The "Why I Matter" Project
The “Why I Matter” project was a partnership with Norman Public Schools and worked to address positive identity development among youth and to serve as a bullying prevention mechanism.
Over 1200 students, teachers, and administrators participated in this photo-voice style project. Funds were utilized to offset printing costs for the over 1200 portraits that were taken and hung along the walls of Whittier Middle School for a public gallery opening where students, teachers, administrators, families, and community members are present.
To facilitate the project, participants were asked to write down something special, unique, or novel about themselves and professional photographers took their portraits. These portraits lined the halls of the school for the showing.
Pre-post, as well as on-site, surveys were administered to assess participant levels of hopefulness, resilience, and self-image, as well as to identify supportive pathways for communication enhancement between students, teachers, and administrators and overall project impact.
The outcomes of the program were so dramatically successful, that it created multiple new opportunities for intervention collaborations between the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, the Knee Center for Strong Families, and the Norman Public School System.
Double Up Oklahoma Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Statewide year to date total SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and DUOK (Double Up Oklahoma) sales are >$200K. There were two large expansions in Tulsa this year to provide more opportunities for DUOK: R&G Family Grocers opened a brick and mortar store in Pythian Manor East (apartments for elderly and physically-challenged people with low-incomes), and the Tulsa Farmers’ Market is opening a year-round stand inside the new Mother Road Market.
South Side Initiative
This year South Side Initiative (SSI) has 7 amazing social work interns who are working with Parmelee Elementary, the OKC Parks and Recreation Department and Southern Oaks Community Center, the Wellness Now Initiative, and the Southern Oaks Library to promote the overall wellbeing of young people in the community through during and after school programming, community building, and trauma-informed positive youth development. This year SSI is focusing on three core objectives:
1. Improving food security and access to healthy foods in the community through coordinating with local agencies and partners to bring more food into the community and by way of planning a community garden and greenhouse project with our partners that will help address these issues long-term, while also providing opportunities for health, science, and math learning for young people.
2. Improving the utilization of trauma-informed resiliency practices across community institutions serving young people through providing training and resources to professionals who likely to do have the background in these best practices.
3. Providing supportive enriching out of school programming opportunities for young people to access after school by collaborating with local partners who provide spaces for youth to come after school, while we provide programming and intern support to better serve the local needs for out of school childcare.
Throughout the course of this year, SSI will be collaborating with partners on community events that will target community building, health and wellness, and supporting the voices of community members in local development, policy, and programming issues. The event that we are currently targeting to use the Cigna funds on will likely take place in late fall or in spring, and include a health fair component and/or a community wellness theme. SSI will use the generous gift from Cigna to help sponsor one of these amazing community events that will include a health fair or similar component to help provide outreach and resources to local families and young people. The generous gift from Cigna will help ensure that we have plenty of healthy food options to provide to attendees and/or will go towards wellness and/or food related giveaway items, which is essential in a community facing serious food insecurity and economic challenges to accessing needed resources.