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Wakanheza is the Dakota word for child. The English translation is "sacred being." Imagine if we were to treat one another as sacred beings. Imagine a community where EVERYONE feels welcomed and respected. The Wakanheza Project is a community-wide effort that provides tools and strategies for creating welcoming environments. The Wakanheza Project helps individuals learn how to effectively respond to everyday, stressful situations between people and how to prevent the situations from happening in the first place. What is The Wakanheza Project? | The Wakanheza Project Guiding Principles | Style Guide
What is an example of a stressful situation?
Have you ever been in a public place like a grocery store, a library, or a mall and seen a parent struggling with their children by trying to keep them in line and well-behaved? Have you watched that situation escalate? Did you wonder then, and are you still wondering now, what you could have done? Have you ever BEEN that parent?
Do you feel uncomfortable when you encounter young people (teens) on the street? Do you wonder why they dress and act the way they do? Can you remember what it was like when you were a young person (teen)?
Do you work in an organization where you see stressful situations happen, leaving you and your co-workers wondering what to do to best respond? If so, we would like to hear from you! Check out the information below for tools and strategies to create welcoming environments.
Broadcast of Lending a Hand: The Wakanheza Project on Twin Cities Public Television | TPT MN Channel coverage (pdf)
The Science Behind The Wakanheza Project
Thanks to the leadership of Christina Erickson, Ph.D., research on The Wakanheza Project has recently been published in the School Social Work Journal.* Dr. Christina Erickson created a powerpoint presentation outlining some of the findings described in the article. The powerpoint is available for you to read.
Why The Wakanheza Project Works: Elements of Evidence-Based Practice (pdf) | *Erickson, C. L., Lee, S., & Mattaini, M. A. (2009). A community prevention approach to peaceful schools: Application of wakanheza. School Social Work Journal, 34(1), p43-60.
In the Community: Check out what others are doing with The Wakanheza Project
Minnesota Children's Museum Sparking children's learning through play. MCM continues to be a leader in how to create and promote welcoming environments.
Examiner.com promotes The Wakanheza Project.
DuPage Children's Museum shares moments from their experiences with The Wakanheza Project.
Devereux Florida promotes The Wakanheza Project to help restore a sense of safety in the community.
Materials are available for your usage to help you create a welcoming environment wherever you are:
Creating Welcoming Environments for Youth (CWEY) Booklet (pdf) | Booklet for Schools (pdf) | Posters - Free (pdf)
Watch Lending a Hand...The Wakanheza Project for survival tips for parents and young people to help us all get through and thrive during the cold winter months. Lending a Hand: The Wakanheza Project**
**Contact us for details on these materials. The quantity you request, the location of your organization, and postage may determine price.
Applying the Wakanheza Project in public places
The following will help you use the tools of The Wakanheza Project in grocery stores, malls, and in your life. Applying The Wakanheza Project in Public Places (pdf)
Wakanheza Project Location Card (pdf)
This pdf is set up for printing and folding. Print back to back and fold in half with organization list on inside.
The Wakanheza Project Location Card lists partners who have either implemented The Wakanheza Project into their organization or collaborated with the Project to embed and sustain it into other organizations.
Making Peace in the Community (pdf) Augsburg Now
The Right Directions Can Keep Kids Safe (pdf) Saint Paul Pioneer Press
From Holy Terrors to Sacred Beings (pdf) Connect for Kids
Kindness of Strangers, Pioneer Press (pdf)
Meltdown management (pdf) Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune
Questions about The Wakanheza Project? Ask us!
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