Youth Development Academy
YDA Sessions


Positive Youth Development is the framework of the Youth Development Academy.

It involves the supports youth need to be successful and the intentional efforts of caring adults to create environments that foster growth, learning and development.

The following Positive Youth Development components are addressed in the Youth Development Academy: 

Ages and Stages

This session helps professionals explore the principles and strategies for best practice in youth programs (age 5-18). Age ranges or groupings of youth (i.e., age 5-8, 9-11, 12-14, etc.) that share similar (and sometimes unique) characteristics in intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development will be addressed. These groupings are helpful in understanding how youth develop and lead to programs that are appropriately planned and implemented to meet their needs.

Experiential Learning

Aristotle once said, "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." Learning by doing is the mantra for experiential learning, which also involves helping youth reflect upon and apply what was learned to other situations. This session helps professionals explore the concepts of experiential learning as well as how to develop and implement activities that incorporate this approach. Discover how to enhance learning, growth and development in your program by using the experiential learning model!

Program Planning for Results

Funders, parents, administrators and board members routinely ask for accountability in youth development programs. How does the program impact youth? Does grant funding help a program achieve positive results for youth? Do youth have higher math and science scores as a result of participation in the program? This session helps professionals understand the benefit of program planning and evaluation in order to communicate program and youth outcomes to stakeholders.

Enhancing Diversity

Basic understanding of culture is crucial for youth development professionals in a multi-cultural society. Professionals will acquire knowledge of “culture” that is applicable and useful to daily life. This interactive session presents three different metaphors of culture which give a variety of perspectives to the issues regarding cultural diversity.

Youth/Adult Partnerships

This session challenges professionals to view and work with youth in new ways, by acknowledging them as resources and partners.  Explore a multi-generational approach to leadership and governance of youth programs by emphasizing the assets that young people bring to the table.  Professionals will learn how youth-adult partnerships and youth engagement contribute to youth and community development.  Professionals will enhance skills for sharing leadership and decision-making with youth, as well as encourage other adult decision-makers to create welcoming environments for youth.

Engaging Volunteers

Volunteers hold great potential for enhancing youth development programs. Volunteers can help plan, implement and evaluate programs, build positive relationships with youth and provide subject matter expertise. Volunteers expand the reach of a youth development program and allow financial resources to go further. This session will present sound practices in engaging volunteers and assist professionals in discovering approaches to volunteer engagement and development that meet program needs.

Managing Risk

The ultimate outcome of youth development programs is to support and guide youth through developmental steps and milestones.  Along this journey, youth development professionals assume certain risks.  This session helps professionals recognize areas of risk and concern, how to plan to avoid risk and how to react when injuries and issues occur.  The safety of participants, sponsors, property, finances and the goodwill and reputation of an organization's name are ultimately at stake. 

Community Partnerships

This session will help professionals understand the importance of working with other community groups to improve outcomes for youth. This can be done through awareness, networking, coalitions, collaborations and trusted, long term partnerships. Professionals will learn the different levels of partnering explore existing partnerships and learn tools to strengthen and expand partnerships.

Creating Environments for Youth Relationships

Relationships in youth development are like location and real estate - it is almost impossible to have one without the other!  This session identifies strategies for creating environments which promote positive relationships between the youth participants in your programs, as well as between youth and youth development professionals and volunteers.  Discussions include the culture of today's youth, physical environments, interacting with youth, dealing with challenges, and creating youth leadership within your program as key elements of building relationships.