Cuentos de la Vida: Exploring Cultural Heritage through Storytelling

Period of Performance: 09/30/2008 - 03/29/2010


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

3-C Institute for Social Development
DURHAM, NC 27713
Principal Investigator
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people of Hispanic origin constitute the largest minority group in the nation with the anticipation that 24% of the U.S. total population will be of Hispanic origin by 2050. Hispanic children experience significant behavioral health disparities, including academic and social difficulties, compared to non- white children (Farkas, 2003; Wright & Troop, 2005; USDHHS, 2001). Culturally-relevant programs are neededto decreasebehavioral health disparities among Hispanic youth (Hecht et al., 2003). Specifically, research suggests that acceptance of Hispanic students and integration into the school community are key environmental factors that promote positive functioning across domains (Ibaqez et al., 2004; Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 1995; Valencia, 2002). Interventions that celebrate Hispanic cultural heritage, promote acceptance of diversity, and educate students about similarities among cultures can effectively engender an integrated accepting school environment, thereby fostering behavioral health benefits. The proposed innovative product, Cuentos de la Vida: Exploring Cultural Heritage through Storytelling, will feature professional Hispanic storytellers sharing cuentos de la vida (life stories) from an Hispanic cultural heritage perspective. The complete story library will include both traditional (e.g., history of the Mexican flag) and experiential (e.g., growing up biculturally) stories from various Hispanic cultures (e.g., Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Cuban) in order to increase self-esteem and school engagement among Hispanic students, as well as promote an integrative, positive overall school climate. Phase I of this project will address two specific aims:(1) Development of a curriculum prototype(i.e., Professional Manual (administrative guidelines, lesson scripts, activities), DVD featuring a Hispanic professional storyteller, parent handouts, and web resources and (2) Feasibility testing of the prototype product (i.e., detailed product evaluation by school professionals involved in curriculum adoption and focus groups with students in grades 3-5 and their parents). Based on Phase I findings,the prototype will be revised and expanded to include four additional Hispanic storytellers and allaccompanying lessonscripts andmaterials and a randomized treatment-controlresearch study examining changes in children's academic, social-emotional, and behavioral functioning at school, as well as the overall school climate will be completed in Phase II. The efforts of Phase I and Phase II projects will result in an evidence-based, universal, cultural heritage school-based curriculum for children in grades 3-5, Cuentos de la Vida: Exploring Cultural Heritage through Storytelling, which uses the engaging and powerful educational format of storytelling to share stories of Hispanic cultural heritage that, along with accompanying lessons and materials, promote cultural acceptance and integration of Hispanic students into the school community. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Challenges associated with acculturation have strong effects on risk behaviors for Hispanic children, especially immigrant children (COSSMHO, 1999). As such, there is a pressing need for culturally-relevant programs that foster cultural acceptance and integration of Hispanic youth into the school community. Cuentos de la Vida: Exploring Cultural Heritage through Storytelling is a universal, school-based curriculum for students in grades 3-5 specifically designed to address the pressing need for innovative, effective school-based curricula focusing on Hispanic cultural heritage to reduce behavioral health disparities among Hispanic children and promote an integrative, positive overall school climate.