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A Youth Development Strategy: Principles to Practice in Re-creation for the 21st Century

Reco Bembry

Abstract


This article provides elements of a communitybased approach to youth development. The plan contains strong support for linkages between principle-centered leadership among staff and participants to create positive values transference and development through recreation programming. The goal of the plan is to enhance the mental and physical well-being of youth and communities. The paper explores and develops strategies to accomplish two related but quite different goals: (a) develop programs that can reduce youth risk factors such as drug abuse, teen pregnancy, violence, and illiteracy, while (b) simultaneously providing activities that build the character, values, self-esteem, and employability of youth. A number of studies of adolescents, public health, recreation, and education point to comprehensive approaches as a means of fostering youth participation and development (Carnegie, 1995 ). The focus of this work is to generate support and resources for the implementation of a comprehensive youth risk-reduction and development strategy that utilizes recreation facilities as centers for youth and for the community. The issues facing teens today are much greater than those facing youth in the past. By working to reduce harmful risks, meet physical, mental and emotional needs, and build competencies, we can truly reclaim, rebuild, and restore essential bonds between youth and community development. The paper presents programs, activities, and methods that have worked in Seattle with low- to high-risk youth. Major themes include: an introduction to a Re-creation Strategy, which redefines the role of recreation as a fulcrum for linking youth and community development; and an exploration of best practices and principles of youth work. Five basic principles underlying youth work are introduced: trust, respect, integrity, consistency, and self-esteem. Recurring themes and qualities that make up a successful youth worker are also described. This is the first of two papers that will be published by the author. The second paper will appear later this year and deal with development of the Seattle Teen Life Center.

Keywords


youth development, re-creation, prevention, intervention, maintenance

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