Title

Meeting the Needs of At-Risk Youth Populations with Relationship Smarts Programming

First Presenter's Institution

University of Georgia

Second Presenter's Institution

University of Georgia

Third Presenter's Institution

University of Georgia

Fourth Presenter's Institution

University of Georgia

Fifth Presenter's Institution

Kris Peavy

Location

Scarbrough 5

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Safety & Violence Prevention

Relevance

The Relationship Smarts Plus curriculum aligns with the “heart” and “homes” of the National Youth-at-Risk Conference. The social and emotional skills that the curriculum helps participants to focus on important aspects of developing healthy relationship skills and provides a positive model of behavior for each participant. The program is relevant to the home part of the standards with this allowing the participants the opportunity to enhance skills for family communication. Even though this program is focused on healthy romantic relationships, the information participants learn can transfer throughout all relationships. This program is relevant youth learning more about relationships, but it helps those at-risk youth see relationships in a different and healthy light.

Youth who have healthy relationships during adolescence tend to have better quality relationships as young adults (Madison & Collins, 2011). However, many youth today lack models of healthy relationships, especially in at-risk youth populations. Using a research-based curriculum developed by The Dibble Institute, the presenters have taught programs across their state to middle and high school at-risk youth about navigating romantic relationships.

Using the research-based lessons, the program offers teen participants the knowledge of what a healthy relationship is and isn’t, the insights and skills for choosing partners wisely, and how to identify relationship qualities they find personally important when seeking out both friends and partners. These principles provide teens with the framework to guide them in early relationship development. Through the interactive lessons, youth are able to develop a powerful set of evidence-based skills to improve their communication and handle conflict. These skills are critical for all types of relationships – family, peer, romantic, at school/work, etc. Building healthy relationship these skills in at-risk youth is crucial for the overall success of the young person.

Brief Program Description

Healthy relationship development is vital to the promotion of positive youth development, especially for at-risk youth populations. Since 2006, University of Georgia Extension personnel delivered Relationship Smarts Plus programming to 5,500+ youth, teaching self-awareness, dangerous relationships, and communication and conflict. Educators from all areas can learn how to implement Relationship Smarts Plus program, review the program’s impact, and hear about lessons learned along the way.

Summary

Healthy relationship development is vital to the promotion of positive youth development, especially for at-risk youth populations. Since 2006, University of Georgia Extension personnel delivered Relationship Smarts Plus programming to 5,500+ youth, teaching self-awareness, dangerous relationships, and communication and conflict. Educators from all areas can learn how to implement Relationship Smarts Plus program, review the program’s impact, and hear about lessons learned along the way.

The development of healthy relationships is critical for the social and emotional development of a young person. Consistent with Planned Behavior Theory (Ajzen, 1991), youths’ self-confidence and intentions to engage in healthy relationship behaviors will lead to the development of healthy relationships. Since 2006, our University has delivered the Relationship Smarts Plus program to 5,500+ youth through in- and after-school programming in both rural and urban communities.

Relationship Smarts Plus (RS+, Pearson, 2007), a 12-lesson, research-based curriculum, helps youth develop knowledge, attitudes, and skills that are salient to healthy romantic relationships. Because negative role models of relationships are prevalent in the lives of many youth, Relationship Smarts Plus helps youth differentiate healthy versus unhealthy relationships, understand healthy ways to interact in romantic relationships, and avoid challenges such as dating violence and sexual risks behaviors. Research shows that Relationship Smarts Plus helps youth feel more efficacious in developing healthy relationships (Futris et al., 2017). Youth who claim to have healthy relationships during adolescence tend to have better quality relationships as young adults (Madison & Collins, 2011). Teaching youth self-awareness, how to avoid dangerous relationships, and communication and conflict skills span across disciplines in both school and after-school settings.

During this session, participants will learn how to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate youth relationship programs. Discussion during the workshop will focus on the importance of relationship education as it relates to the social and emotional health of youth, how to successfully implement relationship education, and examples of successful synergetic partnerships that emerged through the implementation of the Relationship Smarts Plus program. Opportunities for participants to replicate and/or adapt the programming without compromising the integrity of the curriculum will also be discussed. Participants will even get to participate in some of the activities!

Evidence

The proposed session will share the impact of the Relationship Smarts Plus program as well as the lessons learned by our state team when implementing Relationship Smarts Plus during in-school and after-school settings. During the 2017-2018 school year, teams of Extension Family and Consumer Science and 4-H Youth Development personnel delivered RS+ to nearly 3000 youth across 32 counties in Georgia. Supported by funding from The Division of Family and Children Services Office of Prevention and Family Support, these educators taught six core content lessons from the Relationship Smarts Plus program and many educators included additional lessons to reinforce concepts.

Through formal evaluations of the programming, evidence suggests that youth were more confident than before the program in establishing healthy relationships, reported that they were likely to use the skills learned, and felt better about themselves after completing the program.

Due to the success of these activities, they have been implemented in various after-school and residential camp settings for over 5,500 youth over in 12 years. This information has been presented at multiple national and multi-state conferences including the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference and the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Science Agents Conference.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Kasey Bozeman is the 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent in Liberty County, Georgia. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Education and Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. Kasey is currently earning an EdD in Curriculum Studies. Her specific areas of interest include working with military families, teaching environmental concepts to youth, and exploring the concepts of creativity and imagination.

Rebecca Stackhouse is the Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent in Crisp County, Georgia. She holds a Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Sciences and a Master’s degree in Family Studies. She is a full credited Certification for Family Life Educations (CFLE). Her local focus in Crisp County is healthy relationship development for parents and youth.

Cindy Sheram is the 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent in Washington County, Georgia. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Music and Theatre. Her local focus in Washington County is healthy relationship development and financial awareness for youth.

Wanda McLocklin is the 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent in Barrow County, Georgia. She holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Housing and Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia. Her areas of focus for local programming are healthy relationships, leadership, career awareness and robotics.

Kris Peavy is the 4-H Youth Development Agent in Randolph County, Georgia. She holds a Bachelors in Business Administration with a major in Management and minor in Marketing. The focus of her 4-H program is meeting the needs of the youth in financial literacy, healthy living and teaching about the natural resources/agriculture in the low-income rural communities in Randolph County.

Keyword Descriptors

youth development, healthy relationships, relationship education, communication

Presentation Year

2019

Start Date

3-6-2019 11:15 AM

End Date

3-6-2019 12:30 PM

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Mar 6th, 11:15 AM Mar 6th, 12:30 PM

Meeting the Needs of At-Risk Youth Populations with Relationship Smarts Programming

Scarbrough 5

Healthy relationship development is vital to the promotion of positive youth development, especially for at-risk youth populations. Since 2006, University of Georgia Extension personnel delivered Relationship Smarts Plus programming to 5,500+ youth, teaching self-awareness, dangerous relationships, and communication and conflict. Educators from all areas can learn how to implement Relationship Smarts Plus program, review the program’s impact, and hear about lessons learned along the way.