DenYelle Baete Kenyon
As a researcher who studies adolescent health, development, and parent-adolescent relationships, I strongly believe in the rights and value of teenagers to our society. It is our responsibility to help prepare adolescents for the transition to adulthood by facilitating their development of self-efficacy and a broad range of skills to become healthy adults. Specifically, I study adolescent health and well-being, with the goal to reduce health disparities for American Indian youth and families.
We utilize Community Based Participatory Research methods to collaborate and partner with American Indian communities. We also use a Positive Youth Development framework which details that youth have special capabilities for learning, interacting, and contributing to the world around them. A main key to unlocking these special attributes is community support and resources. A particularly important tenet of the youth development framework is the focus on listening to the voices of youth, and giving them the power to make choices and drive the programs and activities adults want to get them involved in. Supporting youths’ voices and opinions further grows their autonomy, decision making abilities, and skills for leadership. Building these qualities through education and programs is important to shaping successful adults.
American Indian Youth Photovoice Project
One approach we have taken to empower youth is through Photovoice, a participatory action research approach where historically under-represented people (such as minority youth) can represent and benefit their community with photographs. Our program, the American Indian Youth Photovoice Project, helps youth:
It is an innovative program because it highlights American Indian youth voices by exploring issues that are important to them through photography, with a focus on American Indian communities’ public health needs and how to best support American Indian students’ success during the transition to college. The project strives to benefit the adolescents by creating greater feelings of empowerment from sharing their opinions. The photographs from the project have been shown at local community venues such as the Washington Pavilion, and the Horse Barn Art Gallery at Falls Park.
Summer Undergraduate Research Experience
Through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), American Indian undergraduates receive hands-on research experience and mentoring in a cross-disciplinary training program (biomedical or social/behavioral research). Faculty mentors are drawn from experienced researchers at Sanford Research/USD and the University of South Dakota. All interns will receive: a) an intensive research experience that leads to specific research skills gained (e.g., performing literature searches, conducting lipid analysis, etc.), b) exposure to a broad background of content knowledge in the health sciences, c) a unique educational experience in the research lab to develop a better understanding of how biomedical and behavior al research fits into the broader health care and education system, and d) personalized mentoring to support their educational and research goals. This experience will build students’ capacity to conduct independent research while preparing them with greater skills and ideas to develop their future career pat
Adolescent Reproductive Health
One critical component of a healthy transition to adulthood is adolescent reproductive health. Our research aims to understand the context of Northern Plains American Indian teen pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted infections in adolescent/young adult populations. We are developing a culturally-sensitive teen pregnancy prevention program for reservation and urban Northern Plains American Indian teens.
Contact Information for Kenyon Lab:
DenYelle Baete Kenyon, PhD
Scientist & Associate Director, Health Outcomes & Prevention Research Center, Sanford Research/USD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota
2301 E. 60th Street N.
Sioux Falls SD, 57104