Title

(Re)positioning urban Indigenous high school students within a youth leadership pathway.

First Presenter's Institution

Regina Public School Division

Second Presenter's Institution

NA

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Session 8 (Percival)

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

This presentation allows one to reflect upon possibilities that may exist with regards to academic achievement and leadership, while also considering the enhancement of ones’ social and emotional skills. Grounded in research that occurred within an inner-city after-school program in Western Canada, an integrated approach to supporting Indigenous youth was co-created. Over time, a partnership developed, bringing together community, municipal government, a non-profit organization, and a public-school district. Via this partnership, Indigenous youth are given the opportunity to be part of a Youth Leadership Pathway at Scott Collegiate high school. Within this pathway, high school students enrol in courses that enhance their embodied leadership abilities. All the while, students are employed as youth mentors within an after-school wellness program, working within a facilitation team to provide guidance and direction for younger youth ages 6 to 12 years old. Within Saskatchewan the unemployment rate of Indigenous people is 3 times that of non-indigenous people. This approach to youth development (re)positions the youth as leaders within their community allowing for opportunities to gain valuable work experience as employed team members of Growing Young Movers (GYM), a non-profit organization that provides after-school programming for Regina’s inner-city youth.

With the graduation rate of Indigenous youth in Saskatchewan being 43%, compared to 85% of non-Indigenous youth (Government of Saskatchewan, 2017), it was imperative to consider different approaches to current educational practices. The formation of the youth leadership pathway allows students to earn additional school credit for their employment in the GYM after-school programs, inherently increasing graduation potential. The high school students have shared a sense of belonging which stems from their accomplishments within GYM. We have come to know how these students have experienced the after-school programs and how they are positioned within the programs has empowered them, validating the knowledge they possess. The youth leadership pathway offers further validation, while creating a sense of community in and out of school.

Brief Program Description

The Youth Leadership Pathway is an integrated approach to supporting Indigenous high school students, offering employment and additional school credit. This presentation will offer a synopsis of a research study that informed the development of this pathway. In addition, participants will gain an understanding of the fundamental components to the pathway, current implementation practices, and future research and programming opportunities.

Summary

This presentation begins with the experiences of three high school-aged Indigenous youth who participated in an inner-city after-school program in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada from 2015-2017. These youth viewed the program - and their role(s) within it - in far more complex terms, than the program’s framing as an intervention for ‘at risk’ youth had anticipated. Having adopted Narrative Inquiry as our primary methodology, our analysis extended the literature on after-school programming by (re)positioning Indigenous youth according to their own personalized narratives as: cultural leaders, knowledge holders, and as guardians of their community and its youth population. This extension of the literature in turn has informed the creation of a unified approach to supporting Indigenous youth. Through the words of the youth, we learned how school may look different, allowing for the enrichment of the embodied leadership abilities each possess.

Stemming from the research, while continuing to listen to the youth and the community, Growing Young Movers (GYM) began the process of creating an integrated approach with the creation of an Indigenous Youth Leadership Pathway. This pathway sees high school students from the local community engaged in a course of study centred around youth leadership/development. Beyond the regular school day, the students within this pathway are employed as part of the GYM facilitation team working directly with younger youth from their home community. The overarching goals of the high school pathway are: a) to increase graduation potential of Indigenous high school students, and b) to offer an employment opportunity that enhances one’s skills and abilities for future employment after high school.

This presentation will provide any overview of the initial research study, the GYM after-school model as well as insight into the partnership with Scott Collegiate high school. In addition, participants will gain an understanding of the successes and challenges that have come with this endeavour, as well as future possibilities we see moving forward. Participants will be provided a virtual ‘field guide’ summarizing the research which supports this initiative while highlighting the self-discovered road map to implementation.

Evidence

GYM after-school programs began in 2013 with one program (10-15 youth) and 2 youth mentors employed. Today GYM programs run five days a week, offering opportunities for hundreds of local youth. Currently more than 20 Indigenous youth are employed as part of the facilitation team. Attendance rates of Indigenous youth mentors over the past 6 years has been 94%. All of the youth mentors have either completed high school or are still enrolled and attending regularly.

Resulting from the original research study, two significant findings surfaced: First, the structure of the after-school programming supported the creation a ‘new community’ for the high school youth, a community that was significantly different from the realities they lived within. Within this new-found community, the youth mentors acknowledged an enhancement in self-esteem as well as a greater sense of belonging. Secondly, we learned that the Indigenous youth mentors identified differently within this newly formed community as opposed to in school. The mentors named themselves as teachers, leaders, and knowledge holders.

Presently, a research study is underway using both quantitative and qualitative methods for data collection. For the quantitative study we are using the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW), a synthesis of 19 different behaviour change models. The BCW identifies a number of sources of behaviour that can provide opportunities to measure whether or not the leadership pathway impacted one’s behaviour. For the qualitative study, stemming from a constructivist paradigm, we used a design thinking framework to allow us to engage participants in dialogue and conversation around their experiences. Within this type of framework there is an understanding that it is both the researchers and participants knowledge that shapes the findings. As we continue develop the leadership pathway, we continue to listen to the youth via ethical research practices.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Brian Lewis is executive director and co-founder of Growing Young Movers Youth Development, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the holistic well-being of children and youth. Brian has taught in K-12 education as well as post-secondary institutions over the past 23 years. Within his role as executive director, Brian oversees youth programming with GYM. He is the facilitation lead of the newly developed Youth Leadership Pathway at Scott Collegiate High School in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Brian’s research interests include youth mentorship, leadership, high school completion, physical education and physical literacy. He has presented his research at local, national, and international conferences and continues to be sought out to facilitate professional development experiences for educators, recreation facilitators and community leaders throughout Western Canada. Brian's passion around youth development and physical education continues to drive his research, teaching and service commitments to the community.

Keyword Descriptors

Youth Development, Indigenous Youth, Leadership, High School Completion

Presentation Year

March 2020

Start Date

3-11-2020 9:45 AM

End Date

3-11-2020 11:00 AM

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

(Re)positioning urban Indigenous high school students within a youth leadership pathway.

Session 8 (Percival)

The Youth Leadership Pathway is an integrated approach to supporting Indigenous high school students, offering employment and additional school credit. This presentation will offer a synopsis of a research study that informed the development of this pathway. In addition, participants will gain an understanding of the fundamental components to the pathway, current implementation practices, and future research and programming opportunities.