Year of Award

2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

School Psychology

Department or School/College

Phyllis J. Washington College of Education

Committee Chair

Jacqueline Brown

Commitee Members

Christine Fiore, Greg Machek, Rachel Severson, Kate Brayko

Keywords

Alaska Native Youth, Native American Youth, Resilience, Rural Mental Health, Social Emotional Learning, Suicide

Publisher

University of Montana

Abstract

Purpose. The current study explored the perspectives of adults who participate in Kaleidoscope Connect, and specifically, to understand how effective adults perceive the program in its attempt to promote resilience, school safety, and the psychological well-being of youth.

Background. Youth who encounter stressful life circumstances or experience trauma often experience negative life outcomes, such as lower academic achievement, mental illness, and perpetrating violence (Liu, Reed & Girard, 2016). Research, however, has demonstrated that some youth who have these experiences have more positive outcomes, including psychological health, strong academic achievement, and financial stability (Zolkoski & Bullock, 2012). Resilience is a dynamic process described as a person’s ability to overcome adverse conditions and thrive despite those obstacles (Ungar & Leibenberg, 2011). Researchers have been interested in identifying the mechanisms that underlie the promotion of resilience among young people who face challenging life circumstances (Zolkoski & Bullock, 2012). The presence of strong adult-youth bonds has been identified as a powerful contributor to the promotion and maintenance of resilience (Criss, Smith, Morris, Liu & Hubbard, 2017). One program that aims to strengthen the bond between youth and adults in their community is Kaleidoscope Connect, which, among other states and countries, has been implemented in rural communities of Alaska and Montana; two states with a high prevalence of mental health concerns (CDC, 2017).

Methods. Adult perspectives were explored through survey responses, from which descriptive and frequency data were provided. Then, focus groups were conducted and qualitatively analyzed, identifying prominent and consistent themes endorsed by adult participants in the program.

Results. Results showed that participants believed that Kaleidoscope Connect curriculum (moderately to significantly) increases closeness between adults and youth, reduces suicidality among youth, promotes positive school climate and enhances community safety. Furthermore, participants overwhelming reported that the program is feasible in its implementation, primarily due to its flexibility of dissemination and relationships with Brightways Learning. Participants also discussed ways in which all of these domains may be enhanced.

Conclusions. These data may enhance the implementation of Kaleidoscope Connect and contribute to its successful and effective dissemination across rural communities in Alaska, Montana, and other similar areas.

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© Copyright 2021 Samantha Cody Russell