UNION CITY – Realizing there should be no language barrier for at-risk youth, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno today helped kickoff a Spanish-speaking helpline for young people between the ages of 10 and 24.
“Regardless of where you live or what your native tongue is, young people today are subject to cyber-bullying and other pressures that were unheard of a generation ago,” Lt. Governor Guadagno said at the launch of the Spanish-speaking helpline run by the non-profit group, 2NDFLOOR, at Union City High School. “A bilingual helpline will allow young people who do not speak English, or those who prefer to speak in Spanish, to find support and comfort no matter what their problems are.”
2NDFLOOR is a confidential and anonymous helpline for young New Jersey residents. It is run in conjunction with 180 Turning Lives Around, Inc., a Monmouth County non-profit agency. 2NDFLOOR began in 2003 and expanded statewide in 2008. In a private-public partnership, funding for the program comes from the state Department of Children and Families and the Verizon Foundation, which is underwriting the bilingual service with a $60,000 grant. 2NDFLOOR is the only statewide hotline for New Jersey youth. The helpline is open 24 hours a day and to start, the Spanish speaking helpline will be available from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Since expanding statewide, 2NDFLOOR’s phone counselors have taken almost 400,000 calls. The most common topics of discussion center on bullying, peer relationships, mental health issues, depression/anxiety, sexuality and family struggles. The 2NDFLOOR helpline at 1-888-222-2228 is a service for all of the state’s young people and has established strong partnerships with New Jersey’s public and charter schools, statewide social service organizations, mental health organizations and community groups. It is accredited by the American Association of Suicidology as a suicide hotline and employs best practices, policies and programs based on the most current research findings. For more information about the 2NDFLOOR helpline, visit http://www.2ndfloor.org/.
The 2NDFLOOR program has been sensitive to the needs of Hispanic youth since its inception. There are about 1 million Hispanic residents living in New Jersey and in Union City, the locale for today’s announcement, Hispanics comprise about 90 percent of the city’s population of 60,000.
“Our goal is to provide Latino children and teens with the opportunity to discuss their problems and concerns with staff who speaks their language and fully understands their cultural background,” said Anna Diaz-White, Executive Director of 180 Turning Lives Around, Inc. “Communicating in your native language makes the difference between feeling left our and feeling understood, but also allows the development of a culturally-relevant plan that would resolve problems or concerns.”
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