Pursuing the dream: what helps children and their families succeed

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Aperture, 1997 - Family & Relationships - 159 pages
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How and why do some disadvantaged American families manage to stay together and become self-reliant despite the grip of overwhelming poverty?

"I have wandered the nether world of poverty for the past thirty years," writes Stephen Shames in his introduction to this book. "I wondered why do some poor children turn out fine while others fail so miserably. Isn't there something we can do as individuals, as neighbors, and as a nation to help poor children succeed?"

Working for three years with the Chicago-based Family Resource Coalition, Shames, a noted documentary photographer, visited community programs in culturally diverse areas from Maine to Hawaii to record how community-based programs help families achieve financial and emotional stability.

Here are inspirational stories, in the families' own words, about rebuilding strong relationships between husband and wife, parent and child, neighbor and neighborhood. One of the many examples in the book is a young father working with the Avance Family Support and Education Program in San Antonio: "I used to get mad and scream...Spank [the children] without even stopping and thinking about it. And then Avance showed me about this five-minute time out. You know, take a break and then come back....I learned how to communicate with my wife without getting mad and stomping around the house...Avance did a lot for us by making us realize that no goal is greater than what we feel towards each other and what we want to do later in the future."

Pursuing the Dream is about successful and often daring community-based family support programs across America that enable families and their children to overcome devastating cycles of poverty, drugs, and violence. These are uplifting stories, in the families' own words, about recapturing love, achieving financial stability, and building supportive neighborhoods. Included is a statement from the Chicago Bulls on their commitment to community centers for the whole family.

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Pursuing the dream: what helps children and their families succeed

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In this visually and rationally persuasive work, photographer Shames and Wolf, director of publications for the Family Resource Coalition, document in expressive pictures and brief vignettelike essays ... Read full review



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About the author (1997)

Stephen Shames is a socially concerned, award-winning photographer whose pictures have appeared in Newsweek, US News and World Report, Life, The New York Times, and other major magazines and newspapers. For his work on child poverty, Shames has received the Kodak Crystal Eagle award for excellence in journalism, the Leica Medal of Excellence in Journalism, and awards from the National Press Photographer's Association, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Foundation, and the International Center of Photography. He is author of the acclaimed Outside the Dream: Child Poverty in America, published by Aperture in 1991, now in its third printing, and founder of the Outside the Dream Foundation. Mr. Shames lives in New York City.

Roger Rosenblatt is a contributing essayist for Time and the New Republic and is a regular essayist on the News-Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. During his long career in journalism, Rosenblatt has won numerous honors, including two George Polk Awards, and Overseas Press Club and the American Bar Association awards, and an Emmy. Author of a number of books and plays, his latest book is The Man in the Water, a collection of his writings. Mr. Rosenblatt lives in New York City with his wife and children.

Kathy Goetz Wolf is director of publications for the Chicago-based Family Resource Coalition, a national membership, consulting, and advocacy organization that has been advancing the movement to strengthen and support families since 1981. A former magazine journalist, she has worked with and has written extensively about community-based family support programs. Ms. Goetz lives in Chicago with her husband.

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