Article

Space Scouts: a collaboration between university researchers and African American churches.

Misouri Institute of Mental Health, St. Louis, MO 63139, USA.
Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse 02/2007; 6(1):31-43. DOI: 10.1300/J233v06n01_03
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Space Scouts, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and produced by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH), is a three-episode series of media tools designed to teach fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade children from African American churches about the science of drug addiction. This article examines the effectiveness of the principles of practice for community-based participatory research used to create Space Scouts. Academic researchers at MIMH collaborated with an inter-faith agency-Committed Caring Faith Communities (CCFC)-and solicited feedback from members of the target audience, their pastors, and other church staff, substance abuse researchers, and curriculum development specialists in order to ensure that the final program would meet the needs of all involved parties.

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    • "The majority of studies reviewed here focused on mental health issues among adults, while just two studies (Epstein et al. 2007; Mulvaney-Day et al. 2006) included a focus on children. Epstein et al. (2007) developed Space Scouts to teach children about drug abuse through their churches, and Mulvaney-Day et al. (2006) worked with schools to obtain information that could be used to create an intervention to improve behavioral and academic functioning of minority students. CBPR methods could provide an effective approach for addressing mental health issues among minority youth, particularly because of the need to reduce ethnic disparities in access to child mental health services (General 2000). "
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    • "MSEP was built on a foundation of community organization and development theory and practice (Fisher, 1994; Foster-Fishman et al., 2001; McKnight, 1995; Rivera & Erlich, 1995). We expanded upon this theoretical and experiential foundation with knowledge about working with non-white and low-income communities (Dryfoos, 1994; Epstein et al., 2007; Ewalt, Freeman, & Poole, 1998; Moses & Cobb, 2001). The broad literature of community collaboration and school-family-community partnerships (Cousins, Williams, & Battani, 1998; Epstein, 1995, 2001; Fisher; Fisher & Karger, 1997; Gutierrez, 1997; Moses & Cobb; National Clearinghouse for Comprehensive School Reform, 2003; Perry, Steele, & Hilliard, 2003; The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2007) suggest the following action research approaches: consider a community's social, cultural, economic, and political characteris- • tics in contemporary and historical contexts; include indigenous and official community stakeholders and leaders in devel- • opment and implementation activities; employ an empowerment model that builds on the strengths of partici- • pants; resist " top down " approaches in which social service agency experts or aca- • demics unilaterally control and enforce programs for community residents; and, take into account the social and cultural norms and interests that motivate • and give meaning to the lives of people in whose communities change is sought. "
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