Project Description


An Examination of Homeless Youths’ Longitudinal Aftercare Experience

Principal Investigator: Stephanie Begun
Budget: $25,000
Role: Principal Investigator
Co-Investigators: Barbara Fallon, Izumi Sakamoto, Kaitlin Schwan
Collaborators: Shani Kipang
Agency Partner: Covenant House Toronto
Consulting Agency: The Second City Toronto
Expected Project Timeline: 2019-2021
Funder: Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, Partnership Engage Grant


Few populations face greater marginalization than homeless youth. One arts-based approach, improvisation (“improv”), has shown preliminary promise in engaging individuals in social activities, programs, and therapeutic interventions. Yet, the potential of improv with homeless youth has not been widely studied. A plausible advantage of engaging youth in improv is the opportunity the activity provides for participating in forums that enhance their communication with others (e.g., impromptu scenes, skits, role-plays, perspective-taking). Participants are able to act, brainstorm, innovate, and even “fail,” in safe, team-based settings. Such opportunities could be of value to homeless youth; these activities may present venues for deepening youths’ social connections and self-esteem, building positive communication and self-advocacy skills, and providing youth with positive models for teamwork, trust-building, and access to caring adult facilitators. This study’s overall goal is to explore the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes observed from homeless youths’ participation in a group-based improv training and skill-building program. This academic-community partnership (with Covenant House Toronto and Second City Toronto) will pool together its subject-matter expertise and collective commitment to improving the lives of homeless youth, in efforts to: 1) generate knowledge, also identifying tangible innovations that help frontline caseworkers in their work with homeless youth; 2) strengthen the authenticity and rigour of research partnerships in place between academics and service providers, proactively engaging in integrated knowledge translation to positively affect policy and systems change; and 3) cultivate future scholars, leaders, and innovators in youth homelessness prevention through active training, mentoring, and collaboration. 


Project Status Notes
Research team has been hired and trained; REB approval
obtained; recruitment and data collection will hopefully begin Fall/Winter 2020 or when safe to reenter youth shelter environments with regard to COVID-19