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 precious 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. Recognizing youth development as a function of and interaction between complex environments and systems can help us better respond to youth and to program effectively.
This handout provides illustrative activities PYD programs could implement. The example activities transcend sectors and could be applied in a variety of settings to achieve sectoral outcomes of interest. These examples are organized by seven features of PYD that are recognized as essential for strong youth-focused programming. These features are grounded in the literature, particularly the work of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, and are tailored for the context of low- and middle-income countries. The PYD features are linked to the PYD framework that can be used for measuring PYD outcomes. Furthermore, recognizing the importance of the environment in which young people live, activity examples are mapped to the socio-ecological model to inspire ideas on how to engage key people and structures in a young person’s life. The illustrative activities are intended to provide ideas on ways to incorporate a strong PYD approach in development programming.