Overcoming Oppression (O2) is a partnership of the Alliance for Racial and Social Justice, Lighthouse Social Services, and the Institute for Family Services – organizations working against significant odds to promote effective healing for children, families and communities of Orange, NJ. The urban City of Orange is a township in Northeastern NJ where low-income, ethnically-diverse immigrants make up over a third of the residents. As the city struggles to regain essential resources and services lost by repeated redistricting, segregation and re-segregation events, children are especially compromised – vulnerable to gang life, domestic and community violence, and ongoing structural racism.
Utilizing the Institute for Family Services’ highly acclaimed Cultural Context Model (CCM), this project will directly serve Orange adults and children through the support of community sponsors, volunteers, and family therapists to participate in education and health dialogues impacted by structural racism, multiple oppressions, and domestic and community violence. Through weekly therapeutic sessions, children and families will create strong networks of community sponsors and ultimately engage in planned civic action programs in their communities. Strategic meetings with select schools (teachers, counselors, officials, 5-7th graders and their parents) will also be initiated to develop a pilot, CCM-based summer program, rounded out by a comprehensive community outreach campaign during the last phase of the project. In short, children and youth will learn that healing occurs outside the isolated context of individual interventions – in connection with community participation and activism – which is key to racial healing, empowerment, and accountability.