Akoko-Nan Parent Education and Support Group

History and Outline

The Akoko-Nan Parent Education and Support Group began in October 2004 with its first group meeting on October 8, 2004 at Planned Parenthood in Pasadena. Akoko-Nan (meaning parental protection, mercy, and nurturing) is consistent with the concept that "it takes a village to raise a child," as well as "honor thy father and mother," which are the basic foundations to family structure.

The Akoko-Nan Parent Education and Support Group was a component for the African-American Student Enrichment Program initiated by the Black Male Forum to provide a parenting support group for the participants involved in the Enrichment Program. Many other projects and programs have since been absorbed into other existing groups but the Akoko-Nan Parent Education and Support Group not only survived but grew under the guidance of Ken Ellison and Kay Benjamin.

Since the class began in October 2004, the community has become aware of the benefits of the class and recognized by our local Pasadena Star-News as an outstanding community resource and service. The parents have provided preventative services throughout the community utilizing the "Akoko-Nan approach." Akoko-Nan has also been a preventative resource to our parents and community utilizing these educational materials and curriculum. Parents have been able to learn in a convenient setting free of charge, thereby reducing the need for later crisis intervention. The surrounding community, including the Hispanic community, has embraced Akoko-Nan and has demonstrated their appreciation through their continued support in attendance, participation, and motivation.

The Akoko-Nan Parent Education and Support Group has also included Spanish-to-English interpreters in case of any language barriers, but there is a need for more consistent support in this area. Akoko-Nan's collaboration with Community Arms Apartment administration by providing their community center (Coleman-James Learning Center) has given our group a central location where transportation is not an issue for the parents. The local donut shop donates pastries every week and Starbucks donates coffee. It is these areas of outreach that have made the Akoko-Nan Parent Education and Support Group unique in its presentation, format, and support.

The Akoko-Nan Parent Education and Support Group is currently seeking funding from the Casey Foundation and is fiscally represented by Crown Cities Community Development Corporation (another Black Male Forum organization). Akoko-Nan serves as a community partner with The Department of Children and Family Services and is currently administered and staffed entirely by volunteers.

The Akoko-Nan Parent Education and Support Group's goal for the 2006 is to expand services to include more parents, cover a wider demographic, and secure funding to financially support facilitators and administration. Akoko-Nan wants to see graduates return to teach newcomers, provide testimonies as to their success, and continue their support of parents in need of guidance and positive reassurance.