CATEGORY/THEME: Dissemination and Implementation Science
TITLE: After-School Programming for Youth: Adolescent Perceptions of Participation and Future Aspirations
Introduction: Peer victimization and bullying are growing concerns in schools and surrounding communities. They are prevalent and disconcerting realities for many adolescents. Researchers who examine bullying and victimization have called for increased attention to the racial/ethnic composition of a school or community when examining the prevalence of these acts. Finding ways to promote inter-ethnic relationships may help maintain the safety of communities and schools. Youth Empowerment Solutions for Peaceful Communities (YES) is a community-level youth violence prevention program designed to engage youth and adults in carrying out community change projects created by youth. YES is grounded in empowerment theory, which states that youth violence prevention is most successful when youth are involved in the process (Zimmerman, 2000). While the literature supports that implementation of evidence-based programs combined with evidence-based instructional practices such as YES have resulted in positive effects for adolescents in school and community settings, addressing specific needs of schools and surrounding communities (e.g. cross-cultural bullying, ethnic discrimination from peers) and the sustainability of these EBP’s has been of concern for preventative researchers and practitioners working to address these issues. This poster will represent the findings of a pilot study in which components of the YES program were used in the implementation of an after-school program for adolescents in a diverse, urban middle school that is part of a larger study examining the effects of a comprehensive, community-based intervention targeting reductions in youth violence exposure.
METHODS: In a pilot study 18 middle-school students who demonstrated strong leadership skills were nominated by teachers to participate in an after-school program directed towards building on these leadership skills and community empowerment skills. Building off of the success of the pilot study, the intention is to interview students (N=14) participating in this year’s after-school groups (one each in the fall and spring). Each group will focus on understanding themes concerning cross-cultural bullying (e.g., personal experiences, personal perspective on the issue), future aspirations and goals, and suggestions for future direction of the after-school program.
RESULTS: Responses will be coded into their appropriate theme. We will specifically report on student responsiveness to the program, cross-cultural aspects of the program, and youth reports of future aspirations.The implications of our findings could suggest the importance of addressing cross-cultural differences in prevention and intervention methods when addressing the issue of bullying.