Methods: Our work built upon keepin’ it R.E.A.L (kiR), a culturally-grounded, evidence-based youth substance use prevention program that has been adapted for a variety of populations. kiR is designed to help youth to develop a suite of social and emotional skills to successfully resist substance use via the “R.E.A.L. strategies” (refuse, explain, avoid, leave). The adaptation took place in several steps. First, to integrate content on interpersonal aggression and culturally tailor kiR for the needs of Venezuelan youth, we conducted focus groups with immigrant youth (N = 27, 4-6 youth per group) in cities with growing Venezuelan populations in the United States. Second, qualitative data was thematically coded and used to inform a preliminary adaptation of kiR, which was named “kiR Venezolano.” Third, in close collaboration with Venezuelan youth advisory board members and community leaders, kiR Venezolano was further refined and then implemented—by bilingual social workers—with recently-arrived Venezuelan immigrant youth ages 11-14 (n = 15) to examine intervention feasibility.
Results: Several key results were identified in terms of focus groups, intervention development, and feasibility. Focus group data yielded three important findings:  immigrant youth viewed interpersonal aggression as a concern in their lives that was related to substance use risk;  youth emphasized the primacy of online social media and other electronic platforms in terms of the expression of aggression; and  youth desired assistance in navigating challenges related to in-person and online violence/aggression. Based on these findings, several intervention elements were developed. Specifically, we extended the logic of the R.E.A.L. strategies to situations which could potentially result in in-person or online aggression/conflict. Content was threaded throughout the 10-week intervention—including the production of five short, Spanish-language videos—and an aggression-specific module was developed. In terms of feasibility, it was determined that demand for kiR Venezolano programming is high among this population (based on ease of recruitment and enthusiasm among parents/youth) and, although additional modifications will be made, the program is broadly acceptable (based on qualitative feedback from participants and intervention facilitators).
Conclusions and Implications: Given the scope of the Venezuelan out-migration and the psychosocial/contextual risks experienced by Venezuelan youth, there is a pressing need for culturally-tailored interventions. kiR Venezolano shows promise as an evidence-based, culturally concordant prevention program to address the needs of Venezuelan migrant youth.