School Age and Youth Development

What is youth development?

group of school children

"Youth development is a process which prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them to become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent". National Youth Development Information Center.

Why is healthy youth development important?

Young people have basic needs that are critical to survival and healthy development. They include a sense of safety and structure; belonging and membership; self-worth and an ability to contribute; independence and control over one's life; closeness and several good relationships; and competency and mastery. At the same time, to succeed as adults, all youth must acquire positive attitudes and appropriate behaviors and skills in five areas: health; personal/social; knowledge, reasoning and creativity; vocation; and citizenship.

What can you do to help?

Healthy development of youth in our community is essential and a task that it us up to everyone who comes in contact with youth. As a community, we all have a commitment to "do our part" in making a positive influence, and impacting the development of the youth in our community. Research continues to show that building developmental assets in youth help them to become healthy individuals and in turn helps them in making healthy choices.

Everyone can build assets. It's not just the responsibility of families, schools, social service agencies, or other institutions, although they all have important roles. Everyone from a child to a grandparent to a caring neighbor can start building assets today with the young people in your family, neighborhood, community, or place of business. Many things you personally do, or could do every day make a big difference for children and teenagers. Whether you're a parent, grandparent, neighbor, aunt, uncle, friend, mentor, volunteer, or someone who just sees young people in the mall, in the neighborhood, or on the street corner, there are many ways you can help young people succeed. Search Institute

Building developmental assets helps them to have positive relationships, experiences, and inner strengths that all young people need to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. The Search Institute research on thousands of young people has shown that having these assets can make a tremendous difference in young people's lives, giving them strength to make positive choices. Below are eight ways you can build developmental assets:

  1. SUPPORT young people with your caring and attention.
  2. EMPOWER them to use their abilities to help others.
  3. Set reasonable BOUNDARIES AND have high EXPECTATIONS.
  4. Help them find activities that make CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF their TIME.
  6. Guide them toward a life based on POSITIVE VALUES.
  7. Help them develop SOCIAL COMPETENCIES and life skills.
  8. Celebrate their uniqueness and affirm their POSITIVE IDENTITY.

For more information on Developmental Assets, visit the Search Institute online.

Documents & Links