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8 Principles of Youth Development | Encourage Young People

8 Principles of Youth Development | Encourage Young People

Everything You Need To Know About Principles Of Youth Development.

The youth development framework is an approach to working with young people and it consists of four things: it is designed to meet the development needs of young people, build on their resources and potential, consider young people as resources and build partnerships with young people to achieve positive, sustainable change .

The youth development framework is derived from common theories and approaches that strive to build a core set of skills, attributes and competences for the individual, as well as the level of organization necessary to provide support and opportunities for all young people. This framework is versatile by nature. No individual, institution or organization that acts alone can ensure that all young people acquire the resources, skills and support they need to succeed. We must all work towards common goals and adhere to the common principles of youth development to make this possible.

There are 8 basic principles of youth development. They are: an organizational structure that supports youth development, a safe, physical environment that supports the needs of youth and staff, a holistic approach to all youth, youth contribution and collaboration, supportive relationships, high expectations and clear boundaries, activities that are engaging and promote learning, mechanisms in place to advance young people as young adults.


  1. An organizational structure that supports the development of young people

An organizational structure that supports youth development has five elements. First, the organization’s mission and vision promote youth development, and a significant portion of its budget is allocated to provide direct services to young people. Second, employees and board members have a clear understanding of the organization’s mission and vision and direct their planning, advocacy and services around this mission and vision. Third, the organization invests in staff development and training, and staff input is encouraged and implemented. Fourth, all staff levels are kept informed of the goals, plans and changes of the organization. And fifth, the organization advocates for policy, financing and direct service issues related to its components.

Read also about 5 Positive Youth Development Tips You Need To Learn Now


  1. A safe, physical environment that supports the needs of young people and staff

A safe physical environment that supports the needs of young people and employees includes five elements. First, the actual building is physically safe, clean with good lighting and work facilities. Secondly, a safety and emergency plan has been drawn up in which all personnel are trained in emergency procedures. Third, rules are published and displayed in a prominent place. Fourth, employees are equipped with the supplies, equipment and space they need to perform their duties effectively. Fifth, young people have their own youth-friendly space where they can hang out waiting for an employee.


  1. A holistic approach to all young people

A holistic approach to all young people means that your organization does at least these four things. Promotion of cultural diversity with regard to ethnicity, social background, gender issues, sexual orientation and youth culture. Second, employees at all levels reflect the population served. Third, the entire organization focuses on the agency’s mission, vision, and services through employee meetings, announcements, and newsletters. Fourth, there is a referral system through a list of services and staff contacts to ensure that all young people receive appropriate referrals when necessary.


  1. Contribution and cooperation of young people

A crucial part of the youth development framework is to offer young people opportunities for contribution and cooperation. This means: giving young people the opportunity to think about programs, services and special events and projects. Set up youth advisory councils and committees. Create volunteers and paid opportunities for young people. Develop community service orders in which young people plan and carry out the tasks. Involve young people in advocacy.

Encourage young people to participate in community events, forums and town hall meetings. Sponsor voter registration floats in collaboration with young people. Young people should also play a role in planning activities, designing the space and orienting new young people on the program. Provide youth with membership cards, buttons or t-shirts to create a sense of ownership and identification with it program.


  1. Supporting relationships

All young people need adults in their lives who care about them and support them in their dreams, goals and ambitions. It is essential that the organization and its employees provide a caring environment where every young person has someone they can talk to, track their progress, help them set goals and connect them with resources if needed. Second, there should be strategies for parent involvement and for parents to talk to staff about their concerns and challenges. Third, interactions with young people must be respectful, positive and appropriate. Fourth, there must be some degree of consistency. Finally, confidentiality procedures must be clear and communicated to all young people.


  1. High expectations and clear boundaries

Youth development service providers should have high expectations of young people and model these expectations through their behavior at work. Focus on strengths. Clear boundaries must be set with consequences other than disposal. All young people should receive a copy of the organisation’s written code of conduct, and staff should thoroughly review the rules. Create ownership of the rules by establishing a juvenile court to help address problematic behavior.


  1. Activities that are engaging and promote learning

The organization must offer programs, services and activities that promote cognitive, social and emotional development. Build critical thinking, decision making, team building and problem solving skills in group and individual activities. Provide life skills training on topics such as: money management, willingness to work, time management and other important life skills. Make sure that the activities in terms of development and age suit your target group. Make learning interesting by stimulating curiosity and creativity.


  1. Mechanisms to advance young people as young adults

In your programs, build space for young people to transition to adulthood. There should be programs for different age groups. As young people age from one program, they should be easily bridged to the next. Give young people more rights and responsibilities as they move from one program to the next. Create volunteer opportunities and internships for older youth. Train older people and hire them as paid staff.

Create closure through formal rituals such as: graduations, awards, or a one-to-one closing session that creates youth closings and helps them plan their next steps. For some interesting, ready-made ideas about rituals and ceremonies, please refer to my book ‘Her Rite of Passage: How To Design and Deliver A Rites of Passage Program for African-American Girls and Young Women’.


After familiarizing yourself with the 8 key principles of youth development for some time, you can take a closer look at your organization and see how it adapts in terms of supporting the youth development approach. Then share this information with your supervisor, your colleagues and people who guide you if you are a supervisor. And if your organization isn’t already doing that, then maybe you can make an agency-wide or at least a program-wide effort to incorporate the 8 key principles of youth development into the different service areas of your organization.


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