Teaching Umoja Participatory Action Research (PAR) 15-Year Commitment

[From the submission] The following abstract requesting consideration to be selected for an oral presentation would fall under the sub-themes of “Participation for all children,”  “Teaching and learning: Children with Special Needs,” and “Support for parents and caregivers.” Since the methodology used for the Teaching Umoja Research was Participatory Action Research (PAR), key research team members would be available for the oral presentation. These include: Theressa Lenear (Seattle, WA), the Honorable Colonel Sterling, Chief of the Mooretown Maroons (Moore Town, Jamaica), Sharon Cronin (Mayagüez, Puerto Rico), and Renaldo Barnett (Port Royal, Jamaica). “Umoja” is the Kiswahili word meaning unity.  The concept and practice of unity are the driving vision of this commitment to improve the quality of education – and of life – for children and families of color (including children with disabilities).

Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES),, University of the West Indies
Sharon Cronin, Theressa Lenear, Wallance Sterling
Presentation Date: 
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Event or Conference: 
Caribbean Child Research Conference
Presentation Type: 
Boyer's Domain: 
Presentation Location: 
Conference Center
Definition of Triliteracy: The first level of literacy includes a strong sense of self – cultural identity – to have pride in our culture and language - enculturation. The second level of literacy is the skills to reject the rejection about our cultural identities - cloaked as racial oppression - and the access to equity in education and academic achievement by learning the codes of power - biculturation. The third level of literacy is developing cross-cultural skills to be in collaboration with other communities of color - acculturation.
This team of researchers made of educators, parents, artists, and community leaders used a Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology to address the research question: “In what ways can educators, parents, and community members collaborate in supporting the triliteracy development of children of color, including children with disabilities?” The researchers conducted interviews, held focus group (or group interview) sessions, and organized a series of summits held in Port Royal, Golden Grove, and Moore Town, Jamaica, wherein participants discussed, shared ideas, and demonstrated with cultural exchanges. The focus was on gathering strategies used to support children in rejecting negative messages about their physical appearance, skin-color, heritage, language, hair texture, income level, and abilities. The findings include a collection of gleaned knowledge – simple, accessible, and profound strategies for supporting the healthy development of children growing up under oppression. Policy implications include supporting: (1) teachers in working with inclusion in their classrooms, (2) parents in guiding their children to not internalize negative messages about their identities, and (3) communities (and artists) in using cultural expression for development.