“It takes a village to raise a child.”
A caring and supportive environment contributes to the harmonious development of youth and their good mental health. This is arguably even truer when a child, an adolescent, or a young adult faces great challenges such as immigrating, navigating different cultures, or facing discrimination. In addition to offering them a caring village, it is essential to support youth with an immigrant background and young people from racialized groups in developing their strategies, thus enabling them to meet the challenges they are likely to encounter and to bolster their resilience as they do so.
The work carried out within the It Takes a Village Research Laboratory aims to document and promote positive adaptation factors for resilience among racialized youth and young people with an immigrant background. Our work also seeks to assess the practices and programs promoting positive adaptation in this population and ultimately contribute to the development of best practices in this regard.
Research interests, theoretical frameworks and approaches
STUDY THE POSITIVE ADAPTATION OF RACIALIZED YOUTH AND YOUNG PEOPLE WITH AN IMMIGRANT BACKGROUND, AS WELL AS THE FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO IT
- Individual factors (e.g., migratory trajectories, representations, adaptive strategies, school engagement, etc.).
- Environmental and social factors (e.g., social support provided by the family (parents, siblings); school (peers and adults); and community).
CONTRIBUTE TO THE EVALUATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF PRACTICES AND INTERVENTIONS PROMOTING THE POSITIVE ADAPTATION OF RACIALIZED YOUTH AND YOUNG PEOPLE WITH AN IMMIGRANT BACKGROUND
- Participate in the evaluation of promising programs implemented in communities.
- Identify and promote best practices to support the resilience of these young people.
- Develop new programs and practices that support their resilience.
INTEGRATING RESILIENCE INTO ITS DEVELOPMENTAL, CULTURAL, AND SOCIAL CONTEXT
The notion of resilience is complex and multidimensional but can be roughly defined by a set of functional behaviors despite the presence of risk factors (Masten, 2014). Studying the resilience of young people of immigrant background and from racialized groups involves considering the conditions of adversity experienced by this subset of youth while focusing on the resources that foster their positive adaptation and well-being despite stressful experiences. The model of resilient adaptation of youth with an immigrant background developed by Motti-Stefanidi (2018) integrates both a developmental and cultural perspective to elucidate the resilience of youth with an immigrant background and the factors that contribute to it. By examining different developmental periods (childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood) in its studies, the work of the It Takes a Village Research Laboratory helps document how youth resilience is actualized throughout development. Furthermore, this model highlights the role of culture in defining and understanding resilience. In this sense, our work contributes to a better understanding of the role of culture in building resilience by studying the experiences of specific groups. We recognize that what is expected, desirable, and successful for racialized youth and for young people with an immigrant background is defined both by culture and by the process of acculturation.
THE PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL APPROACH
The psychoeducational approach is concerned with the imbalances that require youth to modify their functioning in order to adapt to a situation and ultimately reach a more optimal level of social functioning(Gendreau, 2001). Our work covers several situations at the origin of such imbalances: immigration; acculturative stress; integration into the Quebec (Canada) school system; school transitions; and transition to adulthood. According to this model, adaptation is built by the constant and dynamic interaction between the characteristics of the youth in question and their social environment (peers, parents, school staff, community). Thus, in a context of imbalance, the social environment plays a crucial role, promoting or impeding adaptation. This approach is reflected in the work of the It Takes a Village Research Laboratory through an in-depth study of the various actors who make up the social environment of racialized youth and of young people with an immigrant background.
This approach recognizes the power young people have to decide and act. It offers a positive vision of development and proposes to highlight the resources and potential of the person to promote his or her own development (Harris, 2016). This approach is embodied in various ways in the work carried out within the It Takes a Village Research Laboratory, first of all by recognizing youth as the experts concerning their own situation, with a unique perception of what is proper and fair for them, and giving them a voice through methodologies adapted to their developmental level, thus allowing them to express their point of view (youth-centred methods, participatory methods, mixed and qualitative methods). In addition, the team focuses on and promotes the ability of youth to cope with adversity and underscores the personal and social resources they possess to do so. Indeed, even though the migratory experience presents its fair share of challenges, and in certain cases of adversity, the work carried out within the It Takes a Village Research Laboratory highlights the strengths and capacities of these young people to handle the trials and tribulations that they face.