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Community Advocacy Project for Students (CAPS) at Texas Tech University

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This program is a collaboration and a partnership between Texas Tech University, Covenant Health and our wonderful community partners, Lubbock Independent School District Students who are sent to an alternative education placement because of discipline problems at their school as they transition back from that campus to their home school they sometimes have a little bit of difficulty making that transition

We provide an advocate who meets with that student on the alternative education campus and then follows them back to their home campus and kind of is their voice until they are able to advocate for themselves for their needs Our advocates meet individually with students and then we're also able to do groups and so we're able to provide a great service for the school district and a great service for our community So we recruit advocates from the community, many conversations with colleagues at board meetings we even reach out to programs here at Texas Tech that seek internship and volunteer opportunities Once the advocate has met all of the criteria and they can dedicate that hour a week and they have successfully passed the training they are then assigned to one of our staff members who is what we call an advocate supervisor and what that means is they help them navigate the school system and they help them set up that first meeting with the student or that first group meeting and help them navigate everything and that liaison between the advocate and the school it is also with this advocate supervisor with that they see them through the process and help the advocate assess any challenges or struggles along with celebrating those successes that they see with the students Covenant is the community partner with the advocacy program and so we help support them in several ways one is helping with funding of the actual program

It's my second year to volunteer is an advocate so you know I've had two full years of doing that and getting to work with the kids and I've been in two different middle schools The kids that I've worked with have been just fantastic and you know sometimes there are hard things and sad things, so I think that's what the program can do is help kids We're their advocate but our goal is to help them be able to advocate for themselves The CAPS program I think has a lot to offer in more than just a little bit they have been doing that I think they have a lot more things to to offer their kids as far as relationships as well because one of the things that our students have trouble with is relating with other people where they have trust issues and for them to come—for Amy and Linn to come to our campus and help establish that for their kids is very beneficial the rapport they have the students it's very beneficial because students can then take that back with them to their own campuses week or anywhere in life after that and say hey I learned this from them, you know this is what I've picked up on as a JJ but not because of JJ because of the CAPS program In an age when there's so much mobility and that the only way often that people in the school systems track kids is through computers the fact that there's a human being an advocate who follows these children is absolutely amazing

We work with a lot of students that need extra support and extra help but sometimes it's hard to find that support either at home or in school because there's not a lot of trust so the CAPS mentors and advocates that have come in have really become that person for our students they filled that role The CAPS program has been just a benefit to all of us at every level our elementary students who have the CAPS experience go into middle school now seeking that sort of advocacy and support which i think says a lot about the program What's been so beautiful and sweet to see and with our advocates is they come in and just love the person and they advocate for them and they give them voice They're consistent they show up every time that they say they're gonna show up they they don't miss meetings they're present they're invested in their academic success but they're invested in their whole person The university commitment to community engagement and outreach is so much a part of what CAPS does because we're directly interacting with the population of students who are vulnerable and we have something to contribute to them but not just to them to their families, to their schools, to their classmates

It allows us to better understand what the science says when it's a real-life person that you're trying to deal with trying to help trying to learn from—that makes that so rich and it just wouldn't be that otherwise it just simply wouldn't be as rich as it is "Someone needs to go out of the beaten path and take those children by the hand— by the heart—and lead them back" -Ettie Lee

Source: Youtube

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