The role of an adventure-based experiential programme on the personal functioning of adolescent youth with mentally mild learning disability
Swanepoel, Johanna Adriana
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Approximately forty percent of youths’ waking hours are unrestricted and not committed to activities such as eating, sleeping or going to school. Many of this free time is spent without companionship or supervision from adults, which puts them at risk of spending their time out on the streets, where the risk of succumbing to peer pressure and becoming involved in inappropriate or illegal activities is increased. The absence of structured activities, stimulation and support can lead to youth becoming involved in rebellious and unwanted behaviour, partly due to their continuous search for adventure and excitement. Learners with Mentally Mild Learning Disabilities (MMLD) can be seen as youth at risk because of their academic and behavioural problems. Learning disabilities can increase the risk factors for delinquency and substance dependence. Previous research suggests that adventure-based experiential programmes (AEPs), which are highly structured, can thus be a very powerful intervention or prevention medium to empower youth at risk to overcome obstacles through the acquisition and practise of skills. The purpose of the study was firstly to determine what the personal functioning profile of MMLD youth looks like, which was done in order to gain insight into the different aspects of the personal functioning, which were focused on when developing the AEP. The study was secondly done to determine what the role of an AEP is on the personal functioning of learners with MMLD. Books, journals, dissertations, theses and internet sources were used to do a thorough literature review. The literature review was done in order for readers to understand the link between MMLD youth and an AEP. The literature review gave an introduction to the phenomenon of MMLD youth and also explained how an AEP could be beneficial towards them. A qualitative research design was used by the researcher in the form of an instrumental case study. Case studies make it possible for the researcher to use qualitative as well as quantitative constructs for data gathering purposes. Sampling of participants was done in two steps. A school for Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) (Die Wilge High School) was sampled through purposeful sampling by means of criterion-based sampling techniques. The second step was to sample fourteen male learners from Die Wilge High School through purposive sampling. The personal functioning was determined by using the Youth at Risk Assessment Scale (YAR3) Questionnaire 3. The researcher made use of semi-structured, one-on-one interviews and field notes in order to gather data. The field notes and transcribed interviews were analysed in order to obtain a clear picture of the content, which was then used to identify the codes. After the data was analysed four main themes, each with its own categories, were identified. The themes related to the personal functioning of the youth and consisted of interpersonal relationships, trust, self-worth and perseverance. The learners had positive feedback regarding their interpersonal relationships, trust, self-worth and perseverance before participation in the AEP. This was attributed to the Strengths-based Approach which the researcher followed in the development of the AEP. Despite this positive feedback, the learners still felt that there was an improvement after the AEP in all of the areas. Most of the learners attributed the improvement to learning more about each other, learning to work together and building friendships among each other. These new found friendships made it easier to trust each other and believe in themselves. The learners also realised that they experienced more positive feelings from persevering than when they quit. The results were used to discuss the objective of the study and to determine if the researcher met the objective.
- Humanities