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University of Louisville study aims to empower Black children and their families

The image shows part of a flyer for the University of Louisville's NRICH study. It includes the title of the study and an image of a Black adult and Black child holding hands.
University of Louisville
Courtesy of Emma Sterrett-Hong
This shows part of a flyer for the NRICH study.

A local research initiative welcomes families with young Black or multiracial Black children to join a new educational program focused on collective and family healing.

The University of Louisville’s NRICH study is bringing local families together to help Black and multiracial Black children build their resilience and learn strategies for dealing with racial discrimination.

“It's about coming together with other families and learning how to support our children [in] feeling good about themselves in general, feeling good about themselves as being Black or brown people and learning different ways to cope with any kind of bias or discrimination,” said University of Louisville professor Emma Sterrett-Hong, who’s leading the study.

NRICH stands for Navigating Racialized Institutions for Collective and Family Healing. Sterrett-Hong said the study aims to help families confront and overcome negative impacts from racism, including systemic discrimination within health care agencies and other institutions.

The NRICH study is happening this spring and summer. Sterrett-Hong said some families already are involved, and she hopes a total of 20-30 families will participate by the time the research initiative wraps up.

Families may be eligible to join the study if they include a Black or multiracial Black child between ages 6 and 13 and at least one parent or other caregiver.

The NRICH study program lasts six to eight weeks, and families may receive a payment of between $60 and $150 as compensation for their time.

Sign-ups are open for the next few weeks, and interested families can call Sterrett-Hong at 502-852-0388.

For the study, Sterrett-Hong put together a pilot program that promotes empowerment, as well as physical and mental health. She has worked with several partners on this initiative, including the local organization Play Cousins Collective.

They’re researching how well the program works for people who participate and how they can improve it.

Families who join the study can expect to attend individual family meetings once or twice per week, while also joining two or three weekend group sessions with other families.

During the family meetings, a professional facilitator will guide a caregiver and their child through activities designed to help develop positive self-esteem and a positive racial identity, as well as to teach coping strategies to help them overcome negative effects of racial discrimination.

During the group sessions, caregivers from multiple families will meet together and learn how to better navigate the pediatric health care system. They’ll learn proactive ways to get what they need out of their appointments, and they’ll also get advice for how to deal with any incidents of racial bias they may encounter.

“That is just meant to really provide people with information so that they can really feel empowered going into those settings,” Sterrett-Hong said.

Meanwhile, the children will do activities, such as yoga, together during the group sessions and learn how they can keep their bodies safe and healthy.

The NRICH study is financed through U of L’s Health Equity Innovation Hub, which in turn is supported with funds provided by Humana and the Humana Foundation.

Sterrett-Hong said she hopes the programming they provide to families this spring and summer is something they’ll be able to offer again later on.

“I will say that it has been such a joy to work on it, and I already have been getting feedback from parents about it being meaningful,” she said. “And so I'm definitely looking for other funding to be able to … expand our ability to offer it in the future.”

Morgan is LPM's health & environment reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.

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