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Positive Youth Development

As youth navigate through adolescence and transition into adulthood, they experience a multitude of changes related to emotional, cognitive, physical, sexual, and reproductive development. During adolescence, youth are vulnerable to influences that shape their attitudes and guide their behaviors.1 Positive Youth Development (PYD) is an intentional, prosocial approach based on a body of research that suggests there are certain protective factors and/or positive influences that can help young people succeed and reduce the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors.  

Youth participation provides perspectives and input that can improve plans, especially with regard to the needs and issues most relevant to adolescence. When programs targeting youth do not involve them in the development and decision-making process, they risk developing strategies that do not work and waste valuable resources. Public Health Youth Councils (PHYCs) give young people an opportunity to exercise their voice in decisions that may directly impact them.

Research supports the value of youth involvement, not just for the youth, but for adults and organizations, too.2 Professionals become more aware of the issues youth face and are better equipped to respond to them.  Organizations become more representative, diverse and inclusive. When youth and adults combine their energy, expertise, and resources in collective action, the outcome is thriving communities that work for youth, adults and families.3


  • Promotes positive youth development.
  • May count towards community involvement, leadership, social and cultural diversity, and public service requirements they might need.
  • Looks great on a college application.
  • Provides a chance to learn about public health and give input on public health services.
  • Provides an opportunity to make a long-lasting impact in their school and/or community.
  • Great way to meet new people and make connections.
  • Gives youth information and skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
  • Gives youth opportunities to document successes and educate others.

  • Professional and Social Development.
  • Improve public health plans relevant to youth, to more effectively allocate valuable resources.
  • New partnerships and coalitions emerge to address issues.
  • More appealing to potential funders.
  • Public policies/programs are more effective & equitable.


Cited Sources

  1. Family and Youth Services Bureau. (November 2017). Positive Youth Development.
  2. Kahn, R., Lynn, J., Braga, A., Hoxworth, T., & Donovan, K. (2008). Engage Youth! Colorado's Guide to Building Effective Youth-Adult Partnerships. Denver, CO: Colorado Youth Partnership for Health Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
  3. Petrokubi, J. & Zeldin, S. (2015). Promoting Thriving Youth and Communities through Youth-Adult Partnership. Youth Development & Evaluation, Education Northwest Portland, Oregon.

Contact Information

Alicia Lincoln, MSW, MSPH
Administrative Program Manager

Mailing Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health 
Child and Adolescent Health
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave., Suite 1702 
Oklahoma City, OK 73102-6406

Physical Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK

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