We kicked off our Alliance GEAR UP Parent Champions program in January with a cohort of parents that represent the 7 middle schools Alliance GEAR UP currently serves. Once a month we met with these parents and facilitated our PLUS ME Parent Engagement program, helping them develop and articulate their own personal narratives.
Throughout the first four months, the parents identified and wrote about the important characters, settings, events, and lessons from their lives. Each parent created a timeline highlighting important small moments from their lives and engaged with their children back home through monthly homework assignments.
At the end of our program in May, each parent stood in front of an audience and had the opportunity to own a part of their story. For many of these parents it was the first time they stood up in front of a group of strangers and revealed some of the toughest struggles they had overcame throughout their lives.
Maria Vasquez, one of the Parent Champions, shared with us one of her biggest takeaways from the program. "In my community, there are many parents who do not even talk to their kids. They don't do this because that's how they were raised. I did not have strong communication with my parents and PLUS ME made me realize that I want to change that with my children. Now I communicate with my son on a daily basis because I feel like I have to. I realized the importance of sharing our stories and creating closer bonds with our family and friends."
We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with these parents and look forward to supporting their students as they enter high school in the Fall.