Graduation Year


Document Type

Capstone Project

Project Type

Qualitative Study

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Program Chair

Julia Wilbarger, PhD, OTR/L

Faculty Advisor

Karen McCarthy, PhD, OTR/L


Numerous circumstances affect the quality of life of youth including a higher risk for poverty, social exclusion, discrimination, mental health challenges and/or stigma, which effects their ability to engage in occupations (Iwasaki, 2014, p. 317). Through highlighting how photovoice has been utilized in the past with under-represented groups, we wanted to address occupational injustices faced daily by “At-promise” youth. Through utilizing participatory-led research, we wanted to further empower youth to be advocates in their community. Our research aim was to utilize Participatory Action Research and photovoice as a guide for at-promise youth to explore occupational injustices, how to understand the root of barriers to occupation, and how to promote action.

This research study was done in collaboration with the 10th and 11th graders at Huckleberry ACE Academy in San Rafael, CA. Participants took an active leadership role in the research by analyzing their photos together as a group, and guided the research with their exploration of barriers in their occupations. The first stage of data analysis involved the participants analyzing pictures and finding common themes. For stage two, the OT students analyzed the quotes from the meeting transcript and applied it during the third meeting. In the final session, participants found themes and discussed potential call to action. Three themes were found: racism and sexism, anxiety in occupation, and the experience of aspiring first generation college students. Based on these themes, barriers included occupational deprivation, occupational imbalance, and difficulty engaging in occupations in the future. Occupational therapists can further empower at-promise youth to be their own advocates in the community.