Youth of color disproportionately live in neighborhoods with more ambient stressors which contribute to lifelong health disparities. Within neighborhoods, however, youth interact with a variety of activity spaces. While a few studies have captured activity spaces relaying on recall, mobile technology allows us to understand youths’ exposure to activity spaces in real time. The SPIN Project, a NIDA funded project, seeks to engage youth in identifying safe and risky spaces in their neighborhood, to understand the relationship between exposure to these spaces, stress and substance use and work to increases youth access to safe spaces while addressing spaces that are potentially risky. We have done this by forming a youth research advisory board (YRAB), conducting a pilot study to fine tune measures and methods, and recruiting 78 youth to participate in a larger study. All these activities take place in Homewood, Pittsburgh PA, and all participants either live in the neighborhood or attend the neighborhood school. The YRAB meets once a week to discuss all aspects of the study including, measures, branding, recruitment and retention and data analysis.
In the main study that began in July 2019, youth are given a cellphone, were asked to carry them for a month and answered questions about their mood and their current location 3 times day. In addition to completing surveys during the day the youth completed brief surveys at the end of each day reporting on their overall mood and substance use that day and completed a baseline, immediate follow up and 6 months follow up surveys. The SPIN project is currently engaging study youth in the 6 month follow up surveys, analyzing the data collected to date, preparing for a set of community forums where the data will be presented and discussed and developing and piloting HYPE Media, a youth lead critically literacy program where youth are taught how to engage new media to rewrite neighborhood narratives for community change.