On September 10 and 24 in Tucson Arizona, with the help of Lean On Me AZ Facilitator Sandi Cimino, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona had its first two Lean On Me AZ community forums. In the fall of 2020, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona hosted thirteen focus groups to discuss community-driven solutions to reducing parent stress. This created the impetus for the Lean On Me AZ toolkit, available at www.pcaaz.org/leanonmeaz. Lean On Me AZ is a project supported by Casey Family Programs. In 2021, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona is expanding the conversation by engaging communities in communities Lean On Me AZ forums, which includes a brief presentation followed by a deep discussion on how community members can support and strengthen families in everyday ways.
The September 10 and 24 community forums were provided in partnership with 4Tucson, a faith-based community driven initiative to address systemic issues in Tucson. Attendees included foster parents, a woman mentoring local youth, a service dog trainer, a senior in high school, and an AmeriCorps VISTA, to name a few. When learning about the Lean on Me AZ tools, which are everyday actions to support parents, many attendees noticed a subtle shift as they identified some of their own biases concerning parents. Many of the individuals came from a youth and family serving sectors, and some identified that even when they are trying to help families, their actions can stem from assumptions. The Lean On Me AZ tools, based around the Strengthening Families Protective FactorsTM, helped the group understand ways in which they can build trust with parents and create a culture of family support.
Lean On Me AZ will return to Southern Arizona and 4Tucson at the Reclaiming Hope Conference on October 22. There, Sandi Cimino will provide a presentation on the Strengthening Families Protective Factors and describe how the community-generated Lean On Me AZ campaign builds on this existing framework.