In light of the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, we were one of many organizations who felt it necessary to address the heightened uncertainty and concern among the immigrant population here in Baltimore. After reaching out to a number of other community organizations in the greater Baltimore community, it became clear that our initiative should be centered on two main components: mental health and knowledge of rights.
Over the ensuing weeks, we began collaborating with a number of community partners, including The Newcomer Project, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs (MIMA), Soccer Without Borders, and CASA de Maryland. Through multiple conference calls and email exchanges, we assembled a number of resources to be distributed to any organization that worked with immigrant communities. These resources were designed to address the mental health component of our initiative – to provide organizations with the tools necessary to facilitate group discussions and introduce various coping mechanisms that their community members could use during these difficult times. We also put organizations in touch with CASA de Maryland, which provides a workshop called “Know Your Rights” to inform community members about their rights in the event of an encounter with immigration law enforcement.
We then compiled a list of organizations in Baltimore and the greater county that work with immigrant populations – from schools to churches to non-profits – to gauge interest in our resources. After receiving an encouraging number of responses, we organized and hosted our first training workshop on December 20th – the first of hopefully many of its kind. A pair of social workers from the Newcomer Project presented a lesson plan designed for those working with youth, while social workers from Bayview Medical Center delivered a presentation for those working with adults.
Those who attended the workshop reported that it was extremely helpful in guiding them towards facilitating group discussions among their target audiences. Given this positive feedback, we plan on organizing more training sessions after the New Year, and hope that our resources continue to be adapted and implemented by a wide range of organizations in Baltimore and beyond.
If you would be interested in attending a future training session or receiving our materials to facilitate your own discussion, please fill out this form https://jhmi.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6ywgDBrBQ4lVxHf
For school teachers please use this form.
By Luke Silverman-Lloyd
Upcoming workshop: Monday February 27, 4-6pm at Hampstead Hill Academy. RSVP by February 22 by clicking here.