Abstract: Get L.I.T. (Learning Intentional Tools): Collaborating with Black Girls to Create Effective Interventions (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

642P Get L.I.T. (Learning Intentional Tools): Collaborating with Black Girls to Create Effective Interventions

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Evelyn Coker, MSW, MBA, PhD Student, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Camille Quinn, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Background: Creating interventions for Black girls in urban settings necessitates an understanding of the intersections of race, class, and gender to provide contextual depth into the everyday lives of their marginalized identities. Even with strengths they possess, Black girls are at an increased risk for polyvictimization, mental illness, substance abuse, academic problems, and involvement in the legal system compared to Black boys and their White counterparts. Research highlights that Black girls experience disproportionate rates of being “pulled out” of class and “pushed out” of school resulting in increased risk of school suspension. Interventions strengthening social-emotional development can mitigate risk factors and serve as a protective factor for Black girls in urban settings. Given the disparate treatment and understudied nature of Black girls, the study sought to understand how to collaborate more effectively with teenage girls and young women in the cocreation of social-emotional learning interventions they identify as meaningful.

Methods: Undergirded in a theoretical framework comprised of Intersectionality, Black Feminist Thought, and Youth Empowerment, this qualitative study utilized a participatory action approach to create social-emotional development interventions for girls of color in urban settings. Black and Latinx teenage girls and young women participated in focus groups and individual interviews (n=100) to create an interactive journal and podcast targeting teenage girls. Three focus groups (n= 25 per focus group) were facilitated at one Chicagoland high school with girls across all grade levels, an alternative high school program, and a university with undergraduate students to identify key themes and topics for the journal. A subsequent focus group (n=15) occurred to solicit feedback from teen girls regarding the first draft of the journal. Semi-structured interviews (n=10) with teen girls and young women ranging from 13-23 were conducted to determine topics for the podcast.

Results: Findings from focus groups for the journal revealed that Black girls believed their gendered experience living in the inner-city is more difficult than those of Black boys in the same family or community and White girls who live in suburban areas. Key topics identified for the journal centered around identity, self-esteem, communication, relationships, emotional wellness, peer pressure, sexuality, and community. Similarly, the girls who provided feedback on the journal found all of the topics to be relevant to their lived experiences. Additional themes emerged for the podcast and included grief, school stress, religion, intimate partner violence, and growing up in the foster care system.

Conclusions: Efforts to incorporate the voices and experiences of Black girls are essential in the development of effective interventions. Black girls, themselves, should be positioned as experts sharing their knowledge, which requires a willingness and principled stance to create a safe space by casting away remaining power dynamics that linger in co-creating relationships. The process in this study of developing a safe space and equalizing roles for Black girls has many implications for program development and the creation of interventions for this understudied special population.