ABAN AYA Youth Project: Preventing High Risk Behaviors Among African American Youth in Grades 5-8

Brian Flay, DPhil, Sally Graumlich, EdD, CHES, & the ABAN AYA Team



The ABAN AYA YOUTH PROJECT (ABAN AYA) is an Afrocentric Social Development curriculum instructed over a four-year period, beginning in the fifth grade. The number of lessons varies each year. This curriculum encourages abstinence, protection from unsafe sex, and avoidance of drugs and alcohol. The name of the intervention is drawn from two words in the Akan (Ghanaian) language: ABAN (fence) signifies double/social protection; AYA (the unfurling fern) signifies self-determination. The purpose of this intervention is to promote abstinence from sex, and to teach students how to avoid drugs and alcohol, and how to resolve conflicts non-violently.

ABAN AYA YOUTH PROJECT was developed to address multiple problem behaviors such as violence, substance abuse, delinquency and sexual activity, simultaneously in a long-term intervention specifically for African American youths in grades five through eight. The longitudinal evaluation of the program involved 12 schools in the metropolitan Chicago area between 1994 and 1998.

At baseline, 1153 fifth graders participated in the pencil-and-paper assessment. There was an average annual turnover rate of about 20%. Of the group that completed the baseline survey, 668 were still present at the conclusion of the program.

The group was fairly evenly divided between males and females; the average age was 10.8 years. All participants were African American. Follow-up assessments were conducted at the conclusion of grades five through eight for all students in the test schools with parental consent at the time of assessment. Students who transferred out of the test schools were not followed for the purposes of the study.

Participating schools were assigned to one of three conditions using a randomized block design. The first experimental condition, the Social Development Curriculum (SDC) included 16-21 classroom-based lessons each year. The second experimental condition, the School/Community Intervention (SCI), included SDC plus a parent/community element. The control condition, Health Enhancement Curriculum (HEC), was equal to SDC in intensity, and focused on general health, nutrition and physical activity. The PASHA program package includes only the SDC curriculum. Therefore, effectiveness information will include only HEC and SDC.

At study conclusion, there were no significant intervention effects for girls. For boys, however, the SDC significantly reduced the rate of increase in violent behavior (by 35% compared with HEC), provoking behavior (41%) school delinquency (31%) drug use (32%), and recent sexual intercourse (44%). SDC also improved the rate of increase in condom use (95%) as compared to HEC.


ABAN AYA YOUTH PROJECT is suitable for use in middle schools, grades 5 through 8. It may be suitable for use in community based organizations that provide services to youths in this age group.


Age, Gender
The baseline sample was 49.5% male, and averaged 10.8 years at the beginning of fifth grade.

All participants were African American.


The Social Development Curriculum (SDC), discussed in this User's Guide and detailed in the facilitator's manuals, is classroom based and involves 16-21 lessons each year in grades five through eight. The lessons are designed to be taught in a typical classroom period, and last approximately 40-45 minutes each.


In the original implementation, health educators delivered the curriculum in social studies class. In order to ensure fidelity of implementation, two training sessions were held before each lesson during which health educators role played the activities and senior project staff provided feedback. In addition, each year, the regular classroom teachers received a four-hour workshop to provide an overview of program content and philosophy.

There is no formal training program required for implementing ABAN AYA. However, training is an essential component in prevention programs. Often instructors find prevention methods differ from teaching methods they normally use. Hence, training can improve the instructors understanding of concepts that drive prevention programs and increase their competence in prevention strategies. Also training helps to increase the fidelity of implementation of your program and increase the likelihood the program will become sustained in your school or agency as the instructors become more comfortable and supportive of the program.

Given the nature of the Aban Aya curricula, training is required. Training provides an opportunity for Aban Aya instructors to feel comfortable with the curricula content, while enhancing their knowledge of the prevention conceptual framework used to develop Aban Aya. Training will also increase instructors. competence and capacity to teach the cognitive.behavioral skills that comprise the curricula. A 1-day training program is available from Sociometrics. Sociometrics also provides other training services including technical assistance after training and refresher training at the beginning of each year of the curricula. Sociometrics can also assist in consultation on program implementation and evaluation design and metrics. Please contact socio@socio.com or call 650-949-3282 for current pricing and more information on how to tailor a training and/or evaluation package to meet your needs in the implementation of Aban Aya.

   Primary Pregnancy Prevention
   Secondary Pregnancy Prevention
   STD/HIV/AIDS Prevention


   Behavioral Skills Development
   Community Outreach
   Contraceptive Access
   Contraceptive Education
   Life Option Enhancement
   Sexuality/STD/HIV/AIDS Education

   Adult Involvement
   Case Management
   Group Discussion
   Peer Counseling/Instruction
   Public Service Announcements
   Role Play

   Other: Homework, some with parental participation



The PASHA Program Package for this program includes:

  • ABAN AYA Youth Project User's Guide
  • ABAN AYA Youth Project< Facilitator's Manual
  • Prevention Minimum Evaluation Data Set Jr+ (PMEDS Jr+)
  • Local Evaluator Consultant Network Directory
  • Photocopy masters of student handbooks, posters and other program materials for all four years of the intervention

  • Telephone technical support on implementation and evaluation for 1 year

Note: There are some secondary materials you will need to obtain to offer this intervention, such as a photocopier, flipchart and markers. You will also need a wall map of Africa, posters/diagrams of male and female anatomy, current songs to address curriculum issues and a tape or CD player to play them on.

This program box contains a copy of the evaluation instrument used in the intervention.s original evaluation. Additional resources for evaluation are also included: (1) Prevention Minimum Evaluation Data Set Jr+ (PMEDS Jr+), a generic questionnaire that can be adapted to suit most prevention programs, and (2) Local Evaluator Consultant Network Directory.