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National Arts & Youth Demonstration Project

Principal Investigator: Robin Wright
Co-Investigators: G. Burgos
Funding Source: Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada
Period: 2007-2010

Removing barriers to participation for visible minority and aboriginal youth.

The main objective of the present study is to explore the long-term impact of a structured after-school arts program on the psychosocial functioning of youth residing in low-income, multicultural, and Aboriginal communities in five sites across Canada. The proposed study will conduct a follow-up of 183 (between 30-35 youth per site) participants, now 14-20 years of age, 4 ½ years after the end of the after-school arts programs. Phase II of the study will be developed and implemented in collaboration with the five original sites that delivered the arts program in Montreal, Toronto, Tillsonburg, Manitoba, and Vancouver.

Research findings indicate that youth who belong to visible minority and Aboriginal populations in Canada face a much higher risk of poverty in comparison with other youth. The existing evidence also shows that structural barriers increase the likelihood that visible minority and Aboriginal youth will drop out from school, experience social exclusion, and manifest emotional and behavioural problems. Therefore, it is vital that we identify innovative and sustainable ways to foster an inclusive society and to enhance the life chances of visible minority and Aboriginal youth. One promising approach, which has gained increasing prominence in policy and research over the years, is the engagement of youth in enriching community-based after-school programs.

The objective of the present study is to examine the effectiveness of after-school arts programs in increasing the participation of visible minority and Aboriginal youth in life-enriching programs and to identify the processes by which these programs have a positive impact on their psychosocial functioning. Specific objectives are to:

  1. Identify the barriers to participation in after-school arts programs for visible minority and Aboriginal youth.
  2. Explore the impact of an inclusive and culturally-sensitive after-school arts program on the psychosocial functioning of visible minority and Aboriginal youth.
  3. Identify best practices for engaging visible minority and Aboriginal youth in after-school arts programs.

The study will examine findings from the National Arts and Youth Demonstration Project (NAYDP), one of the first well-controlled quasi-experimental studies on after-school arts programs for 9 to 15 year-old youth in low-income, multicultural and Aboriginal communities. 

For more information, please contact robin [dot] wright [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Robin Wright, Ph.D).