The Holistic Life Foundation version of Positive Youth Development is to create opportunities for young adults to become a generation of healthy, mindful students with the knowledge, access, and support to be successful.
People have been trying countless different approaches to help youth navigate the transition to adulthood for DECADES. Most of these efforts, however, have had only modest success, and some have actually backfired.
Fom D.A.R.E., to the Scared Straight program, or discipling programs, studies have shown single approaches like information sharing, punitive measures, and services alone are important and necessary, but they do not seem to be sufficient.
This is why Positive Youth Development (PYD) is so crucial to helping ensure children find the tools they need to become successful adults.
Often, positive youth development approaches arose from grassroots initiatives, where practitioners independently came up with PYD strategies. Over time, evaluations have indicated their efficacy.
In fact, when a positive youth development approach is added onto other programs, it is shown that youth are more likely to be impacted.
The official definition of Positive Youth Development is:
an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youths’ strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.
In our case, we focus on the benefits of yoga, mindfulness, and providing an avenue for children to find the interconnectedness of the world around them through various programs we have instituted in the Baltimore area.
In programs like “Holistic Me”, Bridging Academics And The Mind (BAM), The Mindful Moment Program, Environmental programs, and the Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Curriculum, we focus on interconnectedness to the entire world. Students are taught to focus on the bigger picture and not just their neighborhood in the environmental education program.
Learning the importance of stewardship, environmental justice and sustainability, students see how the environment impacts them and vice versa. Students also receive supplemental instruction in their core classes including math, language arts and science through homework assistance and one-on-one tutoring.
Furthermore, children learn a combination of yoga, mindfulness practices, meditation, centering, and breath work that empower them with skills for peaceful conflict resolution, improved focus and concentration, greater control and awareness of thoughts and emotions, improved self-regulation, anger management, as well as stress reduction and relaxation.
Students in the fitness and sports fundamentals portion of the program learn the basic fundamental sports skills as well as learning exercises and skills for overall fitness. What’s more is they develop teamwork and leadership skills, and build the foundation for leading a healthy lifestyle.
Naturally, a critical component of this approach is the positive relationships that are fostered through our many programs. We believe that positive relationships with caring adults are the key to making our Positive Youth Development effective. It works because many of our underserved youth have not experienced trustworthy and respectful relationships with adults, and we know how important that relationship is to a child’s core foundation.