Six students from JEVS’ Youth Services programs participated in a youth-led health assessment through America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest partnership alliance devoted to improving the lives of children and youth.

The research project focused on youth access to health and wellness and youth issues in the community.  Five cities participated in the project: Philadelphia, Denver, Chicago, Boston and Saint Paul.

As part of the project, the students attended three full-day training sessions where they learned about the assignment and how to gather research data. They also discussed various youth issues and shared some of their own life challenges.

At the training, the students chose five topics to research: Teen Pregnancy, Drug Use, Stereotypes, Violence and Social Media. To collect their data, they created a 29-question survey and distributed it to 102 people, targeting youth ages 16-22.

After analyzing the results, the students transferred the information to PhotoVoice, a method that uses photography and digital storytelling to communicate research themes. While some of the results were expected, others were surprising. For example, out of all the youth surveyed, 82 thought that black males were the most targeted by police.

When it was time to decide who would present the research at the convention in D.C., the students chose JEVS’ own Zaynah and Dy’Mon (top photo). In front of nearly 300 people, the students presented their findings and performed a powerful spoken word that Dy’Mon wrote herself.

“It was a new experience,” said Dy’Mon. “I never performed spoken word in front of that many people. It helped me build confidence.”

After the presentations were delivered, all of the participants gathered to discuss possible solutions to the issues youth are facing today.

“Every city had the same problems,” said Zaynah. “We heard these issues, now what do we do?”

View some of Zaynah and Dy’Mon’s presentation here.

Read the full final report “Barriers to Wellness:  Voices and Views from Young People in Five Cities” here.  

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