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Capstone Chair: Nancy Chernett, MA, MPH

Capstone preceptor: Diana Cornman-Levy, MS, PT


Teens4Good (T4G) is a youth-led entrepreneurial program that converts vacant city lots into community gardens in Philadelphia. T4G aims to build work-readiness and life skills among high school-age teens through hands-on farming and business training. A program evaluation was conducted to (1) determine the impact of T4G on teen participants specific to nutrition knowledge and healthy eating behaviors, and the development of work-readiness and life skills; (2) explore how participation in T4G impacts participants’ families and the community; and (3) determine participant and staff perceptions of program strengths and weaknesses and explore suggestions for program improvement. Six semi-structured interviews with T4G staff and 2 focus groups with youth participants of the 6-week T4G summer internship (n=10) were conducted in the summer of 2013. Interviews and focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed, and coded to reveal themes. Results demonstrate that teens learn professional development skills, workforce development skills, and life skills through participation in T4G. Results also show that T4G helps youth build confidence, and teaches teens about new and different kinds of fruits and vegetables. Findings suggest that the program may influence nutrition habits in participants’ families, and that the program positively impacts the community; however challenges with community engagement were reported. Suggestions for program improvement included making the program year long, hiring more staff and teens, and making the program more youth run. Interview and focus group results suggest that program impact is greatest on teens that have participated in the program for a number of years. Overall results indicate that T4G is contributing to positive youth development in program participants, and that future research describing program impact on teens’ families and the community is needed. Staff and youth descriptions of program strengths and weaknesses and suggestions for program improvement could help inform future program planning.

Presentation: 25 minutes