A Trauma-Informed Model for Empowerment Programs Targeting Vulnerable Youth
This article investigates the relationship between trauma and empowerment programs aimed at youth. It reviews how trauma can affect participants in youth-led programs; the characteristics of effective, trauma-informed, youth empowerment programs; and ways an empowerment program can increase the resiliency and psychological well-being of trauma-exposed youth. Involving youth in program planning, organizing, and implementation can encourage them to participate in their communities and increase their sense of agency. The authors describe what they view as the core components of a youth empowerment program and propose a model for creating trauma-informed programs. Effective trauma-informed youth empowerment programs involve the interaction among staff, youth, program context, activities, and evaluation. Program staff should understand the prevalence, effects, and signs of trauma and be skilled in working with youth who have experienced trauma. Youth voices and autonomy should be recognized and encouraged and activities should be designed to increase participants’ self-esteem and self-efficacy. Both process and outcome evaluations are valuable for ensuring youth satisfaction with the program and identifying program effects on youth participants.