Community Programs For At-Risk Children and Youth in the KFL&A Health Region: A Scoping Review

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White, Cynthia
Occupation , Well-Being , Youth Development , At-Risk
A scoping review was used to identify community-based out-of-school programs which employed occupation as a means of intervention to support positive youth development for at-risk children and youth. The purpose of the review was to explore how programs, via their structure and philosophy, may facilitate well-being and positive youth development. Organizations that ran programs which were accessible to children and youth in the boundaries of KFL&A Public Health Unit were located through internet search, word of mouth, and printed resources in the community. Nine programs (Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Camp Outlook, Outward Bound, Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation Camp, Children’s Aid Society, Youth Diversion, Girls Inc, and Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre) were identified and the associated documents were analyzed. A search of scholarly journals was completed to locate peer-reviewed publications which evaluated the above programs. Six publications were located which evaluated the effectiveness of the Boys and Girls Club (n=3) and Big Brothers Big Sisters (n=3). These evaluations indicated that the programs produce positive effects for youth behaviours and reduce negative attitudes and risk behaviours. Four common goals were identified through the analysis of the program documents: developing confidence/worth, safe supportive environment/relationships, skill development, and positive future outlook/place in the world. From the program documents, key phrases were identified that related to one or more of the components of well-being, namely; physical health (healthy lifestyle and participation), self-esteem (view of self and succeed at new things/skill development), belonging (safe supportive environment, citizenship, relationships/safe adult relationship), security (personal and economic), and self determination (skill development, positive future outlook, choices, self-reliance). Multiple links were observed between the goals and the components of well-being. The component of Belonging appeared to have the greatest emphasis, with all program documents containing at least one statement related to this component. This review provides insight into the role that youth programs which utilize occupation as the means of “intervention” can play in fostering a state of well-being and positive youth development among participants.
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