Today, there are approximately 1,900 homeless people living in unsuitable or unstable housing or on the streets of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Homeless youth in Edmonton face many challenges in negotiating life on the streets. The purpose of this research was to develop a program that would link homeless youth and university students in a supportive relationship that would meet the needs of all key stakeholders. In order to accomplish the objectives of this study, the program design was based primarily on data collected from key stakeholders (i.e. homeless youth, university students and service providers), but also incorporates relevant literature and theory. The guiding research question for this project was, “What do key stakeholders want in a program, which involves a supportive relationship between university students and homeless youth, to look like?” Using grounded theory and theoretical sampling techniques participants had the opportunity to articulate their ideas and contribute to program design through individual interviews and focus groups. While the literature pointed to mentorship as one type of program that could meet the needs of homeless youth, data collected from service providers, students and homeless youth clearly indicated a more appropriate model for these groups. In all of the interviews and focus groups respondents talked about how this program should offer equal benefits for both students and homeless youth. Furthermore, they also saw a need for this program to be based on a mutual exchange of participants’ experiences and knowledge. Therefore, in designing the program, the focus shifted from a program that provides mentorship to homeless youth, to a cross-cultural exchange between homeless youth and university students. Based the advice of stakeholders a program was developed and pilot tested. Program development and the results of the pilot test will be discussed.
Based on stakeholders advice, a cultural exchange program was developed for homeless youth and university students.
|Keywords:||Homeless Youth, University Students, Cultural Exchange|
Coordinator, Primary Care North West, Alberta Health Services, Canada
Professor, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Director of Research and Evaluation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Researcher, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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