The Culture Cure
Nonprofit 2nd Chance takes aim at getting kids to talk about, reshape self-image.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Hard work, respect, honesty: values some community members say are rooted in Latino culture, but discarded by some of today’s youth. A Salinas nonprofit is trying to re-instill those values through a program called La Cultura Cura, or Culture Heals.
2nd Chance Family & Youth Services, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youth and gang members, is getting ready to expand the program, which explores family relationships and cultural identity through weekly guided discussions. The curriculum-based program was first brought to the county by Monterey County Behavioral Health in 2010; this year, 2nd Chance is trying to involve more teens.
In small groups, teens work with mentors to dissect their lives and renew expectations of themselves, says Ruben Urzua, intervention specialist at 2nd Chance. Boys learn new ways to define machismo – a concept distorted into images of drinking and womanizing – and talk about the value of palabra, or “your word.” Girls discuss similar topics, probing into the issues of womanhood and self-image.
“There are kids in communities that believe violence is part of their culture,” says Jerry Tello, program founder and director of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute. “That’s not part of the true Latino culture. It’s part of the wounded culture.”
The approximately 11-week program will begin its first cycle in mid-January, with sessions held at the Silver Star Resource Center and at two Salinas middle schools.
Last year, 2nd Chance had about 40 participants in the program. This year they’re aiming for more, though a hard goal hasn’t been set. The ultimate idea, though, is to popularize the program enough that eventually, by partnering with other agencies, there can be discussion groups in every school.