Project IMPPACT: A Psycho-Educational Problem-Solving Intervention for Children

Article excerpt

The current article presents a model of a summer and after-school psychoeducational intervention for children ages 4 to 11 and parents offered at an African American church. The IMPPACT program may be best described as a community-based program that applies salient dimensions of African American religiosity and cultural values to the cultivation of resilience and self-efficacy outcomes among African American families (McCreary et. al., 2009). It is a University-Church partnership involved in improving educational outcomes. IMPPACT teaches children how to recognize their own competence and ability to handle stressful situations at home, school, and in the community. Participants learn the merits of good behavior and the benefits of positive role models, which produce positive outcomes in school behaviors, such as peer relationships, attention, and conflict management. Conclusions and recommendations were provided in order to show how to best utilize available resources to ensure service provision to groups that are underserved.

The IMPPACT Program

As we have written previously (McCreary et al 2009), our community efforts and intervention-research with African American youth is grounded in a theoretical perspective that incorporates counseling psychology, multicultural theory, liberation teaching philosophy (Freire, 1993; Hooks, 1994), and African American psychology (Azibo, 1996; Burlew et al, 1992; Jones 1991). We believe our efforts toward reducing some of the disparities in the education of African American children (Davis et al, 2002), is strengthened by our understanding and utilization of spiritual and religious. Our research and practice suggest that our church-based program actually assists educators in their efforts to advance children from educational "dis-ease" to health.

Education-based summer programs and after-school programs have been shown to have positive effects on grades and school achievement (Catalano et. al., 2002; Grolnick et. al., 2007; Gullotta et. al., 2009). The current article presents a model of a summer and after-school psychoeducational intervention for children ages 4 to 11 offered in an African American church. The IMPPACT program (I Must Pause, Pray, Analyze, Chill, and Take action) is designed as a community-based program that applies salient dimensions of African American religiosity and cultural values in the effort to cultivate resilience and self-efficacy outcomes among African American families (McCreary et. al., 2009). For example, one module of the program, a session entitled "I KNOW I CAN!" teaches children how to recognize their own competence and ability to handle stressful situations at home, at school, and in the community.

Our work is further informed by a core belief that there are multiple origins to the challenges, weaknesses, and problems in the families we serve. Thus, our approach involves multiple components. First, we have cultivated a philosophy and an approach to community engagement and community-based research that emphasizes the importance of the individual, family, and community from an interpersonal-family systems-ecological-cultural perspective. That is, we approach our work from a perspective of the whole. We attempt to remain keenly interested in investigating the quality of the relationships within the individual, family, church, and community with a focus on how each relationship can enhance and hinder self-expression, self-respect, and self-actualization.

Second, as partners with the church community, we seek to offer a psychoeducational program that facilitates African American academic and social success. IMPPACT seeks to simultaneously empower the church and families within the church community while being empowered by the families and the church. We seek to match the needs of the program with the needs of the families and the church. We feel a responsibility to maintain a program that is mutually beneficial, fosters economic development, and produce social progress in our staff, church families, church staff, and the children enrolled. …