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Developing social/relational intelligence is critically important when considering overall youth development.

As a young person moves through adolescence they develop, then consolidate these skills. The development of these social/relational skills is strengthened through the achievement of self and society imposed expectations. Our coaches collaborate with our clients to develop a positive sense of self, increase their capacity for using coping skills, develop and maintain healthy relationships, and use critical and creative thinking processes.

Young people must learn how to use both emotional and cognitive intelligence at the same time within their environments. Clients may be able to demonstrate these skills by making empathetic choices, engaging in creative problem solving, building a capacity for resilience and demonstrating leadership and integrity. Coaches partner with participants to help them develop learning skills and work habits that are both achievable and measurable.


Identity is a core construct in positive youth development because it refers to how a person addresses issues dealing with who that person is. Important theorists studying the concept of identity, like Erikson, Marcia, and Higgins, assert that identity is organized, is learned, and is dynamic, and a subjective evaluation of an individual’s identity has emotional consequences for that individual. Adolescents who can cultivate a clear and positive identity after their developmental struggles during adolescence often advance more smoothly into adulthood. The National Center for Youth Development places a premium on the nature and structure of identity and we understand its importance on adolescent developmental outcomes. We nurture significant determinants of identity and partner with you to devise strategies for cultivation of positive identity.


Although historically most of the work done to promote community interaction and awareness has emphasized family, peer, and school engagement, there is a growing recognition of the importance of supportive neighborhoods and communities. Recent research suggests that adolescent social connectedness, including involvement in organized activities, predicts subsequent adult wellbeing from at least 6 years later to more than a decade later in young adulthood. A key “active ingredient” in this process are the high-quality relationships that youth forge with the caring adults who populate youth settings. Such adults often become instrumental to youths’ engagement, encouraging attendance and tipping the balance toward deeper involvement, skill development, and better outcomes. Our role is to help connect youth with these adults in their community. 


Youth development professionals have become increasingly interested in the benefits associated with youth developing a sense of purpose. Having a sense of purpose has been associated with a number of key developmental outcomes in adolescence, such as higher self-esteem and academic achievement. In contrast, a lack of purpose can create unsettled feelings and serve as a stressor for adolescents. For example, adolescents who have low levels of purpose or who are still searching for purpose may experience higher rates of depression and anxiety. Social support from the National Center for Youth Development can buffer the inimical effects of such developmental stressors. Contact us today about the role we can play in assisting youth in their search for purpose and acheivment developmental outcomes, specifically self-esteem.


It is important that any program designed to serve youth provides a means for the constructive channeling of energy through physical activity. There is a particular need for at least some involvement in sports and activities that allows for differences in strength, dexterity, and size. Adolescents are learning to operate their rapidly changing and maturing bodies, and they need space and opportunity to test out their new strength and skills. In addition, establishing habits of healthy exercise in adolescence is vital to lay the groundwork for ongoing physical health in adulthood. Adolescents are being driven biologically to begin to compete in life, and providing structured outlets for this sense of competition will help to prevent or counteract more negative manifestations of competition that can arise. 


All human beings (and adolescents in particular) need to have their accomplishments recognized and valued by individuals they respect. The opportunity to develop skills and to succeed at activities is absolutely vital for youth to develop a sense of competence. Adolescence is perhaps the most important developmental stage in terms of establishing a sense of one’s strengths and abilities and forming a more consistent self-image. Adolescents who spend a great deal of time in conventional institutions (ie. schools) may often get a clear message that they are far from competent and can easily take on an identity of being a failure and disappointment. On the other hand, through engagement in positive activities with positive feedback from adults, adolescents can begin to develop a sense of their ability to make a positive difference in their world.

Youth Development

All effective youth programs have youth development at their core and all effective youth leadership programs build on solid youth development principles. The National Center for Youth Development employs evidence-based best practice youth development strategies throughout our programs. Based on our research of existing definitions, we have adopted the following working definition of youth development adapted from NYEC and National Collaboration for Youth: "youth development is a process which prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them to become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent." Positive youth development addresses the broader developmental needs of youth, in contrast to deficit-based models that focus solely on youth problems.