Global Citizen’s Forum (GCF)

Overview

Developed by WORDE, the Global Citizen Forum (GCF) is a peer gatekeeper program designed to improve youth’s help seeking behaviors to overcome challenges they may experience in their lives.

The curriculum has a core focus on preventing destructive and violent behaviors, and draws from good practices in the fields of positive youth development programming to provide youth with the skills (e.g. competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring) to address a range of modern challenges, such as cyber bullying, cyber safety/online predators, cyber crises (e.g. calls for help or broadcasting intent to engage in violent or destructive behaviors), suicidal ideation, teen dating violence, and the threat of radicalization to nationalist / supremacist groups, ideologically motivated gangs, issue-based extremists, anti-state sovereign citizens, and ISIS or Al-Qaeda inspired groups.

 

Background

The Global Citizen Forum was developed in 2014 at a mid-point of a federally-funded evaluation of WORDE’s programs. During focus group discussions with program participants, there was a consensus that peers – specifically friends or co-workers – might be those best positioned to notice early warning signs of distress or crisis. Similar to popular Mental Health First Aid trainings & seminars, GCF aims to empower participants to assist vulnerable individuals in seeking support services. GCF also trains youth as peer gatekeepers and advocates that promote psycho-social wellness on individual and community levels. Since 2014, WORDE’s International Cultural Center has facilitated the Global Citizen Forum at various schools and community centers in Montgomery County. In 2017, Analytic Services (ANSER) initiated a two-year federally funded impact evaluation to develop a ‘train-the-trainer’ program to expand the program in other counties across the US.

Measuring Program Impact

A 2016 evaluation of program participants at the start and end of a semester long program found that the program significantly increased help-seeking behaviors in youth and it was recommended that the program be expanded.

The International Cultural Center administers pre- and post-surveys to participants at the start and end of each program to measure changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors and overall program satisfaction.

The following are results from the most recent GCF post-survey data from a cohort of high school students in December 2016 that completed a 10- week program.

Of approximately 15 students that completed the post-test, 100% reportedly “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the following statements:

  • GCF was a safe space where I felt comfortable to explore new or controversial topics (85% Strongly Agree; 15% Agree)
  • The activities and discussion increased my understanding of diversity and/or intercultural communication (85% Strongly Agree; 15% Agree)
  • GCF has helped me feel more connected to my peers (85% Strongly Agree; 15% Agree)
  • GCF developed a positive peer support network in my school (85% Strongly Agree; 15% Agree)
  • I felt like I could connect with the facilitators (92% Strongly Agree, 8% Agree)
  • I would recommend GCF to my peers (92% Strongly Agree, 8% Agree)

In response to the question, “If one of your classmates were at-risk of engaging in destructive behaviors, how likely would you try to seek help from a trusted adult?,” 57% students responded “Very Likely” and 43% responded “Likely”.

In response to the open-ended question, “What else do you want the facilitator to know about your experience or their delivery style?,” responses included:

  • “This is my first program that I chose to participate in. It is a great program because I was challenged to be more thoughtful and I had to be in a group of many students. It also makes me more open.”
  • “It taught me to look at situations from a different point of view (empathy) and how to deal with things differently.”
  • “This program helped me to be more thoughtful about the way I talk to others and respect their point of view or beliefs. This help me to freely express myself at the same time learn from who are different from me.”
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