“I have learned that although I have gone through a lot, the Center is always here for me and I can tell them all my feelings.”
Since 1997, the Intercultural (formerly Multicultural) Peer Support Program has collaborated with local schools and others to serve children who have resettled in Portland from countries that experienced war, conflict, and natural disaster. Intercultural Peer Support promotes healing from grief and contributes to school success by increasing children’s coping skills, building positive peer relationships, improving self-confidence and supporting the acquisition of English language skills.
At the Center, with trained community volunteers using a peer support model, children express their feelings relative to the loss and changes in their lives. Creative expressions through artwork, theater games and music help our participants create a healing community with opportunities for meaningful contributions. The result is greater emotional balance, healing and confidence, which can enhance school performance and positive youth development.
Today the program serves over forty children each year from an array of countries including Honduras, El Salvador, Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Congo, Vietnam, Sudan, Iraq, Uganda and Haiti. The program is offered in collaboration with Portland Public Schools.
The program is enhanced by a variety of collaborations with artists, musicians, and other youth serving organizations. Thank you to everyone who has worked with us over the years.
Drawing from 15 years with this program, we are available to provide training on collective loss and healing and supporting children from different cultures through grief and loss. Click here to learn more.
The middle school program has created two original songs which explore themes of the children's choosing. In 2010, the children's song Love Makes Things Better explored the power of love. In 2011, Amazing People was a response to racism and bullying in school.
Walk a Mile in my Shoes is a video documentary of the Multicultural program created by media studies students at the University of Maine.
To learn more about the Intercultural Peer Support Program or how you can help, please call Marie Sheffield at (207)775-5216 or email her at
On April 27, the Center's Intercultural Program celebrated Community Night at Lincoln Middle School to wrap up the year. It was an energetic evening during which the Dynamite Dancers from Boys and Girls Club at Riverton Park performed and the music video of "Change the World," premiered (we will post about that soon!!). To end the night, Anne Sibley O'Brien read excerpts from the book that she wrote in collaboration with Lincoln Middle School students'.
Special thank you to volunteers from New York Life Insurance Company who served dinner and to Harvard Pilgrim Health Care for their support of this program.
The Sam L. Cohen Charitable Foundation