Positive Youth Development


Positive Youth Development (PYD) is a framework that guides the way UCAN and the communities we serve organize services, opportunities, and support systems so that young people can develop to their full potential.

Key Principles

  • Focus on strengths and positive outcomes
  • Youth voice and engagement
  • Strategies that involve all youth (not just “high risk”)
  • Community involvement and collaboration
  • Long-term commitment

Key Concepts

Youth Involvement: Youth input is valued and utilized in the operations of UCAN. Engaging youth in programming, policies, and other administrative tasks benefits not only the youth, but the agency and community at large. When youth are a part of the decision-making process they provide a different insight and perspective that can enhance how UCAN implements programs. It also provides youth the support and confidence that they can truly take ownership of.

Youth-Friendly Agency: UCAN strives to maintain a welcoming environment to all people that walk through the door. This means that as soon as youth come to their site they know they belong there. Staff should acknowledge youth when they are in the building and present themselves in a supportive and friendly manner. Demonstrating positive communication also models healthy relationships in the workplace.

Understanding Adultism: Adultism is behaviors and attitudes based on the assumption that adults are better than young people are, and that they are entitled to make decisions for young people without their agreement. Many institutions, laws, customs and attitudes reinforce this mistreatment. UCAN strives to better understand the practices in place that may be reinforcing adultism and find solutions to create equality between the adults and young people we service.

PYD as a discipline: Positive Youth Development is both a philosophy and an approach to policies and programs that serve young people. The underlying philosophy of PYD is holistic, preventative, and positive, focusing on the development and competencies in all young people. UCAN is dedicated to upholding this philosophy and infusing it throughout the fabric of the agency.