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“Hey, those are teenagers and they are doing stuff”: Youth Participation in Community Development

Thomas, Tammy (2013) “Hey, those are teenagers and they are doing stuff”: Youth Participation in Community Development. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Youth have long been a marginalized, disenfranchised and powerless population. Youth of color living in poverty have an even greater likelihood, due to persistent racism and classism in our society, of being in the margins. These youth are often viewed as destructors of community, despite evidence of structural disinvestment, and are rarely given opportunities to participate in their communities. This dissertation utilizes a community-based participatory approach to collaborate with a group of youth of color residing in an impoverished community who are actively engaged in community development efforts. Focus group discussions and individual interviews, along with observations, reveal that youth have strong interests in participating in their community. When given opportunities to participate, they want to be involved in making changes to improve the neighborhood. Youth expressed having passion for their community, being acutely aware of neighborhood needs, and having creative solutions to community problems. In order to become assets to their community, youth need adults and institutions to operate in ways that promote their strengths and embrace youth as both resources and leaders in the community. As community development often occurs through programs, this dissertation proposes a conceptual model to guide youth programs in providing young people with an atmosphere where they can develop. Young people need these programs to create physically and emotionally safe spaces, to integrate youth into the community, to take a holistic approach in working with youth, to reframe traditional frameworks for prevention, and to offer youth meaningful and productive experiences where they are making decisions and designing interventions. When youth are supported, they develop empowered self-perception, self-esteem, self-efficacy, agency, capacity, role modeling behavior, team work, expanded social networks, intergenerational connections, economic stability, skills to make long-term impacts and a sense of ownership of the community.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Thomas, Tammytlthomas@pitt.eduTLTHOMAS
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGoodkind, Sarasag51@pitt.eduSAG51
Committee MemberRauktis, Mary Bethmar104@pitt.eduMAR104
Committee MemberShook, Jeffreyjes98@pitt.eduJES98
Committee MemberBurke, Jessicajgburke@pitt.eduJGBURKE
Date: 18 June 2013
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 18 June 2013
Approval Date: 15 August 2013
Submission Date: 14 August 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 208
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Social Work > Social Work
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Youth, Community Development, Youth Participation, Youth as Assets, Community-Based Participatory Research, Empowerment
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2013 16:06
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2019 23:48


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