A Positive Youth Development approach takes us from conversations centered on fixing what is wrong to conversations that are more hopeful and focused on building on the good that is already present.The primary focus of our interventions for young people facing uneven odds is, therefore, not preventing or ameliorating dysfunction but promoting positive functioning. Fixing happens best through the development of strengths; development happens best through participation in causes bigger than oneself. With support and guidance from caring adults, all youth can be healthy, happy, thriving, and make positive contributions to their families, schools, and communities. Our emphasis is on harnessing young people’s resilience, positive energy, and initiative rather than emphasizing their problems and /perceived deficiencies. Building character strengths such as social intelligence, morality, self-control, and spirituality is one of the most frequent goals of our youth development programmes. Problems are resolved as young people build on their strengths.
YOSA is building students' mental health and resilience—so that as they grow, they can adapt and handle life challenges through;
3. Social awareness
4. Relationship skills
5. Responsible decision-making
Adapted from Search Institute.
The problem-centered approaches have failed. They tend to label the youth thereby inhibiting their participation in self-development. Ours is a bottom-up innovation. We design programs and activities, test them and learn together with adolescents concerned. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose drive our change-business model noting that trust beats control. The program emphasizes strengths and treats young people as ‘resources’ not ‘problems’ that need to be fixed. We use adolescents' resilience, positive energy, and initiative for cultural change.
The Community Development practitioners are best placed to support learners in schools through a structured and supervised mentoring and coaching program. They are trained and empowered to support learners with:
The Community Development practitioners also provide effective linkages between parents and educators in creating safe schools where learners enroll and stay through secondary education.
When crops fail in the fields, people blame the soil and weather conditions. When children fail adults blame them reminiscing the so called ‘olden days’ when children’s rights weren’t so entrenched. Then, adults believed that ‘whips drive demons out of children!’
YOSA was born as a response to societal disillusionment with many challenges confronting young people. It strives to transform the youth development landscape in South Africa through sustained bold innovation. Adolescence problems of teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, school dropout, substance abuse, violence and others may seem to be insurmountable, but, with a strength-based perspective YOSA is making significant difference through:
1. Treating youth as resources and growing their potential, and
2. Nurturing adult-youth partnerships to build developmental relationships.