F.I.T. Camp: Using an Intervention Research Model for Design and Development of Optimum Programming for Disadvantaged Youth

By Raquel Warley, Kathleen Coatta, Monica Harris and Aiko Enoki.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Adolescence is a particularly intense and climacteric stage of development. During the time of life between pre-pubescence and young adulthood, youth are challenged by accelerated mental, emotional, cognitive, and physical changes. In addition, these juveniles are exceedingly affected by environmental stimuli. For teenagers from economically and socially disadvantaged communities, this phase of human development is certainly characterized by disquietude. As they encounter the usual vicissitudes of pubescent unfolding, they strive against limited access to tangible resources, life-enhancing opportunities, and social capital, as well as exposure to disruptive life-style patterns, owing to the effects of inequalities and community disorganization. Consequently, this population of young people has a high prevalence of poor school performance and educational attainment, teen pregnancy, crime and delinquency, substance abuse, and stress-related health conditions. Customary social service strategies intended to advance the social predicament of marginalized adolescents have produced a modicum of successful outcomes. Nevertheless, almost exclusively, youth-based initiatives continue to implement the same models of psychotherapy, counseling, and guidance. F.I.T. Camp is a promising model of programming for positive youth development. The model, which integrates systematic physical activity, nutrition education, and traditional social work techniques, is fashioned on an intervention research framework for developing social programs. This article provides a general view of this six-step system and how it has been used to organize a new promising practice of positive youth development for disadvantaged adolescents.

Keywords: Empowerment Therapy, Physical Training Intervention, Nutrition Education, Youth-Based Programming, At-Risk-Youth, Health & Fitness, Intervention Research, Program Development

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.67-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 288.274KB).

Dr. Raquel Warley

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, California State University, Los Angeles, USA

Dr. Warley is a faculty member and the Director of Field Education in the School of Social Work at California State University, Los Angeles. She has more than 15 years of clinical and research experience. Dr. Warley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College School of Criminal Justice in 1993. Following her undergraduate studies, she obtained three graduate degrees: a Master of Arts in criminal justice (John Jay College, 1995), a Master of Social Work (Hunter College, 2002), and a Master of Philosophy (City University of New York, 2006). In May 2009, she completed her doctorate degree in social welfare at the City University of New York. Dr. Warley is the founder and president of the Board of Directors for F.I.T. Camp, an upcoming youth-based organization that will feature systematic physical training and nutrition as a means to building self-efficacy, enhancing problem-solving skills, and raising personal consciousness among disadvantaged youth. Dr. Warley is also a consultant for the Education-Based Incarceration program in the Offender Services Bureau for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Kathleen Coatta

Student, School of Social Work, California State University, Los Angeles, USA

Kathleen Coatta is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in social work at California State University, Los Angeles. She has past experience as a grant writer and fundraiser with Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, where she helped secure program funding through foundations, corporations, and government entities. Previously, Kathleen worked as a public relations representative for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and a graphic design account executive. Last year, Kathleen served as a therapist intern at All Peoples Christian Center in South Central Los Angeles, where she learned first-hand about the needs and aspirations of minority, disenfranchised youth. Currently, Kathleen interns at Partners in Care Foundation, an organization that provides evidence-based health education and supportive services to older adults and family caregivers. Kathleen holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from the University of Michigan.

Monica Harris

School of Social Work, California State University, Los Angeles, USA

Monica Harris recently graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with her Master of Social Work degree. Her concentration was in children, youth, women, and families. Monica is a Children’s Social Worker for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. She has many years of experience working with youth. She has served as a summer camp counselor; a group facilitator for college-age youth in the Women’s Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach; and an instructor for the youth ministry at her church. Monica also has practice experience with youth and families as an intern at a foster family agency.

Aiko Enoki

California State University, Los Angeles, USA

Aiko Enoki is a Master of Social Work student with an emphasis in aging and families at California State University, Los Angeles. She received her B.A. in sociology with a minor in community and regional development from the University of California, Davis. Her Master’s thesis examines the effectiveness of caregiver support services in deterring premature institutionalization among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, Aiko is a social work intern at the Community Assistance Program for Seniors Adult Day Center in Pasadena, California and previously worked as a recreation assistant at Swindells Center for Adult Day Services in San Francisco, California. Her previous volunteer experiences include outreach, academic support, and counseling work with at-risk and homeless children, youth, and adults.