Reducing Violence Through Media Training and Cultural Awareness

This podcast is part of a series highlighting innovative approaches to reducing violence and improving health
outcomes among at-risk minority youth at the nine demonstration sites of the Minority
Youth Violence Prevention Initiative
. One of these demonstrations sites is the Stand Up Participate program in Hennepin County, Minnesota, an initiative led by the community-based
organization Asian Media Access, Inc. in partnership with local public health, law enforcement agencies, and other
community-based groups that seeks to reduce youth violence by 
helping young people acquire skills for self-sufficiency, improve self-esteem,
and develop cultural pride.

Ange Hwang, executive director of Asian Media
Access,  and Tyree Lawrence, executive director of the community-based LVY Foundation,
 joined this week’s podcast to discuss the philosphy behind
Stand Up Participate’s curriculum, which includes
technology training, culturally based family engagement programming, health education, and organized activities with
police and community members that seek to improve communication and mutual understanding.

POPE-SUSSMAN: Hi. This is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of the series
we are doing with people seeking to curb violence and improve access to public health for at-risk minority youth
as part of the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. The Initiative is a partnership of the Office of Minority
Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at
the US Department of Justice that encourages collaboration among public health organizations, law enforcement agencies,
and community-based groups.

Our podcast series highlights innovative approaches at the 9 demonstration
sites that have received funding under the program. This week, we’re looking at the Stand Up, Participate Program
in Hennepin County Minnesota. Stand Up, Participate is an initiative led by the community-based organization, Asian
in Media Access in partnership with local public health and law enforcement agencies as well as other community-based
groups like the LVY Foundation. Stand Up, Participate seeks to prevent youth violence by helping young people acquire
skills for self-sufficiency, improve self-esteem, and develop cultural pride.

I’m speaking
today with Ange Hwang, executive director of Asian Media Access, and Tyree Lawrence, executive director of the LVY
Foundation. Ange, Tyree, thank you for speaking with me today and welcome.

HWANG: Thank you.

LAWRENCE: Thank you.

POPE-SUSSMAN: For starters, can you describe Stand Up, Participate?

HWANG: Sure. This is Ange from Asian Media Access. Stand Up, Participate has been focusing to use bi-cultural
healthy living as a concept to encourage particularly Asian American community and African American community so
we will hope is by working through cultural pride and really giving you there a control sometimes. Sometimes that
will be something they’d be proud of so they will be more willing to participate and to change their behaviors.
So they would decrease the at-risk behaviors and really be able to participate back to the communities.

We are doing that through couple different venues. In Asian Media Access focusing on multimedia training
so the youth will build on self-esteem. We focusing on the cultural classes such as Asian dances so the youth can
be able to regain the culture pride. Tyree will do a little bit different than us and I will have him to talk a little
bit more.

LAWRENCE: Yes, our part of the Stand Up and Participate movement really focuses on entrepreneurship
and economic development. A lot of the young men, the African American young men in particular, are often challenged
with some of the caveats they face in society and certain stigmas, if you will. We leverage the ability for them
to tap into their own personal potential and their talents and then take it to another level by allowing them to
explore those talents in a way that ends up in a form of business or some type of trade or skill set so that they
can really find alternatives to whatever lifestyle may be prohibiting them from just living life in general and just
being, quote unquote, normal.

HWANG: Yeah. I think Tyree’s strategy is touching a very important
part is to really giving youth a choice, giving them a power to choose some of the skills they like to acquire such
as entrepreneurship and such as multimedia. After they do that, they’re really building their own team to get
away from other negative influence around them to really be able to focus and really starting to become a contributing
citizen. Then we bring in our partners, particularly at the public health and the police departments, to providing
such as mentorship such as talking about how we can improve relationship together with the police department and
also having them to even just take them to shop. We have one activity, back to school shopping with the cops. The
cops pick up 30 at-risk youth and then we got Target Foundation to support. Each youth has $100 spending money so
the cop guide them through Target to purchase all the school equipment. By doing this type of activity and empower
the youth to have a choices and power and control, they feel they can choose a better route for themself. I feel
this strategy is very effective.

POPE-SUSSMAN: How is funding from the Minority Youth Violence
Prevention Initiative enable Stand Up, Participate to work with its target population and expand services?

HWANG: The funding for us has been so helpful particularly being able to do a lot of trainings and recruiting
support groups with this youth and we can do a lot of creative and innovative outreach. I would like to particularly
emphasizing that by culture healthy living, we have been utilizing, as a central theme, for all the activities particularly,
for example, our Asian youth. We try to encourage them to exercise more, so Asian dances and martial arts. That’s
really tied them back to their culture roots. We really attract more youth to the program with this type of activity
instead of trying to utilizing mainstream activities. We design the project with that bi-cultural activity in mind.
That would help more and more of those at-risk youth of color would be willing to come into the program because it’s
coming from their culture and it’s built on their strengths. This funding source is so important. Tyree, want
to add more?

LAWRENCE: Definitely. We will also parallel. It’s a huge mechanism that’s
been able to help us as far as promoting the abilities and the talents of these individuals who may not, otherwise,
be on a platform. For instance, being able to get in front of a corporation like 3M and show the many attributes
that parallel what they’re currently teaching their employees has been phenomenal. We wouldn’t have been
able to develop this type of platform had it not been for the funding.

HWANG: Yeah. I think, particularly
I would really want to piggy back what Tyree had said. If not had the funding, we won’t be able to develop.
I think this is really the key because a lot of times we see a lot of funding, maybe supporting a police academy
and police academy to outreach to other youth and then recruit. But we do actually opposite way. We starting with
the community. We have the community build that support group. Then outreach back to the police, back to the public
health in seeking for support, seeking for training, and seeking to improve that relationship.

How have the youth been responding to the programming so far?

LAWRENCE: The youth have been actually
responding quite positively to what we’re trying to do as far as encouraging a more self-initiated healthier
lifestyle. We’re taking strife in the youth group that I deal with and are they ready to sit down across from
police officers and have these wholehearted discussions? I would say we haven’t reached that point just yet
but what they are open to are more creative and innovative ways of having their side be understood, per se, by police
officers so that there can be a more creative dialogue and hopefully we progress to something like that in the near
future. Our attempts have been, I don’t want to say difficult, but not as easy as I had anticipated when starting
this project.


HWANG: But that is exactly we need to hear, Tyree,
because we are dealing with at-risk youth who has a distrust to the police. We having this baggage in our community
for a long time and if not coming from the community, sometimes it’s very hard for this group of at-risk youth
to be able to accept this type of activities. Why bother to communicate with the police? We are doing just fine.
So that’s a lot of that type of thinking coming from our youth. That’s why we doing this from community
perspective that the community feel the police really want to reach out. They really would like to build that bridge
between both.

POPE-SUSSMAN: How are you measuring outcomes?

HWANG: We have
a very dedicated evaluator working with us from the University of Minnesota has been helping us to do two major data
collecting efforts. One is doing the youth survey, pre- and post-. We really focusing a lot on those relationship
and we got a lot of high mark. For example, the question we ask is “Do you always feel there’s a caring
adult in the program?” We’ll always have more than 95%, pre- and post-, have a very high comparison. We
do well on that area.

The other part is the teacher survey because we want to prove our methods
work particularly at the academic outcome level. We have all the youth to take survey back to their teacher, have
their teacher directly mail to us in talking about, “Did you feel this youth change in their behavior? Do they
turn in the homework now? Do they participate at the class? Do they be able to work well with the classmates in the
school?” All these are very positive feedback. We just conclude our first year’s evaluations and we come
back was 85-90% all the mark from the teacher regarding … We have about 170 survey back so regarding those 170
youth we serve, they are hitting the high mark and teacher give them a lot of improvement particularly they notice
throughout the year.

LAWRENCE: I’d also like to add the very unique part of that survey,
it was very interesting when we started out as a team. We were very intentional about our efforts to reach out to
the youth that we, quote unquote, were using at-risk so that they understand what do they feel are great outcomes
of this. It wasn’t just what society or even what we thought was a good outcome and measuring that against also
what the teachers are saying but we wanted to know for them, what would be success in your eyes? That is a very special
part of the survey that has been, in my opinion, very innovative in the ability for them to voice on the survey we’re
producing our own business. We are acquiring trade skills toward having the job opportunities. We are meeting CEOs
and executive where we normally wouldn’t have been exposed to this types of thing. Those are massively impressive
outputs to these youths in so many different facets and that’s just a small component of the survey but in their
mind, it’s the main thing.

HWANG: Definitely. This really tie back into that relationship
evaluation, the evaluation is designed really talking about how we can utilizing relationship, building this relationship
to motivate the youth to change. It’s not just to say you come to our program, you learn the skills. But the
skill is part of their life, can change their life to better so we will be able to have the skills so that youth
can earn more money for their family, for example, or to even just simple Asian dance. One of my at-risk male dancers
won the first place this year at the Hmong New Year’s and they’ve been so proud of themself and used to become
acting with the Hmong gang. Now they are out there on the stage with 20,000 people cheering for them to get this
first place at the Hmong Dance Competition. It means so much to them. They’re really also pointing out a different
direction so in the evaluation, they would say they love dance. They love the opportunity we create for them particularly
improve the point.

If we can build the relationship with these youth, we will be able to really
encourage them to choose to use different arts to relieve their anger, to express themself on the stage, to be proud
of themself, to speak up, then we can have some alternative. Then we hope those messages will be able to create a
long-term impact to create a better system for us.

POPE-SUSSMAN: Well thank you so much.

LAWRENCE: Thank you.

HWANG: Thank you so much.

has been Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation and I’ve been speaking with Ange Hwang, executive
director of Asian Media Access, Tyree Lawrence, executive of the LVY Foundation. For more information for on the
Center for Court Innovation, visit