Resilient Futures is a three year project that measures and builds the resilience and wellbeing of 850 disadvantaged young people in South Australia (aged 16-20) by providing wellbeing and resilience skills training that is reinforced through mentoring/coaching and online tools and resources.
The implementation of the Resilient Futures project is a collaborative effort between a network of agencies, this approach moves the WRC closer to the goal of achieving a large-scale impact on the South Australian community. In addition to building the wellbeing and resilience of participants, the project builds the skills and knowledge of youth workers and educators in order to improve the professional practice of workers in low socio-economic communities. Resilient Futures uses validated tools and strategies that draw on the Positive Psychology of Martin Seligman and other research leaders to measure and build wellbeing amongst disengaged young people. Collaboration is strategic, in line with WRC criteria.
The Resilient Futures project has adopted a train-the-trainer approach to train youth workers and educators in wellbeing and resilience skills. The program is adapted to project based and modular approaches to suit a variety of small group settings. A review of the literature identifies that best-practice interventions targeting young people at risk of offending, behavioural problems or poor wellbeing respond most effectively to a strong focus on practical “skill” development. That is, specific strategies that are designed to improve social expression, problem solving, perspective taking, consequential thinking, self-regulation and attention capacity.
Relationships with caregivers, teachers and significant adult figures can be a significant protective factor in a young person’s life. Research highlights that a number of factors impact the effectiveness of that mentoring. In line with the evidence, the Resilient Futures Program has identified a need to have high quality and professional mentors, coaches and case managers that can support young people explore, rehearse and internalise the RF10 program material into their life, such that the material can translate to meaningful skill development outcomes.
The WRC have been testing the effectiveness of the workshops by measuring both young people’s and youth agency staff wellbeing before and after the course. To do this, we have been asking those who take part in the course to fill in surveys about their wellbeing and mental health, and some questionnaires for feedback on the course. The WRC will also evaluate the success of the resilience skills program, and also ask some of the cohort to participate in brief interviews about their experience in the workshops. Completion of the surveys involves answering a series of questions about various elements of wellbeing, sleep, nutrition, and physical activity.
The SAHMRI Wellbeing and Resilience Centre is working with goAct, a South Australian based company to develop a tech delivery platform to support building mental health people, using the principles of positive psychology, neuroscience, and neuroplasticity. The partnership with goAct offers a number of opportunities to the Resilient Futures project, namely: access to additional material and content; positive education, technology toolbox; real-time data collection; online mentoring support; social platform that is safe.
Responsive and flexible design allowing iterative growth through co-design with staff and students. The Resilient Futures program has developed iteratively over the course of 2016. While the first prototype offered a prescriptive and relatively inflexible delivery model, ongoing feedback from our partner agencies and the young people who have participated in the program has resulted in a more responsive and flexible program that can be tailored specifically to the unique needs of partner agencies, communities and participants.