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ERIC Number: EJ1016820
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Participation As Relational Process: Unpacking Involvement in Social Action and Community Service
Jones, Jeffrey N.; Bench, Joshua H.; Warnaar, Bethany L.; Stroup, John T.
Afterschool Matters, n18 p9-16 Fall 2013
Educators, policymakers, and other concerned adults share an interest in promoting lifelong patterns of community service in youth. Practitioners and researchers alike highlight the importance of youth participation in afterschool service activities so the author's focus in this paper is on youth involved in PeaceJam, an innovative service program. PeaceJam is a community-based social action program created in the late 1990s to engage gang members in inner-city Denver in prosocial activities. Since that time, more than one million youth have participated worldwide. "PeaceJammers" study the lives of Nobel Peace laureates, identify a pressing community issue, and plan and implement a social action project. Mixed methods were employed in this study, combining results from quantitative surveys with program observations and participant interviews. Surveys were administered over three years from a sample of 781 youth (67% female, with 43% reporting an ethnicity other than Caucasian). The sample included more juniors (33%) and seniors (32%) than freshmen (15%) and sophomores (20%). Respondents averaged 1.6 years of involvement in Peace-Jam. Similarly, of the 30 interviewees, 73% were female, and 38% reported an ethnicity other than Caucasian. Analysis of our quantitative and qualitative data explored the connections between psychosocial experience and participants' sustained engagement in PeaceJam and in service to the community. In speaking of the process of participation, youth reported high levels of autonomy, belongingness, and competence. They spoke to the need to engage in intentional practices that are organized around, and sensitive to, the diverse needs that are present in youth-serving settings. Programs that facilitate social action may promote the development of shared purpose through collaborative efforts towards a common goal. Inspired by these experiences to critically analyze their own values and goals, youth may develop a sense of purpose and self-determination.
Descriptors: After School Programs, Youth Programs, Service Learning, Social Action, Prosocial Behavior, Observation, Interviews, High School Students, Minority Group Students, Surveys, Psychological Patterns, Social Development, Student Participation, Personal Autonomy, Competence, Ethnic Diversity, Self Determination
National Institute on Out-of-School Time. Wellesley Centers for Women, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02481. Tel: 781-283-2547; Fax: 781-283-3657; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.niost.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois; Indiana; Michigan; Ohio
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A