“Preventing high risk behaviors, however, is not the same as preparation for the future. Indeed, an adolescent who attends school, obeys laws, and avoids drugs, is not necessarily equipped to meet the difficult demands of adulthood. Problem-free does not mean fully prepared. There must be an equal commitment to helping young people understand life's challenges and responsibilities and to developing the necessary skills to succeed as adults.”1
Leadership training and leadership opportunities are two key elements that can support successful youth development and transition to adulthood, but it often requires time and effort on the part of adults and programs and therefore is not always included in transition planning.2
For leadership opportunities to be successful for youth and programs, the goals of youth involvement and roles that the youth will play need to be clearly defined. When this does not occur, it may result in negative experiences for both youth and adults.
Another challenge is that youth leaders often move on to new opportunities as they transition into adulthood and the workforce. If sustainability and succession planning strategies are not well developed, this can cause problems for programs as there is a continuous need to fill gaps when a youth moves on.
Adults may also be reluctant to provide youth with early leadership opportunities because of negative associations with teenagers, a lack of trust, or viewing youth as unable to take on a leadership role.3 Removing negative attitudes surrounding teens in leadership roles is critical, as these roles provide valuable skills and development opportunities necessary for successful transitions to adulthood.
1 Pittman & Cahill, 1991
2 Brockman et al., n.d.
3 Brockman et al., n.d.; Martin et al., 2006