This case study of the Swindon Youth Empowerment Project 2001-2007, explores personal and social transformations when young people are encouraged to talk through their life choices conceptually using visualisation, symbol and metaphor. This educational project was designed to empower disaffected pupils in urban schools who are failing academically. They are referred to as ‘dispirited’ as they lacked motivation and ambition. The SYEP project is unique in that the procedure was created by the team and has no direct parallels. The fieldwork took place over three years, 2004-2007 with the researcher working as ethnographer as an outsider to the project. Data collection has included ethnographic observations, of training and events, and planning meetings. Interviews were conducted, group and individual pupils, teachers and learning mentors. The research drew on naturalistic data of the pupils involved, taken before, during and after the intervention.\ud \ud In doing so the team were trained to become evaluators and researchers. The researcher was allowed access to the work in order to encourage a long-term culture of evaluation, in schools as well as in the project. The research used a range of qualitative and ethnographic data collection methods and encouraged co-researcher dialogue. The analytical process was interpretative. \ud \ud The research demonstrates a clear effect on some of the young people involved. It reveals a range of factors contributing to this success. It also discusses the learning and development processes of the project team, including the process by which evaluation was improved and a future action plan is set. It locates the benefits of the project in relation to theoretical discussions about holistic education, self-belief, emotional literacy and wellbeing, and therapeutic approaches. It argues that young people can transcend their limited world view, learning to see themselves differently as people with energy, potential, compassion and the ability to affect positive change. In this they can reach out to others and with others, building moral understanding and cascading positive attitudes and energies to those around them
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