Research Accomplishment Reports 2009

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Promoting Life Skills in Middle School Youth

J. Kurzynske, K. Jones, W. Stivers, K. Ashurst
Department of Human Environmental Sciences


Non-Technical Summary

Community youth have high rates of alcohol and drug use, teen pregnancy, poverty, and obesity. These youth have low rates of high school graduation, self esteem, youth leadership, and rewards for volunteer service. The purpose of this project is to increase the number of life skills and developmental assets in participating youth.

2009 Project Description

1.Site coordinators and agents met with community collaborators, teachers, parents, and high context youth to establish community buy-in and to integrate the program into the school and community.

2. Non-traditional students were recruited and participated in focused programming on leadership development and community engagement.

3. Technology was integrated into the programming through computers, GPS units, and other pertinent equipment.

4. Sustainability training was conducted for agents and site coordinators.

5. A newsletter has been established.

2009 Impact

Baseline data for 70 high context participants gathered through Youth Leadership Assessment Survey shows that

1) 67% indicated this is their first time participating in a project that involves youth serving as leaders in the school or community.

2) 53% reported being either somewhat comfortable or not comfortable at all when it comes to making decisions on behalf of their community.

3) 48% rated themselves as "average" leaders at best.

Increase in community collaborations among local organizations and formation of partnerships on issues/ programs pertaining to youth development. Now that the program has been implemented and two groups of core, high-context youth (70) have received training, opportunities for the youth to engage in program planning and evaluation processes with staff and adult volunteers are occurring on a daily or weekly basis. The 70 youth have demonstrated an increase in several key life skills, including increased confidence levels, effective communication, community service involvement, assisting in and leading the planning and organizing of projects and events, taking on leadership roles, and increased confidence about decision making.The 70 core youth are beginning to assert their leadership in their schools and within county 4-H programs and other community events. Since the start of the grant, the number of collaborators with the Fleming County CYFAR program has increased from six to twelve.