Our Community in Focus: The Use of Photovoice for Youth-Driven Substance Abuse Assessment and Health Promotion

  The successful development and implementation of prevention curricula requires seeking strategies that combine the strengths of researchers and community members. Because young people are considered to be the experts in their own lives, it is important to determine effective ways to engage them in substance abuse assessment and prevention initiatives. The community-based participatory action research methodology of photovoice is one way to engage youth in assessment of this public health issue. “Our Community in Focus” was a project that used the photovoice methodology to engage high school youth in a community-based assessment of adolescent substance use and abuse. Through the photovoice method, youth were able to reflect their community’s strengths and concerns with regards to adolescent substance abuse, as they took photographs to answer the question “What contributes to adolescents’ decisions to use or not to use alcohol and other drugs?” The youth and the community were highly receptive to the project and its methodology, and photographs taken by photovoice participants presented a compelling argument for action.