Nurturing Assets through Collaborative Arts-Based Inquiry with Youth

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Rhoades, Rachel
youth leadership , arts-based research , positive youth development , applied theatre , practitioner inquiry , assets
The aim of this article is to disrupt assumptions of youth capacity by offering a case study of collaborative arts-based practitioner research in program evaluation and development that puts youth ingenuity and aspiration at the forefront. The author served in multiple roles for the study as practitioner researcher, teaching artist working directly with youth participants, and education programs manager within the organization. The four major objectives of the Arts & Youth Leadership Development in Action project speak to a variety of constituents: social science researchers, administrators of not-for-profits that serve youth populations, program developers within such organizations and youth workers. The aim of the research was to facilitate youth in recognizing and applying their assets while imagining and enacting new arts education programming. The research served the education department by providing a conceptual framework – positive youth development – to inform pedagogy. Specifically, the project enabled youth to design a program wherein they could actualize their own definition of leadership. This connects to the objective of reframing the nebulous phrase “youth leadership” for scholars and practitioners from the viewpoint of youth themselves. This case study illustrates the unique manner in which the arts can facilitate youth in envisioning and embodying their aspirations.
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