In practice, positive youth development challenges communities to offer the services, opportunities, and supports that enable young people to develop the competencies, confidence, character, connection, and contribution they need to do well and make healthy choices. When adults, organizations, and communities intentionally shift to become more nurturing and supportive of young people, positive outcomes result.
What are Services, Opportunities, and Supports?How can communities interact with young people in a way that promotes their development? Karen Pittman of the Forum for Youth Investment uses the terms services, opportunities, and supports (SOS) to describe what communities can do.
Services are all the things adults do to help meet children's and young people's needs, such as providing shelter, food, clothing, health care, education, and more.
Opportunities are chances for youth to practice, fine-tune, and advance the skills they have learned, as well as occasions for leadership and contribution through youth engagement.
Supports are the mentors, caring adults, and teachers who offer guidance and positive relationships with young people. Additional supports are clear expectations, boundaries, and structured settings as well as access to information and resources.
Where to Start?A community effort starts with:
- envisioning a better community
- community collaboration
- engaging community partners