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Youth Development & Leadership

Frequently Asked Questions


What are key components of youth development?

Any youth development activity or opportunity will include at least some of the following components, as well as others not listed below:

  • Building on interpersonal management skills
  • Clarifying personal and community beliefs and values
  • Creating a sense of purpose in life
  • Developing a positive identity
  • Developing self-competence
  • Establishing family and community supports
  • Identifying and using key resources
  • Improving self-esteem


What are key components of youth leadership?

Any youth leadership activity or opportunity will include at least some of the following components, as well as others not listed below:

  • Contributing to and being involved with promoting the well-being of the community
  • Developing and using a positive attitude within leadership activities
  • Developing strong, trustworthy relationships with responsible adults and peers
  • Interacting and collaborating with individuals from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds
  • Participating in a wide array of career exploration activities
  • Maintaining a commitment to academic and lifelong learning
  • Maintaining and demonstrating a healthy lifestyle


What are some examples of youth development and leadership activities and opportunities?

There are a wide variety of youth development and leadership activities and opportunities in every community. Some programs or activities may be sponsored by national initiatives, while others may be confined and unique to a specific local community.

Youth development and leadership activities at a national level can include, but are not limited to, such things as:

  • 4-H: provides programs in the areas of environment, health, wellness, safety, workforce preparation, community building, and youth partnerships.
  • YMCA/YWCA: provide information and opportunities for empowerment through a wide array of services and programs that build strong leaders and leadership skills.
  • Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA): provide opportunities to improve educational and career opportunities in marketing, management, and entrepreneurship for students.
  • AmeriCorps: provides programs that focus on illiteracy, poverty, crime, mentoring, and environmental concerns, among others.
  • High School Clubs and Extracurricular Activities: provide opportunities through school for leadership, such as debate, athletics, speech, drama, band, choir, student council, school yearbook, and others.

Youth development and leadership activities at a local level can include, but are not limited to:

  • becoming involved with a service-learning project through the local high school
  • participating in community center activities or other community activities, such as a neighborhood watch program
  • serving on the board of directors for an organization
  • serving on the student council or getting involved with other school-based clubs
  • volunteering at a community agency, non-profit, or for-profit organization
  • volunteering for political campaigns


Can youth leadership and development activities be included as goals on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

Absolutely! The IEP is an ideal place to include goals and list critical steps to achieving outcomes in the area of youth leadership and development. Activities that take place during school, as well as in the community during non-school hours, should be documented on the IEP.

The following is an example of how this can be done:


Student Profile

Sara has expressed an interest in volunteering with the City of Lakes AmeriCorps Project, which helps children ages (5-10) in literacy programs. Sara has an employment goal of becoming a child day care attendant. This activity will provide her with career development experience, as well as the opportunity to become involved with her local community. Sara also receives transition services at her high school and within the community, as documented on her Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Sara and her IEP team have agreed that leadership development is an important goal to include on her IEP under Employment or Community Participation. The following is Sara’s goal:

Goal: I will participate in the AmeriCorps City of Lakes Project by providing mentorship and support to youth ages 5-10 as they develop literacy skills.

Steps:

  1. I will call and get information on the Americorps City of Lakes Project.
  2. I will fill out the application to become a volunteer with the Project.
  3. I will begin volunteering one day a week and work up to three days a week by the end of the school semester.
  4. I will ask for support with this goal from my parents and my IEP case manager if I need it.


What are some other ways youth with disabilities can become involved in youth leadership and development activities?

There are many ways for youth to become actively involved in these activities and opportunities. Several examples include:

  • acquiring a list of school clubs and organizations to see what is available
  • asking family members and neighbors if they are aware of opportunities at their place of employment or in their community
  • including these types of activities as part of a class project
  • reviewing local newspapers for announcements of volunteer activities and opportunities


What accommodations and modifications might youth with disabilities need in order to participate in youth development and leadership activities?

Accommodations, as well as modifications to specific opportunities or programs, need to be tailored to each young adult’s needs, based upon their disability and individual preferences. Accommodations and modifications should also be included on each student’s IEP.

Accommodations: Accommodations might include assistance with learning about transportation options and requirements to get to and from a program or activity, written materials and publication information about an activity in alternative formats, and information provided in a student’s native language.

Modifications: Modifications might include such things as shortening the time period for a specific volunteer opportunity, removing any non-essential entrance requirements to support participation in a school club, or changing the nature of an activity to ensure equal access and participation.

Some organizations may also receive funding to support accommodations that individuals with disabilities need in order to participate. For example, the Commission on National and Community Service within each state receives accommodation-specific funding for the purpose of ensuring adequate and appropriate transportation options for individuals with disabilities to and from an activity.

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This page was last updated on November 29, 2017.