When connecting youth to positive experiences, programs should include the following principles:
- Positive youth development is an intentional process. It is about being proactive to promote protective factors in young people.
- Positive youth development complements efforts to prevent risky behaviors and attitudes in youth, and complements efforts that work to address negative behaviors.
- Youth assets are both acknowledged and employed through positive youth development. All youth have the capacity for positive growth and development.
- Positive youth development enables youth to thrive and flourish in their teen years, and prepares them for a healthy, happy and safe adulthood.
- Positive youth development involves youth as active agents. Adults may set the structure, but youth are not just the recipients of services. Youth are valued and are encouraged to bring their assets to the table. Adults and youth work in partnership.
- Youth leadership development is a part of positive youth development, but youth aren't required to lead. Youth can attend, actively participate, contribute, or lead through positive youth development activities.
- Positive youth development involves civic involvement and civic engagement—youth contribute through service to their communities.
- Positive youth development involves and engages every element of the community—schools, homes, community members, and others. Young people are valued through this process. Positive youth development is an investment that the community makes in young people. Youth and adults work together to frame the solutions. Learn more about engaging youth as active participants and partners.
This brief from The Administration for Children & Families (ACF) Family and Youth Services Bureau provides the basics of positive youth development and links to a variety of positive youth development resources.
The National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth (NCFY) is a free information service for communities, organizations, and individuals interested in developing new and effective strategies for supporting young people and their families. NCFY was established by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) to link those interested in youth issues with the resources they need to better serve young people, families, and communities. Their searchable publications database contains a wealth of information about positive youth development.
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