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 Youth-centered Development 

As defined by Academy for Educational Development/Center for Youth Development and Policy Research, youth development is "a process by which youth develop the personal, social, academic, and citizenship competencies necessary for adolescence and adult life based on their capacities, strengths, and formative needs." This philosophy and approach guides the programming and policies of IYG. Through its youth-centered endeavors, IYG focuses on the individual alongside the community at-large. The activities, programming, and curricula utilized at IYG are all created and/or selected with a spirit of collaboration among the youth development professionals and the IYG youth. Whenever possible, youth are involved in decision-making and program planning in order to empower them to take responsibility for creating positive change in their lives as well as in their communities.

At IYG, our programming is centered around developmental, achievement-based, and prevention outcomes. Because it is youth-centered, oftentimes groups will be peer-led. Research as well as experience continues to demonstrate that youth are the experts on their own lives, and that the more they are involved in the planning and implementation of programming, the better the outcomes. IYG youth are viewed as resources and not solely recipients of our services. IYG chooses to avoid the approach that because our youth may face additional barriers that they are broken; the goal is to help the youth recognize and build upon the strengths they already have.

One example of youth-centered development in action is IYG's Youth Council. The Youth Council is comprised of individuals who were elected by their peers. The Council has created its own bylaws. They have real decision-making power regarding IYG policy and programming. They serve as representatives of the input and needs of IYG youth.

All IYG programming is to reflect this youth-centered philosophy and approach. We all have relevant stories and experiences; however, our programs and groups are focused on co-creating with the youth a safe space to have meaningful conversations. Group facilitators keep their self-disclosure to a minimum as they are there to listen and encourage the conversation among the youth. Facilitators offer invitations to participate, not directives. In this way, youth are empowered to choose their level of participation and share in the responsibility of the group.

Check out our activity center calendar to learn more about the various programs and events offered at IYG.


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