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SSW faculty receive grant for youth study in the Galapagos

Assistant professors Cindy Fraga Rizo and Rainier Masa and professor Mimi Chapman were recently awarded a $7,500 Galapagos Research Seed Grant to conduct a study on “Youth perceptions of living in the Galapagos: Relationships, health and the future.” (Natalia Villegas, assistant professor at the UNC School of Nursing is also a member of the research team.)

The study will use Photovoice to better understand what life is like for youth in the Galapagos.

Although youth in the Galapagos face many of the same social and health problems that young people face on Ecuador’s mainland and elsewhere in Latin America, the unique environmental and social context of the archipelago creates additional challenges in addressing these issues, Fraga Rizo said. For example, in Ecuador addressing intimate partner violence, alcohol use, and adolescent pregnancy are critical to improving the life chances of young people, she said.

“One aspect of this project that is pertinent to what is happening in the United States is understanding how social determinants of health intersect with young people’s identity and their perceived future,” added Masa, co-project leader. “In addition, we are using a positive youth development approach, which is widely used in the United States, as a tool to engage youth in their own development.”

The faculty hope the study will enhance the knowledge of pressing social and health issues facing youth in the Galapagos from their own perspectives. Study findings will be used to identify areas of strength as well as opportunities to foster positive outcomes for youth in the Galapagos.