Cross-Cultural Perspectives After Participation in the YES Program: A Pilot Study


  • Vanessa E. Fuentes The Catholic University of America
  • Elizabeth A. Goncy Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Kevin S. Sutherland



Abstract:  Guided by empowerment and ecological theories, the Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES) program facilitates character development through activities based in cultural differences, team building, and social change. This pilot study consisted of two focus groups (n = 13) of middle school youth conducted after their participation in an abbreviated version of the YES program. Specifically, the present study examined youth’s cross-cultural perspectives after participation. The focus groups were transcribed and coded for emergent themes using Heaton’s (2005) supplementary data analysis framework. Qualitative analysis resulted in two emergent themes: 1) enhanced appreciation for similarities and differences in cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and 2) the role of respect in understanding differences and confronting stereotypes. Specifically, youth reported that engagement in this program fostered positive awareness of cultural differences and respect for inter-ethnic relationships. The findings provide support for the benefits of the YES program on moral development and promotion of healthy peer relationships.


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