The Approach

YOUTH PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH

In this study, we used Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to collaborate with youth in Springfield, MA and Lynn, MA to not only identify how structural violence and oppression leads to inequitable ASRH outcomes, but to think critically and creatively of ways to address these issues in their communities. YPAR is an approach that invites young people to investigate social issues meaningful to them and identify actions to address these issues (Cammarota & Fine, 2008). YPAR is youth-led and relies on the local knowledge of communities and collective action. Youth function as co-researchers as they address conditions that stem liberation and healthy development. Young people work to create meanings of the world around them; learning about oppression, power, and other histories of struggle. YPAR adheres closely to the Critical Race Theory (CRT) tenet of intersectionality (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). Thus, YPAR is a particularly useful methodology through which intentionally excluded youth can understand, discuss, and combat structural racism and violence. This approach teaches youth that injustice is systemic, but ultimately changeable (Cammarota & Fine, 2008). YPAR shifts understandings valuations of knowledge generation production and provides a space for arts-based inquiry to thrive in the research process. The use of arts-based approaches like Photovoice and storytelling are essential tools in identifying upstream issues that impact health and wellbeing and exploring the human condition. Youth participants contribute their knowledge at each level of the research process. YPAR is used to systematically develop pedagogical spaces of resistance, resiliency, healing, hope, equity, agency, and self-determination, with youth at the forefront (Akom, Ginwright, & Cammarota, 2008). 

CRITICAL NARRATIVE INTERVENTION (CNI)

CNI is a key theoretical framing for an asset-based, narrative, arts-based, and participatory approach to promoting health and addressing social inequality (A. Gubrium et al., 2019). CNI centers community member voice, values, and knowledge in health promotion that allows for a more sensitized and dignity-based approach. The driving question when prioritizing such methods is how individuals and communities view their lived experiences; in particular, how they make sense of, respond to, and confront the social, cultural, and structural influences that shape their lives. 

 

Rendering otherwise discounted local knowledge as relevant by working with marginalized communities to produce their own stories, bolstering social support and solidarity in the process, and Critiquing and recalibrating damaging and disempowering conversations on social health and wellbeing, ultimately to create more supportive policies with and for marginalized communities (Gubrium et al., 2018). 

 

Importantly, digital and visual artifacts produced in CNI projects (e.g., the digital stories, cellphilms, comics, graphic novels, photovoice, and school-based story booth audio recordings referenced in this special collection) are interpreted by and experienced through multiple voices and used as tools of engagement for social change (A. Gubrium et al., 2019; Mitchell, 2011; Pink, 2006; Rose, 2016). CNI can create space for the increased representation of historically silenced populations, redress stigma, and provoke important questions to guide a new era of health equity research (Fiddian-Green & Gubrum, 2021). 

WHAT IS C.N.I.

IN 5 STEPS

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3. ASSERTING CONTROL AND TRANSFORMING IDENTITY

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1. SENSE MAKING

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5. CHALLENGING STIGMATIZING CONVERSATIONS

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2. BUILDING COMMUNITY

5. SHIFTING UNSUPPORTIVE SYSTEMS AND POLICIES AT THE LOCAL, STATE, AND NATIONAL LEVEL

ARTS-BASED RESEARCH

Through Digital Storytelling, Photovoice, and podcasting, our youth are engaged in critical and rigorous Arts-based Research (ABR) methods. ABR is a “methodology for radical, ethical, and revolutionary research that is futuristic, socially responsible, and useful in addressing social inequities” (Finley, 2008, p. 70). ABR aligns with the postmodern ethics of participative, action-oriented, and politically situated research methods like YPAR, which pulls from critical race, Indigenous, queer, feminist, and related theories (Finley, 2008). Like YPAR, ABR can work to expose oppression, illuminate sites of resistance, and guide possibilities for transformative praxis (Finely, 2008). As we push towards a culture of health in the U.S., the arts, artists, and arts-based researchers can help us enable this change and address critical public health issues of our time, including racism (Sonke, Rodríguez, & Valerio-Shewmaker, 2021).

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