203747 Youth Empowerment Evaluation to Improve Afterschool Programming

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:45 AM

Jenita Parekh, MPH , St Luke's Episcopal Health Charities, Houston, TX
Kimberly Kay Lopez, DrPH , St Luke's Episcopal Health Charities, Houston, TX
Christine Markham, PhD , Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston, Houston, TX
Jane Peranteau, PhD , St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities, Houston, TX
Community based participatory research necessitates that community members act as partners in decision making and mutual learning and discovery. In the same light, for programs/issues involving youth, youth should be partners in knowledge sharing and evaluation (Checkoway & Richards-Schuster, 2004). This study is a youth-focused empowerment evaluation for the Successful Youth program. Successful Youth is a multi-component youth development after-school program created with the goal of reducing teen pregnancy. An empowerment evaluation is collaborative and participatory (Balcazar and Harper 2003). The three steps of an empowerment evaluation are: 1) defining mission, 2) taking stock, and 3) planning for the future (Fetterman 2001).

In a program where youth are developing leadership skills, making choices, and learning how to self reflect and evaluate, the empowerment evaluation could not be more aligned with promoting and enhancing these skills. In addition, an empowerment evaluation is designed to "foster improvement and self-determination" and "build capacity" (Fetterman 2001). Four empowerment groups were conducted with approximately 10 students per group. Preliminary results indicate points where students' perceptions of the program are aligned with the program's mission and where gaps are. Students offered program improvements. Additionally, students enjoyed expressing their feelings about the program and appreciated that their opinions were valued. Youth recommendations will be brought to program staff; and, gaps will be addressed. Empowerment evaluations with youth will continue so that youth involvement and input remains integral in the evaluation of the program; and, to ascertain that the program's goals are being met.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the value of community based participatory research approaches in youth-focused evaluation methods. 2. Identify key components of Empowerment Evaluation. 3. List the benefits of youth-focused evaluation methods.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently a 2nd year student in the MPH Community Health Practice Program at the University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH), with expectations to graduate in May 2009. The evaluation described in the abstract was conducted as my masters thesis for the University of Texas School of Public Health. I am a Graduate Assistant for the Successful Youth Program and conducted the empowerment evaluation for the program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.