Character virtues are present and applauded in cultures worldwide and correlate with well-being, positive relationships, health, career satisfaction, and decreased use of alcohol and drugs. Positive psychology interventions which identify and enhance character virtues have been primarily limited to literate Western populations and are primarily secular by design. Spirituality is also correlated with greater well-being, meaning and purpose and reduced substance use. This study will address the question: Can the weekly teaching of character virtues and spiritual practices enhance hope, a sense of meaning and resiliency and reduce or delay the use of alcohol and other drugs among youth in grades 4 and 5 (ages ~10-12) in Zambia? Global Resilience Oral Workshops (GROW) is a 24 week curriculum which uses storytelling to teach character virtues using biblical role models and which cultivates spiritual practices such as forgiveness, gratitude, celebration and meditation. An international research team will partner with a network of Zambian churches to implement GROW with 600 Zambian students. Leaders and participants will identify their signature character strengths and will study and practice 24 character strengths through spiritually based exercises. Impact will be measured using the Child and Youth Resilience Measure, Children’s Hope Scale, Meaning in Life Questionnaire, VIA Youth Survey, and substance use measures of the Global School-based Student Health Survey. Project results will be shared at four scientific meetings and through two scientific journal articles, and GROW’s curriculum, leader’s guide and a Youtube training video produced by Zambian leaders will be disseminated via the GROW website and mobile app. If successful, GROW Zambia will provide a simple evidence-based culturally adaptable holistic training model for character and resilience training and alcohol and drug prevention appropriate for use in many oral-learning cultures around the world.
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