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What is Youth Development?
Youth Development Programs
Youth development programs prepare young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a structured, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them obtain social, emotional, ethical, physical, and cognitive competencies. They address the broader developmental assets all children and youth need (such as caring relationships, safe places and activities, health and mental health, marketable skills, and opportunities for service and civic participation), in contrast to deficit-based approaches which focus solely on youth problems.
Rather than only seeking to stop young people from engaging in risky behaviors, positive youth development, in addition, aims to mobilize communities to create positive goals and outcomes for all youth. It recognizes that being problem-free is not the same as being fully prepared. Effective programs are youth centered : staff and activities engage young people's diverse talents, skills, and interest, building on their strengths and involving them in planning and decision-making. They are also knowledge centered : building a range of life skills, activities show youth that "learning" is a reason to be involved, whether in sports, clubs, arts, or community service, and provide opportunities to connect with a wide array of adult and peer mentors. Youth development programs are also care-centered : they provide family-like environments where youth can feel safe and build trusting relationships. ( Younger Americans Act Policy Proposal [ 4/7/00 Draft] , National Collaboration for Youth, 2000)
Youth development program(s) help youth deal successfully with the challenges of adolescence and prepare them for the independence and responsibilities of being parents, workers, and citizens, by attempting to help youth develop "competencies." These programs also:conduct activities with a primarily nonacademic focus; employ primarily active and experimental learning methods; and promote the competencies through group and one-to-one activities, which may include activities in youth clubs, sports and recreation, peer counseling and teaching, mentoring, arts, values education, leadership development, crime and delinquency prevention, youth employment as part of an educational program, community service or volunteerism, literacy, after school programs, career counseling, job skills training, drug abuse prevention, alcohol education, parenting skills activities, ethnic or cultural enrichment, tutoring, and academic enrichment.
(S.673, Youth Development Block Grant , 104th Congress)
A youth development organization is a private nonprofit youth-serving organization with a major emphasis on providing youth development programs. (S.673, Youth Development Block Grant , 104th Congress)
Youth-serving organization: An organization with a primary focus on providing youth development, health and fitness, educational, substance abuse prevention, child welfare, child protective, psychological, parenting, vocational and training, teen pregnancy, rehabilitative, or residential services to youth. (S.673, Youth Development Block Grant , 104th Congress)
Community-based youth development programs apply accepted theory and empirical evidence (indicating that such programs are essential to the healthy development of young adolescents) through interventions designed to help youth build personal resilience. A resilient individual has these attributes:Social competence; Problems-solving skills; Autonomy (sense of self-identity and an ability to act independently and to exert control over his or her environment); Sense of purpose and of a future.
Programs work on three levels: helping individual youth build these four characteristics; ensuring that there is at least one caring, consistent adult in each young person's life; and developing a sense of security in the lives of all young people. ( A Matter of Time , Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1992)
Youth development services provide guidance and support; safe places to live, learn and play; and a variety of opportunities that will contribute to the healthy development of young people. (National Collaboration for Youth, Program Needs Assessment Survey , 1996)
Youth development programs are designed to meet the human development needs of youth and to build a set of core assets and competencies needed to participate successfully in adolescent and adult life. ( A Guided Tour of Youth Development , The Youth Development Institute)
Youth development programs assist young people in developing competencies that will enable them to grow, develop their skills and become healthy, responsible and caring youth and adults. ( The Handbook of Positive Youth Outcomes , The Youth Development Institute)
NYDIC was developed with support from DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Lilly Endowment Inc. through a partnership with the Indiana Youth Institute and other generous funding.
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