Youth Empowerment Program

an intentional, positive-social and non-judgmental
orientation to learning and healing

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Communities in Boston with high rates of gun violence, such as Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, have suffered generations of mental health issues and trauma.

 

Almost half of Boston Public School students report knowing someone or being related to someone who had been killed (BPS, 2009), and approximately 25,000 children are exposed to intimate partner violence in Suffolk County annually (Hagan et al. 2006).

WAB2G created a 6-week summer youth programming in an effort to prevent youth and young adult violence in Boston neighborhoods.

Youth were recruited through women enrolled in WAB2G programming. As such all youth engaged have been impacted by the homicide and or incarceration of a family member.

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"I wouldn't change anything besides meeting in person more often"

WAB2G utilized the "Theory of Change", WAB2G's 15 step analysis trademarked healing program to adapt successful components for the Youth

Empowerment Program. 

The WAB2G Youth Empowerment Program participants experience a mix of virtual and in-person learning activities as well as educational field trips designed to support the development of positive self-esteem and empowerment.

Young people engaged in interactive and applied learning activities that allowed them to engage in critical dialogue with their peers and program adults.

The program was held on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays from 3:00 pm - 6:00 om and Fridays all day.

Topics covered include developing a positive sense of self, substance use, mental health, harm reduction, sexual exploitation, gun distribution and straw buying awareness, and financial literacy.

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"Self-esteem, this topic allowed me to self-evaluation and to also work on myself. It allowed me to feel better about myself"

"I want to know more about mental health because I want to help other people and myself"

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“People I love would still be here and I wouldn’t have to walk around with a knife”

All youth who participated in the program were invited to take part in the program evaluation. The evaluation explored both program processes and outcomes. 
In addition, youth were asked to complete a pre posttest assessment which explored the sense of self-worth, empowerment, and perceptions of the
program elements
Youth were provided with a link to an electronic survey which they
completed anonymously.

The positive impact from our first session

80%

average attendance over 6 days

97%

increase in self worth

83%

increase thinking they are not a failure

84%

increase in positive attitude towards self

77%

increase in respect towards self

91%

increase in to be involved with
the community

Through this program, the youth reported learning more about themselves, 

gaining new knowledge, and reported positive peer relationships. The most common recommendations to improve the program were focused on program expansion and more in-person time.

We currently have a youth focus group made up of children and will expand our capacity to include more young people in the decision-making process. We are also adding our first youth advisor to our board. By 2022, WAB2G is committed to adding more youth advisors to our board's makeup.