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June Newsletter: Resilience: Exploring Inner Strength

Posted on: June 29, 2015 13:23pm
Comments: 0
Global Citizen

To view the entire newsletter in its original format, click here.

Expert Voices on Inner Strength
Dear wonderful Life Pieces Family,

All of us here at Life Pieces share the strong belief that African American males can experience a positive identity and achieve success in the present and the future. With the loving, secure and creative environment at Life Pieces, our Apprentices overcome adversity. This is what resilience means to us. Our Apprentices do face adversity, but with the strength of our community, they find strength within to persevere. 

We at Life Pieces have explored and discussed the nature of resilience since our inception. Resilience, a term used commonly within the science of psychology, is a quality that can make the critical difference in the face of challenges between negative outcomes vs. triumph - changing challenges into opportunities. 

In taking a closer look at the nature of resilience, Life Pieces was privileged to talk with Dr. Dawn X. Henderson, a professor of psychology at Winston-Salem State University, about her long-term research on resilience, adversity, methods of research, and factors in positive outcomes in males of color. 

Dr. Henderson, an American Evaluation Association Diversity Fellow, and recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, has worked in a variety of settings to include community-based organizations and higher education. It was from these experiences she realized the need to research and expand concepts of resilience and factors that promote positive youth development.

Her ongoing research uses a "mixed methods" approach, combining quantitative research with qualitative research to explore resilience and youth development as completely and accurately as possibly, generating robust data that informs best practices.

Dr. Henderson notes "Now there is a body of literature demonstrating the positive outcomes of youth development models. There is a body of research that demonstrates immediate results showing positive and potentially enduring impact." 

The genesis of Dr. Henderson's interest in resilience and youth development began with her own personal history:

"For me, this goes back to high school. I am the middle child and have a brother and a sister. When I was in 9th grade, I lost my mom.

After the passage of my mom, each of us traveled very different paths. For me, school became a safe haven. My brother had a serious fight with our father, and later became homeless. My sister, a teenage mother and battling her own serious struggles"

Dr. Henderson's research reveals a mainstream narrative at work in our society that emphasizes the deficits among young men of color - and the need to change that perspective. "Deficits have been the narrative we've always known. For example, many quickly highlight that our youth may be from a single-parent home, or perhaps is homeless. What many don't recognize are the assets children bring into our settings - how can their culture and ways of expression be an asset?"

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