Areas of Practice
The US Department of Health and Human Services provides guidance on healthy physical activity habits. The national recommendation is that children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years should have 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day. This includes:
Aerobic: Most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week.
Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
These guidelines also encourage children and adolescents to participate in physical activities like those provided through and supported by the National Center for Youth Development, which are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety.
Recently, mentoring of youth has received a great deal of attention in terms of both public awareness and government initiatives. Mentoring relationships may foster positive development and health among young people through several mechanisms, including the provision of social support, role modeling, opportunities to develop new skills, and advocacy. Non-parent adults who function as mentors may serve as crucial educators and support figures, promoting learning and competence, providing exposure to positive social norms, increasing a sense of efficacy and mattering, and helping youth realize their full potential.
Existing investigations suggest positive benefits of natural mentoring relationships on a range of health-related outcomes for youth. Adolescents undergoing the transition to adulthood face unique challenges, including those relating to identity development and increased independence in negotiating demands in educational, work, and interpersonal domains, any of which, if not handled successfully, may impact negatively on health-related outcomes. Supportive mentoring relationships through The National Center for Youth Development during this period thus bolsters the potential to make a key contribution to promoting outcomes important to public health goals and objectives.
A number of studies have examined the impact of mentoring relationships on adolescents’ self-esteem. Longitudinal research on natural mentoring relationships indicates that adolescents who report having an important non-parental adult in their lives tend to report greater psychological well-being, including self-esteem and life satisfaction (DuBois & Silverthorn, 2005). In addition, controlled studies of formal mentoring programs suggest that mentoring relationships can have a positive impact on self-esteem. Mentoring can have a significant positive impact on adolescents’ perception of their academic abilities, which constitutes a specific aspect of self-esteem that is particularly important for adolescents’ academic achievement (Wheeler, Keller, & DuBois, 2010). Evidence suggests that mentoring can be an effective strategy for increasing youth self-esteem.
By connecting youth with a stable and supportive relationship with a caring non-parental adult, mentoring programs can provide a context in which adolescents can develop self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. The National Center for Youth Development plays an important role in fostering high quality mentoring relationships, through careful screening practices, evidence-based training, and ongoing monitoring and support of mentoring relationships.