Five Key Elements For Positive Youth Development
We have learned that the level of impact a Club has on young people depends on how often and how long members participate, as well as how well the Club implements the following five key elements:
1. Safe, Positive Environment – Club staff, facilities, program and age-appropriate settings create stability, consistency and a sense of physical and emotional safety for members. The Club provides structure and clearly defines acceptable behaviors.
2. Fun – Club generates fun for members. Members develop a strong sense of belonging through connections they establish with staff and peers. Staff members make the Club feel like home, fostering a family atmosphere and creating a sense of ownership for members.
3. Supportive Relationships – Club youth develop meaningful relationships with peers and adults. Staff members actively cultivate such relationships to ensure that every member feels connected to one or more adults and peers. Staff members demonstrate warmth, caring, appreciation, acceptance and proper guidance in their connections with members.
4. Opportunities and Expectations – Club youth acquire physical, social, technological, artistic and life skills. Clubs encourage members to develop a moral character and behave ethically. Staff members establish and reinforce high expectations and help young people do well in school and pursue a post-secondary education.
5. Recognition – Clubs recognize and support young people’s self-worth and accomplishments. Staff members encourage youth and provide positive reinforcement as they make improvements and experience successes. The Club showcases young people’s achievements.
Making The Grade
Academic Success Programs
Academic Success programs enable youth to become proficient in basic educational disciplines, and embrace technology to enhance their academic skills. Listed below are programs that target Academic Success.
- Homework Hall – A 30 minute period in which all members work on their homework, read, or help younger members with their work.
- Project Learn – A strategy that is utilized to create opportunities within all core programs for youth to participate in high-yield learning activities including: leisure reading, writing, public speaking, & math.
- Fine Arts – A program that encourages artistic expression through Visual and Performing Arts; moreover, this program helps youth build their self-esteem to try new things and abstract thinking, which is beneficial in problem solving situations.
- Science – A program that provides opportunities for young people to explore science, math and relevant technologies while building critical thinking skills.
Good Character & Citizenship programs
Good Character & Citizenship programs empower youth to support their club and community, and develop a positive self-image. Listed are programs that target good character & citizenship:
- Youth of the Year –This program promotes and celebrates service to Club, community and family; academic performance; moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability. Youth ages 14-18 who are in good standing at the Clubs and in school are encouraged to participate in this program which entails writing 7 essays, interviewing for the position, composing a speech, and speaking in front of a judging panel.
- Keystone & Torch Clubs – Middle and high school leadership clubs that allow youth to elect officers, participate in Club and community service, and learn about small business concepts as they raise money for activities throughout the year.
- Jr. Staff – This job ready program give club members a chance to learn basic employment skills in a safe and forgiving environment. Once a club member has reached the age of employment, they can seek a recommendation from staff for a paid position in the clubs and complete an interview process.
Healthy Lifestyles programs
Healthy Lifestyles programs engage youth in positive behaviors that nurture their own well-being. Listed are the programs that target healthy lifestyles:
- Triple Play – This program takes a holistic approach to educate youth about good nutrition, making physical fitness a daily practice and developing individual strengths and good character.
- SMART Moves – (Skills Mastery and Resistance Training) This program engages youth in various activities designed to hone their decision-making and critical-thinking skills, all the while teaching youth to resist alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and premature sexual activity.