Exposure to war and human rights violations has been found to have a significant impact on psychological, emotional and social development of young traumatized refugees. Trauma affects the ability to build trusting relationships and form new social connections. The complex interaction between trauma, exile and resettlement, often place refugee adolescents at significant risk of developing psychological complications. To address these issues, STARTTS offers an innovative programme called `STARTTS Capoeira Angola', which using a combination of dance, martial arts and psychoeducation, helps improve the mental health of traumatized young refugees by empowering them, enhancing their sense of responsibility, self-esteem and self-confidence.
Equated to martial art, Capoeira Angola is a particularly appropriate intervention for adolescent refugees due to its unique ethos of empowerment and overcoming adversity through individual strength and group membership/belonging. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether using `Capoeira' as a clinical intervention would enhance the adolescent's negative or problematic behaviour specifically in the school environment. In this evaluation, mixed methods of analysis were used to examine outcomes of the programme among 32 young refugees between the ages of 12 and 17 years. The aim was to assess the efficacy of the program, identify short and long-term social and therapeutic benefits of the program for participants.
The study provides an exploratory trial of a methodology combining qualitative analysis of community development outcomes and quantitative analysis of clinical outcomes. The quantitative analysis of the study utilized the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ); (Goodman, 1997), a brief behavioural screening questionnaire assessing for 25 items, divided between five scales: emotional, conduct problems, hyperactivitiy/inattention, peer relationship problems and prosocial behaviour. These items are based on the observation of teachers. During an interview, the adolescents were asked an ``Attribution'' question to determine whether Capoeira made any impact/difference on their lives emotionally or socially.
Results showed an overall decrease in behavioural problems, anger and truancy while indicating an improvement in interpersonal skills, confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline and sense of responsibility. The Qualitative method revealed several areas of significant improvement: Increased interpersonal skills and relationships with teachers and peers; confidence and self-esteem; control of anger; self-discipline and sense of responsibility. The quantitative analysis of the SDQ yielded significant results, demonstrating better conduct in school, less hyperactivity, improved pro-social behaviour and decreased total difficulties (p<0.001). Overall results of the study indicated that the Capoeira Angola program is an effective intervention for assisting refugee adolescents settle in their school, increasing their positive social skills and capacities, decreasing problematic behaviour, hence diminishing the possibility of future negative behaviour leading to complications and anti-social behaviour in adult years. The gains in interpersonal skills and trust may also be extended to future relationships such as peers, family members and authority figures.
Funding & No Conflicts Declaration
The information & data presented was collected in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a conflict of interest