“Since 2006, we had a five-year, $9.2 million grant,” said Roberta Jackel, project manager for the AHMREI. “When this grant transpired, we applied for and was appropriated this new, three-year federal grant through the Department of Health and Human Services.”
Jackel said this grant will be used to fund healthy relationship and marriage education programs throughout Alabama.
“We will host a series of classes that will be taught here in Lee County,” Jackel said. “Previously, through our last grant, these classes were only taught by 10 partners scattered around the state.”
Francesca Adler-Baeder, professor of human development and family studies and project director of the AHMREI, said these classes will be free because of the grant.
Adler-Baeder also emphasized these programs are an educational outreach resource at the community’s disposal to better their marriages and relationships, and they are in no way counseling sessions or interventions.
“We believe that healthy relationship skills can be taught and that people can learn better communication, conflict resolution and parenting skills through these educational workshops,” Jackel said.
Rachel Parham, recent Auburn graduate in human development and family studies, said the people who attend these classes thoroughly enjoy the program, and, based on past progress, Lee County will greatly benefit from this initiative.
“For these next three years we will be providing on-campus educational programs on maintaining healthy relationships,” Adler-Baeder said. “These classes will be made available through the continuing education program and, perhaps, on different locations throughout the University.”
Jackel said Alabama has historically had a high divorce rate.
Adler-Baeder said when this organization first began its educational initiative in 2006, Alabama was ranked as the state with the fifth-highest divorce rate.
“Since then, Alabama has dropped five places and is now ranked as the state with the 10th highest divorce rate,” Adler-Baider said. “It’s these results and the individual results we witness firsthand with our participants that motivates us to continue this initiative.”
Parham said conflict within a marriage affects the entire family dynamic.
“The children of the couples who attend these classes end up being happier and more well-behaved because they see that the example their parents are setting for them,” Parham said.
Adler-Baeder said she looks forward to the Auburn community getting involved.
“We’ve seen through past programs with different junior high and high schools around the area that the peers-teaching-peers method has helped our clients immensely and that teens tend to learn better from a demographic they can relate to,” Parham said.