What is Youth Development Network?

Why Youth Development Network?

What are the Five Key Supports and Opportunities to Youth Success?

What Is Youth Development?

A process by which all young people seek ways to meet their basic physical and social needs and to build competencies (knowledge and skills) necessary to succeed in adolescence and adulthood. 

An approach to working with young people that intentionally helps youth meet developmental needs, builds their capacity, and provides relationships and connections needed for their success. The youth development approach is based on over 40 years of research in the youth development asset development and resiliency fields.

Youth Development Principles:
  • Problem free is not fully prepared
  • Single focus strategies don’t work
  • Development happens across all settings
  • All young people need the same supports and opportunities
  • Youth should not be viewed as service recipients
  • Youth engagement and high levels of participation are important
Why Youth Development?
  • In Sacramento County, fewer than 90% of students graduate from high school – in some districts the dropout rate is as high as 40%. 
  • 32,000 area youth are currently in foster care. 1,000 of these youth have complex needs, requiring more support.
  • Only 33% of Sacramento area 11th graders (who took the California Healthy Kids Survey in 2013-2014) reported high levels of caring adult relationships in school settings.
  • Only 17% of 11th graders reported high levels of meaningful opportunities to participate.
Research shows that youth who have support and opportunities that include: caring relationships, safe places, opportunities to participate and give back to their community, and have challenging and engaging skill building opportunities are more likely to thrive. Not all young people have equal access to these supports for healthy development.

Why are some YDN trainings so long (up to 4 days)?
YDN is in the paradigm shift business, meaning we use trainings as a launching pad for actionable and sustainable change. Just like a prescription, if the dosage isn’t right we can’t guarantee that it will have a lasting and positive effect. An extended training leaves time for teams to create action plans for implementation. 

Why does YDN limit the training group size to 40-45 participants?
The modalities we use in our trainings are interactive. We set up true learning communities, any more than 40-45 participants feels like a conference or lecture – that’s not the “YDN way.” We can’t create engaged learning communities without using engaging modalities. 

Why does YDN strongly recommend coaching as a follow up to training?
Training leaves participants wanting to create change, coaching takes them to the finish line. Most teams LOVE training, but struggle to implement their action plans–coaching gets teams to the place where they can say “we achieved something out of that!”

Why does YDN always incorporate icebreakers and energizers?
Icebreakers and energizers get participants moving, engaging with one another, and out of their comfort zones. When these three things occur, learning happens at the most optimal level. Everything YDN does is about modeling an approach to take with young people. One of our favorite sayings: “When the bum is numb, the brain is the same” – this is the reason we tactfully put them into place. We know when participants (and youth) have an opportunity to be engaged through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities, it creates a  mental as well as emotional attachment to learning.

Why use the term “youth” vs. “kid or child?” 

In the field of youth development, some youth report pejorative connotations with the terms “kid” or “child” (as if adults are talking down to them). As 21st-century learners, youth have shifting attitudes toward authority figures and place higher value on adult relationships that resemble a coach or mentor. The term “youth” equalizes the playing field for many young people.

Why do some people interpret my strengths as weaknesses? 
Often, our greatest talents are hidden behind negative labels. Someone with a weakness seeking mindset may misidentify or undervalue a talent of yours. Other times, our talents may be used in such a way that others perceive it as negative. In other words, our talents can be misapplied or overdone. We call these scenarios the “basements” of our strengths.