The research project ‘Confident Futures: Collaborative and participatory learning from successful youth initiatives’ has received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the municipality of Amsterdam. The project will run for 2 years and involves Anita Hardon, from the AISSR Health, Care and the Body programme group, as well as New York University.
Public health research usually evaluates the success of interventions with parameters such as mortality, obesity and psychiatric disorders. But with these parameters, we cannot measure or capture the social dynamics of successful health promotion.
Then how can we know the success of mental health promotion projects for young people?
Rather than inquiring about why young people fail to do what professionals want them to do, this new research will use on-site ethnography (interviews and observation) as well as measures of social adversity and adaptation to focus on what young people successfully do locally to ensure health, happiness, safety and well-being for themselves and others in their environment.
The research will compare eight youth initiatives, both in New York City and Amsterdam, that make use of arts and sports. The project will examine the ways in which these initiatives reframe problems in terms that are locally actionable, how they engage youth, help them become more confident, support their access to the labor market, expand their social networks, and enhance their resilience and ability to self-manage.