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Preparing Youth for Adulthood

Community Partners

(New York State)

As you plan activities to support youth in building life skills, consider drawing on local expertise.

  • BOCES may offer workshops on conflict resolution, cultural competence, and critical thinking.
  • 4-H may offer workshops as well as opportunities for youth to learn and practice communication skills, public speaking, civic engagement, and other leadership skills. To find a 4-H program near you, contact the local office of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
  • Community Dispute Resolution Centers may train youth as mediators and offer workshops on conflict resolution.
  • Local cultural centers may offer resources on diversity and cultural competence.
  • Independent living and foster care programs of the local Department of Social Services may use the Casey Life Skills training.
  • Local substance abuse prevention coalitions may offer expertise in evidence-based programs such as Botvin LifeSkills training.

Building Healthy Life Skills

Youth who are prepared for adulthood are comfortable demonstrating fundamental life skills such as communication, cultural competence, conflict resolution, and the ability to cope. Youth programs can help young people develop self-efficacy -- a belief in their own capacity to succeed -- by providing opportunities to learn and practice these skills in real-life settings.

The resources below are intended to help program leaders work with youth in building these skills. Look for related resources in Supporting Healthy Development.

Resources for Program Providers

Casey Life Skills
Casey Life Skills, a program of Casey Family Programs, offers assessments, learning plans, and teaching resources at minimal cost. See also the Resources to Inspire Guide for activities to help build a young person's learning plan.

Botvin LifeSkills Training
Originally developed as a substance abuse prevention program for middle school students, this training includes sessions on communication, decision-making, coping, and conflict resolution skills. Curricula are also available for high school students.

Overcoming Obstacles
This free life skills curriculum was developed to be flexible enough to fit into everything from core content classes and advisory periods, to after school and summer programs, guidance and counseling sessions, and college and career prep classes.

Communications Toolkit (PDF)
Activities in this resource manual engage young people in creative expression and communication activities using different media. Free download from Michigan 4-H Youth Development.

Teaching Resources for Youth Educators - A Source Book
Created by Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development, this manual includes activities for building communication, relationship, and conflict resolution skills. Free download.

Using recent findings in child and adolescent brain research, BrainWise is a curriculum for teaching critical thinking and decision-making skills. A guide for one-on-one teaching is available as well.

Media Education Foundation
The Media Education Foundation offers educational videos on gender, health, race, commercialism, and more.

Diversity Lesson Plans and Activities - High School
The Diversity Council has collected these diversity lesson plans from a range of sources.

Diversity Activities Resource Guide (PDF)
Here the University of Houston offers a large collection of activities.

Diversity Activities
Cooperative Extension of the State University of Pennsylvania has compiled diversity activities in two free PDFs:

SALTO-YOUTH is a European network of eight resource centers advocating for advanced learning and professional training within the youth work field. Among the free resources are:

YELL: Youth Engaged in Leadership and Learning
Stanford University's John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities published this handbook of skill-building activities focused on communication, planning, reflection, critical thinking, and civic engagement. Free download.

The Innovation Center: Toolkits/Resources
The Innovation Center has developed many resources on youth-adult partnerships, youth engagement, and civic engagement. These curricula all involve communication, pro-social, critical thinking, and planning skills. All curricula are available as free downloads.

The Raccoon Circles
Jim Cain from Teamwork & Teamplay put together this facilitation manual on communication, reflection, team building, and conflict resolution skills using the principles of adventure-based learning. Free download.

Emotional Intelligence Activities (PDF)
University of Illinois Extension developed this activity guide to promote emotional intelligence among young people age 13-18. Free download.

Stop Sexual Violence (PDF)
This New York State Department of Health toolkit provides an overview of existing programs and resources that utilize the bystander intervention approach to stop sexual violence. It is intended for use by middle and high school teachers, college professors, faith leaders, and youth program coordinators, among others.

Recommended Books

Fires in the Mind
Jossey-Bass, 2010
Kathleen Cushman and students from What Kids Can Do authored this book about motivation and mastery. While the book is written primarily for teachers, the strategies and activities can be easily transferred to out-of-school programming. Sample activities may be downloaded from the website's Resource Library.

The PREPARE Curriculum
Research Press, 1999
This book by Arnold Goldstein focuses on teaching pro-social skills. The curriculum includes activities on social skills, feelings, conflict resolution, and planning.

Resources for Young People

ACT Youth Network
This ACT for Youth site for young people includes:

  • Lead The Way!
    Finding your leadership style and setting goals
  • Got Stress?
    Understanding stress signals and learning to cope

TeensHealth: Stress and Coping Center
This youth site from Nemours Foundation includes articles on stress, mental health conditions, and getting and giving help.

E-Learning for Kids: Life Skills
These free, online lessons for early adolescents cover relationships, bullying, communication, depression, and more.

Center for Young Women's Health: Emotional Health
Developed by Children's Hospital Boston, the Center offers many resources on emotional health, stress management, and coping.

Young Men's Health: Emotional Health
Children's Hospital Boston offers resources for dealing with stress, depression, and anger, as well as friendships, among other topics.

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