Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Positive Youth Development in Diverse Communities

Positive Youth Development in Diverse Communities

Headshot of Janet Welsh
PI: Janet Welsh
Headshot of Sarah Meyer Chilenski
Co-PI: Sarah Meyer Chilenski

Funder: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Administered in: College of Health and Human Development


Population to be served: This project will serve Latino youth ages 12-16 and their families in the community of Hazleton, PA. Project Activities: This project proposes to adapt the PROSPER partnership model for prevention of substance misuse and related problem behaviors in youth to better meet the needs of young people in culturally diverse communities. In the community of Hazleton, we will form a PROSPER team comprised of local stakeholders from the Latino community and from youth-serving organizations, which will receive technical assistance from Penn State Extension prevention coordinators. In partnership with the University of Miami, the team will oversee the delivery of the Familias Unidas intervention, an evidence-based family strengthening intervention shown to be effective at reducing substance misuse, behavioral problems and risky sexual activity in Latino youth. This intervention targets parenting skills such as parent-child communication, partnering with schools, monitoring the whereabouts and peer relations of youth, and coping effectively with acculturation stressors. We also plan to implement the Botvin Life Skills Training (LST) program to all youth in grades 6 or 7. LST is also an evidence-based substance misuse prevention program used widely in Pennsylvania through PROSPER and other initiatives. Decades of research indicate that LST is effective at preventing misuse of all substances, including gateway drugs and illicit drugs. We will collect data on parent and youth risk and protective factors and SUD behaviors pre and post intervention, and implementation data on both programs collected from program facilitators and LST teachers. We will also conduct focus groups will small groups of LST participants to determine the cultural fit of that intervention for youth in Hazleton, as well as community-level indicator data on youth SUD and problem behaviors from various public sources such as schools, the health department, and law enforcement, to track program impacts. We anticipate reaching approximately 900 youth per year with the LST program and 20-24 families per year with the Familias Unidas program.

Research Staff:

Headshot of Melissa Tomascik
Melissa Tomascik
Prevention Research Center