How do out-of-school programs affect thriving?
Those who study youth development look to both external factors that affect youth (environment) and internal factors within the youth (personal attributes) that contribute to their positive growth. Richard Lerner and his colleagues have also emphasized the importance of examining the interaction of person and environment to understand more completely how youth develop.
One external factor that makes a positive difference in the lives of youth, especially adolescents, is participation in high quality out-of school programs. Lerner has identified three influential elements that positively impact youth in these programs: 1) positive and sustained adult-youth relations, 2) youth life-skill building activities, and 3) youth participation in and leadership of valued community activities.
An internal factor that is a proven asset for youth is self-regulation which is characterized by the ability to select positive goals, optimize the resources needed to make such goals a reality, and then to compensate effectively when goals are blocked.
In a study of positive youth development jointly sponsored by 4-H and the Thrive Foundation for Youth, Mueller, Phelps, Bowers, Angans, Urban and Lerner (2011) examined the relationship between adolescents’ self-regulation skills (selection, optimization and compensation) and their participation in youth development programs across grades 8 and 9 and how these factors predicted positive development in youth in grade 10, including the capacity to make a positive contribution to their communities.
They found that while self-regulation skills alone predicted positive development in youth, self-regulation and participation in a youth development program together predicted contribution to their communities. In addition, they found that participation in a youth development program in grade 8 had a positive impact on youths’ self regulation in grade 9, which, in turn, predicted positive youth development and contribution in grade 10.
This study is a demonstration of how personal attributes and the environment interact and how the alignment of youth strengths and resources within the environment may promote positive youth development.
The 5 Promises
The 5 Promises represent conditions children need to achieve adult success. The collective work of the Alliance involves keeping these promises to America’s youth. This article relates to the promises highlighted below: