Title

The Heroes Bridge – Connecting Veterans and Youth to Grow and Keep Heroes.

First Presenter's Institution

University of West Alabama

Second Presenter's Institution

University of West Alabama

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Harborside East & West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Family & Community

Relevance

The Heroes Bridge is a project to connect those people who fit the multiple definitions of a hero as role models, encouragers, and coaches with those younger persons who need that helping hand to find and grow the hero within them. The pilot implementation included members of a local a veterans organization and students in a local high school to connect veterans with children and adolescents who were at risk for being less than successful in academics and later in life work.

. This fits the two strands of:

HEAD – This project was designed as Early Intervention to provide the positive benefits from the experience of military service to help young people with additional positive life experience and role modeling to grow in a positive life path toward adulthood, to close achievement gaps in academics and non-academic areas, and to promote life learning for all children and youth.

HOME – This project was also designed as fitting with development and enhancement of community support for all children and youth with integration of support with students’ families. The adult and youth participants were in mentoring partnerships that helped the students follow a stronger life pathway toward successful adulthood and affirmed and encouraged retention of the adult participants in a positive life pathway as well.

Brief Program Description

This presentation will provide a description of The Heroes Bridge, a project that connected veterans as mentors with children and adolescents who were at risk for being less than successful in academics and later in life work. The presentation will summarize development and implementation of the project as well as projected future work for The Heroes Bridge.

Summary

The Heroes Bridge design consisted of three phases that would be ongoing with veteran and student participants. In Phase One, general research was conducted on:

  • Risk factors for youth in attainment of academic and life work success.
  • Use of positive psychology and strengths based development with both youth development and veteran post-military experience development.
  • Any like programs that have worked with youth and/or veterans.

From the research, it was determined that efficacy could be best assessed through use of existing instruments. The Developmental Assets Survey through the Search Institute was used for student participants and The True Resilience Scale from The Resilience Center was used with the veteran participants. These measurements were used in matching participants for mentorship. Mentorships were designed to last through the student’s exit from the local high school.

Phase Two consisted of Program Development in which a general outline of mentorship was designed for veterans in helping their matched students. This design included training for the adult participants and orientation for the student participants. While mentorship focused on enrichment of student life areas that showed some need per the Developmental Assets survey, the design also included some focus on the concept of a hero such as development of one’s definition of a hero, identification of a person who fits the definition , team work to build the hero within, and continuing teamwork to “keep” the hero in place.

Program development included ongoing assessment of efficacy of the pilot implementation and identification of ways in which the program could grow into use beyond the pilot stage, such as an online presence for participation or a sharing with other veterans’ organizations in other locales. Phase Three consisted of planned follow-up once a student graduated to encourage good habits developed over participation and to encourage retention of the mentorship relationship as a support resource in adulthood.

Evidence

The Heroes Bridge was designed and developed to mirror the effectiveness of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program with a focus on the adult participants being veterans who could share and encourage some of the positive traits developed in military service to grow with student participants. Grossman, Baldwin, and Tierney(1998) conducted a randomized controlled trial of all 1,138 youths, age 10-16, who applied to one of eight large Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in various U.S. cities between October 1991 and February 1993 and found increased academic proficiency and engagement as well as improved non-academic life skills.

Grossman, Jean Baldwin and Joseph P. Tierney. “Does Mentoring Work? An Impact Study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.” Evaluation Review, Vol. 22, No. 3, June 1998, pp 403-426.

The Heroes Bridge specifically included veterans in the pilot implementation to support increased quality of life for participating veterans. The Institute of Veterans and Military Families provides research that supports military service as foundational for community serviced through active citizenry (http://vets.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ResearchBrief_Nesbit20112.pdf). Military service was found to be positively related to volunteering, which supports engagement by veterans in a project such as The Heroes Bridge. The Heroes Bridge also offered an opportunity for participating veterans to continue mattering as started in the military service.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Mary Ann Hollingsworth is an assistant professor at the University of West Alabama. She has sixteen years of experience as a counselor, 20 years experience as an officer of the United States Army, and 10 years experience teaching in higher education. She currently teaches students preparing to be school and community mental health counselors Her primary research interests and innovative work have been with learning and counseling through a paradigm of wellness and the whole person and service learning to promote skills building and difference making with communities.

Pamela

Pamela Rochester is an assistant professor at the University of West Alabama. She has fourteen years experience teaching in higher education and 20 years of experience counseling with various populations to include children and youth, family counseling, and work with substance abuse. She currently teaches graduate students preparing to be school counselors. Her focus of scholarly work has been on work with multicultural populations and empowerment of beginning school counselors.

Keyword Descriptors

Achievement gaps, Early intervention, Adult-youth partnership, Mentorship, Students at risk of failure

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-7-2017 4:00 PM

End Date

3-7-2017 5:30 PM

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Mar 7th, 4:00 PM Mar 7th, 5:30 PM

The Heroes Bridge – Connecting Veterans and Youth to Grow and Keep Heroes.

Harborside East & West

This presentation will provide a description of The Heroes Bridge, a project that connected veterans as mentors with children and adolescents who were at risk for being less than successful in academics and later in life work. The presentation will summarize development and implementation of the project as well as projected future work for The Heroes Bridge.