3 Students “Building a Resilient Future” for Young Men of Color

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Apr. 27, 2015 12:34 pm

What Can the City do to Improve Outcomes for Young Men of Color? 3 Jefferson University Students Have a Plan

Three students from Thomas Jefferson University won the City of Philadelphia’s 2015 Public Policy Case Competition.

Earlier this year, the City of Philadelphia’s 2015 Public Policy Case Competition gave students the opportunity to offer creative proposals responding to the question: What can the City of Philadelphia do to best improve outcomes for boys and young men of color?

The winning proposal “Building a Resilient Future,” selected earlier this month, was submitted by Amber Bowie, Brittany Haltzman, and Rachel Powell from Thomas Jefferson University.

“We decided to enter the policy case competition because it was a great way to utilize your knowledge set and skills learned in our Masters of Public Health Program and create a tangible initiative that the City could use to improve the public’s health,” Bowie wrote in an email. “We were intrigued by the prompt and the goals of the ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ (MBK) initiative in Philadelphia and wanted to make a program that would fulfill the goals of the City and MBK initiatives.”

Building a Resilient Future targets young men of color, ages 11-18, and educates participants on factors promoting resilience such as self-esteem, dealing with stress through humor, coping skills, safety and security, and effective communication.

“The Building a Resilient Future Program focuses on the mental health status of young men and promotes resilience and good mental health practices,” Bowie said, adding that the intervention was inspired by Guy Winch and his moving TED talk about emotional first aid, in which Winch discusses the compelling case to practice emotional hygiene by taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies. The team was also inspired by the book Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Trauma and Violence in the Lives of Young Black Men by Dr. John Rich of Drexel University.

In order to make their proposal a reality, the team plans on applying for a grant they included in its proposal through Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which would fund them for three years.

“If we get the grant funds, we plan to reach out to the local YMCA and/or boys and girls club to partner with them. We also plan to connect with members of Power Corps for aid in further developing the initiatives,” Haltzman said. “Our hopes are to follow our timeline as laid out in our proposal and implement the intervention over the next 3 years successfully.”

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In addition, the team believes its proposal could be extended to apply to all adolescents.
“Our program can help adolescents of all genders, races, ethnicity and background; with some additional research Building a Resilient Future’s curriculum can easily be adapted to any target population,” Powell said.

Image via City of Philadelphia

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