Youth Participatory Action Research to Reduce Teen Substance Use in Meriden
This youth participatory action research (YPAR) program is a year round youth employment opportunity for economically disadvantaged youth in Meriden, Connecticut, funded by the Workforce Alliance, Inc. This program was developed in partnership with Meriden Department of Health and Human Services–Youth Services Division. The goals of the program are to facilitate student academic achievement and foster the development of youth leadership and engagement in the community with an emphasis on taking research-driven action for transformational change. A central theory underlying YPAR is that youth are agents of change and should play a greater role in the process of research and knowledge production, particularly when policymakers and other institutions use this research to make decisions that affect young people.
This program uses ICR’s nationally recognized Youth PAR curriculum (available here), facilitated by staff from ICR and the Meriden Youth Services Division, to train and support youth in conducting research and taking action on an issue of importance to them. The youth (known as the Meriden Action Researchers) are currently engaged in research-driven action to create long-term positive change in Meriden around the issue of substance use and abuse. As part of sharing the research, youth created a photo exhibit with images representing aspects of their theoretical research model and findings. The model describes their theory of what factors, such as teen productivity, contribute to substance use and abuse in Meriden. In the winter of 2014, the youth will present the results of in-depth interviews they conducted and school surveys they administered in the high schools.