As we wrap up the basic youth needs, look for ways that they are all connected. The last three of the basic youth needs are products of the first five. They may be able to stand alone, but when they are in context of other basic youth needs they can flourish. Here are the last three:
- Discuss conflicting values and discover their own values
- Feel pride of competence and mastery
- Expand their capacity to enjoy life and know that success is possible
If youth feel a sense of safety and belonging in a group…
…then, they are able to discuss conflicting values and discover their own.
If youth are able to contribute meaningfully to the world around them…
…then, they can feel pride of competence and mastery.
If youth are able to develop significant relationships, gain control of their lives, feel safety and security and be part of a group…
…then, they can expand their capacity to enjoy life and find success.
These basic youth needs are not a tiered to-do list. They are connected and feed off of one another. Look for the connections and patterns between them all and you find that when you can group a few of them together you will have most influence in the life of a youth. How can you create safe spaces among groups for youth to discuss personal values? What type of activities can you set up for youth to give back to the community and contribute meaningfully? How can you walk with youth in such a way that they are able to find success and joy in life? As a caring adult how can you call out the essence of youth that you work with all the time and be a champion for theme?
Think about the events and moments that you have seen great connections between youth and the adults who work with them. I am sure they met many of the basic needs of youth, most likely not on purpose.
Some of these are no brainers for people who work with youth. Yet, when we can create strategies to foster the development of these basic needs we can create better programs, include more youth, influence more families, develop deeper relationships and love people better.