Evidence and Promising Practices from Peer-Based Approaches in Youth Programs
Positive youth development (PYD) refers to a broad approach that aims to build the competencies, skills, and abilities of youth that they need to grow and flourish throughout life. PYD is both a philosophy and an approach to adolescent development. As a philosophy, PYD views youth as assets to be nurtured and developed rather than as problems to be solved. The approach that flows from this philosophy works on building mutually beneficial relationships between youth and their family, peer groups, school, workplace, community, other government institutions, society, and culture to provide opportunities for youth to enhance their knowledge, interests, skills, and abilities.
Youth transition through a critical developmental phase, rapidly evolving socially, emotionally, and physically within a complex world. Multiple factors influence how they develop and thrive or struggle. Using a PYD approach, programming for youth can foster youth assets, build their agency, enhance their contribution to the communities around them, and support an enabling environment that helps them transition to healthy, productive, and engaged adults.
One of the important features of an enabling environment is healthy relationships and bonding. Youth have many people in their lives and, during this critical life stage, it is essential that they grow and develop with the support of several healthy relationships. Important relationships include a young person’s parents, families, teachers, religious leaders, and others in the communities as well as the relationships they have with other peers.