Center for Promise has partnered with students across America to publish a first-of-its-kind report titled
Barriers to Wellness: Voices and Views from Young People in Five Cities. Researchers wanted to better understand the obstacles to wellness for young people of color across the U.S. In a departure from common practice, the team had students lead the research, making the report the first youth-led assessment to be conducted simultaneously in multiple major cities.
This youth-led health assessment was designed to tap into young people’s perspectives by engaging them not only as partners, but as leaders in community health research and assessment.
The research was conducted in partnership with youth organizations and grassroots organizers in five major U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and St. Paul. The students from across all areas came to the same conclusions:
Young people are under stress. In all five cities, respondents described employment concerns, race relations, violence, lack of community resources, and other environmental challenges as meaningful barriers to their well-being.
Young people feel unsafe. In all five cities, the police served as an additional stressor for young people of color—despite respondents’ concerns about community violence.
Young people mistrust and fear the police. In all five cities, the police served as an additional stressor for young people of color—despite respondents’ concerns about community violence.
Young people observe and suffer from a lack of access to community resources. Gentrification, local food options, and unemployment concerned respondents across the five cities.
Young people cite stereotyping and racial bias as reasons they feel unsafe and unwelcome.
Young people engage in risky behaviors to cope with stress. In Philadelphia and Chicago, the majority of respondents believe young people are impacted by family members who use drugs.
This report comes amidst a wave of student walkouts and protests across the country in response to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Since the election, protests have occurred in
St. Paul. All five cities were studied by these students for their report.
Matt Fulle is an intern at Education Post and an undergraduate at Northwestern University's School of Communication studying communication studies and legal studies. He has spent the last 5 years working to advance student voice in education reform. In high school, he helped to start a pilot program for student surveys as a form of teacher evaluation for the Seattle Public School District. In ...