Kids at Hope: Is There an Effective Alternative Paradigm to "Kids at Risk"?

Frances P. Bernat, Arizona State University West
Rick Miller, Kids At Hope

ABSTRACT
Kids at Hope is a non-profit agency, located in Maricopa County, that espouses "all children are capable of success -- no exceptions." This philosophy posits that children are "at hope" -- not "at risk" -- regardless of any impediments that they may face while they are young. To evaluate the ability of a community to shift from a paradigm that views youth as deviant, troubled, and without hope to a paradigm that views youth as full of hope and promise is a daunting task. For the Kids at Hope paradigm shift to be successful, adults must believe that kids can be a success "no matter what," adults must serve as positive role models for youth and, adults must provide multiple avenues and definitions of success. Kids at Hope trains persons who come into contact with youth and helps them develop and implement the paradigm change from 'youth at risk' to 'youth at hope'. We will discuss how a paradigm shift can occur within a community and discuss results from a pilot study that evaluated Kids at Hope within one school district.

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Updated 05/20/2006