Increasing Inclusion Using Trauma-Informed Principles in a Non-Formal Education Setting

By: Jessica Sprain  

4-H Youth Development is a national program that teaches youth life skill development in a non-formal education setting. A recurring problem that is seen in many 4-H Youth development programs is that despite the initial attraction of diverse audiences, participation is not maintained overtime, resulting in a less diverse program population. This problem is due to the lack of sufficient inclusion methods. A way to create a more inclusive environment is the utilization of trauma based practices. Research shows that 46% of youth under the age of 18 in the United States have experienced at least one stressful or traumatic event, also known as an adverse childhood experience. Trauma informed practices are designed to actively resist potential re-traumatization and to promote recovery and resilience to those impacted by trauma. Successful implementation of trauma informed practices has been found in formal education and clinical settings; however, few resources exist for non-formal education. This poster shares a tool-kit of practices to create a trauma informed environment that is based on a review of current literature, professional observation, and experience in a non-formal education setting. Tools will include ways to help youth express emotions, to help youth professionals create a safe environment, and ultimately will help build positive youth adult partnerships. The implementation of these practices in non-formal education has the potential to increase engagement and retention of a wider audience to programs, enhancing inclusion and ultimately diversity.

Inclusion, Trauma-Informed, Non-Formal Education, Youth Development
Identity and Belonging
Virtual Poster

Jessica Sprain

UF/IFAS Extension, 4-H Youth Development Agent, UF/IFAS Extension-Osceola County, University of Florida , United States
United States

Jessica Sprain is a Youth Development Professional with the University of Florida/IFAS Extension program in Osceola County, Florida. Her work emphasizes youth development, volunteer and organizational systems, and diversity and inclusion. She works with a state-wide taskforce to increase diversity and inclusion in 4-H programming. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a B.A. in Psychology, and will be starting her masters in Family, Youth, and Community Science at the University of Florida in January 2019. Her master's work will focus on adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and the impact it has on inclusion in non-formal education and youth development programs.