H2O's Education program at Leadership High is an ideal laboratory for promising approaches to improving student and community health. In 2012, H2O recruited 18 students with varying records of academic achievement for a four-year cohort. H2O is now serving its 2nd, four-year cohort.
H2O Youth have conducted research with the Center for Youth Wellness (CYW) on the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress. CYW staff have acknoweldged: "At the Center for Youth Wellness, a big part of our work is to listen—to our patients, our youth and families, and our community. We are committed to actively engaging members of the community to come up with effective solutions to prevent, screen and heal Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress. That’s why we’re working closely with inspiring students from Leadership High School. Last November, in a dynamic presentation at our Children Can Thrive summit, these students profoundly moved the audience with their views and experiences of ACEs and toxic stress."
Recently, students from H2O and Kia Aroha College, in Aotearoa, New Zealand, worked collaboratively to develop the types of critical consciousness needed to transform their lived experiences. H2O Youth traveled to New Zealand to organize with Kia Aroha College youth and utilized a form of Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to strengthen their warrior scholar sensibilities. Warrior scholars, as defined by former Kia Aroha College principal Ann Milne, are “young people, secure in their own identity, competent and confident in all aspects of their cultural world, critical agents for justice, equity and social change, with all the academic qualifications and cultural knowledge they need to go out and change the world” (Milne, 2015, p. 1).
See photos below.
Methodology: Learning models shown to be effective in nurturing our youth are key to meeting cohort goals. Primary teaching methods, which align with LHS goals for school-wide outcomes in social and personal responsibility, critical thinking, and communication, include the following:
A Problem-Posing Approach has been shown to help students develop 1) critical thinking skills and 2) skills essential to gain self-knowledge, self love and participate fully in community.
Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR): A Transformative Approach to Service-Learning
Global Travel - Access to global learning experiences broaden cultural understanding, worldviews and sense of possibility.
Cultural Relevance - Yearly themes that organize learning around significant social issues relevant to youth and their families.
Knowledge of Self & Others - Students learn about their indigenous lineages and practices from elders, educators and whānau as a way to heal themselves and their communities.