Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Alive and Free: Walking Quietly but Making Big Steps A Qualitative Study of Alumni from Omega Boys Club of San Francisco's Strengths-Based Youth Development and Violence Prevention Program
by McElroy, Toni Marie, Ed.D., Mills College, 2013, 170; 3568498
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative research is a study of four Alumni from Omega Boys Club of San Francisco, a strengths-based youth development and violence prevention program. A strengths-based approach uses positive understanding, positive relationships and cultural competency to interrupt the effects of violence in youth's lives.

The study sought to answer the following questions: What does a strength-based intervention program in response to community violence look like? How, if at all, are young people's behaviors changed by their participation in strengths-based intervention programs? How, if at all, is young people's thinking changed by their participation in a strengths-based intervention program?

This study answers these questions through the lens of qualitative case studies from the perspective of the four alumni participants and identifies the essential elements of strengths-based approaches to a successful, sustainable, and culturally appropriate youth development and violence prevention program.

Significant themes emerged from the data. Three primary themes from the conceptual framework were confirmed by the data: (a) positive understanding of community (b) sense of belonging/positive relationships and (c) cultural competence. Two other themes also emerged (a) the importance of family values and (b) persistence.

Positive understanding is defined in this study is the ability of a strengths-based organization to understand adolescent development and character strengths contributing to the healthy development of the whole person—intellectually, emotionally and socially. A sense of belonging was shared by participants as key to their connectedness to good relationships and trust with peers and caring adults. Culturally competent youth development programs come with the understanding that cultural competency is an important social and political element in efforts to model positive self-images— psychological, intellectual, and social development of participants. Finally, family and persistence themes are associated with the successful transformational journey of Omega Boys Club of San Francisco alumni and alumnae. Self-regulation, support and encouragement—friends and family—and family values, juxtaposed with persistence to change—struggle and progression--catapulted the Omega participants into reconstructed norms, values and beliefs—alive and free.

This research is useful information to community-based organizations to formulate an understanding of youth violence prevention programming and to recruit and retain culturally competent staff and implement culturally relevant programs. This information is fundamental to teachers and school site administrators because it plants the seeds to successfully cultivate culturally competent and culturally relevant teaching and learning that garners academic success and cultural awareness, especially for African American males.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Donahue, David
Commitee: Harrison, Christopher, Ketelle, Diane, Perez, Linda
School: Mills College
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership
Keywords: Boys Club, Community partnerships, Cultural competence, Teacher development, Violence prevention, Youth development
Publication Number: 3568498
ISBN: 978-1-303-23037-0
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