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Article

Elizabeth T. Gershoff

Youth services are programs, activities, and services aimed at providing a range of opportunities for school-aged children, including mentoring, recreation, education, training, community service, or supervision in a safe environment. The current thrust of youth services is an emphasis on positive youth development. Best practices in youth services include the provision of safety, appropriate supervision, supportive relationships, opportunities to belong, positive social norms, support for efficacy and skill building, and integration of community, school, and family efforts.

Article

Hope lies at the core of human psyche. It has a unique power to propel individuals, groups, organizations, and communities to action and can sustain their energies to help them achieve their goals. Hope is differentially conceptualized and studied as an emotion; as a positive motivational state incorporating elements of pathways and agency thinking and also as goals pursuit cognitions that can cause emotions; and, lately, as a character strength. Thus, hope research and practice transverses major theoretical and applied fields of psychology (namely positive) developmental, educational, and counseling psychology. Long-established links between hope and well-being places it in a unique position to affect positive youth development through positive education practices but also to enhance physical and mental health and positive psychosocial adaptation throughout the life cycle with the use of successful approaches in therapy and counseling. Established criteria for hope-based interventions and programs were developed all over the world with the express dual aim to enhance well-being and reduce psychopathology in different populations, ranging from children, adolescents, youths, and adults with and without physical and mental health problems and learning disabilities; and also across various settings, as diverse as educational institutions, therapy and counseling, recreational centers, and correctional facilities. Overall, hope-based interventions were successful in enhancing positive psychosocial outcomes and reducing depression and other problems. Underlying mechanisms that drive hope programs include the development of upward spirals of positive emotions that help people build enduring psychosocial resources; the process of goal setting and pursuit in itself; and the identification of optimal combinations of individual characteristics and intervention goals and techniques. A wide range of individual factors, such as participants’ and implementers’ characteristics and levels of motivation, in addition to contextual factors such as protocols, research designs, techniques, materials, analyses, and reporting choices impact the effectiveness of hope interventions. Future research can benefit from targeted hope interventions, matching specific needs, skills, and capacities of people and groups in different settings, including educational, therapy, organizational, and community ones, which can greatly improve academic performance, physical and mental health, productivity, and life quality.

Article

This chapter summarizes literature and research related to advances in direct practice work with adolescents. Social workers are on the forefront of developing and utilizing a variety of evidence-based practices to address complex client and community needs.

Article

Rachel Baffsky, Lynn Kemp, and Anne Bunde-Birouste

Sports-based positive youth development (SB-PYD) programs are health promotion programs that intentionally use sports to build life skills and leadership capacity among young people at risk of social exclusion. The defining characteristics of SB-PYD programs are that they are strengths-based, holistic, and use sports as a vehicle to maximize young people’s health, social, and educational outcomes. SB-PYD programs aim to enhance modifiable social determinants of health (such as social inclusion) by explicitly addressing three Ottawa charter action areas; strengthening community action, developing personal skills, and creating supportive environments. These programs have been increasingly implemented since the early 2000s to address the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. Despite their growth, research indicates that SB-PYD programs are often designed, implemented, and evaluated without evidence-based theories of change. An evidence-based theory of change is a visual depiction of a program’s assumptions, activities, contextual factors, and outcomes supported by scientific findings. A lack of evidence-based theory of change becomes problematic at the implementation phase when practitioners are trying to determine if their programs should be adapted or fixed. Without an evidence-based theory of change, practitioners are making changes based on their intuition, which limits program outcomes. However, the process of developing a theory of change is time-consuming and resource intensive. Multiple calls to action have been made for SB-PYD practitioners who have successfully developed evidence-based theories of change to share their process with others in the field. This will provide a blueprint for other SB-PYD practitioners to develop and articulate their own theories of change to optimize program development and adaptation. Traditional translational research models assume the development of an evidence-based theory of change is the first step in a linear process of developing a sustainable health promotion program. However, in the 2010s, researchers started to observe that the development and adaptation of health promotion programs was rarely a linear process in reality, and that case studies are needed to provide empirical support for this claim. It is valuable for SB-PYD practitioners to consider the benefits of using translational research to develop and revise evidence-based theories of change for programs at any stage of implementation to maximize their public health impact.