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Digging Deeper: The Five Areas of Youth Development/Leadership

June 11, 2009 Publication


Positive basic and applied academic attitudes, skills, and behaviors characterize the area of development known as learning (Ferber, Pittman, & Marshall, 2002).  Often, this is as simple as giving young people the opportunity to use the skills they have acquired in school or other training programs in a different context.  Youth should be encouraged to develop not only a higher aptitude for academic achievement, but also the ability to approach learning with a strategy for achieving success.


Refers to the development of positive social behaviors, skills, and attitudes (Ferber, Pittman, & Marshall, 2002).  Relationships with elders, peers, supervisors, family, and other community members commonly influence these behaviors, skills, and attitudes.  The level to which a young person has developed in this area will also dictate how he or she continues to build varied relationships later on in life.


Attitudes, skills, and behaviors that are demonstrated by maintaining optimal physical and emotional wellbeing characterize the area of development known as thriving (Ferber, Pittman, & Marshall, 2002).  Not only must a young person have intellectual and social competencies to achieve success in adulthood, but he or she must also have the wherewithal to maintain his or her physical and emotional health at its highest level.  Thriving is the optimal relationship between physical and emotional wellbeing, as determined by each youth’s particular circumstances and range of abilities.


Positive attitudes, skills, and behaviors around vocational direction characterize the area of development known as working (Ferber, Pittman, & Marshall, 2002).  Young people should be actively involved in activities that will expose them to and offer the opportunity to practice not only the actual skills needed for a particular career, but also the work readiness skills needed to find and maintain employment.


Leading is the area of development that centers on positive skills, attitudes, and behaviors around civic involvement and personal goal setting (Ferber, Pittman, & Marshall, 2002).  Youth who are civically engaged in a positive manner, willing to participate in public activity, and able to navigate the civic arena are likely to become adults who participate in civic upkeep.  In this case, the term “civic” can refer to an entire city, a neighborhood, a community, and anything else that implies public environs.

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