NATIONAL ARTS & YOUTH DEMONSTRATION PROJECT: ART PROGRAMS AS A PREVENTION MODALITY FOR CHILDREN & YOUTH IN HIGH-RISK COMMUNITIES
The National Arts and Youth Demonstration Project is a three-year demonstration study that is currently being implemented in five sites across Canada, exploring an alternative method of primary prevention of child and youth behavior problems. The study will explore the extent to which community-based organizations can successfully engage young people in artistic endeavours. The study will also determine the extent to which the effectiveness of art programs can demonstrate positive outcomes for children and youth such as staying in school, improving academic performance, improving self-esteem, instilling hope for the future, encouraging a focus on career development, and most importantly inhibiting their involvement in negative social situations such as substance use, crime and violence.
The five sites reflect a cross-section of geographic diversity, rural and urban communities, cultural diversity reflective of the Canadian population and diverse economic communities. In each site, 30 to 35 children, 10 to 15 years of age, participate in a structured art program twice a week for a nine-month period. The design of the study is a pre post-test method with a six-month follow-up.
The primary intentions of the project is to use the findings of the study to inform policy makers, program planners and researchers on the usefulness and the cost effectiveness of art programs as a prevention strategy aimed at populations of children and to begin a dialogue on the need to:
- Offer art programs to children on a universal basis,
- Establish standards with respect to planning, implementing and evaluating art programs in community-based organisations,
- Address the issue of program sustainability and barriers to access, participation and equitable outcomes for children in poor multicultural communities.
Dr. Robin Wright is a professor at McGill University School of Social Work with a major interest in prevention of children’s emotional and behavioural problems. Prior to her appointment at McGill she taught at the University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work. Her teaching interests include research, prevention and intervention in children’s services, management and supervision of social service agencies and social policy and administration. Dr. Wright in conjunction with Dr. Offord at the Canadian Centre for Studies of Children at Risk, completed pilot work in 9 Secondary School Boards in Ontario. She has also worked extensively within the Foundation sector most recently as Program Director of the Youth Engagement Program at the Laidlaw Foundation. She worked for many years in children’s services as a front-line worker, clinician and manager.
Dr. Lindsay John is a professor at McGill University School of Social Work with a major interest in prevention of children’s emotional and behavioural problems. Prior to his appointment at McGill he taught in the Medical School at McMaster University, the University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work, and the School of Social Work at the University of Windsor. His teaching interest includes social work epistemology, multiculturalism, child welfare, research methodology, individual, group and family therapy. Prior to coming to entering academia, Dr. John was the research coordinator for one of the teaching hospitals at McMaster University. He also practiced as a child, adolescent, and family psychotherapist. Dr. John is an epidemiologist with extensive experience in data analysis. His research interests include instrument development for outcome research, and quality of life research.
Dr. David R. Offord is a child psychiatrist with major interests in epidemiology and prevention. He is Director of the Canadian Centre for Studies of Children at Risk which focuses on policy issues, scientific research and training. Dr. Offord is also Head of the Division of Child Psychiatry at McMaster University, and Research Director of the Chedoke Child and Family Centre. He has played a leading role in the Ontario Child Health Study (OCHS) and the OCHS Follow-up. He has acted as co-investigator on a community intervention in a public housing complex in Ottawa, completed pilot work on two Native reserves and was the co-principal investigator of the Tri-Ministry Project, a six-year study aimed at the prevention of adjustment problems in children from kindergarten to grade three.
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