Report from the Field: Meeting Youth Where They Are—Understanding the Adolescent Experience
On April 26-27, 2016, the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (APP) Program hosted an in-person training on the overlapping nature of adolescent risk. The training sought to broaden grantees’ knowledge and awareness on complex issues that vulnerable youth often encounter. The training also provided a variety of tools and resources to help grantees better support youth. A key takeaway of the training was that grantees learned the importance of meeting youth where they are in terms of the various adverse experiences that youth may have and how these experiences may impact their engagement within APP programs. Participants overwhelmingly shared that they found the training relevant and beneficial, as illustrated by one attendee who noted, “For most conferences, I come out feeling as if I did not get anything new or no real new ideas to help solve the issues we are faced with. I feel as though I have gained new strategies and perspectives to use.”
The general training session highlighted the importance of integrating supportive and trauma-informed care to promote resiliency in youth. Grantees participated in a “journey mapping exercise” to gain further insights on the youth experience and how APP services can positively impact youth. Additional training topics included immigration, substance use, and the impact of bullying on mental health. Subject matter experts for each topic shared a number of resources and strategies to improve the delivery of care to youth. Key recommendations include:
- See youth beyond their behaviors and be mindful of influences on youth behavior that may require a more compassionate, trauma-informed approach to care.
- Establish partnerships with organizations that provide resources and services to support migrant youth.
- Establish partnerships with other youth serving organizations that address substance abuse and engage responsible, supportive adults in their work.
The training concluded with a presentation on mindfulness, the use of meditation, breathing, centering, and other mindfulness techniques, and how these approaches can be used to help youth better regulate their emotions.