10/16/20: Each month the Parent Education Work Group of Yancey County meets to discuss the parent education opportunities across the county. This group is comprised of retired educators, program facilitators, school faculty, parents, counselors, and other community members. At the beginning of each meeting, current program facilitators give updates on their programs. I’ll be honest – I was not looking forward to giving my update for our Empowering Youth and Families Program this month. Recruitment has been a nightmare, plans have fallen through, we’ve lost facilitators, and I was feeling defeated. As I was giving my update, I noticed one of my fellow group members who seemed very anxious to speak so I quickly wrapped things up. I couldn’t understand what would cause her to get so excited when we’ve had these same updates for months, and her focus is normally on elementary-aged students.
Sadie unmuted her mic before I could get finished. (Sadie is the English Language Learners Family Liaison & Spanish Interpreter for our school system.) Our programs have never intersected so I figured something I said caused a lightbulb to go off in her head related to one of the other programs. To my surprise, my assumption was completely wrong. She immediately wrote down the names of five Spanish-speaking families she knew that were looking for help with their middle schoolers. They were all struggling with communication, youth and parents were stressed out, and things just weren’t right in the home. She had never mentioned any of these before because they are recent issues. The families are not handling the pandemic well. Kids are shutting down and parents don’t know what to do. This is a group in our community that we have an opportunity to reach, it’ll just take some extra work.
Sadie and I are going to meet in the next few days to discuss some options. The language barrier is a huge issue – especially on Zoom. If reaching these families is too much for us to get sorted out before our planned start date of October 29th, we are going to plan ahead for a spring cohort that will reach our Spanish-speaking families. We’re being optimistic and are planning to be meeting in person by then. This would allow us to utilize interpreters and successfully deliver the program to a part of our community that often gets overlooked.