Wellness Evaluation-Community Action Network! (WE-CAN!)
The Wellness Evaluation – Community Action Network! (WE-CAN!) addresses emotional wellness as a key component of resilience among New Orleans youth. WE-CAN! relies on research, community engagement and partnership building to better understand community wellness and find promising ways to improve interactions young people have with individuals, communities, and systems, especially youth that experience adversity. Ultimately, the program’s goal is to improve collaboration, communication and partnership among key community stakeholders and organizations to improve the emotional wellness of children in New Orleans. WE-CAN! is funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF).
In Phase I of WE-CAN!, 93 constructs of youth well-being were identified.
Thirty-seven of the 93 constructs were rated as “Essential” to understand youth well-being.
Through Phase I of WE-CAN!, IWES produced a list of community-driven constructs of well-being for youth ages 0-25 years. They were developed based on information learned from community stakeholders, which included:
- Youth IWES engaged in a participatory action research project
- Partner organizations
The constructs were then ranked through a process where community stakeholders rated each one and identified which are most important for understanding the well-being of youth in New Orleans. Experts who participated in the process included:
- Providers of direct services to youth and their families
- Scholars and experts in the area of community resilience
- Thought leaders and scholars within the community who understand the various policies that affect youth and community well-being
The 93 constructs were categorized into the following 7 domains of youth well-being:
Family Economic Security
Physical Environment & Safety
Community Facilities, Institutions & Services
Learning & Preparation for the Future
In May 2017, IWES was funded to conduct WE-CAN! 2, which builds on the community needs and systems-level issues identified through WE-CAN!. WE-CAN! 2 focuses on the needs of children ages 0-8 years, and aims to reduce racial inequities and barriers within the education and mental health care systems that block student emotional wellness and academic success.
WE-CAN! 2 includes the following activities:
- Professional development Compassionate Classroom trainings for teachers at local schools
- Training with mental and behavioral health care providers at the Metropolitan Human Services District to educate them on how to identify post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children
- Therapeutic play therapy to address the unmet emotional needs of young children that contribute to behavioral problems
WE-CAN! 2 partners include:
The Metropolitan Human Services District
Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep
Foundation Preparatory Charter School