Texas Tech University students are engaged in mentoring local middle school and high school students and improving student outcomes
“The mission of the Center for Adolescent Resiliency (CAR) is to promote healthy adolescent development and build resilience through innovative research and programs serving youth and their families, as well as high-quality education and training for the adults who serve them,” Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) associate professor and director of CAR Sara Dodd, Ph.D. said.
CAR has two primary outreach programs that directly support Lubbock ISD and the greater Lubbock community. The Community Advocacy Project for Students (CAPS) benefits students struggling with transitioning between alternative education placements due to behavior and discipline issues. Students receive weekly one-on-one meetings with volunteer Texas Tech Student advocates to help them successfully return to their home campus. United Future Leaders (UFL) provides 5th and 6th-grade students after-school instruction that promotes positive youth development, civility, and peer-to-peer leadership.
“TTU students play a vital role in our success working with youth and their families, both as volunteers and through practicum experiences and service-learning classes,” Dodd said. “Students are trained to engage with program participants as mentors, advocates, and facilitators, but also as co-learners.”
CAR partners with Covenant Health System, Lubbock ISD, and United Supermarkets—all of which are major players in the greater Lubbock community. They each help carry out the center's mission by providing representatives to serve on the advisory board and act as student advocates.
“I enjoy serving on the CAR Advisory committee and being directly connected with LISD and several community partners,” Covenant Health System regional director of community health investment, Tavia Hatified M.Ed. said. “This is helpful in my role at Covenant because we rely heavily on community collaboration. Personally, the opportunity to give back to the community and be involved with assisting schools in outreach to at-risk students is very rewarding.”
CAR makes a positive impact on the community every day by supporting families, students, and youth practitioners
“Our programs are unique and the concepts universal,” Director of CAPS, Linn Walker, RN, CWPC, said. “This allows us to support youth in their development, wherever they are, helping them thrive in their respective environments.”
In addition to supporting the greater Lubbock community through their student programs, CAR collects data from stakeholders to assess the success of their programs. This research is then disseminated to academic, peer-reviewed outlets as well as practitioners and community partners, increasing the reach of the Center's impact.
CAR continues to broaden its reach by expanding its footprint in the science and practice of volunteer development and management, along with nurturing international partnerships.
”Our programs are always ongoing,” Assistant director of CAR Gloria Gonzales said. “We do have an innovative international partnership with Universidad CES in Medellin, Colombia, that we continue to nurture, most notably with a cross-cultural adaptation of the UFL curriculum for use in Medellin schools.”
The Center for Adolescent Resiliency brings a comprehensive approach to improving the lives of children by empowering the TTU student body in strategic outreach and enabling innovative research and creative activities to bolster child development.
“Most TTU students have a genuine desire to engage with the university and wider Lubbock community but don't always know how best to get involved,” Dodd said. “Through their time with CAR, they develop valuable and translatable skills and receive focused mentoring. When students finish their volunteer or learning experience with CAR, they depart with valuable professional competencies and a sense of accomplishment in being encouraged to contribute to CAR's mission by implementing their individual gifts and talents.”