Scarbrough 4

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health


Our program topic relates to the 4th conference strand-“Mental and physical health: Promoting the mental and physical health of all children and youth”.

The Youth Health Summit (YHS) was a health promotion program which attempted to achieve its goal through education.

Today’s youth are faced with a number of social and health problems, such as, HIV/AIDS, substance (drug, tobacco) abuse, teen pregnancy, obesity, stress, bullying, and gang violence to name a few; these negatively affect not only the physical health but also the emotional well-being of adolescents. The YHS was a joint endeavor by the university, schools, healthcare organizations, community-service organizations, and philanthropies to address those issues. It aimed to create awareness about those issues and provide youth with coping strategies in order to assist them in making positive life decisions. The YHS also offered youth informative sessions on the benefits of physical activity, constructive use of time, healthy food options, and self-esteem (positive body image). Moreover, the YHS encouraged youth to set career goals which might motivate them to perform well in school. By ensuring their mental and physical health and also academic success, the YHS gave youth hope for a better future.

Brief Program Description

Learn how to build partnership with educators, researchers, and practitioners in order to develop educational programs, such as, the Youth Health Summit- a university initiated program undertaken in collaboration with schools and healthcare organizations to promote mental and physical health and create awareness about HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and other hazards among rural middle school students in North Carolina.


The Youth Health Summit (YHS) was a university-initiated educational program targeted towards middle school students of rural south-eastern North Carolina.

Held once a year for 5 years, the summit delivered information using a variety of interactive methods (keynote speeches, small-group discussions, and poster exhibits) on health problems that threaten adolescents’ future (HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, obesity, bullying, gang violence, and stress), ways to achieve mental and physical fitness, and goal-setting.

This presentation elaborates on the development of partnership among universities, schools, and healthcare organizations and focuses on the evaluation of the YHS’s influence on the participants’ understanding about and interest in general health and related issues. Data were collected using a questionnaire distributed to the participants after the summit.

Descriptive statistics (%, n) were calculated and bar charts were plotted; t-tests and Kruskal-Wallis tests (as some ethnic groups had n<30) were used to investigate differences between males and females and among ethnic groups, respectively.

Mean n= 227 /year. Average proportion of females: 72% /year. Whites were the largest participating ethnic group (mean: 40% /year).

Overall, the majority of the respondents in each year felt that the program helped them understand health better (>=90%) and the importance of health in everyday living (>=80%), have a better understanding of health issues (>=90%), become more excited about health topics (>=65%), think about taking more science classes in future (>=60%) and getting a job in health-related career (>=60%), and learn some things that might be useful to their future careers (>=80%); >=75% of them wanted to participate in another program similar to this one.

Compared to males, females significantly appeared to feel more positively influenced by the YHS each year (2008: p=0.017; 2009: p=0.003; 2010: p=0.007; 2011: p= 0.002; 2012: p= 0.037). However, there were no statistically significant differences among ethnic groups in their feelings towards the YHS in any year except 2010 (p=0.027).

The results demonstrate that, overall, the summit generated considerable amount of interest among middle school students about health, its importance, and related education and careers. More university-community partnerships should be built in order to develop similar health promotion programs.


Field-tested effectiveness:

The results of the YHS corroborate its effectiveness: the YHS appeared to have a positive influence on the participants’ interest in their own health, its care, health topics, science, and health-related career; it also appeared to improve their understanding of health, its importance, and health-related issues.

The outcomes of the individual summits also appear to support our view that the YHS was successful in creating awareness about specific health problems among students. However, it is beyond the scope of this presentation to describe the results of the analyses of the data on particular health problems in detail; interested persons are asked to contact the presenter.

Known research and promising practices:

The YHS is based on the Search Institute’s framework for developmental assets [1]- a strength-based approach to child and youth development. The model outlines 40 developmental assets- factors that contribute to healthy development - for 6th to 12th-grade youth. The assets serve as “protective”, “enhancement”, and “resiliency” factors in young people’s lives in that they help youth protect themselves against high risk behaviors, increase their chance of engaging themselves in thriving activities, and increase their ability to rebound in the face of adversity. The assets are grouped into two categories: external and internal.

According to the developmental asset model, “everyone plays a role” in the positive development of youth: all segments of the community share the responsibility to contribute towards the health and well-being of all youth. Families, schools, and other social institutions are responsible for providing positive experiences to youth and should work hand in hand. These positive experiences are called “external assets” and include support, feelings of empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and opportunities for constructive use of time. Our program focused on one aspect of the following external asset: empowerment (community values youth); it implies that young people need to feel valued by the community. In our opinion, one way of providing this experience may be to make evident to youth that the community is aware of the risks/challenges faced by youth and makes effort to provide resources to help youth overcome those challenges. By offering prevention programs targeted towards youth, the community will have the opportunity to prove to youth that it cares about them and their future. In our effort to utilize this idea of bringing different segments of the community together: schools, universities, healthcare organizations, community-service organizations, and philanthropies and providing resources: information on harmful effects of common health problems arising from poor behavioral choices made by youth and how to protect themselves from those, we developed the YHS. It provided a platform for different segments of the community to demonstrate that youth were important to them and that they took youth-related issues seriously.

The developmental asset model suggests that the community’s responsibility extends beyond the provision of external assets to youth; it is also responsible for “nurturing internal qualities that guide choices…encourage wise, responsible, compassionate judgments”. Those internal qualities are called internal assets: commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity. Our program focused on one aspect of the following internal asset: social competence (planning and decision making: thinking through the possible good and bad results of different choices before making a decision). Much of the problems and challenges faced by youth, for example, STDs including HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, and drug addiction, have some behavioral etiology [2] in the sense that these mostly occur through unsafe practices and poor choices and therefore, much of it can be avoided by making good behavioral decisions. For this to happen, first of all, youth need to know what constitutes a good or a bad choice, in other words, they should have sufficient knowledge about the health problem in question. Through the YHS, youth had an opportunity to learn about issues threatening their health and consequently, their future and means to protect themselves from those. By empowering youth with knowledge through the YHS, we made an attempt to assist them in making wise decisions.

One secondary goal of the YHS was to motivate youth to learn about health issues and take interest in science courses. Therefore, the YHS seemed to have supported another internal asset: commitment to learning. By encouraging them to think about careers in healthcare, the YHS might have the possibility to encourage youth to set goals for their own lives and, consequently, give them a sense of purpose which is one aspect of another internal asset- positive identity (sense of purpose).

Therefore, the YHS appeared to hold the promise to go a long a way in contributing towards the positive development of the youth in North Carolina.


1. Benson PL, Scales PC, Leffert N, Roehlkepartain EC. A Fragile Foundation: The State of Developmental Assets among American Youth. Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN, 1999.

2. Blum RWM. Healthy Youth Development as a Model for Youth Health Promotion. Journal of Adolescent Health 1998; 22:368–375.


Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Canty-Mitchell is a registered nurse with 40 plus years of experiences in clinical practice, education, research, and community service. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Florida State University and Master of Science and PhD degrees in nursing from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Currently, she is Professor and Chair of the Department of Family and Community Health Systems in the School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center San Antonio. She holds the Lillie Cranz Cullen Endowed Professorship in Nursing.

Dr. Canty-Mitchell’s area of specialty is community health nursing, with an emphasis on children, youth, and families. Her previous nursing experiences have also included practice in clinical research, psychiatric/mental health nursing, school health, and public health. She held faculty appointments at universities in Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, and now Texas. She has published 25 scholarly and data based articles, book chapters, or abstracts and presented at more than 60 conferences regionally, nationally, or internationally. Publications focused on: racial/ethnic health disparities, child and adolescent health, family strengthening programs to promote positive health behaviors, mental health in children and adolescents, and health-related quality of life in children with special health care needs. Throughout her career, Dr. Canty-Mitchell has had a passion for partnering with community, health-related, and educational institutions to implement programs to promote health in at-risk children and adolescents.

She has been a principal or co-investigator and project director on numerous grants, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows Program.

Nationally, she was appointed a charter member and nurse consultant on the Children and Family Study Section, Center for Scientific Review (2004-2008); Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows Program (2009-2012); and Leadership America (2012-2013). In October 2013, she was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, the highest honor bestowed on a professional nurse.

Musarrat Nahid is a Research Associate at the Department of Family and Community Health Systems in the School of Nursing of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center San Antonio with 5 years of research experience in occupational, environmental, and public health. She has an MSc degree from the School of Environmental Health of the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Keyword Descriptors

Rural youth, adolescent health, prevention, middle schools, university-community partnerships.

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-4-2015 11:15 AM

End Date

3-4-2015 12:30 PM


Mar 4th, 11:15 AM Mar 4th, 12:30 PM

The Youth Health Summit, North Carolina: A University-Community Partnership to Promote Health Among Rural Youth

Scarbrough 4

Learn how to build partnership with educators, researchers, and practitioners in order to develop educational programs, such as, the Youth Health Summit- a university initiated program undertaken in collaboration with schools and healthcare organizations to promote mental and physical health and create awareness about HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and other hazards among rural middle school students in North Carolina.