Successfully Transitioning Youth to Adolescence (STYA), an initiative funded by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), utilizes a positive youth development approach to ease the transition of preteen youth into young adulthood. The purpose of the initiative is to develop, enhance, or expand prevention programs aimed at delaying the onset of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing.
Launched in 2013, the STYA initiative funds 17 programs across New York State. Community projects were selected through a competitive Request for Applications (PDF) process. Priority populations served by STYA programs include youth ages 9-12 in counties that experience the highest rates of adolescent pregnancy, as well as youth in foster care and youth with disabilities.
The specific goals of the STYA initiative and local STYA projects are to:
- Decrease the initiation of sexual activity among preteen youth through the support of community-based projects that incorporate mentoring, counseling, or adult-supervised activities;
- Create and expand opportunities and provide alternatives to sexual activity for preteen youth in order to promote an optimal transition into healthy young adulthood;
- Promote the development of positive long-term relationships between adults and youth;
- Provide education to the parents, guardians, and caregivers of preteen youth to enhance their parenting skills.
Increasing Developmental AssetsThe Search Institute, a leader in the field of positive youth development, has identified 40 developmental assets that help youth meet the challenges and opportunities of life. STYA programs promote key assets in the categories below. Through each STYA component, projects help young people develop a positive outlook and a sense that they have achievable life prospects.
Program ComponentsThis initiative strives to build protective factors that foster a healthy, productive, and connected adolescence. Each of the program components is aimed at building key developmental assets for and with youth.
Mentoring (Component 1A)
Findings from youth development and resilience research indicate that even in the face of multiple life adversities, having a consistent, supportive, caring adult in their life outside of their immediate families helps adolescents not merely survive, but thrive. STYA mentors focus on the needs of the mentored youth, and build on and nurture youths' individual strengths and assets.
Adult-Supervised Activities (Component 1B)
Youth benefit from exposure to a wide variety of developmentally supportive activities that introduce them to new situations, ideas, and people, and challenge them to learn new skills. These educational, recreational, and vocational opportunities can offer youth first-hand experiences that build on their strengths and shape their ideas and hopes for the future. STYA program activities stimulate cognitive, social, physical, and/or emotional growth and provide a context for building positive relationships.
Small Group Discussion (Component 2)
Young people need opportunities to discuss their concerns with caring adults. STYA programs offer preteens adult-led activities that facilitate discussion of sensitive topics. To help younger adolescents identify, talk about, and work through their concerns, STYA programs utilize team-building, creative expression, media literacy, and social-emotional learning activities. Through experiential learning, participants come to understand how to approach and resolve problems.
Parenting Education (Component 3)
Parents play a key role in communicating with their children about values and responsible behaviors. The purpose of STYA's parenting education component is to enhance and strengthen the communication and supervision skills of parents, guardians, and other adult caregivers. These skills will help them guide their preteen children through adolescence.
Resources for STYA Program ProvidersFor resources related to specific STYA strategies, visit the pages on Mentoring, Adult-Supervised Activities, Small Group Discussion, and Parenting Education.
Puberty and Adolescent Development
Anatomy of Puberty
In this ACT for Youth presentation, Dr. Richard Kreipe helps the listener understand the physical changes of puberty as well as concerns that adolescents may have as their bodies change.
This section of the ACT for Youth site provides a guide to the stages and tasks of adolescent development. Here you'll also find the Adolescent Development Toolkit, which offers many additional resources.
Positive Youth Development Approach
Understanding Positive Youth Development
The STYA initiative is grounded in the positive youth development framework. These pages and resources explain the principles of positive youth development and address practical issues that communities and programs may face as they strive to provide youth with services, opportunities, and supports.
Search Institute: Power of Developmental Assets
The Search Institute has identified 40 internal and external developmental assets that are the building blocks of healthy development for youth. Their research has documented that the more of these assets youth have, the better prepared they are to meet the demands and opportunities of life and the less likely they are to engage in harmful or unhealthy behaviors.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Toolkit
SEL is a student-centered approach that emphasizes building on students' strengths; developing skills through hands-on, experiential learning; giving young people voice in the learning process; and supporting youth through positive relationships with adults over an extended period of time. The SEL Toolkit offers web-based resources to help youth work professionals provide opportunities for social and emotional learning.