Heroes on the Hill: A qualitative study of the psychosocial benefits of an intercultural arts programme for youth in Northern Ireland

Katie Scrantom , Katrina McLaughlin

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Abstract

The current study investigates the psychosocial benefits of a cross‐community, intercultural dance programme for youth in Northern Ireland. Psychological theories, including contact theory and the ecology of childhood development, underpin the study, and results are discussed in relation to the programme's aims. The present study used qualitative, inductive methods; data consisted of interviews before and after the programme with facilitators (n = 2) and 10 (n = 10) programme participants (11–15 years old) of diverse races and nationalities. Latent themes were identified using thematic analysis. Findings reveal that participants have complex senses of identity. Worryingly, they also reported many instances of bullying, relating both to themselves and others. Results reveal three main psychosocial benefits of the programme, all of which promote positive mental health in adolescents. The benefits are increased self‐confidence, the formation of new cross‐community friendships, and improved intercultural awareness and pride. It is argued that the programme is an exemplar of how the arts can promote peace as well as resilience in the face of adversity. Recommendations for future research are included.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of community & applied social psychology
Early online date24 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 24 Mar 2019

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