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Evidence-Based Programs

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Adult Identity Mentoring (Project AIM)

Overview of the Curriculum

Project AIM is a group-level youth development intervention designed to reduce HIV risk behaviors among middle school youth. Core elements must be maintained without alteration to ensure program effectiveness. Project AIM core elements include:

  1. Engage youth in thinking about a positive possible future self.
    • Look ahead to the future as successful adults.
    • Envision a positive future self.
    • Set goals and plans to achieve a positive future as an adult.
    • Articulate the specific details of a positive future self.
  2. Engage youth in present actions to achieve future success.
    • Develop skills to achieve effective communication.
    • Identify their strengths and the resources needed for future success.
    • Experience success to reinforce youths' positive future selves.
  3. Encourage youth to safeguard the future through risk reduction.
    • Develop strategies to safeguard the likelihood of a positive future self through risk reduction and a balance of their future possible positive and negative selves.

Curriculum Sessions

Project AIM consists of twelve 50-minute sessions conducted by 2 facilitators to groups of 10 to 18 youth. Project AIM is implemented in small groups twice a week, over a six-week period. Project AIM is divided into four parts.

  • Part 1: Legacy, Role Models, and Peers (four sessions). Encourages youth to explore their personal interests, social surrounding, and what they want to become as an adult. Youth also identify people in their lives who may be barriers or supporters to their successful adulthood. Young adults from the community who are on their road to success are invited to speak with youth.
  • Part 2: Exploring My Future (four sessions). Allows youth to envision themselves in a future career and connect current behavior with success as an adult through activities such as completing a career interest inventory, developing business cards and resumes, and participating in interviews.
  • Part 3: Express Yourself (two sessions). Engages youth in role-plays around communication and small group activities involving planning and decision-making.
  • Part 4: Choosing My Future (two sessions). Provides the opportunity for youth to think about their future in terms of milestones to accomplish goals and overcome potential obstacles they may encounter in life.

Unique Features of the Curriculum

Replicating Effective Programs (REP) is a CDC-initiated project that identifies HIV/AIDS prevention interventions with demonstrated evidence of efficacy. REP supports the original researchers in developing a user-friendly package of materials designed for prevention providers. Project AIM is one the REP interventions and is the product of extensive collaboration among researchers, educators, providers, community agencies, and youth. Project AIM has been field tested in two community-based settings, including a church setting, by non-research staff with African American and Latino youth. Therefore, this intervention package is appropriate for implementation in community settings by agency staff serving African American and Latino youth. With minor adaptation, the intervention package also may be appropriate for youth of other races or ethnicities living in low-income neighborhoods.

Theoretical Framework

Project AIM is based on the Theory of Possible Selves, which proposes that individuals are motivated in their present life by mental images of possible future selves, and that a person’s motivation is determined by a balance of positive and negative ways people see themselves in the future. Individuals who are able to imagine both possible positive and negative futures are more likely to work toward their life goals and achieve future success. Project AIM seeks to help adolescents develop positive images of their future selves. Project AIM encourages students to articulate their future goals and think about how risky behavior choices might jeopardize their path toward achieving those goals.

Ordering and Training Information

Ordering: Per youth, the program costs $16.75. The implementation kits (including a Facilitator handbook, Facilitator materials [puzzle pieces, scenario cards, directory of images, posters], and CD-ROM with additional materials) cost $600. There is an annual licensing fee ($2,000) for the right to implement and/or adapt Project AIM. Youth-specific materials and facilitator materials are available at a cost by contacting the AIM Service Center at AIM@chla.usc.edu or 323-361-3126.

Training: Program staff from agencies adopting Project AIM attend a 2- or 3-day training in which they learn about the intervention objectives, why it works, and how to conduct the program in their setting. They also have the opportunity to practice intervention delivery skills, and identify agency-specific intervention strategies. Facilitators must be certified to implement Project AIM. A 2- to 3-day training session costs $1,210 per trainee plus travel and accommodations arrangements for 2 trainers.

Evaluation Fact Sheet

Intervention

Project AIM is a school-based program for middle school students designed to promote abstinence, delay the initiation of sex, and decrease the intention to engage in sex for the purpose of reducing HIV risk behaviors. To accomplish this, the program seeks to help adolescents form their "adult identity" by helping them to articulate their future goals and think about how risky behavior choices might jeopardize their path toward achieving those goals.

Behavioral Findings

At a 19-week follow-up, AIM students were significantly more likely than control students to report having abstained from intercourse during the follow-up period and to report the intention to remain abstinent for the next nine months. At the one-year follow-up, AIM students were no longer more likely to report an intent to remain abstinent. Male AIM students were significantly more likely than male control students to report having abstained from sex during the one-year follow-up period; however, this difference was not observed among female students.

Examining just those students who were virgins at baseline, at both the 19-week and the one-year follow-up, AIM students were more likely than control students to still be virgins. This trend was marginally significant at the 19-week follow-up, but was no longer significant at the one-year follow-up.

Research Design

In a random assignment study, students from 20 classes were assigned to receive the AIM program or a standard health education curriculum. Two hundred forty-eight 7th graders at a suburban middle school in the southeastern United States served as the study sample for this investigation. The vast majority of students (98%) were African American. Students were randomly assigned, by health class, to either the treatment group or the control group. Students assigned to the treatment group received the AIM intervention during their health class twice a week for six weeks. The AIM intervention was led by two trained African American graduate students. Students assigned to the control group received the standard health education curriculum.

All students completed baseline surveys before the intervention began. Students completed follow-up surveys 19 weeks after baseline and again one year later.

References

Clark, L. F., Miller, K. S., Nagy, S. S., Avery, J., Roth, D. L., Liddon, N., & Mukherjee, S. (2005). Adult identity mentoring: Reducing sexual risk for African-American seventh grade students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 37, 337.e1-3337.e10.