Positive Youth Development (PYD) is an evidence-based approach that focuses on meeting children and youth where they are and building on their strengths. This includes providing meaningful opportunities for them to learn, grow, and thrive – all with the support of caring adults. Positive Youth Development recognizes that each child has their own unique strengths and needs. By adopting this approach, the Y can create an environment that supports the whole child – addressing their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. With an emphasis on positive relationships, skill-building, and social-emotional learning, our youth programs like camp or soccer can support children and youth with building resilience and their ability to overcome life’s challenges. Research has shown that children and youth who experience positive developmental opportunities are more likely to build confidence, form healthy relationships, succeed academically, and make responsible choices. By infusing Positive Youth Development principles and practices across our Y’s youth-serving programs, we are investing in the future of our children, equipping them with the tools and support they need to thrive.
The Y’s Role
At the Y, we understand the importance of providing a place of promise, safety, and connections where children and youth feel seen, encouraged, and cared for. As part of our commitment to addressing youth mental health and well-being, the YMCA of San Diego County is introducing Positive Youth Development (PYD) across our youth-serving programs.
Drawing on our rich history of youth programming, we are redefining the way we work to better meet the needs of today's children and youth. By integrating Positive Youth Development principles and practices throughout our programs, we can cultivate positive relationships and meaningful experiences that promote positive mental health and well-being among children and youth.
We are currently launching and piloting a Positive Youth Development approach with the goal of completing the pilot phase and creating a toolkit to share with the youth-serving field by the end of 2024. This allows us to ensure fidelity to high-quality programming, staff training, and support – all of which are essential for achieving positive outcomes for youth.
The PYD pilot program will take place across four branches: Copley-Price Family YMCA, Jackie Robinson Family YMCA, Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA, Mission Valley YMCA, and Ryan Family YMCA. Over the course of this year-long pilot, we will actively measure our success by collecting data from staff, parents and caregivers, and participants. Our dedicated staff at these sites are undergoing extensive PYD training and receiving ongoing coaching and support to enhance their skills and practice. To ensure continuous improvement and better outcomes, we have established a learning collaborative. This collaborative will serve as a platform for sharing data and findings among our pilot branches, allowing us to evolve our approach and make necessary adjustments based on real-time data and insights. Through this evaluation process, we can refine our strategies and interventions ensuring that we are always delivering the highest quality programs and achieving the best possible outcomes for the children and youth we serve.
Positive Youth Development Pilot Project FAQs
What does it mean if my branch is a pilot site?
If your branch is a pilot site, this means that staff in youth-programming areas, such as day camp, aquatics, and youth sports, are implementing Positive Youth Development (PYD) practices and actively collecting data to measure and evaluate outcomes. Parents and caregivers may be asked to provide consent for participation in surveys and data collection through opt-out options.
What information will be collected?
While we will mostly be gathering data directly from our staff members, feedback will also be collected from children and youth about their experiences participating in our programs. When engaging children and youth in information gathering, the focus will be on understanding their experience, not collecting personal data about them.
How is this information being collected?
We have partnered with Hello Insight, a tool used specifically for evaluating youth development programs. This is the only external tool used for surveys apart from the typical ones conducted by the YMCA.
How does this change my child's experience at the Y?
Your child’s programming activities will remain the same. What will change are the interactions they have with staff, who will intentionally practice the "Super Six" PYD principles: engaging authentically, challenging growth, expanding interests, managing goals related to the activity, promoting peer bonds, and sharing power. These practices aim to create more positive and supportive relationships with children and youth.
What will this information be used for?
While we will mostly be gathering data directly from our staff members, feedback will also be collected from children and youth about their experiences participating in our programs as well as social-emotional skills. When engaging children and youth in information gathering, the focus will be on understanding their experiences. We will be collecting demographic information (i.e. date of birth, race, gender, and initials) which will allow us to track the impact that a PYD based program may have on them over time based on their survey responses. No additional personal information will be collected.
Can I opt-out of my child participating in data collection?
Yes, if you prefer to opt-out of your child's participation in data collection, please inform a YMCA program supervisor. They will ensure that your child is not asked to answer any questions or provide feedback.