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Louisiana Association Changing the Way Civics and Citizenship Are Taught

Southern Mutual Help Association (SMHA), New Iberia, La., is transforming the way civics and citizenship are taught in schools – and the way grassroots and community leaders are prepared for civic engagement.  SMHA is doing this through an education campaign complete with an interactive CD-ROM, ”Adventures in Citizenship – Make Change Happen: See, Believe, Do,” and a teachers guide and training manual.

The CD-ROM is designed to help individuals make connections between public policies and their everyday lives; recognize their own power as citizens; and learn how ordinary citizens can help create, change and enforce policies through the democratic process to make their communities better places to live and work and play.

SMHA developed a 223-page teacher’s guide and a 116-page community trainer’s manual to accompany the CD-ROM.  The teacher’s guide, designed by a team of creative teachers, was completed and published in 2003.  The “Make Change Happen” community trainer’s manual was developed and field-tested with input from grassroots community groups and nonprofit organizations.  It was completed in the summer of 2004 and SMHA is implementing a marketing plan to make it available to community groups throughout the country.

At least one teacher’s kit is now in 10 percent of Louisiana’s public schools and in half of Louisiana’s 68 public school districts.  In addition the teacher’s kit is in a number of private and parochial schools, as well as in six Louisiana universities, two museums and over 50 after-school programs.

SMHA conducted workshops to train more than 300 teachers and other professionals to use the teacher’s guide and CD-ROM in their classrooms, after-school programs, and other youth groups.

A W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant supported the project. To order a manual and a CD-ROM, or for more information about the program and SMHA, visit www.SouthernMutualHelp.org.

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