Exploring the Roles of Youth in Community Programming and Their Connections to Positive Youth Development and Involvement in Community
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership Undergraduate Research Theses; 2019
Introduction/Background: The purpose of this project was to explore the impact of youth voice in the development of community programming. Youth voice is a concept rooted in the theory of positive youth development, and suggests that youth, when given a seat at the table, offer meaningful perspectives and contributions which create positive benefits both for their communities and for their own personal development. However, according to a study done by the Search Institute, only about one third of youth feel that adults understand their passions and interests and help develop these “sparks” in their lives (Scales, 2010). Due to a variety of heightened risk factors, this number is often even lower for urban and impoverished youth. 4-H is an international youth organization which emphasizes positive youth development through mentorship and hands-on learning experiences. This study was focused specifically on youth in the Weinland Park community and sought to collect youth perspectives to inform the structure and design of a new 4-H program there. Researchers explored the unique perspectives that youth in Weinland Park had to offer, and applied findings to compile tips for creating effective 4-H youth development programs in urban settings. Methods: This qualitative research study facilitated focus groups with youth ages 10-17 in the Weinland Park community. The focus groups sought to learn more about what youth are passionate about, love to do, and their ideas for the new 4-H program. Other questions about role models, future aspirations, and issues and assets within their community were also asked. A worksheet with interactive photo activities and verbal questions was used during the focus groups to help collect the data. Results & Conclusions: Although there were a variety of responses collected, some common themes included: Youth enjoy hands-on activities like cooking/baking, art, singing, dancing, science experiments, playing musical instruments, and sports. Youth notice issues in their community, including a lack of opportunities, poor communication, violence, lack of unity, and trash in the streets/environmental concerns, and they offer unique and creative approaches for addressing these issues. Youth articulated specific, insightful aspirations for their future. Youth say that leaders are intelligent, driven, inspiring, independent, and resilient, and many of their role models are parents or teachers. Some youth could not name a positive role model in their lives, and some indicated that they do not have caring role models they can share their ideas with or go to when they're having a bad day.
Academic Major: Agricultural Communication