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Fairfax County to Offer Social and Emotional Learning Program to Westford Community Youth

This spring, the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) PROGRESS (Partnership for Resident Opportunities, Growth, and Economic Self-Sufficiency) Center will offer a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) pilot program called Project Happiness, which will serve children in grades K-6 and youth attending middle and high school at West Ford, a community owned by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) in Alexandria, VA.  The program will be facilitated by PROGRESS Center staff and George Mason University Masters level social work interns. 

Project Happiness will receive funding through a grant from the Partners in Prevention Fund (PIPF), which was established in 2006, and provides grants to community-based organizations to implement evidence-based prevention programs. The PIPF is funded annually through Carryover appropriations from the county’s health and human services agencies. The use of funds is managed by the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services Prevention Unit.

The Project Happiness program will be a nine-week after-school program with sessions held once per week for each age group. Project Happiness Social and Emotional Learning curriculum will provide the framework for weekly sessions and will focus on cognitive regulation (attention, planning, flexibility), emotional processes (knowledge, expression, behavior regulation, and empathy), and social/interpersonal skills (understanding social cues and conflict resolution).   Students will be introduced to mindsets and will learn how the brain works and that the brain can always develop new capacities with effort and practice.   The curriculum will include pre- and post-assessments, videos, textbooks, activities, and additional reading suggestions. 

The Project Happiness program is projected to start in early March 2018.

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