Gwich’in Outdoor Classroom Project

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  • Children (ages 6-12) icon
  • Canada
  • Elementary School Icon 1
  • Preventing Violence Icon 1

Determinants of Health: Personal health practices and coping skills

Overview

Gwich’in Outdoor Classroom project is a culture-based crime prevention program in the communities of Fort McPherson and Aklavik, Northwest Territories. The project is designed for Aboriginal children aged 6 to 12, living in remote northern communities. It was designed to intervene with those children who are at-risk of offending and to address some of the factors that place them at-risk in Gwich’in communities. Such factors include poor school performance, early school leaving, aggressive and bullying behaviours, limited social development, involvement in youth gangs, suicide, lack of attachment to school and community role models, lack of parental support, sexual assault, and family violence.

The main components of the project include an outdoor camp, a morning breakfast program, and in-school programming involving life and communication skills, Elders, and traditional learning. The morning breakfast program, not part of the original project proposal, was added in response to a need identified in the community.

Process and outcome evaluations were conducted. Methods of data collection included interviews, standardized tests of children’s functioning, informal community and regional discussions and program observation. Evaluators paid particular attention to cultural and environmental factors during the data collection phase. The evaluation was based on collected pre- and post-test data. In total, 112 participants took part in the evaluation including a comparison group in the Aklavik community. Overall, it was found that there was a significant improvement in school achievement for both boys and girls and it was successful in helping boys aged 6 to 9 years to develop positive social skills.

Primary Source Document

J. H. Chalmers, L. Cayen, website">Evaluation of: Outdoor classroom project culture based crime prevention project in Gwich'in communities 1999-2004

Contact information of developer(s) and/or implementer(s)

National Crime Prevention Centre
1-877-302-6272

Intervention Focus

Intervention Goal / ObjectiveLevel(s) TargetedEquity Focus
To provide ongoing instruction and support for social skill development in children ages 6 through 12 years of age, which includes high risk offending behaviours.
  • Individual level
People living in conditions of disadvantage are explicitly stated to be a target population of the intervention.
To integrate existing community programming with crime prevention strategies for children and their families; build links to other programs that address and support crime prevention.
  • Community level
  • Individual level
  • Interpersonal level
People living in conditions of disadvantage are explicitly stated to be a target population of the intervention.
To use the "Traditional Outdoor Classroom" throughout the school as an alternative teaching environment for academics, cultural activities and crime prevention programming.
  • Individual level
  • Interpersonal level
  • Organizational level
People living in conditions of disadvantage are explicitly stated to be a target population of the intervention.
To provide an orientation and support program for teachers, parents and other resource people on the integration of crime prevention strategies.
  • Organizational level
People living in conditions of disadvantage are explicitly stated to be a target population of the intervention.

Health Issue(s) that is/are addressed by the Intervention

Health Promotion

    • N/A

    Risk Reduction

    • Prevent suicide
    • Other

    Specific Activities of the Intervention

      • N/A

      Priority/Target Population for Intervention Delivery

      Life Stage

      • Children (age 6-12 years)

      Settings

      Educational Settings

      • Elementary school

      Community Setting

        • N/A

        Outcomes

        Outcomes and Impact Chart
        Level of ImpactDescription of OutcomeEquity Focus
        Individual LevelA significant difference in school achievement levels (reading, math and spelling) was found for both boys and girls at the intervention site compared to those in the comparison site.Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
        Individual LevelTeachers from the intervention site reported that 75% of students who performed below the average grade level in the standard classroom, outperformed their peers when learning cultural skills in the outdoor classroom.Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
        Individual LevelThe Outdoor Classroom Project was more effective with boys than girls. The project increased the development of positive social skills in boys aged 6 to 9.Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
        Individual LevelThe morning breakfast program improved school attendance rates. The evaluation found a 20 % difference in monthly school attendance rates between the control and experimental group.Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.

        Adaptability

        Implementation History

        • Multiple implementations - Different settings/populations/providers - The intervention showed significant adaptability as it has been implemented in different settings or with different populations or by different provider(s). This can include multiple implementations during the same time period. Each implementation of the intervention must have been substantially the same and must have demonstrated positive results for the primary objectives of the intervention.

        Expertise Required for Implementation within the Context of the Intervention

        • Requires specialized skills that are easily available within the context - The intervention requires the participation of personnel with advanced skills (e.g. medical doctors, epidemiologists, social workers) but that are easily available within the intervention context.

        Are there supports available for implementation

        No.

        Are there resources and/or products associated with the interventions

        No.