Funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has allowed Miller School of Medicine preventive health care pioneers Guillermo ?Willy? Prado and Hilda Pantin to serve thousands of Miami-Dade families.
Over the past 14 years, Prado, associate professor of epidemiology and public health and director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health, and Pantin, executive vice chair and professor of epidemiology and public health, have led an NIH-funded research study that began as a small pilot test and grew to encompass a large family intervention program.
Together the two researchers have created and fostered the Familias Unidas, an evidence-based intervention designed to prevent behaviors such as adolescent drug use, risky sexual behavior, cigarette smoking, and alcohol abuse among Miami-Dade?s Hispanic adolescents.
?The culturally sensitive program is built on the theory that adolescent problems can be fixed at home by capitalizing on the strong ties for which Hispanic families are known,? said Prado. ?Students in 24 middle schools are receiving instructions on how to assist parents to become more effective leaders in their own families and to share skills with them so they can provide guidance to their kids.?
Prado and Pantin believe their work is to give back to their community. The NIH funds go directly to the community through the Miami-Dade County Public School System and are used to train middle school social workers and counselors to deliver the Familias Unidas public health intervention program with collaborators from the Miami-Dade County Public School System. The counselors come from TRUST (To Reach Ultimate Success Together), a school-based program to combat substance abuse built on the idea that schools must take a leadership role in addressing the substance abuse problem among youth.
As further proof that Prado and Pantin are making a difference, earlier this year Familias Unidas was chosen from more than 900 applicants to qualify as a Blueprints for Violence Prevention Promising Program, a prestigious designation for intervention programs that meet the highest standards and rigorous tests of effectiveness. The Institute of Medicine has cited Familias Unidas as one of the few drug abuse and HIV prevention programs ready for wide-scale dissemination.