"The Corn Model taught me that I can make decisions to help me in the future. I can put people that I look up to first, rather than the people who might be not good to be with."
"This program helps, encourages, and helps you [tell] right from wrong. It’s a program that you should join."
"A'Gin means a lot to me. It taught me about saying no to peer pressure. It also taught me to be the best person I could be and to always follow my dreams."
In program years four and five, evaluation efforts focused on measuring changes in cultural connectedness among participants.
"When I [began the lesson], I started with something tangible, some pottery with a little bit of water. The students — I didn’t have to say anything, or even instruct them, they immediately all drank some water and then passed it around the class carefully, almost like a family. I let them know [that] ... this is how it was presented to me when I have an adult talk with my family members or with people older than me. They sat me down with a glass of water, pottery water, and let me know that this talk/discussion is going to be very important and [I could] brace myself with water. It’s rejuvenating. ... They understood that. The lesson was easy to grasp for them. That was one of my "aha" moments, when a student said, 'It’s such a good feeling to drink that water.'" -- A'Gin facilitator
Collectively, students showed improvement in 13 of the 16 measures of cultural connectedness between program entry and exit. Although sample size precludes establishing statistical significance, the observed trends carry through to students' narrative responses as well.
"A Tewa Grandma came in to read stories, but then she [burst] out in a Tewa song. All the girls put down their forks and were so thankful. ... She wanted to share the spirit with the girls." -- A'Gin Facilitator
Specific adulthood preparation topics include healthy relationships of balanced power and control, increased communication with trusted adults, celebration of adolescent growth and development, and healthy life skills.
Survey responses showed that participating students feel themselves under tremendous stress. High rates of suicide, self-harm, relationship violence, and substance abuse among youth in the region reflect the multiple challenges local young people must navigate. Although students leave the A'Gin program still feeling the burden of stress, they've learned or acknowledged various coping skills and increased their resiliency in numerous ways.
"Would you say that being in the program has made you more likely, about the same, or less likely to..."
Survey results show 75% of students perceive themselves "more likely" or "much more likely" to make positive choices post-program in 7 of 12 areas.
Students still see themselves challenged by managing stress, addressing conflict, and talking about things that matter with parents or guardians. Still, more than half of the students surveyed felt they had improved in these areas after participating in A'Gin.