What does research say about the impact of poverty on the lives of children? How does the relative lack of income influence their day-to-day lives? Is it through inadequate nutrition; fewer learning experiences, instability of residence, lower quality of schools, family violence, homelessness, dangerous streets; or less access to friends and services for adolescents?
New Hope Community Development of Acadiana, is a faith-based neighborhood development organization focused on working with at-risk children and their families in the Azalea Park neighborhood in Lafayette.
Since 2011, the founders “John P. Newman and His wife Kris” have partnered with the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department’s Youth Summer Enrichment Program at the J. Carlton James Center. Newman states, “As a practitioner, I am interested in understanding what research says about the impact of poverty on the lives of children and the best practices in mitigating these effects. One of our main areas of interest right now is figuring out how to work with the entire family unit, not just the child, especially as it relates to teaching parents nurturing skills to their children. We have barely started down this path. We know it is important, but we don't know what the essential components are.”
Currently, New Hope provides an after-school tutoring program three days each week for forty elementary and middle school students at the J. Carlton James Activity Center. “We focus on math and reading skills,” Newman said. “Our goal is to foster a love for reading in our students.”
David Yarbrough, Dean of Community Services and steering committee member of the Diversity, Equity, & Poverty Communities of Interest (DEP COI) claimed Mr. Newman “as one of our strong community partners tackling poverty issues”. Newman “has expressed real interest in partnering with faculty who want to study poverty issues in our community.”
During the summers, the development program at New Hope offers a six-week Summer Enrichment Program in partnership with the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department which includes a reading program, math, teaching on character development, and craft time. This unique program goes beyond traditional tutoring as it offers gardening, speech contests, and an annual award night for academic achievement in partnership with the UL Lafayette Black Faculty & Staff Association.
Recently, New Hope began offering a sports program for teen boys. The program uses sports as a tool to mentor the youth about leadership, team work and responsibility.
On a day-to-day basis, New Hope will continue to empower and equip under-resourced children and their families by establishing relationally based programs that holistically meet their educational, spiritual and economic needs.
Any university individual interested in studying poverty issues in the community and/or volunteering can do so by contacting John P. Newman or by viewing New Hope Community Development of Acadiana’s brochure.
Author: OVPRIED - Dominique N. Rosado