Youthspace Principles

Figure 10 provides an anchor for this discussion, it illustrates the general praxis structure and the middle rows provide example content that synthesize the youthspace principles.

Example Youthspace Praxis

Figure 10 Example Youthspace Praxis

Principle One: Engagement is Organized by Creative Collective Inquiry as Transformative Praxis

The inquiry as transformative praxis facilitates personal and social transformation through conscientization (Freire, 1970). The praxis embraces human agency as grounded in political imagination and a commitment to social transformation (Stetsenko, 2015). Youth become aware of the ways their lives have been influenced by historical and structural factors while simultaneously developing agency and political self-efficacy necessary to take action for social change. Critical consciousness about how structures mediate our lives and communities makes meaningful resistance possible. This is underscored by the understanding that healing from oppression is a collective and political act (Ginwright, 2016). Following Prilleltensky (2008), power and control over life situations are key for social justice and wellness—the capacity to act to improve the quality of life for oneself and others highlights the convergence of both the personal and political dimensions of civic life.

The youthspace praxis is designed as a collective inquiry based on YPAR principles wherein adult co-researchers teach youth co-researchers skills necessary to conceptualize, design, and implement a study, including: ethics protocols, data collection and analysis methods, theory, research design, and knowledge dissemination (Kirshner, 2008; Wright, 2015). The collective inquiry is a form of critical social analysis where youth investigate social issues they care about, develop a collective vision, and take collective action to create social change. Power analyses and related activities contribute to an increased understanding of structural factors contributing to inequity and support the development of agency and political self-efficacy (Mirra & Garcia, 2017). There are many types and forms of power analyses that provide a process for understanding how the many dimensions of power operate, who has it and who does not, and how it produces and maintains the oppressive conditions that we aim to transform. Power analysis is a core skill and process of the youthspace.

Figure 10 illustrates the pedagogical and developmental foundation of the consciousness-raising praxis. The practices in this visual could take place over any number of sessions and timeframes with activities building and expanding upon the others. Each practice is underpinned by a critical analysis. Beginning with the original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study and survey co-constructs foundational knowledge about the genesis of trauma research, whereas the PhillyACEs study exemplifies the generative and dynamic nature of knowledge production. This will include a critical analysis of the ways in which ACEs and trauma research has been used to label and sort people, schools, communities, cultures, nations, and so on from a deficit perspective. Integrating readings with critical and political perspectives of trauma will provide a critique of the individual and deficit-perspectives of trauma. The film provides entry to art and the form of documentary film to tell the story of the “War on Drugs” from a critical historical perspective. Concurrently, youth learn about surveys as a research method and creative tools for de/reconstruct- ing data collection and knowledge dissemination.

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