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Youth experiences of a holistic approach to personal transformation : a narrative inquiry
Many youth experience some form of identity crisis as they transition into adulthood. This crisis is amplified in the lives of many working-class youth who have to contend with heading households owing to the absence or death of parents and a socioeconomic context of poverty, lack of access to quality learning opportunities, unemployment and deepening inequality. A recent analysis of youth unemployment statistics in South Africa shows that at the end of 2016, at least 7.5 million youth were not in employment, education or training (NEET), with a large percentage residing in the Western Cape. The growing NEET numbers present a huge problem to youth, communities and the state, as youth who are not in employment, education or training have a greater propensity to become disengaged and disconnected from self, family and social, economic, political and cultural activities, further minimising their opportunities for growth and development. Despite the growing NEET numbers, there remains a paucity of research on credible and sustainable solutions to the NEET crises, including research that gives credence to youth voice and experience. The key purpose of the study was to explore youth experiences of a holistic approach to personal transformation as one particular programmatic approach or developmental pathway for vulnerable youth. The imperative is to explore ways of addressing the current NEET crisis and simultaneously deepen the theory and practice of youth development. The study used an ecological perspective as its theoretical framework that illuminated the influence of relationships and contexts on the development of children and youth. A phenomenological approach was chosen as it was deemed best suited to exploring and understanding people’s perceptions and experiences of a particular phenomenon. Narrative inquiry was employed as the methodological framework to explore the views of five youth respondents and their parents or guardians. Techniques to enhance the credibility and trustworthiness of the data included triangulation, which was effected through the collection of two sets of data, an extensive literature review and use of a reflective journal. The findings illustrate that a holistic perspective, as one particular philosophical and programmatic approach to personal transformation, has the potential to foster connection with self and family, enhance the psychological capital of young people and provide the impetus for them to remain on a positive developmental trajectory. The significance of a holistic approach lies in its ability to recognise and integrate all dimensions of their being into the learning process and meet a variety of needs as a result of their particular socioeconomic and psychosocial realities.