Positive youth development: What is it?

The phrase, “positive youth development” sounds self-explanatory, yet it’s much more than just a phrase used by those in the youth development field. This article will introduce more about positive youth development.

Through positive youth development, volunteers can help youth grow, build on and develop their current strengths. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Through positive youth development, volunteers can help youth grow, build on and develop their current strengths. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Have you heard of the phrase, “positive youth development?” If so, it’s likely that you’ve read about it or seen it in an educational curriculum, guide to child development or research finding; perhaps you have seen something about it from Michigan State University Extension. It sounds like “positive youth development” is pretty self-explanatory, yet it’s much more than just a phrase used by those in the youth development field.

The National Resource Center for Youth Development at The University of Oklahoma indicates that positive youth development builds on young people’s strengths and recognizes their unique contributions. They indicate that the focus of the positive youth development approach is to help youth acquire the knowledge and skills they need to become healthy and productive adults.

Michigan 4-H recognizes the the need for positive youth development in practices. The Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development indicate several different ways that volunteers can help youth grow, build on and develop their current strengths. Those principles include:

  • Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers
  • Youth are physically and emotionally safe
  • Youth are actively engaged in their own development
  • Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process
  • Youth develop skills that help them succeed
  • Youth recognize, understand and appreciate multiculturalism
  • Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership

For more information about positive youth development, read additional articles on the MSU Extension website that cover topics such a:.

  • The specific purpose of 4-H, which is to create environments that build strong healthy youth who are engaged in a complex and changing world. In a nutshell, the purpose of 4-H programs nationwide is simply positive youth development.
  • The announcement of a National 4-H Council news release stating the final results of an eight year study from Tufts University. The research was about 4-H and positive youth development for over 7,000 young people from different backgrounds in 42 states and was completed through land grant university faculty in those states.

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