The SANKOFA Youth Violence Prevention Program is a strengths-based, culturally tailored preventive intervention for at-risk youth. The goal is to equip youth with the knowledge, attitudes, skills, confidence, and motivation to minimize their risk for involvement in violence and other negative behaviors, such as alcohol and other drug use.
The program, developed by the New Jersey Behavioral and Dental Division in partnership with Princeton University, is taught after school at Barr, Walnut and Westridge Middle schools in the fall and spring semesters. The curriculum includes 24 hours of gang-resistance training taught to students twice a week for 12 weeks.
The term SANKOFA is an African term that means to "looking back to move forward." The classes, which includes the identification and impact of cool- and hot-headed decision-making and decisions made in time and space, provides students with skill sets to cope with pressures of joining a gang or engaging in inappropriate behaviors.
The program is funded through a three-year grant by Saint Francis Medical Center and Catholic Health Initiatives to help reduce violence in the Grand Island community.