Academic journal article International Public Health Journal

Subjective Outcome Evaluation of the Tin Ka Ping P.A.T.H.S. Project in China: View of the Students

Academic journal article International Public Health Journal

Subjective Outcome Evaluation of the Tin Ka Ping P.A.T.H.S. Project in China: View of the Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

Since the beginning of the "Open-Door Policy" in the early 1980s, China has developed rapidly. China has become the world's second largest economy and is forecasted to surpass the United States by 2030 (1). Such an economic growth goes hand in hand with the urbanization of the contemporary Chinese youth communities. Accordingly, how such an economic transition in China has shaped the psychological development of Chinese adolescents attracts growing interest in the research community. For instance, utilizing the cross-temporal meta-analytic data from thousands of Chinese youth, Xin and associates (2, 3) revealed that urbanization level was a significant positive correlate of adolescents' anxiety level, depressive symptoms, and mental illness across cohorts, and the mental health of young people in China had deteriorated throughout time.

In view of such a backdrop, the Ministry of Education (4) published "The Outline of Education Guide for Pupil's Mental Health." One key strategy entails the permission for primary and secondary schools to hire mental health teachers to implement mental health education and offer counseling services to the students. There is, nonetheless, still a lack of systematic teaching resources for these mental health teachers regarding how psychosocial competencies of the students can be strengthened. As such, there is an urgent need to develop related curriculum materials based on the positive youth development (PYD) approach. According to Damon (5), problem prevention alone is not enough to promote healthy youth development and it is important to discover and nurture adolescents' strengths, talents, and potentials.

With reference to Hong Kong, adolescents also display problems such as substance abuse, materialism, and bullying (6). Nonetheless, Shek and Yu (7) highlighted the paucity of robustly evaluated, multi-year PYD programs in Hong Kong. Against such a backdrop, a multi-year project entitled "Positive Adolescent Training through Holistic Social Programs" (Project P.A.T.H.S.), funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, was launched in 2005. The Project P.A.T.H.S. which comprises two tiers is a comprehensive PYD program tailored for junior secondary-schoolers in Hong Kong. While the Tier 1 Program represents a curriculum-based intervention targeting the general junior secondary-schooler population, the Tier 2 Program was catered to adolescents with greater psychosocial needs. Results from a multitude of evaluation studies (8) corroborate the effectiveness of the Project P.A.T.H.S. over the years in promoting the holistic youth development alongside eradicating risk behavior in junior secondary students in Hong Kong.

Despite the remarkable achievement of the Project P.A.T.H.S., we have to ask whether the related programs can be successfully applied in other Chinese communities (9). Funded by the Tin Ka Ping Foundation, the first phase of the program entitled "Tin Ka Ping Positive Adolescent Training through Holistic Social Program" (Tin Ka Ping P.A.T.H.S. Project) was embarked on in four schools in East China (Shanghai, Suzhou, Changzhou, and Yangzhou) since 2011. This pioneer project in China was well-received as evidenced by findings derived from both subjective outcome evaluation (10) and objective outcome evaluation studies (11). Accordingly, started from the academic year 2015-2016, the second phase of the Tin Ka Ping P.A.T.H.S. Project targeting both junior and senior secondary schoolers was launched in 30 secondary schools in mainland China. Given the geographical socioeconomic differences across provinces, it is necessary to examine if the second phase, which involves schools from both inside and outside East China, would be similarly effective.

Resembling other PYD programs, the Tin Ka Ping P.A.T.H.S. Project emphasizes program evaluation. Shek and Sun (12) outlined five key elements to a successful PYD program, including program, process, policy, people, and place (i. …

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