“We need people to show us that path out of here – some people say we’re lost causes but not the facilitators.”
– Youth participant
Project With is a 12 lesson literature-based curriculum that is being rigorously evaluated to increase protective factors, strengthen sexual risk avoidance and decrease teen dating violence by utilizing trained, culturally relevant facilitators. This innovative approach relies on the trusted practice of allowing elders within the community to share stories that illustrate life lessons. This allows young people “to gain knowledge about this important part of life (intimate relationships) by promoting conversation and reflection about our common human experience.” (Art of Loving Well, page 5). We believe that doing life with those who guide and teach is the most effective way to influence the next generation in our community.
Project With has selected 12 short stories and/or poems that allow our facilitators to have conversations about what has affected their own decisions based on life experiences. These stories challenge participants to deal with our family, friends, personal insecurities, death of loved ones, and experiences of early love and loss that have shaped how we deal with relationships and finding our future partner. Project With challenges young people to reflect on these stories with videos and engaging activities to determine who they will do life with in the future. The curriculum allows the space for the young people to decide whether they choose to do life with those who support them toward a better future, or with those who influence them toward a different path.
WestEd is conducting a rigorous and independent evaluation of Project With to examine the impact of the program on youth residing in five Los Angeles County Probation Department camps. As part of the evaluation, WestEd is surveying the youth participating in Project With and non-participating comparison youth before and after the participating youth take part in the program. Additionally, WestEd is administering a six-month follow-up survey to both groups of youth. The surveys assess a number of outcomes that Project With is designed to influence, including a youth’s conflict management skills, ability to resist temptations and provocations, and risky sexual behaviors. After the survey data have been collected, WestEd will use statistical models to compare the outcomes of the participating and comparison youth to determine whether participation in Project With had a positive impact on participants. As part of the evaluation, WestEd is also conducting focus groups with the youth participating in Project With, observing Project With lessons, and collecting data on the implementation of Project With, such as how engaged the youth are in the Project With lessons and the number of lessons the youth complete.
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View our last presentation highlighting the innovative & impactful practices behind our work.
Listen Up! How Creative Partnerships and a Heightened Focus on System Dynamics Are Shaping Teen Pregnancy Prevention for Youth in Juvenile Justice
The Office of Population Affairs (OPA) is increasingly leveraging innovative methods, including systems thinking and youth-centered design, for addressing complex public health issues like STD/STI and pregnancy rate disparities for youth in juvenile justice. This workshop will highlight how OPA has applied such methods to unique partnerships with grantees, including through Youth Listening Sessions and a Pop-Up Workshop with innovators like Urban Strategies, and will explore how these opportunities have advanced local and federal public health efforts.
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Implementing a Sexual Risk Avoidance Intervention in a Juvenile Justice Setting:
What We Learned, and How it Can Help Others
Abstract: Despite relatively high rates of teen pregnancy and sexual risk taking among justice-involved youth, there is a scarcity of programming to help these youth become better informed about sexual health and decision making. The lack of adequate programming may in part be due to challenges that exist when trying to develop and implement programs in juvenile justice settings. Project With is a sexual risk avoidance intervention that includes storytelling and mentoring components and is currently being implemented within a large juvenile justice agency in California. This paper shares the lessons learned through implementation of the Project With program at five juvenile justice facilities. These lessons focus on the relationships, processes, and logistics that facilitated and impeded implementation, as well as aspects of the Project With design that promoted youth engagement. In particular, insights about the importance of leveraging relationships, gathering buy-in at multiple levels, understanding the system, and allowing for flexibility are highlighted. A checklist is included to support other program developers and researchers who seek to create, implement, and study teen pregnancy prevention programming for justice-involved youth.