2021 DAC Spotlight

The Healing Youth Alliance (HYA)

The Healing Youth Alliance (HYA) June 2021

The Healing Youth Alliance (HYA) is a culturally responsive program focused on healing for African American youth.

Youths who are recruited from HeartSmiles LLC are trained by faculty from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and the Black Mental Health Alliance for 20 weeks on healing, mental health, and trauma in the African American community to prepare them to become trainers and consultants to youth and youth-serving agencies.

Youths earn $1,000 per month for attending the workshops, meeting with social work mentors weekly, and creating PowerPoint presentations summarizing what they learned during the workshop each week for five months. As of spring 2021, 20 youth have participated in HYA and have offered over 20 trainings to more than 1,000 youth and youth-serving professionals.

Three highlights of HYA work include: hosting a national conference with over 650 participants; two ambassadors offering consultation to the Biden administration’s transition team on mental health among youth; and the youth currently designing a city-wide media campaign for the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success.

Trainings offered by the youth include, but are not limited to, issues in the African American community such as depression; the impact of racism on mental health; men and expressing emotions; the relationship between nature and healing; and systemic racism. HYA’s model is evaluated using attendance, satisfaction surveys, and knowledge change measures. On average, youth in the program attend 98 percent of the workshops, satisfaction surveys noted that 100 percent rate the program is good to excellent, and over 80 percent have shown growth in knowledge. Two cohorts of HYA have graduated, and a new cohort is expected to be established in September 2021.

For further information, contact Kyla Liggett-Creel, PhD, LCSW-C, at kliggett-creel@ssw.umaryland.edu.

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