Thriving in adversity: Do brief milieu interventions work for young adults in the developing world? A pragmatic randomized controlled trial
In 2005, as a psychology student, I volunteered in a local NGO in Macedonia that provided education support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. I was stunned to realize that these children identified with the lowest paying positions in society: they “dreamed” of becoming cleaners or garbage collectors—just as their parents were—yet they held potential for so much more.
Coming from a country where the poverty rate is about 18%1 and having witnessed the barriers that hardship can pose to flourishing, I was intrigued by the intervention presented in Thriving in adversity: Do brief milieu interventions work for developing world young adults? A pragmatic RCT.
In this pragmatic randomized control trial, adolescents from socially disadvantaged communities in Bengaluru, South India, who attended an NGO were assessed for their life skills before being split into two groups. One group underwent a 25-day ‘Career Connect’ program that was aimed at developing cognitive, emotional, and life skills, whereas the other group was put on a waiting list. Upon completion of the program, both groups were assessed again; the results indicated increased life skills in the intervention group only.
Apart from the relatively straightforward and effective intervention, which the authors say they will make freely available to interested parties, I was pleased to see that the same opportunity for growth was offered to the control group, after the study ended. The authors consider adolescence a “window of opportunity” to reverse some of the negative effects experienced during earlier life stages, and it is my hope that those engaged in the developmental work will incorporate this intervention in their work and seize on that window of opportunity.
Ana Stojanov | Associate Editor