GTI 2015 is over, but it seems like only yesterday that we had our thumbs up, arms out, knees together, tongue out and head back for Singing in the Rain! Sounds a little silly, huh? We make a lot of great memories at Georgia Teen Institute, from our General Sessions to Family Group to engaging in team building activities and more. One of the most important parts of GTI, and where participants spend most of their time at camp, is Team Meetings. During this time, Youth Action Teams work to learn more about their local community and plan a project that addresses a need they identify in the community. Statewide Youth Action Teams that are funded by DBHDD are required to plan a project centered on underage drinking prevention. In order to complete a Team Action Plan, the teams go through the Strategic Prevention Framework to plan their project from beginning to end!
If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you may know that we recently published an entire series on the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF). This is really exciting because what our teams do at GTI is a significant real-life application of this process! Want to read a little about the SPF in action? Check out the steps below to see how our teams use them to plan their projects.
STEP 1: Assessment
To begin Assessment, Youth Action Teams reviewed data from the Georgia Department of Education’s Georgia Student Health Survey II and the Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS Count Data to get to know some of the issues relevant to their communities. They then decided what issues were important to them and what they, as a team, felt needed to be addressed. After ranking the top three needs identified, they got to the core of the problem by answering a big question: “But why?”
Here’s an example: If underage drinking is identified as a problem in the community, “But why?” may be answered in the following ways:
- Teens feel peer pressure from friends to fit in.
- There are misperceptions in social norms that contribute to teens thinking this is an acceptable behavior (i.e., everyone’s doing it).
- Parents and other adults may not fully understand how alcohol damages the teenage brain or consequences for providing alcohol to minors.
STEP 2: Capacity Building
Capacity Building involves identifying resources that Youth Action Teams can potentially utilize to carry out their project. To complete this step, teams filled out a chart that detailed resources, what type of skill, talent or service the resource provides and whether the resource must be mobilized or built.
Here’s an example: If a team were planning to raise awareness of underage drinking consequences, they may identify resources such as a local community center for event space, Parks and Recreation or a local nonprofit for health and wellness and substance abuse prevention materials and even community figures to come and speak or conduct workshops. If these were already available in their community, the team would identify that they need to mobilize the resources; if not, they would need to build them.
STEP 3: Planning
During the Planning phase, Youth Action Teams identified possible interventions that aligned with the Community Level Change Strategies to best address the issue in their community. In addition, they created a Goal Statement and a Project To Do List. Also considered during this time is a budget for the project.
Here’s an example: Goal Statement – Our Red Ribbon Week campaign will shatter the myths related to underage drinking in our community by providing information and resources on the consequences of drinking underage, both from the standpoint of health risks posed and legal consequences for parents and other adults who provide alcohol to minors. Our campaign will reduce the number of youth who report drinking underage in the middle and high schools in our county.
STEP 4: Implementation
This step of the SPF is conducted when Youth Action Teams return home and begin carrying out the project they planned at GTI. This is why submitting detailed monthly reports to the GUIDE office is important; it helps us keep track of teams’ progress and the impact they’re making in their communities!
STEP 5: Evaluation
Though the Evaluation phase is also conducted outside of GTI, planning for this begins during the program. Participants learned the difference between project and outcome evaluations and wrote sample questions for each type. They created an Evaluation Plan, which involved identifying who would be completing the evaluation, what information they want to collect and how they will report their accomplishments.
Here’s an example: Project evaluation question: “What was the most beneficial part of today’s event?” Outcome evaluation question: “How has taking part in this event changed your attitude about underage drinking?”
As you can tell, Youth Action Teams engage in the SPF process very intensely to ensure they create a meaningful project during their time at GTI. We look forward to hearing about these projects as the year progresses!
In addition to the essential process of the SPF, there were two BIG things we did differently this year related to Team Meetings. First, we provided a Community Level Change Strategies workshop on Day 1 of the program. To gear up for Team Meetings, the purpose of this workshop was to help participants understand the difference between individual and community level change strategies. Using a case study, they had the opportunity to identify example interventions for each of the Community Level Change Strategies in order to address the dilemma presented. This workshop helped them gain a greater understanding of how they can approach their projects so they are most effective and impactful. Second, during the evening of Day 1 we held a networking session to allow Adult Advisors to meet the staff member(s) assigned to their Youth Action Team prior to Team Meetings on Day 2. This session gave them a chance to get to know each other, discuss expectations and hopes for the week and start the Team Meetings process off on a good note. The addition of these two components strengthened Team Meetings in a way we had never seen before at GTI, and we are excited about the possibility of making this a new GTI tradition!
Across the two weeks of GTI 2015, we saw 45 Youth Action Teams (more than 300 participants!) engage in the Strategic Prevention Framework to complete a Team Action Plan. The significant impacts that will occur in communities all over the state of Georgia will be incredible to watch over the next year. Thanks to Team Meetings, the powerful change agents that come to GTI walk away with the tools and guidance they need to truly make a difference.
Still haven’t had enough of GTI 2015? Us, either! Stay tuned next week for a blog post about the awesome workshops we had during this summer’s program.