Wilderness Therapy for Youth of Color : An Examination of Program Length, Cultural Relevance, and Post-Program Care
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Researchers have identified factors that make wilderness therapy an effective form of therapy for youth experiencing mental health challenges, home environment challenges, and academic and behavioral challenges. But little research has been done to identify programming factors that increase wilderness therapy program efficacy for primarily urban youth of color populations. Due to the high cost of wilderness therapy programs, at-risk youth of color rarely experience access to these resources. This project proposes programming changes to an existing outdoor adventure camp that is accessible to at-risk youth of color, in order to increase lasting program efficacy as a form of wilderness therapy, incarceration prevention, and restorative justice. The 3 manipulations proposed are session length extension from 6 to 21 days, culturally relevant programming, and post-session continuum of care program development. Youth participants enrolled in non-manipulated program sessions will be measured on childhood experiences of hope, as well as experienced increases in self-agency and self-empowerment at the start of the program, program conclusion, and at the 4-month follow-up. Youth participants enrolled in program sessions under the 3manipulations proposed will be measured on the same scales and at the same time intervals. The hypothesis of this project is that introducing these 3 manipulations to the existing camp programming will lead to improvement in youth participants' total scores across all measurements. Additionally, during manipulated sessions, scores across all measures will improve between pretests and posttests, and will maintain increases at 4-month follow-up tests.
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