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FY 2018 Community Conversations Research

Executive Summary

Wagner College and four community partners propose a two-year, arts-based, participatory action research project that seeks to leverage the strengths and wisdom derived from a community partner network in Staten Island, New York, of which we are all members. Through this collaborative research initiative we seek to understand: 1) the ways that the participation of young people from immigrant and refugee communities can generate new knowledge or interpretations about complex issues within their own community-in-crisis; and 2) the impact and effects of a participatory, arts-based, and culturally grounded research approach on stakeholder relationships and broader community engagement and civic participation. The title of our research initiative is "The Creative Wellness Project: Youth from Immigrant and Refugee Communities Using Arts-based Action Research to Improve Public Health and Increase Civic Participation on the North Shore of Staten Island."

The Creative Wellness Project was conceived within the Port Richmond Partnership (PRP), a ten-year old community partner network committed to addressing and confronting community-identified issues. Our team is comprised of a college, a cultural institution, a health network, a non-profit that serves and supports Mexican and Mixteco communities in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Staten Island, and a non-profit serving and supporting Liberian and West African communities in the Park Hill/Stapleton neighborhoods of Staten Island. Our ambitious research project emerges, primarily, out of a shared desire to confront the serious physical, emotional, and psychological health crises that exist within the immigrant and refugee communities of the North Shore. It also emerges out of two aspects of the partnership that we see as having great potential but limited support: participatory, community-based performance; and youth leadership and problem solving from within the immigrant and refugee communities. This study seeks to unleash both potentialities, hypothesizing that they can play crucial roles in revealing new aspects of complex social issues, and in inspiring others to become more engaged in confronting the challenges that affect their lives and communities.

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