The Hmong/American Friendship Association Youth Program (HAFA) seeks to help our young people exceed the standard of living that their parents were able to provide them as first generation immigrants. We do this through a variety of sub programs. To teach appreciation for their own culture as well as other cultures we offer culturally based programs that teach traditional Hmong and Asian performing arts. To help youth fulfill their potential in their academic careers we offer programs that focus on academic performance and college preparedness. To instill a sense of duty to their community the youth we serve are encouraged to participate in our community partnerships with our network of various community groups. We also offer leadership and healthy life choices training as part of our effort to create productive citizens of the youth we serve.
The HAFA Youth Program not only seeks to help the youth we serve realize their potential as members of society; the Youth Program also seeks to divert the youth we serve from harmful activities. We do this through our recreational programs in conjunction with our other youth programs. The immediate effect of this effort is safer neighborhoods in the surrounding community. Keeping the youth we serve out of harms way and preventing them from engaging in harmful activities also has a secondary effect of preserving stability in the homes of the youth we serve.
As of this date the Youth Program is primarily proactive focusing on “at risk” youth who range from ages 5 years old and up. Future plans call for expansion of the program to include case management of troubled youth. Through collaborative efforts between Hmong/American Friendship Association and other community organizations and public institutions we are well equipped to empower the Southeast Asian youth of Milwaukee and the surrounding areas with knowledge and experiences that will help them to make wise and healthy life choices.
HAFA offers various programs to serve the Southeast Asian Youths of Milwaukee. These programs are designed to foster personal and social growth as well as academic achievement in the young people we serve. The objective of giving youth a positive outlet as well empowering them with knowledge and moral direction greatly improves the chances that they will make healthy well informed life choices. This has the effect of reducing crime in our communities and improving the overall quality of life in our city.
In the area academics HAFA offers the following programs.
College Bound is a collaborative effort between UW Milwaukee, Compass Guide, Latino Community Center, Urban Underground, Hmong/American Friendship Association, Milwaukee Public Libraries, and other various community organizations. The goal of the College Bound program is to expose young people to various career fields, provide access to scholarships and financial aid for higher education, and provide academic guidance and support to the youth we serve. College tours, cultural and social events and individual counseling sessions are all part what is offered by the College Bound program.
Computers are available at the HAFA facilities in our computer lab Monday through Friday from 6 PM until 9 PM. An emphasis is placed on developing typing skills and using the internet as an information resource.
Tutoring is available Monday through Friday all year long at the HAFA facilities as a drop in service. Tutoring covers homework help as well as academic strengthening. The majority of tutoring involves homework help. During the school year volunteer college students are available as tutors on various days of the week. The typical hours they are available to assist with homework are 5 PM to 7 PM. At the request of students tutors that specialize in specific academic fields or are available at odd hours will be sought out. During the summer students who wish to strengthen themselves academically are encouraged to participate in quiet reading time which is held from 4 PM until 5:30 PM. Strengthening in all areas of academics is also available to students on a per request basis.
In the area of personal and interpersonal development HAFA offers the following programs.
Dance is taught at the HAFA facilities from 5:30 PM until 7:30 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and as needed in preparation for performances. Dance is offered to youths who desire to learn various traditional and modern Asian dances. This gives participating youths a positive outlet for their creative energies as well as instilling an appreciation for Asian heritage and culture. Students of the dance program are allowed to display their skills from time to time at performances in various venues.
Job Readiness workshops are held periodically at the HAFA to help young people prepare themselves for the work place. Job Readiness workshops cover topics such as writing a resume, filling out job applications, interview coaching, career exploration and post secondary education. Case management is also available to young people who are seeking part time jobs.
Qeej is taught at the HAFA facilities Monday through Friday from 5:30 PM until 8:30 PM. The Monday through Thursday sessions focus on the playing of the Qeej instrument. On Friday the focus is shifted to dance moves that are an integral part of the playing of the Qeej. Folklore associated with Qeej songs is also taught on Fridays. Teaching young people to play the Qeej not only teaches them a unique skill but it also provides them with a sense of pride in their heritage and culture.
Teen Leadership workshops are periodically held at the HAFA facilities to help develop leadership skills in the young people we serve. The Teen Leadership workshops focus on learning Hmong culture and traditions, making healthy and responsible life choices and serving the communities that we live in.
In the area of youth recreation Hmong/American Friendship Association offers the following programs.
Youth Recreation is available at the HAFA facilities Monday through Friday from 4:30 until 9:00. Various board games, various card games, a Sony Play Station 2 with multiple games, a Nintendo Game Cube with multiple games, a DVD player with TV and an assortment of computer games are all available to the young people who participate in our youth programs.
HAFA offers various opportunities for the youth we serve to experience various aspects of our society. When time and budget permit fieldtrips are taken. The focus of these fieldtrips ranges from but is not limited to cultural and social awareness, career exploration, college preparedness and service to the community. The youth we serve are also encouraged to participate in programs and workshops offered by other departments of our organization. In the past many of the youth we serve have completed Domestic Violence Awareness and Family Nurturing training offered by the Domestic Violence department of Hmong/American Friendship Association. Many youth have also participated in various community rallies and protests that Hmong/American Friendship Association has organized or have been a part of. To foster well rounded development in the youth we serve Hmong language classes, public safety workshops, community celebrations and many more types of events are available through the other HAFA departments for them to take part in.
HAFA also offers opportunities for youth to complete community service hours that are assigned by the court system. HAFA operates a clothes bank and food pantry to minister to those in need. Youth who are assigned community service by the court system can complete their community service hours serving in these programs. Well qualified youth can also serve in the capacity of tutors to younger participants in our academic programs. We offer these and several other opportunities to complete community service hours.