhood Program focuses on “all Native men,” whether they are already fathers or not, and men raising Native children. It prepares fathers for fatherhood or for the role of being a male leader in the Community.

The SRPMIC O’odham Piipaash Fatherhood Program meets every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Social Services Conference Room. The meeting is for men only.

The program also assists with transportation and childcare, if needed, and light refreshments are served. Completion celebrations are held every six months.

SRPMIC O’odham Piipaash Healthy Relationships Program

The Healthy Relationships Program, for both men and women, is designed to help participants develop skills that produce healthy relationships and active communication. The program believes that “healthy relationships produce healthy children, and in return, happy and healthy children have greater self-esteem and make better choices.”

The SRPMIC O’odham Piipaash Healthy Relationships Program (open to all) meets every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. in the LEARN Opportunity Center Training Room.

The program also assists with transportation and childcare, if needed, and light refreshments are served. Completion celebrations are held every six months.

“This program is very impactful. I’m able to see a lot of families reunite, see the kids and families together as one; that’s the most impactful,” said Social Worker I Robert Hickem, who has worked with the program for four years now. “I encourage men from every aspect, from grandparents to uncles, to just come and open up a great conversation. It’s always good to see grandparents come in to give their advice as well. We also see a lot of grandparents being parents to their grandkids; come on in and learn some new tools to help you. We have a family atmosphere and we’ll welcome you with open arms.”

Social Services Manager Gretchen Scott added, “We’ve had couples … in the child welfare system who have had their children returned to them during or after completing our program. We have had couples who have gone on to get married. We count all of those as successes. When we see people get along better for the sake of their children, when they weren’t able to do that before, it’s awesome to see and it’s then we know we made a positive impact and have made a difference.”

SRPMIC Mentorship Program

The goal of the SRPMIC Mentorship Program is to foster and promote the healthy development of Community youth by providing supportive connections within their Community and resources to encourage the development of healthy peer and family relationships. The group consists of 10 young adults between the ages of 13 and 17 who learn about life skills in a peer-to-peer mentoring environment.

The program assists with various aspects of personal development such as character development, social skills, self-esteem, leadership development, homework resources and the school-to-career transition. It also provides assistance with problems in school or at home, job-readiness skills, career exploration, cultural identity and more. The program plans various outings to help youth stay engaged and to receive hands-on real-life experiences, all with the goal to help participants reach their full potential in life.

“We want our youth to have a better self-identity; we want them doing well, graduating [from] high school and going on to college. I think just having a real sense of yourself is really important, and to do that you have to know where you come from. This cultural aspect plays a huge part in this program,” said Scott.

“It’s a good opportunity for the kids to get out and do something and just be around other kids who may be going through the same issues. The current group has really bonded in the past couple months,” said Social Worker II Quentin Begay.

The SRPMIC Mentorship Program encourages Community youth ages 13 to 17 to apply at anytime. The program meets every Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the LEARN Opportunity Center Training Room.

For more information about the Fatherhood and Healthy Relationships programs and the Mentorship Program, call LEARN at (480) 362-5680.