Collab Lab 54 explored issues around youth mental health and violence. One of our largest groups to date, which included middle and high school student leaders, focused on factors that impact the degree to which students and teachers feel safe and affirmed at school. Matt Nink and Vanessa Rodriguez from SKY Schools kicked things off for us with a mindfulness exercise, after which we dove into the discussion.
The output of those conservations was a long list of interrelated factors, and some initial thoughts on how those influence each other. We pulled those factors into the first draft of a system map. If you’re not familiar with a system map, each of the factors identified in the Collab Lab is represented as a node. Solid arrows connecting two nodes indicate that an increase in the factor represented by the first node leads to an increase in the factor represented by the second node. A dashed line indicates a negative relationship between nodes.
As an example, zooming in on one area of the map, we indicate that Students’ feeling of affirmation are driven by level of student voice and leadership, and in turn an increase in the degree to which students feel affirmed at school leads to higher levels of respect for teachers and greater levels of engagement. Conversely, we suspect that an increase in the frequency of policing interventions will lead to a decrease in students’ feeling of affirmation.
We invite you to explore the map in greater detail here. Again, this is a first draft, we haven’t been able to connect all of the factors raised in the session, so we know we are either missing nodes, or don’t understand how those do connect. It’s also likely that the connections we show between nodes might be off, and the phrasing used for some of the factors is unclear. Your feedback and ideas are more than welcome. Let us know what you see, or join us for Collab Lab 55 on May 11th, where we’ll use the discussion to get to an improved version, identify nodes where community partners are already focused, where some of the projects we’re looking at for the 2023-24 intersect and how this mapping might inform how we approach those.
A special thanks to Kyle Ashley, Lawrence Battle, Nate Deans, Clintel Hasan, Maria Hamidu, and Sharlen Moore who got us started on this path, helped us plan the session, and recruit participants. A big thanks to the students from Glen Hills Middle School, Pathways and Reagan High Schools, and Youth Forward MKE sharing your voices and experience, and keeping the discussion focused on issues that matter most to youth!