The Role of Adult-Youth Partnerships in a Leadership and Resilience Program Targeting Military-Connected Teens


Individual Presentation

First Presenter's Institution

Clemson University

First Presenter’s Email Address


First Presenter's Brief Biography

Ben J. Parry, Ph.D. is a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Youth Development Leadership (YDL) in the department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at Clemson University. Dr. Parry came into his current role after refining his expertise in, and finding a passion for, the field of youth development through his Ph.D., which involved delivering and evaluating a sport psychology-based program for young people experiencing homelessness. In his current role, Dr. Parry is continuing to apply and expand his research skills through projects with the YDL team, including working with YDL Master’s alumni and the national youth organization, Boys and Girls Clubs of America. As a lecturer, Dr. Parry is passionate about building meaningful connections with students, supporting students to develop skills that extend beyond the classroom, and teaching content that is theoretically grounded and applicable to real-world contexts.

Second Presenter's Institution

Clemson University

Second Presenter’s Email Address


Second Presenter's Brief Biography

Dr. Barry A. Garst is a Professor of Youth Development Leadership and the Coordinator of Youth Development Programs at Clemson University. His applied research focuses on critical and emerging issues facing the out-of-school time community of youth, staff, parents, and program providers, with an emphasis on the summer camp experience. Recent research has explored overparenting among parents of early adolescents, parent anxiety associated with camp experiences; leadership development programs targeting military-connected youth, summertime food insecurity, and camp health care practices to reduce injuries and communicable disease spread including COVID-19. Dr. Garst currently serves as research chair for the Alliance for Camp Health and is the Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Youth Development, an interdisciplinary journal bridging youth development research and practice.

Third Presenter's Institution

Clemson University

Third Presenter’s Email Address


Third Presenter's Brief Biography

Maira Patino is a third-year doctoral student in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management. Her research interests include social justice, youth access to green spaces, youth development programs, rights for minorities in underdeveloped communities, and outdoor recreation justice for undocumented Hispanic youth. She is working as a graduate instructor of record and is a graduate researcher at Clemson University for ongoing youth research projects. Prior to coming to Clemson University, Maira received a Master of Arts degree from Webster University in Human Resource Management. She wrote her non-thesis project on employment rights and labor laws. Maira received a Bachelors in Science degree in Criminology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Additionally, Maira served eleven years on Active Duty as a U.S. Army Officer and is on path to continue serving with the military upon completing her doctorate degree.


Session Five Breakouts (Plimsoll)

Strand #1

Heart: Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Home: Family & Community Engagement


Meeting the call for research pertaining to the H of “Heart”: Social and Emotional Skills. In our evaluations of a teen and adult Steering Committee designed to plan, deliver, and evaluate a resilience and leadership program for military-connected youth, we have observed core socioemotional processes and outcomes that are pertinent to teens’ resilience and positive youth development. The socioemotional processes that seemed most crucial to teens’ development were: feeling socially and emotionally supported by adults, being afforded meaningful agency and autonomy, and learning how to work effectively with adults. The socioemotional outcomes experienced by teens were reflected through an enhanced understanding of the concept of resilience (e.g., understanding its complexities and multidimensional aspects), application of social skills to work effectively with others, and showing enhanced personal and social awareness. Subsequently, teens expressed feelings of being better equipped to thrive in other settings (such as college and career) and more adaptive coping mechanisms to difficulties and setbacks they face.

Meeting the call for the H of “Home”: Family and Community Engagement. Findings from our research suggest that military-connected develop transferable skills that underpin their capacity to make positive contributions to their local communities, thrive in college and career settings, and adaptively cope with setbacks and challenges in a range of life domains, including managing reintegration processes on the family. Additionally, our findings indicate how youth-adult partnerships developed through the Steering Committee support youth engagement in their communities.

Brief Program Description

A six-year partnership between Clemson University and Boys and Girls Clubs of America has led to the development of evidence-based guidelines for programming designed to promote resilience, family reintegration following deployment, and skill development using a positive youth development approach targeting military-connected teens. This presentation focuses on the youth-led Steering Committee, highlighting components and mechanisms that produced positive resilience and leadership outcomes for participants.


This presentation will provide evaluative guidance grounded in implementation science and positive youth development principles to provide practical recommendations for strategies to promote resilience in military-connected teens. To this end, our presentation will discuss the benefits of using the Kirkpatrick Model of Evaluation for program evaluation and coding strategies to inform a rigorous approach to qualitative data analysis. Using theoretical models like Youth-Adult Partnership and the Communication Action Framework for Youth Development, findings will be leveraged to provide applied recommendations for evidence- and strengths-based processes to nurture resilience in young people. With a focus on military-connected youth, our research findings provide novel insights into an under-researched group, identifying mechanisms and outcomes of a resilience- and leadership-based program. The recommendations provided in our presentation extend beyond military-connected youth, highlighting groups with comparable support needs, and discussing how the programmatic and organizational impact observed in our research can inform positive changes in other youth settings. Our take-home messages include, but are not limited to:

(1) The importance of youth-adult partnerships being grounded in socio-emotional awareness (Heart) and providing opportunities for agency and autonomy (Head and Home);

(2) When given the opportunity to teach peers, teens can gain a deeper understanding of resilience as a concept and resiliency-related skills and knowledge (Head, Heart, and Health);

(3) Programs need to actively promote the transfer of learning to community and next-stage of life settings (e.g., college and career) to continue cycles of growth in resilience and positive youth development (Head and Home);

(4) Applicable ways research findings can be translated into practice (Head).

Finally, the presentation will discuss how our findings and six-year partnership with the national youth organization, Boy and Girls Clubs of America, are informing the development of a co-created implementation guide. Collaborating with community stakeholders, the implementation guide is designed to provide resources for resilience and leadership programming at a local level (i.e., military installations in the U.S. and overseas).


In total, we have provided eight references that exemplify how and why our approach to promoting resilience and positive youth development in military-connected youth is effective (names of presenters in bold). In addition to the Weston et al. (2021) manuscript described below, we also have two additional manuscripts from this research project in preparation for submission.

Peer-reviewed research relating to the research from the presenters (in order of relevance)

Weston, K. L., Garst, B. A., Bowers, E. P., & Quinn, W. H. (2021). Cultivating knowledge of resiliency and reintegration among military youth through a national youth leadership program. Evaluation and Program Planning, 86, 101915. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2021.101915

This is an evaluation of the resilience and leadership program we will be discussing in more detail in our presentation. Findings from the research suggest the program was effective in promoting resilience, personal growth (reflection through intra- and interpersonal skills development), and knowledge for contributing to community development.

Parry, B. J., Quinton, M. L., Holland, M. J., Thompson, J. L., & Cumming, J. (2021). Improving outcomes in young people experiencing homelessness with My Strengths Training for Life™(MST4Life™): A qualitative realist evaluation. Children and Youth Services Review, 121, 105793. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105793

Although this article does not relate to military-connected teens, its findings exemplify the benefits of programming grounded in positive youth development and the advantages of creating socioemotionally climates for young people to thrive. Among the broad range of skills developed through the My Strengths Training for Life program, those that support resilience in program participants are among the most important given the instability of their living conditions and the complex nature of their co-occurring support needs.

Other peer-reviewed articles relating to key concepts in our presentation (alphabetical order).

The evidence cited below are some of the key readings that informed our research. Across the peer-reviewed articles, there is evidence to support the need to develop resilience and socioemotional well-being of military-connected teens (Easterbrooks et al., 2013; Esposito-Smythers et al., 2011; Mmari et al., 2010), and critical citations for key concepts such as youth development in community settings (Gambone et al., 2003), the Kirkpatrick model of evaluation (Kirkpatrick, 2006), and youth-adult partnerships (Zeldin et al., 2013).

Easterbrooks, M. A., Ginsburg, K., & Lerner, R. M. (2013). Resilience among military youth. The Future of Children, 99-120. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23595622

Esposito-Smythers, C., Wolff, J., Lemmon, K. M., Bodzy, M., Swenson, R. R., & Spirito, A. (2011). Military youth and the deployment cycle: emotional health consequences and recommendations for intervention. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(4), 497. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024534

Gambone, Μ. Α., Klem, A., & Connell, J. P. (2003). Finding out what matters for youth: Testing key links in a community action framework, Philadelphia, PA: Youth Development Strategies, Inc. and Institute for Research and Reform in Education.

Kirkpatrick, D. L. (2006). Seven keys to unlock the four levels of evaluation. Performance Improvement, 45(7), 5-8. https://doi.org/10.1002/pfi.2006.4930450702

Mmari, K. N., Bradshaw, C. P., Sudhinaraset, M., & Blum, R. (2010, October). Exploring the role of social connectedness among military youth: Perceptions from youth, parents, and school personnel. In Child & Youth Care Forum (Vol. 39, No. 5, pp. 351-366). Springer US. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-010-9109-3

Zeldin, S., Krauss, S. E., Kim, T., Collura, J., & Abdullah, H. (2016). Pathways to youth empowerment and community connectedness: A study of youth-adult partnership in Malaysian after-school, co-curricular programs. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(8), 1638-1651. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0320-2

Learning Objective 1

The importance of youth-adult partnership providing socio-emotional support and practical guidance to nurture resilience and promote leadership qualities

Learning Objective 2

The advantages of adopting an asset- and strengths-based approach through Positive Youth Development to provide opportunities to build skills that foster resilience

Learning Objective 3

Providing teens with autonomy and agency to work together and teach their peers is an effective strategy to build social awareness, compassionate leadership, and a more nuanced understanding of resilience.

Keyword Descriptors

Resilience; military-connected; youth-adult partnerships; positive youth development; leadership; programming; evaluation; teens; socioemotional.

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-7-2023 10:15 AM

End Date

3-7-2023 11:30 AM

This document is currently not available here.

Mar 7th, 10:15 AM Mar 7th, 11:30 AM

The Role of Adult-Youth Partnerships in a Leadership and Resilience Program Targeting Military-Connected Teens

Session Five Breakouts (Plimsoll)

A six-year partnership between Clemson University and Boys and Girls Clubs of America has led to the development of evidence-based guidelines for programming designed to promote resilience, family reintegration following deployment, and skill development using a positive youth development approach targeting military-connected teens. This presentation focuses on the youth-led Steering Committee, highlighting components and mechanisms that produced positive resilience and leadership outcomes for participants.