Table 2: FAST Program Activities Apply Mental Health Research To Build Community

ActivitiesDescriptionMental Health ResearchBuilding Community

FlagEach family unit creates a family flag to set on their family table for 8 weeks. Parents are in charge of the process in which each family member adds to the flag.Alexander and Parsons, 1982; Minuchin, 1979.Each family makes a flag within a community context of approximately 60 people; the flag becomes an identity for the family within the FAST community.
MusicParticipants sing the FAST song. Families are invited to bring songs to teach others; school songs can be shared.Pianta, Egeland, and Stroufe, 1998.Everyone sings the FAST song together; sharing music builds community.
MealA host family, who won the lottery the lottery the week before, receives money to buy food, plans a menu, and prepares a meal for 12 families and the FAST team. The family is thanked. Staff members help children show respect for parents by serving dinner.Dunst, Trivette, and Deal, 1988; Minuchin, 1979.Each family hosts a meal. This builds feelings of mutual and shared responsibilities.
ScribblesThis drawing and talking game is played with one's own family. Parents are in charge of taking turns and asking positive questions.Alexander and Parsons, 1982; Lewis et al., 1976; Pianta, Egeland, and Stroufe, 1988; Minuchin, 1979; Schedler and Block, 1990.Each family plays at its table within the context of a larger community. Play and fun are emphasized. Support from the FAST team is offered as needed.
Feelings CharadesParticipants play-act, guess, and talk about feelings with their families. The parents are in charge of taking turns.Alexander and Parsons, 1982; Lewis et al., 1976; Pianta, Egeland, and Stroufe, 1988; Schedler and Block, 1990; Werner and Smith, 1992.Sharing feelings in one's own family and sharing with other FAST families builds community. Support from the FAST team is offered as needed.
Kid's PlayThese developmentally appropriate organized activities offer children positive peer group experiences. No television is allowed.Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Minuchin, 1979; Rutter, 1983.Time for hanging out together, having fun, and developing a peer network emphasizes friendship in a community.
Parents' Talk in Buddy Time and Self-Help GroupOne-to-one adult time for private communications is followed by a self-help parent group. Parents share their own successes and help one another help their children succeed in school. Informal social-support networks emerge.Alexander and Parsons, 1982; Belle, 1980; Cochran, 1992; Dunst, Trivette, and Deal, 1988; Gilligan, 1982; Gottlieb, 1985; Hill, 1958; Lewis et al., 1976; McCubbin and Patterson, 1983; Minuchin, 1979; Pianta, Egeland, and Stroufe, 1988; Solomon, 1985; Wahler, 1983; Werner and Smith, 1992.Parents makes friends and find their peers to be supportive and wise. Parents build a local association of interdependent families. FAST professionals serve as backup support.
Parent-Child Time: Special PlaySpecial Play is child-initiated play whereby the parent is coached to follow the child's lead and not to teach, direct, or judge the child. Play materials are provided.Barkeley, 1987; Garbarino, 1987; Guerney, 1977; Kogan, 1980; Minuchin, 1979; Schedler and Block, 1990, Webster-Stratton, 1991.Parent-child pairs play together within a context of a community of other pairs.
Lottery (fixed)Each family wins once. The winning family is showcased, and members receive various prizes. The winner cooks the next week's meal.Dunst, Trivette, and Deal, 1988; Hill, 1958; McCubbin and Patterson, 1983; Minuchin, 1979.Parents know that winning is universal and fair. Cooking the following week's meal models reciprocity.
Closing CircleAll participants gather into a large circle for special announcements, clapping, singing for birthdays, etc. A final ritual of nonverbal movements is passed around the circle in silence, making sounds of rain followed by a sun emerging in the group.Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Epstein, 1995; Hill, 1958; Minuchin, 1979.This builds community by sharing local information, celebrating special events, and having traditions with all ages and families, neighbors, schools, and professionals joining together in a circle.
Daily Homework for Parents' Special PlayParents are expected to do Special Play every day at home as "homework." A behavior chart and stickers are given to each parent.Barkeley, 1987; Guerney, 1977; Kogan, 1980; Patterson, 1975; Schedler and Block, 1990 Webster-Stratton, 1991.This maintains a FAST community of caring for the next generation and helps parents and children support each other.
Graduation (eighth session)The ceremony is held at school to graduate 10-12 entire families. Guests are invited by the families, and the school principal gives each family a framed certificate of completion. Graduation hats and a recording of "Pomp and Circumstance" add to this celebration, foreshadowing high school graduation.Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Epstein, 1995.The ceremony is a community celebration of family achievements with informal and formal supports together. The graduation party brings the larger community together with shared experiences to remember.
FASTWORKS (2 Years)FASTWORKS holds monthly meetings for 2 years in which parents determine the agendas, receive a small budget, and get support from the school. Parents may choose more training or outings.Alinsky, 1971; Freire, 1995; Hill, 1958; Horton, 1990; McKnight, 1995; Solomon, 1976; Wahler, 1983.An association of parents bgins to express its own unique agenda with the school and community, with a positive unified voice and informal social support.

Families and Schools Together: Building Relationships Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  November 1999