Adapting and Validating Measures of Adolescent Connectedness and Character Development for Use in Kenya

Adolescents comprise the highest proportion of the population, particularly in Africa. Therefore, for Africa to thrive, its adolescents need to thrive and flourish. One of the theoretical underpinnings for youth thriving is “Positive Youth Development”. Positive Youth Development is an intentional, deliberate process of providing support, resources and opportunities that promote positive outcomes for young people. Positive Youth Development encompasses six key concepts termed the 6Cs of Positive Youth Development. These include connection, confidence, character, caring, competence, and contribution. This project focuses on connection and character. Both connection/connectedness and character have been positively linked with positive outcomes such as happiness and overall wellbeing, and negatively linked with negative outcomes such as poor mental health functioning. However, this evidence is mostly from outside Africa. Additionally, there is lack of adequately standardized and contextually relevant measures of these constructs in Africa. This provide a barrier to assessing these constructs as well as evaluating their targeted interventions.

Therefore, the project aims to develop or adapt and validate a set of measures that can be used to evaluate adolescents’ connectedness and character development (i.e. empathy, optimism, and engagement/good citizenship), both for research purposes and for programme evaluation. This study is being conducted among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years in four research sites in Kenya (Nairobi, Kiambu, Mombasa, and Nairobi).