"Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies."

- Kofi Annan


The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) supports an array of programs for young people. While they vary in terms of specific activities offered, objectives and settings, all DYCD programs operate within a single framework shaped by three inter- related concepts: Positive Youth Development (PYD), Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), and Youth Leadership.

The purpose of this Guide is to articulate DYCD's perspective and promote a shared understanding of these concepts by providing a common lens and language through which to view them. This, in turn, will enable community- based organizations (CBOs) that provide the services and DYCD managers who assess them to more easily identify program strengths and weaknesses, share best practices and work together to improve program quality.

Ultimately, a clearer understanding of DYCD's expectations regarding critical aspects of program implementation and continuous improvement will benefit all stakeholders.

The body of the Guide encapsulates DYCD's perspectives on PYD, SEL, and Youth Leadership and indicates how they should be embedded into practice. Below, each concept is briefly outlined, with illustrations showing how they intersect and overlap. In high quality youth programs, PYD, SEL and Youth Leadership aspects will be seamlessly integrated.


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Positive Youth Development (PYD)

PYD is an over-arching, assets-based approach that DYCD expects all CBOs to embrace, irrespective of program content and specifics. It provides the foundation on which to promote healthy youth development and resilience. To this end, PYD emphasizes the importance of a safe environment and a sense of belonging and providing authentic opportunities for youth to be heard and effect positive change in their communities.

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Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

SEL is the process through which young people acquire SEL competencies (i.e., the knowledge, attitudes, and skills) that they need to thrive in school and beyond.

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Youth Leadership

Youth Leadership builds on PYD principles, with an emphasis on providing: (1) leadership opportunities within the program, organization, and community; (2) skill-building and capacity for making decisions and solving problems; (3) opportunities to deepen understanding of shared experiences and participate in community projects; and (4) strong youth- adult partnerships.