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Mitigating the Stress Effects of Racism on Health through Youth Empowerment

The Tisch College Community Research Center (TCRC) provided seed funding for this project, which explored how to work with young people in order to reduce the effects of racial discrimination on their wellbeing.

The initiative had two major components. First, the team piloted and refined a psychosocial health promotion curriculum to improve the ability of youth of color to cope with the stress associated with racism. Recruited participants attended 10
sessions which included the following curricular elements: team building, affective response andthe “Window of Tolerance,” critical race theory and racial identity formation, awareness of racial 
difference, cognitive behavioral techniques for self-care, role playing through the use of pushback circles, and health techniques such as ancestor questioning/journeying, guided meditations, and breathing techniques. After going through the curriculum, youth reflected on their experience and developed messages for their peers, families members, and the broader community.

The second element was a series of focus groups with young people—both white youth and youth of color—who created health promotion messages and materials that were then vetted by the research team. In addition, the project helped identify other scholars focused on the intersection of racism and health, and opened the door for future collaborations.