Beth St. Jean¹, Natalie Greene Taylor¹, Christie Kodama1, Dana Casciotti², Mega Subramaniam¹
¹College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, United States of America; ²U.S. National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD, United States of America

Tuesday, November 10, 10:30am

After-school programs are uniquely situated to attract and engage youth in a variety of interest-driven activities that ensure that each individual youth’s personal interests are nurtured. In collaboration with school librarians at five middle schools in the greater Washington D.C. metro area, we developed and implemented an after-school program, [ProgramName], which aims to increase disadvantaged middle school students’ interest in science and health, their health and digital literacy skills, and their health-related self-efficacy. Based on data collected from the 63 youth who have participated in [ProgramName] over the past two years (as well as their parents) through surveys, participant observation, pre- and post-interviews, and focus groups, we investigate why these youth joined [ProgramName], the health-related topic each one selected to research during the program and the reasons for their choice, and the perceptions of participants and their parents regarding the short-term outcomes of participating in the program. The importance of building on youths’ personal interests and ensuring the personal relevance of both content and skills in attracting and sustaining youth participation and engagement in after-school programs is discussed.