Positive Youth Development Resources

Youth Engagement

Youth Listening Sessions (YLS) offer an opportunity to meaningfully engage youth, signal that their opinions are valuable, and incorporate their voices into programming. OPA’s Listen Up! Youth Listening Session Toolkit guides users through all stages of conducting a youth listening session while promoting inclusive practices to support safe and supportive environments.

Additional Resources from OPA

Positive youth development (PYD) is not a specific curriculum but a model that can be used to enhance any youth-serving program. Youth-serving professionals should follow eight key practices to effectively incorporate PYD into their programs.

#1: Protect physical and psychological safety

A program can provide safe facilities and encourage healthy practices that increase safe peer group interaction and decrease unsafe or confrontational peer interactions.

Learn more about providing safe and secure environments that enable youth to thrive

#2: Create the appropriate structure

This practice includes selecting activities and practices that match where youth are developmentally. Additionally, programs can work with youth to set clear and consistent rules and expectations, and age-appropriate monitoring.

Learn more about the structures that create an intentional and consistent youth-serving program

#3: Build supportive relationships

Caring relationships offer social support, use positive communication, and provide supportive guidance. These relationships include the connections between youth and adults as well as among young people.

Learn more about the concrete steps that families, professionals, and communities can take to promote connectedness among youth

#4: Offer opportunities to belong

Apart from providing opportunities for the meaningful inclusion of all youth, programs can create opportunities for youth to explore their identities and support cultural and bicultural competence.

Learn more about offering opportunities to belong to specific groups of youth

#5: Encourage positive social norms

Positive social norms include behaviors and values that promote respect. Programs can encourage these norms by setting expectations and modeling behaviors.

Learn more about how to foster pro-social behaviors in adolescence

#6: Mentor, build efficacy, and offer opportunities to make a difference

A program can place youth in leadership roles and encourage youth choice to encourage youth to achieve meaningful change in their community.

Learn more about how to inspire and empower youth to make a difference in their lives and the world around them

#7: Provide opportunities for skill-building

Allowing opportunities for practice and connecting content to goals can help adolescents learn a range of skills that prepare them to make positive and informed decisions that affect their health, educational and career opportunities, and other aspects of their lives.

Learn more about specific skills that can benefit adolescents now and in the future

#8: Integrate across family, school, and community efforts

PYD is an approach for everyone. Program can emphasize coordination and collaboration with family, school, and community partners to strengthen their efforts.

Learn about ways to engage families and the broader community