Creating Cultural Exchange Between Homeless Youth and University Students

By Lisa Sather, Brenda Elizabeth Munro, Patti LaBoucane-Benson and Lia Ruttan.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.127-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.564MB).

Lisa Sather

Coordinator, Primary Care North West, Alberta Health Services, Canada

Lisa Sather is a Coordinator with Alberta Health Services Primary Care Program. She is responsible for leadership, coordination and collaboration of primary health care services across the continuum of health for the North Zone. Lisa has been working in healthcare for the past 5 years in a variety settings. She has been directly involved with the development of a Chronic Disease Management program and is now focusing on increasing access to primary care for residents in Northern Alberta. Lisa holds a Masters of Science Degree in Human Ecology, Family Ecology & Practice from the University of Alberta.

Dr. Brenda Elizabeth Munro

Professor, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Brenda Munro is a professor in the Department of Human Ecology. She teaches and conducts research in the areas of intimate relationships and youth at risk. Her current research projects include work with homeless youth and theatre the use of interactive theatre in working with youth who are thirteen to fourteen years old. Theoretical perspectives that have been applied in this research are identity development and attachment theory.

Patti LaBoucane-Benson

Director of Research and Evaluation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Patti LaBoucane-Benson is a Métis PhD candidate who grew up in St. Paul, Alberta. Her dissertation research is about Aboriginal Family Resilience, and she expects to complete June 2008. Patti’s research has received a number of awards including a Social Sciences and Research Council Doctoral Fellowship and a Doctoral Scholarship from the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. She has worked for Native Counselling Services of Alberta for 10 years, and is currently the Director of Research and Communication. Patti has initiated and led of many community-based, applied research projects within the Aboriginal community in Canada, including a Costs Benefit Analysis in Hollow Water First Nation, the on-going evaluation of the Community Solution to Gang Violence and Alberta Aboriginal Legal Education Centre. She has also been part of the development of healing program curriculum for NCSA, and is the co-editor of the periodical “Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health Research”.

Dr. Lia Ruttan

Researcher, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


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