Public Health Inquiry & Youth Participatory Action Research in a High School Biomedical Academy: an Approach to Foster Positive Youth Development and Resiliency

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Presentation given at the American Public Health Association, 147th Annual Meeting. Background: Positive school climate and youth development approaches have been demonstrated to increase resiliency and promote academic success among low-income ethnically diverse youth. The Youth in Action project was developed to integrate public health inquiry with a high school BioMedical Academy program and to promote youth development and leadership using a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) approach with a health and social equity perspective.

Research Question: This study aims to assess the association between positive school climate, engagement of youth, active teacher support, perception of school grades and public health knowledge among students participating in the Youth in Action project.

Methods: Baseline surveys were administered to 10th grade students (n=102) at Jesse Bethel High School in Vallejo, California. Multi-item variables were adapted from the California Healthy Kids Survey to measure the following constructs: positive school climate, active teacher support, student effort/engagement and perception of school grades. Public health knowledge questions were developed and pilot-tested by the research team.

Results: Preliminary results from the baseline data indicate that there is no significant association between student effort/engagement with public health knowledge. However, public health knowledge was significantly associated with active teacher support (p = .0013), positive school climate (p = .0022) and perception of school grades (p = .0423).

Conclusion: The results of this study highlight the potential synergy of integrating Public Health inquiry and YPAR with BioMedical Academy High School programs to promote positive youth development and increase the engagement of low-income ethnically diverse students as active learners and leaders.


American Public Health Association, 147th Annual Meeting


Philadelphia, PA