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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Arizona Project Engages American Indian Youth as Agents of Change in Health Promotion

Young people can be valuable motivational resources for health promotion. Researchers from the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the Hualapai Tribe implemented a project in a small American Indian community in northwest Arizona recruiting American Indian youth as agents of change for health promotion through radio programming. The study is published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

The project was conducted from October 2009 through December 2013 with participation of the Hualapai Tribe. The tribal reservation consists of approximately 1 million acres in rural northwest Arizona. Approximately 1,700 reservation residents (95 percent American Indian; 80 percent enrolled Hualapai tribal members) live in Peach Springs, Arizona, the primary residential and business community on the reservation. An estimated 40 percent of reservation residents are aged 18 years or younger.

Sixty-five members of local Boys & Girls Club received information on the project. Throughout the 30 months of program implementation, 37 young people ages to 10 to 21 years old participated in the program. Participants were recruited and trained in broadcasting and creative writing techniques. The objective of the project was to engage young people in an American Indian community to create locally relevant stories of a fictitious family working to make lifestyle changes and to share the stories with the community through a local radio station. The students produced and aired three radio dramas.

In post-project evaluation, participants were confident they could influence community behaviors but thought that training techniques were too similar to those used in school activities and thus reduced their drive to engage.

The lessons learned in recruitment, retention, and training in this small American Indian community may be relevant to other settings. Engaging young people as change agents is heralded as an effective public health strategy, but doing so requires strategies that honor their competing requirements and interests (i.e., school, sports, and other extracurricular activities) and integrates their motivation to improve their community in an entertaining way.

The Effective engagement of young people requires creativity to enhance recruitment, retention, and impact.

A Brief Evaluation of a Project to Engage American Indian Young People as Agents of Change in Health Promotion Through Radio Programming, Arizona, 2009–2013.

Preventing Chronic Disease, Feb 11, 2016