As youth workers we often get the privilege of watching a youth grow over multiple years. Friends over at Orange have broken these down in what they call Phases. Each phase has unique strengths and challenges for that age group. Youth are often asking similar questions and have similar concerns that are unique to that particular phase. Many moons ago, Dr. Gisela Konopka, helped pioneer the way for youth development and helped generate eight basic needs that all youth need to develop in a healthy way. Over the next few weeks I want to look at each of these basic needs, why they are so important and ways that you can help youth that you work with meet these needs. The eight basic needs for healthy youth development are:
- Feels Sense of Safety and Structure
- Experience active participation, group membership, and belonging.
- Develop self-worth through meaningful contribution
- Experiment to discover self, gain independence, and gain control over ones life
- Develop significant quality relationships with peers and at least one adult
- Discuss conflicting values and navigate their own values
- Feel pride of competence and mastery
- Expand their capacity to enjoy life and know that success is possible
Before we dive into the how we can help youth attain these important developmental needs, we should evaluate where we are currently.
First, when you think of youth development what do you think of? What does it sound and look like? what experiences are important? What do youth value? What does it feel like? Jot some ideas down and hang it up somewhere.
When you were a youth, which of these were important to you? They all have an importance to the eight basic needs of youth.
Finally, what is your program doing right now to meet some of these needs?
When we are able to help meet the needs of our youth, we are able to better walk with them through their lives. As we look through these basic needs, we are able to improve our practices and our programs to allow for youth to have a place to belong.