Positive Youth Development (PYD)

PYD Program Director - Mrs. Maria Modzelewski
PYD Program Coordinator - Ms. Julia Gabrys

PYD – What is it?

Positive Experiences + Positive Relationships + Positive Environments = Positive Youth Development

PYD Youth Council April 2016

Positive youth development is an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youths' strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.

Positive youth development has its origins in the field of prevention. In the past, prevention efforts typically focused on single problems before they surfaced in youth, such as teen pregnancy, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency.

Over time, practitioners, policymakers, funders, and researchers determined that promoting positive asset building and considering young people as resources were critical strategies. As a result, the youth development field began examining the role of resiliency—the protective factors in a young person's environment—and how these factors could influence one's ability to overcome adversity. Those factors included, but were not limited to: family support, caring adults, positive peer groups, strong sense of self and self-esteem, and engagement in school and community activities.

Researchers and practitioners began to report that young people possessing a diverse set of protective factors can, in fact, experience more positive outcomes. These findings encouraged the development of interventions and programs that reduced risks and also strengthened protective factors. These programs and interventions are strengthened when they involve and engage youth as equal partners, ultimately providing benefits both for the program and for the involved youth.

Positive Youth Development, Iroquois School District
Program Director,  Mrs. Maria Modzelewski, School Psychologist
DFC Coordinator, Ms. Julia Gabrys
Assistant Chair, Ms. Karen Barringer, Teacher and Community Member

  1. Youth Empowerment Cabinet (YEC): Consists of 28 students from grades 7-12.
    1. YEC was developed latter half of 2013/2014 school year.
    2. YEC meets with ISD PYD Chair (Mrs. Modzelewski), Guidance (when available), and Erie Co. PYD Co-Director (Mr. Markiewicz) monthly.
    3. Focus so far has been on educating and empowering youth regarding PYD and 40 developmental assets.
    4. Goals have also focused on PYD Student Action Plan.
    5. Thus far, students have participated in the following:
      1. Training/education regarding 40 developmental assets and PAYS data
      2. PYD Youth Summit (last year and this year) focusing on networking with other PYD schools and goal setting for PYD initiatives
      3. Prevention trainings (Texting while driving)
      4. Positive Messaging campaign and assembly (last school year)
      5. Make a Difference Assembly (currently planning – May 11).
  1. Community Coalition: PYD #ONEFAMILY: Consists of 37 members, including Superintendent, School Psychologist, JH/HS Administration, Guidance, and various community members including parents, grandparents, residents, and religious leaders.
    1. Meets monthly
    2. Developed Timeline for PYD in ISD
    3. Focus has been on educating and empowering community coalition regarding PYD, 40 developmental assets, and PAYS data.
    4. Created Community Action Plan for ISD
    5. Invited to attend 40 Developmental Training offered at Iroquois HS during in-service (presenter – Mr. Markiewicz)
    6. Currently working Community Summer Resource Guide for ISD families

Principles of PYD

  • Positive youth development is an intentional process. It is about being proactive to promote protective factors in young people.
  • Positive youth development complements efforts to prevent risky behaviors and attitudes in youth, and complements efforts that work to address negative behaviors.
  • Youth assets are both acknowledged and employed through positive youth development. All youth have the capacity for positive growth and development.
  • Positive youth development enables youth to thrive and flourish in their teen years, and prepares them for a healthy, happy and safe adulthood.
  • Positive youth development involves youth as active agents. Adults may set the structure, but youth are not just the recipients of services. Youth are valued and are encouraged to bring their assets to the table. Adults and youth work in partnership.
  • Youth leadership development is a part of positive youth development, but youth aren't required to lead. Youth can attend, actively participate, contribute, or lead through positive youth development activities.
  • Positive youth development involves civic involvement and civic engagement—youth contribute through service to their communities.
  • Positive youth development involves and engages every element of the community—schools, homes, community members, and others. Young people are valued through this process. Positive youth development is an investment that the community makes in young people. Youth and adults work together to frame the solutions. Learn more about engaging youth as active participants and partners.

How do WE implement this?

Penn State Behrend – Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research and Evaluation (CORE)

A Penn State Behrend outreach effort has reduced truancy, teen pregnancy and dropout rates in the school.

The Positive Youth Development program was designed by the Susan Hirt Hagan Center for Community Outreach, Research and Evaluation (CORE) at Penn State Behrend. It builds a safety net of common-sense developmental assets – family support, adult mentors, after-school activities – to keep students engaged in the learning process.

Joseph Markiewicz, Co-Project Director, Penn State Behrend, Susan Hirt Hagen
Carl Kallgren, Associate professor of psychology at Penn State Behrend and Director of CORE

More Information

The following links provide additional information regarding CORE