Scholar Info

Silvia Bigatti

Associate Professor

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Your Life.Your Story: Latino Youth Summit

Urban neighborhoods in Indianapolis are home to an emerging immigrant Latino population. In contrast to well-established communities, fewer resources exist to assist with the challenges of acculturation. In this setting, concerning disparities have been documented – in Indiana, a 65% higher rate of suicide attempts and a 24% higher rate of depression have been reported among Latino high-school students in comparison to their non-Hispanic White peers. From fall 2012 – summer 2013, a team from the Fairbanks School of Public Health, led by Dr. Bigatti, partnered with Virna Diaz from the Latino Health Organization and received funding from the Indiana Minority Health Coalition to pursue a pilot research project that investigated acculturative stress (the stress of straddling two cultures) and depressive outcomes in Latino adolescents in Indianapolis. In this Community-based Participatory Research Study, 86 Latino adolescents (ages 12-19) and 100 parents participated either completing surveys (teens) or in focus groups (parents). The study revealed that nearly 60% of study participants had some form of depressive symptoms, and that they were seven times more likely to have depression if they suffered from moderate levels of acculturative stress. The research team also discovered that participants with low self-mastery were six times less likely to suffer from moderate levels of acculturative stress. Based on these findings, in late summer 2013, the research team began to plan the intervention that eventually became the Your Life. Your Story. program. After brainstorming and researching ways to successfully intervene, the team thought it was best to focus on increasing resilience and self-mastery as a way to decrease depressive symptoms, and a summer camp was selected as the main platform to do so. YLYS is a prevention program for depression through increases in resilience and self- mastery. It is focused on Latino adolescents. The program is culturally sensitive, evidence-based, interdisciplinary, and community-based. It is a yearlong program that begins with a one-week summer camp where Latino youth go through a resilience-building curriculum, followed by a selection of art and movement based activities to develop self-identity and goals for the future and identify barriers and opportunities. The second phase of the program includes meeting once per month; each meeting focused on cementing components from the camp. In addition to the Fairbanks School and the Latino Health Organization, partners include the School of Education, the Herron School of Art, and the School of Informatics and Computing. Other community partners include independent contractors who serve as experts for the various camp components. In addition to involvement from faculty, staff and community partners, the program is an opportunity for IUPUI students from various majors to practice leadership skills as mentors or career skills as activity leaders; over 30 students have assisted with various aspects of the camp in its first two years. The program has shown success. After one week of camp, data suggest that the YLYS camp had a statistically significant impact on participants with increase in resilience and decrease in depressive symptoms; these differences were maintained at 6-month followup. Data are collected at each monthly booster session so the team can continue to measure the program’s impact. YLYS has the potential to create a large and lasting impact on the Indianapolis community. While so far the program has been focused on Latino youth, the resilience-building program can be applicable and tailored to any group of youth. We envision several groups participating every year, long term follow-up of participants, and if feasible with sufficient funding, allowing youth to participate 2 years in a row, with the second year taking youth to a higher level of mastery and future-focused goal development. Efforts at dissemination of the program and its findings are underway.


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