New Roles for Early Adolescents

J. Schine with B. Shoup & D. Harrington
January 1, 1981

This report argues that youth participation efforts geared toward young adolescents are not as robust as those for older adolescents, due to misperceptions about this stage of development. Young adolescents’ great capacity for invention and creativity, paired with their needs to belong and have friends and to contribute to processes that lead to practical outcomes, make the case for quality youth action programs designed for this age group. This paper offers a rich developmental profile of the early adolescent and uses it to frame youth participation programming principles, lessons learned and case studies of activities that are well adapted for young adolescents. A student participant in a community service program puts it this way: “It just makes me feel older than I really am to take responsibilities. This is the first time I have been able to prove what I can do.”