ACT for Youth introduces PhotoVoice to Career Explorations participants
July 14, 2014
As part of the 4-H Career Explorations program, the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence hosted a three-day “Focus for Teens” workshop to introduce youth to a qualitative, participatory action research method called PhotoVoice. Thirteen youth participants explored the question, “How youth-friendly is Ithaca?” from the perspective of potential college students. The project was led by Mary Maley and the ACT for Youth research and evaluation team, including Amanda Breese, Christine Heib, Brian Maley, Jennifer True Parise, Amanda Purington, and Divine Sebuharara.
In an interactive, small group format, participants were introduced to social science research methods, and how research can be used to mobilize community action. They learned how to tell a story with photographs, including the elements of photography they could use to highlight their perspectives as they gathered data.
The group identified and discussed the qualities of youth-friendliness that they would look for in a college town. Then, in a hands-on field trip with digital cameras, they visited three locations in the city of Ithaca to take pictures.
Over 100 photos were selected by the youth for analysis, which was conducted using an iterative grounded theory approach. Three themes were identified: mobility (including accessibility and transportation), aesthetics (including both the natural and built environment), and amenities (including services for youth, jobs, entertainment, and food).
Results highlighted the presence of youth-friendly qualities in the city, including the use of color, art, and greenery in public spaces, along with available bus service and a variety of shops and restaurants. Some unfriendly qualities the youth identified included buildings, streets, and sidewalks in need of repair, and the amount of advertising for alcohol and smoking products. At the conclusion of the program, youth participants presented their results in a poster session for BCTR faculty, staff, and invited guests.