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Leona L. Eggert and Liela J. Nicholas, Developers

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1 Leona L. Eggert and Liela J. Nicholas, Developers
Reconnecting Youth Leona L. Eggert and Liela J. Nicholas, Developers A Peer Group Approach to Building Life Skills A Peer Group Approach to Building Life Skills Leona L. Eggert and Liela J. Nicholas, Developers What could be more important than RECONNECTING the DISCONNECTED youth in your school? RY is all about reaching students at risk of dropping out of school, of becoming increasingly involved in using alcohol and other drugs, and of depression, as well as suicidal, aggressive or violent behavior patterns. The purpose of this presentation is to provide an overview of the Program, demonstrating who it is designed for, outlining the prevention components in the Program, and the results you can expect if you deliver RY as designed. Funded by the National Institutes of Health: NIDA, NIMH and the Dept. of Education, Safe & Drug Free Schools  RYTM Inc. Redmond, WA

2 What is Indicated Prevention?
Three Types of Prevention Programs: Selective Serve High Risk Groups Indicated Target: High-Risk Individuals Universal Serve Everyone in Population Serve High Risk Individuals Low Risk High Risk Potential high school dropouts are a known group of high-risk youth What is Indicated Prevention? Reconnecting Youth is a school-based, indicated prevention program. It is a proactive approach to the co-occurring problem behaviors often observed in youth at risk of dropping out of high school. What is Indicated Prevention? The Public Health Prevention Framework, based on a risk and protective factor model, describes prevention programming on a continuum: Universal Prevention Interventions are designed to reach everyone in a population (e.g., the DARE Program, or a smoking cessation commercial on television) and to benefit individuals with few risk factors and many protective factors. Selective Prevention Interventions are designed to target at-risk groups (e.g., all incoming freshman at a school; or children of alcoholics, who are known to be a group more at risk for drug and alcohol abuse) and to benefit individuals who, based on their membership in a particular group, may have more risk factors and fewer protective factors for the targeted problem-behavior. Indicated Prevention Interventions are designed for individuals at high risk for problem behavior (e.g., potential high school drops, depressed, suicidal youth) and to benefit individuals already exhibiting problem behaviors and who exhibit multiple risk and few protective factors. The continuum ranges from low to high risk with the need for intervention increasing as the risk for the problem behavior increases. Thus, the degree of risk is related to the dose of intervention. The greater the need, the greater the dose necessary to reduce risk and increase protection against that risk.  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

3 RY is an ‘Indicated’ prevention program for
‘high risk students,’ who evidence risk factors in four critical areas: School Peers Personal Family What is RY? Reconnecting Youth is delivered as a semester long class that is part of the student’s regular school schedule. It is taken for elective credit and graded. The dose of the intervention is consistent with the level of co-occurring risk factors evidenced by potential high school drop-outs. Specifically, RY is designed to address risk factors clustered in four critical areas namely: School, Personal, Peers and Family. School Factors: High risk youth typically see: Classes as irrelevant to their needs. Little accommodation for their learning styles. Teachers who take little or no interest in them. Inconsistent implementation of attendance and discipline policies. Inconsistent or no communication between their parents and school personnel. On a Personal Level these students: Lack motivation for school achievement. May be using/abusing alcohol and other drugs. Characteristically, are impulsive, lack emotional control, have low self-esteem and poor interpersonal skills. Are risk-takers, i.e., have poor decision-making and coping skills. These high-risk students are vulnerable to peer pressure and easily bond to drug-using peers. These students typically report some combination of family risk factors (e.g., distress, serious conflicts, poor connections with school, unfair rules, unconventional drug use norms).  RYTM Inc. Redmond, WA

4 School Peers Personal Family RY Program Strategies RY prevention program strategies address the risk factors in each of the four key areas: This co-occurrence of risk factors often has a synergistic effect calling for the multi-faceted prevention strategies that characterize the RY Class. Addressing school achievement alone is insufficient. When students cross the threshold into their classes, they don’t leave behind the influences of peers and family, personal emotional distress, or their need to belong. Thus, RY prevention strategies are designed to directly address the risk factors common to this high-risk group. The school system and family strategies are essential to the successful delivery of the RY class. They are designed to directly counteract risk factors experienced by students who are struggling with attendance and school achievement. The personal and peer group strategies are incorporated into the daily RY class content and processes. These strategies evolved out of early ethnographic studies with students who “skipped” class and used drugs. A small group approach was chosen as the structure of the RY class to replace the sense of group belonging and the norms common to students who “skipped” class. Eggert LL & Nicholas LJ (1992). Speaking like a skipper: "Skippin' an' gettin' high". J Lang & Soc Psy, 11,  RYTM Inc. Redmond, WA

5 School System Strategies
1. Setting norms for:  attendance,  achievement,  drug use at school and  mood management 2. Establishing an adult and peer network of support for all Fostering school bonding and engagement in school activities School System Strategies The RY school system strategies are designed to help students at risk for high school drop-out to learn and practice skills that help them to set reasonable, attainable goals around such practical issues as attendance, achievement, drug use at school and mood management. Once a trust relationship is established in the RY class between the RY leader and the students, life skills are acquired and lead to positive changes.  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

6 Personal Strategies – giving and receiving feedback
1. Skills Training – setting goals, decision making – giving and receiving feedback – interpersonal skills 2. Self-monitoring – school attendance, grades – moods and drug use 3. School Engagement – safe and drug-free social activities – engaging in school activities RY personal strategies include skills training, self-monitoring and school engagement. RY students learn skills that reduce risk factors and increase their protection factors. They practice daily monitoring to help them recognize progress, recognize slips and overcome barriers to their success. School bonding is increased by using skills and the support from the RY Leader and RY peers to learn and participate in safe and healthy activities in the school and the community. To counteract the high-risk student’s perception that school is boring and to supplant the appeals of skipping classes, using drugs and spending time with deviant peers, it was important to make belonging to the group and learning and practicing individual strategies fun and exciting. A fundamental aspect of RY is the support exchanged daily between the group Leader and individual students.  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

7 Peer Group Strategies 1. Norm setting in RY class to commit to the program goals A positive peer group; giving each other support and help 3. Group belonging in RY class The heart of the program is the group Leader whose task it is to facilitate the peer group strategies. The development of a positive peer culture is characterized by group belonging, support and help from peer group members, and support and help from the RY group Leader.  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

8 Family Strategies 1. Getting active parental consent for student’s enrollment in RY class 2. Parent support of RY goals 3. Enhancing RY teacher/ parent communication 4. Sending home positive messages about RY student These are the RY strategies to address the family related risk factors. Establishing family support for the RY student participation and program goals is critical to student success in RY. Creating/fostering positive parent-school bonds is a key step in “reconnecting” families—RY Leader-parent communication and RY Leader advocacy are building blocks in this process.  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

9 RY Program Goals 1. Increase school performance
2. Decrease drug involvement 3. Decrease suicide risk behaviors RY Program Strategies targeting School, Personal, Peer and Family risk factors come together to assist RY students to work toward three central program goals: To increase school achievement. Specific objectives are to increase school bonding and thereby, increase school attendance, GPA (across all classes), and the number of credits earned per semester toward graduation. To decrease drug involvement. Specific objectives are to curb the frequency of alcohol and other drug use, by increasing drug use control and by decreasing adverse drug use consequences experienced with friends, family, at school and with the law. To decrease suicide risk. Specific objectives are to decrease suicidal behaviors by decreasing related risk factors (depression, hopelessness, anger control problems, stress) and increasing protective factors (self-esteem, personal control and social support from peers, family and school).  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

10 The RY Class 1. Meets daily – or on a block schedule
for a full semester as part of the high school curriculum is taken for credit and graded 2. Taught by an RY Co. trained teacher who excels in working with high-risk youth 3. Is limited to a 10 – 12 student class size 4. Focuses on skills training within the context of adult and peer support The RY class is a semester-long—delivered as an elective high school class taken for credit. RY is delivered daily during regular school hours usually 90 class periods. Each session is typically 55 minutes in length but can be adapted for block or trimester scheduling. Class size is limited to 10 to 13 students ensure that each student has an opportunity to learn, practice and apply critical skills content on a daily basis and to ensure an optimal environment for group belonging and support. RY is not a semester long small group counselling session. It is highly structured and the structure focuses on teaching and learning specific skills related to specific risk factors within the context of adult and peer group support.  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

11 RY Curriculum Units 1. Getting Started ― First 10 Days
2. Self-Esteem Enhancement 3. Decision Making 4. Personal Control 5. Interpersonal Communication The curriculum consists of 90 very detailed lesson plans and includes essential teaching materials. Shown here are the five curriculum units of the program.  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

12 RY Students Find students who: are behind in credits for grade level &
A search of the school’s roster using the researched criteria below will create a list of at risk students. Find students who: are behind in credits for grade level & are in the top 25th %-ile for absences & have a GPA < 2.3 or a precipitous drop in grades, OR ... have a prior dropout status, or are referred by school personnel & meet 1 or more of the first three criteria The early ethnographic studies of at risk students (skippers) by the RY researchers led to an algorithm (formula) for identifying high-risk youth within schools. Identification criteria include combinations of the criteria shown in this slide. These criteria consistently predict future truancy, declining grades, school dropout and drug involvement. It was found in the ethnographic studies that “skippers” were often personally invited to skip class, and that anyone was welcome. Thus, RY uses an “invitation” process, in which students are personally invited and made to feel welcome, not assigned. The invitation to join the RY class is critical!  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

13 Suicide Risk Behaviors
RY Components & Outcomes Program Components Mediators Outcomes Increased School Performance Decreased Drug Involvement Suicide Risk Behaviors RY Leader Support Peer Group Support RY Teacher Support Increased Personal Competencies and RY Skills Training Monitoring Increased Social Support Resources School Bonding & Healthy Social Activities In order to achieve the program goals (on the right hand side of the slide) RY combines four key components integrated into the daily class (the boxes on the left-hand side of the slide) Group support and caring  (RY Leader and Peer Group Support) to enhance feelings of acceptance and belonging. Life skills training  to enhance protective factors and resiliency. Monitoring  of personal goals set in relation to the three program goals to help establish and maintain personal control. School bonding/social activities  to foster healthy choices in friends and activities. Look at the relationship between the key components or processes of RY classes, and the three main RY program goals in terms of program outcomes. The four program components interact to help students increase personal competencies (e.g., personal control, problem-solving, self-esteem) and increase personal social support resources (e.g., bonding to school, RY Leader and peers, increasing access to support at school and home) which in turn result in attainment of program goals.  RYTM Inc. Redmond, WA

14 Program Goal 1: To Increase School Performance
U T C M E S Demonstrated results for RY include: 18%  in GPA in all classes (6%  for controls) 7.5%  in number of credits earned (24%  for controls) Absences curbed (increased for controls) 14% lower dropout rate vs. controls RY Leader support influenced increases, whereas peer group support had no effect The next three slide show the results for tests of the effectiveness of the RY Program—when students participating in RY were compared to controls, similar students who completed questionnaires but did not participate in RY. For more details regarding study outcomes references are listed on the RY Publications and Studies accessible by visiting the RY Program Web site and clicking on Effectiveness in “What is RY?’ The findings of the studies conducted by the U.W. RY Prevention Research Team are reported here by program goal. Results related to the goal to increase school performance are very positive. To help your at-risk students increase their school performance, implement RY as it was designed.  RYTM Inc. Redmond, WA

15 Program Goal 2: To Decrease Drug Involvement
Demonstrated results for RY include: 7%  in drug involvement (14%  for controls) 50%  in hard drug use (45%  for controls) 48%  in drug use control problems & neg. consequences (3%  for controls) Curbed progression of alcohol & other drug use RY Leader support influenced decreased drug involvement Results related to the goals of decreasing drug involvement are also very encouraging. Note the dramatic differences between the treatment and the control students.  RYTM Inc. Redmond, WA

16 Program Goal 3: To Decrease Suicide Risk Behaviors
Demonstrated results for RY include: 80% suicidal behaviors (80%for control group who got same crisis help/support) 75% in depression & hopelessness (24%  for controls) 48% in anger control problems (3%  for controls) 38% perceived stress (10% for controls) RY Leader & peer group support influenced the above decreases by enhancing the youths’ sense of personal control These too are very encouraging and significant results. Note the effects of the RY Leader in relation to positive results for each of the RY program goals.  RYTM Inc. Redmond, WA

17 Reconnecting Youth is an award-winning, program with proven efficacy in helping high-risk youth achieve in school and decrease drug use, anger, depression & suicidal behaviors. SAMHSA awarded RY ‘Model Program’ status for drug abuse prevention. The SPRC named RY a ‘promising program’ for preventing youth suicidal behaviors and many related risks. DOE, the White House, NIDA, NIMH, Prevention Strategies and others have recognized RY as one of the U.S.’s top 10 research-based prevention efforts with proven success. In summary -- Reconnecting Youth (RY) is a school-based prevention program for youth in grades nine through twelve (14 to 18 years old) who are at risk for school dropout. These youth may also exhibit multiple behavior problems, such as substance abuse, aggression, depression, or suicide risk behaviors. Reconnecting Youth uses a partnership model involving peers, school personnel, and parents to deliver interventions that address the three central program goals: Increased school performance Decreased drug involvement Decreased emotional distress Students work toward these goals by participating in a semester-long, high school class that involves skills training in the context of a positive peer culture. RY students learn, practice, and apply self-esteem enhancement strategies, decision-making skills, personal control strategies, and interpersonal communication techniques. This award-winning, research-based curriculum has been proven effective in helping high-risk youth achieve in school, manage their anger, and decrease drug use, depression, and suicide risk. It was piloted for 5 years with over 600 public high school students with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health. It has been successfully implemented in a variety of settings; schools, health clinics, mental health centers, juvenile detention centers, and private practices. Recognized by SAMHSA as a Model Program: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is listed as one of the Programs That Work: National Institute on Drug Abuse and rated Grade "A" & "A+” in the Drug Strategies category.  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

18 Together we can make a difference by reconnecting youth
When a school works cooperatively with its community and its parents to implement RY as designed, students indeed reconnect in positive ways. Together we can make a difference!  RYTM Inc, Redmond, WA

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