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Leadership Program.


Youth development and youth leadership programs for all youth, including those with disabilities, consist of the same basic components necessary to build on each youth’s capabilities and strengths and address a full range of developmental needs. Youth leadership programs place an additional emphasis on certain components central to leadership development. The key components of youth development and leadership programs can be divided into organizational components — practices and characteristics of the organization as a whole that are necessary for effective youth programs — and programmatic components — the practices and characteristics of a specific program that make it effective for young people. In addition, there are some components that comprise a disability focus that programs should include in order to meet the needs of youth with disabilities.

Organizational Components

Both youth development and leadership programs need to be supported by an organization that has all of the following characteristics:

  • clear goals related to the development of young people;

  • youth development-friendly staff;

  • connections to the community; and

  • youth involvement.

Youth leadership programs must emphasize the importance of involving youth in every facet of the organization, including serving on the Board of Directors, strategic planning, and other administrative decision-making processes.

Programmatic Components

Youth development and youth leadership programs should do all of the following:

  • provide varied hands on and experiential activities;

  • provide opportunities for youth to succeed and to take on various roles in the program;

  • encourage youth involvement in developing and implementing program activities;

  • establish high expectations for youth, and allow them to experience the consequences of their

  • choices and decisions.

  • Involve family members when possible.

  • provide the opportunity to interact with a mentor or role model.

Youth leadership programs place a particular emphasis on involving youth in every aspect of program delivery. Practically, this means that youth have:

  • Multiple opportunities to observe, practice.

  • Receive education on the values and history of the organization.

  • Practice, and develop leadership skills.

  • Experience progressive roles of leadership ranging from leading a small group to planning an event; learn to assess their own strengths and set goals for personal development.

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