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Extension > Family Matters > The Quest for Engagement

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Quest for Engagement

By Rafael Flores, SNAP-Ed Educator and Silvia Alvarez de Davila, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

A few days ago, I was looking for the meaning of the word engagement. Dictionary.com offers seven different meanings: the first ones are all related to getting married or being busy with work or other tasks. The latter ones define engagement as “a pledge, an obligation, or agreement,” and finally as “an encounter, conflict, or battle.” None of these definitions convinced me.

In our work as educators, engagement means something different. It is not only making people come to a class they signed up for, but also offering participants useful information in an environment where they feel comfortable, and are excited to return to the next class. Our overarching goal in Family Development is to help participants internalize and apply the information they have received, and ultimately to use this knowledge to improve their well-being to the extent possible given the multiple constraints families face every day.

Social media offers a great, low-cost opportunity to provide useful information to both our participants and target population. The information can both reinforce what they learned in class as well as introduce them to services available in our communities and neighborhoods. These are services often underutilized by the Latino community, not because they do not want to use them, but because they do not know about them. Accessibility to services is largely limited by language; it is harder to access information in a language one is not comfortable or fluent in, such as English, and easier when text is communicated in one’s own language.

For these reasons, Family Development is launching a new social media platform aimed at reaching the Latino community in Minnesota: a Facebook page in Spanish called "Avancemos en Familia" (which roughly translates to "moving forward as a family"). The posts on Avancemos en Familia cover nutrition and health issues, as well as information about cultural events, GED preparation courses, English classes, and other relevant services.

The success of the Avancemos en Familia Facebook page will depend on its reception among Spanish-speaking readers, which is in part reflected by how pertinent the information is for this population we want to reach. To help keep the Facebook page relevant to our communities, please share with us activities, events, classes, photos, and short videos that may be of interest for this community and will help increase access to, and participation and engagement in, activities relevant for the Latino community.

Please visit, like, and share Avancemos en Familia: www.facebook.com/avancemosenfamilia

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