THE HEROIC JOURNEY
FOR UNDERINVESTED COMMUNITIES & BIPOC YOUTH
Children • Teens • Parents

Currently in planning stages, our psychologists and educators are consulting with South Chicago nonprofits and other stakeholders to bring evidence-based, psychological support tools to at-risk youth — breaking the school-to-prison pipeline via an innovative, multi-tiered approach.

 

From ages 0-8, children and parents are taught The Heroic Journey mental health tools to learn skills, including:

• healthy identity

• self-compassion

• communication

• emotion regulation

From ages 8-12, kids learn from The Heroic Journey for Grades 2-6, including: 

• healthy identity

• resilience 

• empathy

• multi-cultural inclusion

• resolving social conflict

• how to seek help

• ending bullying, racism, misogyny, LGBTQIA+bullying, cyberbullying

We continue into the teen years with The Heroic Journey for Middle Schools and High Schools, continuing to address key issues, including: 

• violence prevention 

• trauma

• anxiety 

• depression 

• imposter syndrome 

• shame 

• peer pressure 

• gang intervention 

• relationships 
• distress tolerance 

• emotion regulation 

• substance abuse 

• self harm and suicide 

• staying safe: physically, psychologically, and in police presence

• We will have parent and adult mental health support nights, for comprehensive community outreach.

 

This multi-tiered approach is devised to break the generational cycle of mental illness, violence, inadequate education, poverty, crime, and incarceration.

TEAM
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CURRICULUM CREATOR / TRAINER: PSYCHOLOGIST

DR. KIERE EICHELBERGER

A Navy Veteran, Dr. Eichelberger is the supervising behavioral health provider for Marin Community Clinics. She completed her doctoral training in clinical psychology (health psychology track) at Alliant International University San Diego, CA campus.

 

Her predoctoral internship and postdoctoral residency were completed at Naval Medical Center San Diego where she also served four years as an active duty clinical psychologist and Lieutenant. Dr. Eichelberger has had the opportunity to work in a variety of clinical settings including community clinics, veterans affairs, and universities. Her therapeutic philosophy includes incorporating patient-centered multicultural perspectives into treatment in addition to viewing her patients through the lens of whole health/integrative medicine and wellness.

CURRICULUM CREATOR / TRAINER:

DR. LA ADAH DEMUS, ED.D.

Dedicated to ensuring that Black and Brown children are represented with equity and fidelity, Dr. LaAdah Demus has a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and a Bachelors and Masters degree in Elementary Education. She serves as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Content Creator for the Coalition’s Heroic Journey Curriculum. Over the course of her career, Dr. Demus has also lead district professional developments, wrote and been awarded educational grants, recognized as a highly effective educator, created and led educational research, and has published a scholarly article titled “Virtual Coaching in Elementary Schools.” Dr. Demus has a wealth of diverse, cultural experience from teaching within Title I schools, private schools, and overseas. 

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EARLY CHILDHOOD / PARENT CURRICULUM CREATOR DR. FRAN HURLEY

Having earned five degrees, including both her Doctorate and Masters in Human Development at Harvard, Dr. Fran Hurley is a world-class curriculum creator and educator. Her Harvard program included the deep study of socio-emotional and educational learning across the lifespan with an emphasis on learning in the early years as the foundation for human development thereafter. Immersed throughout her career in multiple aspects of education, Dr. Hurley has taught graduate courses to principals, aspiring principals, and PK-12 teachers. Courses have included: brain development in relation to learning, language and literacy learning (including second language learning), and research methodology. Dr. Hurley has built education programs and curriculum for the United Nations, UNICEF, and countless communities of color worldwide. Dr. Hurley consults for the World Bank.

Here are some of the luminaries and educators the Coalition has worked with in this space:

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DR. RHEEDA WALKER: AUTHOR, THE UNAPOLOGETIC GUIDE TO BLACK MENTAL HEALTH

As seen on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, and BET and in Ebony, Washington Post, Vogue, the Los Angeles Times, and more, Rheeda Walker, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist whose program of research emphasizes two understudied areas—suicide science and African American adult mental health. Communities throughout the United States are chronically underserved, in part due to social and cultural barriers. This is perhaps especially true of mental health initiatives. Much of Walker’s scholarly work has focused on developing emotional fortitude, as well as suicide prevention, and it correlates toward the primary goal of developing culturally-relevant models of mental health and well-being. 

WAYNE LYONS II

On a full ride scholarship, Wayne earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Stanford and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan. In addition to his work with the Coalition, Wayne is the Co-CEO of Empire For The Youth, working to impact and influence students in a positive and productive way by shaping their mindsets, as well as teaching them to utilize resources and garner support. 

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VANÉE MATSALIA

Vanée Matsalia was named Teacher of the Year for San Bernardino City Unified School District in 2020-2021. A GATE certified Demonstration teacher, she is an integral member of the district’s Rigorous Curriculum Design team; she also serves on the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment committee for the Secondary Education department. Vanée also works as a freelance journalist for organizations such as BlackGirlNerds.com and is the west coast coordinator for Women in Comics International. She is a frequent speaker at both educational and pop culture conferences alike.

“Pop Culture Hero Coalition is nothing short of a Justice League.”

The Good Men Project