Immigrant, first generation, and non-immigrant teens have come together to break down barriers that keep them from working together. The Harvest Family Success Center, a division of Prevention Resources, Inc., launched its UpRoute Hunterdon Program teens from every corner of the county to see past their differences and address serious issues affecting their most vulnerable: the newly immigrated teens who are trying to assimilate to the US. In the program, immigrant teens that want to better their situation are paired up with non-immigrant teens and bilingual first generation teens who seek to widen their leadership skills. Together they will be asked to design and implement solutions to struggles in immigrant teens face here in Hunterdon.
“We are facing a huge division in our schools and community since we’ve had a massive influx of immigrant teens come into our five high schools from South and Central America, as well as Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. We work with them daily in helping them succeed. Yet, they are still feeling alienated from the rest of the school system because of their lack of English and feeling different from the average Hunterdon kid,” Gabby Geraci, UpRoute Hunterdon Program Coordinator.
The program started June 22 at Blueprints for Breakthroughs, an outdoor adventure course located at Custom Alloy in High Bridge. The program forced the 30 teens—who didn’t know each other—to overcome physical obstacles without sharing a common language or culture. The next day, June 23, the non-immigrant kids read narratives written by their immigrant teammates. The narratives explained the horrifying things they witnessed in their home countries, the reason why they escaped, and the challenges they face as immigrants now here in Hunterdon; from being poor, homeless, awkward, bullied and fearful of their future.
The teens proceeded to go to workshops on cultural sensitivity and leadership skills, with the goal of designing solutions to the challenges currently faced by their friends from across the border.
The non-immigrants were amazed at the stories, saddened, and moved to help their fellow teens.
Moving forward, they will all be divided into groups and given the task of implementing solutions and report back at club meetings once a month during the school year. At the end of the next school year, the teens will have to present their implementation stories, thereby educating our adult community about immigrant teen struggles and, most importantly, how the problems they are currently facing can be fixed. The most successful implementation team will receive scholarship money.
The goal of the program is to open the minds of students who are already in leadership roles to become more culturally sensitive to those who are struggling around them and empower first generation students to find their voice as bridges between their parents’ native cultures and their American culture. The expected outcome is to identify how both similarities and differences unify them together and strengthen their ability to complete goals.
About PR, Inc.: Prevention Resources, Inc. (formally known as, Hunterdon Prevention Resources) promotes health and wellness of individuals, families, and community through education, collaboration, advocacy and treatment. Our vision is to empower the counties we serve to flourish and thrive by maintaining healthy life choices through access to quality programs and services. For confidential help or for services or programs, contact us at 908-782-3909. For more information on the organization, visit us online at www.njprevent.com. Also, Like us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/NJPrevent
About the FSC: The Harvest Family Success Center (FSC) is a statewide network administered by Hunterdon Prevention Resources (HPR) with funding from the New Jersey Division of Family and Community Partnerships. The mission of the FSC is to provide a welcoming family-friendly environment to all county residents in order to strengthen and empower individuals and families through collaborative family-centered activities, educational workshops, and access to resources to acquire knowledge and skills needed to maintain healthy family relationships. For more information about the FSC, contact us at 908-237-0465 or visit our web site at www.hcfsc.com or Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hcfsc.
The FSC helps families thrive, not just survive!