Positive Youth Development on a National Scale

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by Becky Westerfelt, Executive Director

At Huck House we have a couple of concepts that drive our work, but the one that drives all of our work is Positive Youth Development.  This approach says that what we say to youth is not as effective as what we do with youth.  We know that experience is a tough and persistent teacher so we work hard to make sure its lessons support traits and skills that will be a positive influence for teens.  We think about the unique qualities and skills of each youth as an opportunity to nurture characteristics that will be life-long assets.  We know that the best way to accomplish this development is within positive, supportive adult and community relationships.

We are currently witnessing Positive Youth Development on a national scale, and I am thrilled to be here in this moment.  The thousands of participating youth and supporting adults have created a spectacle of adolescent development at its very best.

People often ask me, “what can we do about all of these young people who are problems?”  Let’s take our lessons from the March For Our Lives.  First listen without the patronizing filter of knowing what’s best.  If we let go of our adult expertise, we just might learn something.  Next, ask what they need and want from us.  Maybe that means buying the pizza after the meeting instead of running the show.  Finally, don’t lose sight of the point.  Our task is to help the young people in our lives become their best selves – even if that means letting them come to a different conclusion.  In the end we will all be better for it.