No Bullies, Just Leaders

Mercy Housing Mountain Plains is excited to start its second year of a youth program at five family properties in the metro Denver area. The Adolescents 4 Health and Prevention (A4HP) Program is funded by the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program. This curriculum-based program is designed to provide education for youth up to age 24, on the topics of anti-bullying, social-emotional development, marijuana and drug-use prevention, and leadership skills. During the first year of this three-year program, our Colorado Out-of-School Time (OST) staff worked to engage youth in education, weekly lessons, and community events. After-school Program Manager, David, has been running the OST program at Grace Apartments in East Denver for six years, and developed the A4HP curriculum based on the Positive Youth Development model and other evidence-based programs. Weekly lessons incorporate group activities and discussions focused on creating a welcoming environment where youth lead program design to develop important leadership skills.

According to stopbullying.gov, 28% of U.S. students in grades 6-12 have been bullied, and 20% of those in grades 9-12 More than 70% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools. Over the past year, more than 100 youth from five multifamily properties participated in this project.

Mercy Housing also conducted focus groups with youth participants at each program site. Youth reflected that important foundational skills to support a successful career or life include “leadership, self-respect, and communication.” Others noted the importance of knowing the risks of drug and alcohol use and learning skills to say ‘no’ and create healthy boundaries when encountering drug use. We are looking forward to expanding on this and offering opportunities for youth to teach their peers and families about risk reduction and healthy choices.

This program is funded at five Mercy Housing multifamily properties in the metro Denver area that house and provide services to low-income families, with more than 800 youth residents: Bluff Lake Apartments, Parkside Apartments, Decatur Place Apartments, Holly Park Apartments, and Grace Apartments. We will expand this to another Mercy Housing Colorado family property, Clare Gardens, beginning in July 2018.

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