First Presenter's Institution

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Second Presenter's Institution

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Third Presenter's Institution

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Fourth Presenter's Institution

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Fifth Presenter's Institution

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Location

Portside

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Family & Community

Relevance

This proposal relates to the Mental & Physical Health and Family & Community strands that are associated with the conference theme. The Health Rocks! program, a national 4-H curriculum that has been adopted into hundreds of after-school programs and summer camps across the country, was developed to promote positive knowledge and attitudes toward substance-related risky behaviors. Health Rocks! aims to reduce youth risk behaviors related to drug, alcohol, and tobacco by promoting healthy decision-making skills, stress coping, and socio-emotional skills. Health Rocks! emphasizes adult-youth relationships, as adult program staff optimize program outcomes by encouraging youth participants’ reflection and processing of the program curriculum. Additionally, both adults and older youth mentors conduct the program activities, which are intended to be hands-on and active.

Brief Program Description

The Health Rocks! program aims to promote positive knowledge and attitudes towards substance-related risky behaviors among youth. This presentation will highlight findings from a quantitative study assessing the extent to which youths’ program engagement is associated with program outcomes. Implications are valuable to Extension personnel and other youth professionals for the design and implementation of future youth programs.

Summary

Given the high prevalence rates and detrimental impacts of youth substance abuse (Becker, 2013; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014; Miller, Naimi, Brewer & Jones, 2007), substance-related prevention and education programs for youth are crucial. Scholars have examined important aspects of youth programming, such as adult-youth relationships and engaging activities. However, few studies have specifically examined the association between youths’ program engagement and program outcomes. Therefore, the current study aims to address this research gap by linking the process of program delivery to the program outcomes. The relationship between the engagement level of the Health Rocks! program participants and their program outcomes will be assessed.

This presentation will highlight findings based on 2,792 Health Rocks! evaluation surveys completed by participants after the program. Youths’ program engagement is measured by the degree to which participants found the program interesting, learned a lot during the program, found the adult staff friendly, and actively participated in activities. Quantitative binary logistic regression analyses were conducted to predict the participants’ outcomes of knowledge about substance use, skills towards healthy behaviors, and personal assets related to avoiding risks using the program engagement items. Findings reveal that youths’ engagement in the program was associated with the three program outcomes of knowledge, skills, and assets. When youth find a program interesting, are actively engaged in the program, and find the program staff friendly, they benefit more from the program. This presentation will also provide implications aimed at extension personnel and other youth professionals for future youth programming. Specifically, suggestions related to the importance of including professional and empathetic staff, program material and activities that are engaging, and program evaluation that assesses youths’ perceptions of their experiences will be discussed.

Evidence

Evidence-based programs have been implemented to promote the knowledge and skills needed for positive youth development. Evaluation reveals evidence-based youth programs successfully aid in the development of positive behaviors among youth (Eddy, et al., 2012; Norton & Watt, 2014). Previous research has documented key factors of successful youth programming. For example, incorporating youth participants’ interests and hobbies into the program can increase youth engagement. Engaging program activities can foster the bond between youth participants and others in the program (Catalano, Haggerty, Oesterle, Fleming, & Hawkins, 2004; Duerden and Gillard, 2011), which may encourage youth to remain in the program and, thus, impact the overall outcome of the program on youth.

One especially important aspect of programming is the positive relationship between youth and adults in the program (Bulanda & Mccrea, 2013; Jones & Deutsch, 2011). Research shows that adult leaders who focus, initially, on building relationships with participating youth are more likely to promote positive development and behaviors. The collaborative nature of youth programs and the relationships between adult program leaders and youth can be more important than the activities offered in the programs (Yohalem, Granger, & Pittman, 2009). Notwithstanding these strong theoretical supports for the role of youth engagement in program outcomes, few studies have specifically examined the association between youth program engagement with program outcomes. Expanding research to address this knowledge gap provides important implications to ensure the success of future youth programming.

References:

Bulanda, J. J., & McCrea, K. T. (2013). The promise of an accumulation of care: Disadvantaged African-American youths’ perspectives about what makes an after school program meaningful. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 30(2), 95-118.

Catalano, R. F., Oesterle, S., Fleming, C. B., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). The importance of bonding to school for healthy development: Findings from the Social Development Research Group. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 252-261.

Duerden, M. D., & Gillard, A. (2011). An approach to theory‐based youth programming. New directions for youth development, 2011(S1), 39-53.

Eddy, J. J., Gideonsen, M. D., McClaflin, R. R., O'Halloran, P., Peardon, F. A., Radcliffe, P. L., & Masters, L. A. (2012). Reducing alcohol use in youth aged 12-17 years using the strategic prevention framework. Journal Of Community Psychology, 40(5), 607-620.

Jones, J. N., & Deutsch, N. L. (2011). Relational strategies in after-school settings how staff–youth relationships support positive development. Youth & Society, 43(4), 1381-1406.

Norton, C. L., & Watt, T. T. (2014). Exploring the impact of a wilderness-based positive youth development program for urban youth. Journal Of Experiential Education, 37(4), 335-350.

Yohalem, N., Granger, R. C., & Pittman, K. J. (2009). The quest for quality: Recent developments and future directions for the out‐of‐school‐time field. New Directions for Youth Development, 2009(121), 129-140.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Sarah Taylor is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Yan Xia is a Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Anh Do is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Shen Qin is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Maria Rosario de Guzman is an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Keyword Descriptors

substance abuse, resilience, prevention, evaluation, evidence-based program, program engagement

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-8-2017 9:45 AM

End Date

3-8-2017 11:00 AM

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Mar 8th, 9:45 AM Mar 8th, 11:00 AM

Health Rocks! Program: The Association of Youth Engagement with Program Outcomes

Portside

The Health Rocks! program aims to promote positive knowledge and attitudes towards substance-related risky behaviors among youth. This presentation will highlight findings from a quantitative study assessing the extent to which youths’ program engagement is associated with program outcomes. Implications are valuable to Extension personnel and other youth professionals for the design and implementation of future youth programs.