Addressing violence: Project Ujima

What is Project Ujima?

ProjectUJIMAblack

Project Ujima works to stop the cycle of violent crimes through crisis intervention and case management, social and emotional support, youth development and mentoring, and mental health and medical services. We address the needs of youth victims of violence who come to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's emergency room by:

  • Providing treatment to help the victim recover physically and emotionally
  • Directing victims to community organizations that might help in their long-term recovery

Project Ujima's success working with youth victims of violence is most evident in the recidivism rate of less than one percent since 2004. Those participating in the program avoid becoming victims of further violence. Other successes have included:

  • Better medical outcomes after injury
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Connection to peers and others who understand the effects of violence
  • Improved school, youth, family relationships

Key elements

phtProjectUjima6
  • Hospital-based services that are culturally and developmentally appropriate, including medical care, peer support, crisis intervention and social and emotional assessment
  • Home-based services, including medical follow-up of injuries, evaluation of primary health care needs, psychological screening for patients and families, and ongoing individual, group or family counseling
  • Community-based services, including mentoring, youth development, family and youth support groups, gang interventions, job preparedness and advocacy to address legal, education and housing issues
  • Community and professional education about youth violence, including seminars on youth violence and youth development, participation and support of community based-activities and forums, and crisis support and debriefing
  • Services to adult crime victims

Services for youth crime victims

phtProjectUjima3

Project Ujima serves youths ages 7-18 who are victims of peer-to-peer violence who seek treatment at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's emergency room for:

  • Gunshot wounds
  • Stabbings
  • Physical assaults

Project Ujima supports youth and their families with:

  • Medical follow-up with a nurse
  • Visits at the hospital and at home with community liaisons
  • School and court advocacy
  • Help with locating resources for the family
  • Mental health services for individuals and families
  • Youth development, mentoring and enrichment activities

The average child is involved with Project Ujima for 15 months. In that time, they build self-esteem and social skills through many positive experiences, including mentoring, support groups, summer camps and more.

Services for adult crime victims

Project Ujima also provides services to adult crime victims, including:

  • Home visits with a crime victim specialist
  • Assistance with crime victim compensation forms
  • Victim and court advocacy
  • Emergency assistance
  • Enrichment activities for the family

Project Ujima serves adult victims in Milwaukee County of any crime type, including:

  • Property crime
  • Physical assault
  • Rape/sexual assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Homicide 

Project Ujima provides a support group for adult survivors of homicide. When a person loses a loved one to homicide, many questions arise. Project Ujima works with participants to understand the grieving process, identify resources and provides support to family members on their road to recovery.

Youth development and family enrichment activities

phtProjectUjima1

We work to help children and their families build relationships with others who have had similar experiences and understand the challenges of being victims of violence. Participants can engage in programs that develop prevention and intervention strategies and support youth who are recovering from injury. Project Ujima aims to build:

  • Confidence
  • Self-esteem
  • Safety planning
  • Coping strategies
  • Peer to peer support to prevent isolation
  • Prevention of re-injury

Programs include:

  • Male and female youth mentoring groups
  • Support groups for adults and children
  • Day camp during the summer months
  • Annual three-day overnight camping experience with horseback riding, team building and water sports
  • Family enrichment activities and events

Participants who exhibit strong leadership qualities can join the youth leadership council, which provides a youth voice in the following areas:

  • Program development and evaluation
  • Community outreach
  • Guest speaker services
  • Volunteer training

Youth leaders complete an application process along with interviews to become representatives. Once accepted, youth leaders plan Project Ujima events, work at our summer camp as counselors, volunteer and complete community service.

Partners

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's emergency room is staffed by physicians from the Medical College of Wisconsin's Department of Pediatrics, who provide treatment to hundreds of teens every year for injuries caused by violence. Behavioral health and social work staff coordinate family and youth psychosocial screenings and services. The Medical College provides leadership and expertise by conducting research projects to determine the project's impact on its clients.