Why are youth development organizations important?


Parents may ask, “Should I involve my child in a youth development organization?” ” The answer is yes!

Michigan is home to many youth development organizations, such as the YMCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, Sports Organizations, and many more. Each organization has different missions or models that it uses to deliver programs. At the end of the day, they all offer young people the opportunity to learn skills. Some of these may be specific skills such as dance techniques or the way of playing football, but other organizations provide opportunities for young people to develop general life skills, such as responsibility, taking responsibility. decision, caring for others or leadership.

It is important as a parent to seek out organizations that focus on the positive development of young people. What does positive youth development mean? Youth.gov, an interagency youth programming working group, defines positive youth development as:

“Positive youth development is an intentional and prosocial approach that engages young people within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups and families in a productive and constructive manner; recognizes, uses and enhances the strengths of young people; and fosters positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships and providing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.

Positive Youth Development is an intentional program that engages young people with positive opportunities and relationships that will help them grow into successful adults. Parents want positive outcomes for their children and the more we can involve young people the better.

Michigan State University Extension recommends that as a parent, you do your research and find a youth development program that works for your youth and family. Ask questions about youth safety policies and parent involvement. Talk to your family networks to see what programs they recommend and what their children get from participating in those programs. The more people you know involved in an organization, the more likely you are to feel connected and welcomed, which translates into a longer commitment to the organization, a better experience, and more lasting positive results for your youngster.

Research from the Search Institute shows that developmental assets are important to the success of young people. There are 40 developmental assets that the Search Institute has identified as positive assets that can help young people succeed in life. Some of the 40 strengths include positive adult role models, positive peer support, creative pursuits, self-esteem, and honesty. Positive youth development organizations can help young people develop their strengths by providing them with emotional support, positive experiences, social skills and relationship building opportunities.

Take some family time and think about youth development organizations in your area and how you could get involved. Many of them may also be looking for volunteers to help as adults. Participation offers many benefits that will benefit adults and youth for years to come.

If you would like to get involved in the Michigan 4-H Youth Program, please contact your local MSU extension office for details on how to register.

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