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Unheard Voices to Lead Better Communication Between Schools and Parents

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Unheard Voices to Lead Better Communication Between Schools and Parents

Unheard Voices to Lead Better Communication Between Schools and Parents

Buffalo, New York – November 29, 2017 – “Parents and students within the Buffalo Public Schools often feel like decisions are made about them and not with them,” says Renee Cadzow, PhD.

Cadzow, Assistant Professor in Health Services Administration at D’Youville, is also a coordinator for the School Health and Wellness Collaborative of Buffalo Project, giving rise to “Unheard Voices: Giving Voice to Students and Parents in Buffalo Public Schools.”

“Some students and parents lack the experience or skills to make their voices heard at a school, district, or community level,” said Cadzow. The “Unheard Voices” performance and a talk-back session are to provide a safe space where school stakeholders feel welcomed and that their opinion and experience matters.

An artistic representation created by parents and students, “Unheard Voices” is aimed at helping improve the dialogue with district staff and administration.

“They feel when asked for feedback, it's not taken seriously. They don’t see actions that result from the feedback they provide. This project shows how academia, schools, and community organizations can partner to affect change. Improving parent and student engagement and facilitating their empowerment to navigate their school and community resources effectively impacts health both directly and indirectly,” said Cadzow.

One of the primary aims of the School Health and Wellness Collaborative of Buffalo Project, once funded by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo Perry Fund, has been providing community health worker training to parents and students within Buffalo Public Schools helping them better navigate, communicate, and engage with the school wellness teams.

Additional funds from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo were raised to be able to record and develop experiences and stories of parents and students into an educational and interactive production, facilitating conversations with school administrators and leaders.

As project coordinator, Cadzow has overseen the direction of activities and helped facilitate the School Health and Wellness Collaborative of Buffalo Project. The Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo partnered to train over 50 parents and students as community health workers, as well as employees, at various schools as wellness team leaders.

“To evaluate their efforts, we used an innovative texting evaluation approach, gathering feedback from parents, students, and school staff regarding their work on their school wellness teams,” said Cadzow.

Coordination of efforts has resulted in a wellness policy, approved by the Board of Education in 2017, one of very few in the country that uses a Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) framework.

D’Youville became involved in the School Health and Wellness Collaborative of Buffalo Project after receiving funding from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. The collaborative project includes Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo, District Parent Coordinating Council, and Ujima Company., Inc.

Regarding success, Cadzow expects that there will be a greater awareness among those attending “Unheard Voices,” hearing the shared experiences of parents and students in Buffalo Public Schools. “We anticipate folks will leave with a handful of ideas about how they can troubleshoot issues they experience and how communication can be improved.”

Unheard Voices: Giving Voice to Students and Parents in Buffalo Public Schools,” can be seen November 30 at Lafayette High School from 5:30 to 7:30 PM; December 1 at Canisius College from 1:00 to 3:00 PM; and December 2 at North Park Academy from 9:30 to 11:30 AM. To RSVP or for more information about the event, contact Dayatra Hassan at dayatra@ujimacoinc.org

“Unheard Voices” is a collaboration with Ujima Company Inc., Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo and D’Youville College. Additional support from the District Parent Coordinating Council, Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization, the School Health and Wellness Collaborative, Say Yes to Education Buffalo, and Buffalo Public Schools.

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