Since 2005, we have been conducting formal research on how we positively impact students and peer mentors during the time they are involved in our program. This research has become critical as we develop the best educational practices for our students with special needs, explore opportunities for journal publication and obtain grants to help sustain our programming.
Throughout the years, we have been thrilled to be partnered with a team of experienced research professionals from schools such as the University of Illinois (UIC) Department of Disability and Human Development, Northeastern Illinois University and National Louis University.
As part of our studies, we investigate the behaviors and abilities associated with:
– Self-esteem and self confidence
– Social Skills (Interaction/cooperation with peers and authority figures)
– Communication Skills
– Public Speaking Skills
– Gross Motor/Coordination skills
SGT programming meets or exceeds the expectation of the stakeholders involved in the program, including parents, students with special needs and peer mentors!
As we conduct and compare our research each year, the data indicates a positive increase in behavior and skill development for the students with special needs and their peer mentors after participating in our program. It was also noted that the children were developing broader relationships with other students and their peer mentors.
Most importantly, it was documented that these skills were transferring to environments outside of SGT including school, home and social environments. This is significant as it directly supports our mission of, “enabling personal growth while breaking down stereotypes related to disabilities within the community at large.”
The first phase of research led to further research that included studying the effects of SGT on our new population of pre-primary children ages 3-6 years old with developmental delays (Pilot program initiated 2007). Early results have indicated significant increase in attention, pre-literacy skills, language and socialization skills. The researchers from UIC are planning on publishing these results as well.
In 2007, SGT began a new form of evaluation with the UIC researchers, which included independent trained observation and videotape coding of specific children participating in SGT (it is a longitudinal study over a 4 year period). SGT believes that incorporating surveys, focus groups, personal interviews, case reviews and clinical observations provides us with the most significant outcomes measurements.
Survey Responses Reveal….
“My students who have participated in SGT have shown an increase in self-esteem. They are more open and outgoing towards others and are slowly starting to take chances.” – Private School Teacher
“The program was absolutely incredible. It was an experience of a lifetime. I saw things in my son that I didn’t even know was there.” – Parent of SGT student
“The SGT staff is a caring group. They are always taking the child’s abilities and stretching them. Everyone who sees the shows can see what wonders are going on at SGT.” – Audience member
“Thank you for letting me share your dream. It is a privilege to be a part of this amazing experience.” – SGT teacher