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AM I? - Accessing Miss Independence

AM I is a community development program that connects mothers with young children to the the resources in their community and encourages mothers to access independence, however they define it. AM I provides one-on-one life coaching with AM I Enablers at local businesses where mothers frequent to provide support without being intrusive.

Photo of Elaine Mau
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Inspiration
We interviewed educators who've worked for Teach for America, volunteers who've worked in various agencies for at risk children (one who provided a community for children to play, one-on-one counseling for families, homeless shelters), a cognitive psycologist specializing in children 0-5 with mothers with additions, and a low-income mother. 

We found the following Insights/Challenges:
1. One-on-one interactions between mother and child, mentors/volunteers and mothers, and teachers and children due to limited resources such as having multiple jobs for the mother, varying priorities/commitment liminations for volunteers, and time constraints for teachers.
2. Self Sufficiency/Confidence of mothers has a huge effect on child's life and difficult to achieve due to the mother's lack of education, sustainable income, and emotional space for self
3. Emotional interaction for the child that is important for growth is diffcult as there is no place dedicated for play, time/priority commitment of mother, and resources for the child.

Through this, we realized that ensuring children thrive began with a thriving, self sufficient, confident caregiver (in our case, the mother), so we decided to answer:

How might we help mothers navigate existing community resources so they are aware of the support services available to them to enable self-sufficiency and increase confidence?

That's where AM I comes in.

AM I

Accessing Miss Independence (AM I)  is a community development program that connects mothers with young children to the the resources in their community and encourages mothers to access independence, however they define it.  AM I provides one-on-one life coaching with AM I Enablers at local businesses where mothers frequent to provide support without being intrusive.

References
Low Income Definition

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

We are designing for low income communities in the United States, particularly in DC. In the US, low-income working families as those earning less than twice the federal poverty line. In 2011, the low-income threshold for a family of four with two children was $45,622.

Based on our interviews, the primary caregiver was the mother, if not the grandmother. Often, these women were working multiple jobs, sometimes unable to feed children properly, let alone check home work, lived in small apartments with other families, and had emotional instability with the fathers. Shootings around the neighborhood is not uncommon. Some had addictions with drugs and may sell their children for them.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

1. We are asking local businesses and schools if they would support meeting parents at those locations
2. We are creating brochures about the program
3. We are role playing and storyboarding the interactions we have with the mother.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

We would like to get some feedback on the idea and/or prototype ideas.

Let us know what you think!

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • This idea is meant to inspire. I hope someone else takes it on!

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Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Elaine - thanks for sharing this idea! One quick thing to add - even if you are not interested in adapting this idea for developing countries, it would be great to share with the OpenIDEO community what you learn over the course of your prototype! And definitely keep collaborating and evolving your idea!

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