As youth workers we often get the privilege of watching a youth grow over multiple years. Friends over at Orange have broken these down in what they call Phases. Each phase has unique strengths and challenges for that age group. Youth are often asking similar questions and have similar concerns that are unique to that particular phase. Many moons ago, Dr. Gisela Konopka, helped pioneer the way for youth development and helped generate eight basic needs that all youth need to develop in a healthy way. Over the next few weeks I want to look at each of these basic needs, why they are so important and ways that you can help youth that you work with meet these needs. The eight basic needs for healthy youth development are:
- Feels Sense of Safety and Structure
- Experience active participation, group membership, and belonging.
- Develop self-worth through meaningful contribution
- Experiment to discover self, gain independence, and gain control over ones life
- Develop significant quality relationships with peers and at least one adult
- Discuss conflicting values and navigate their own values
- Feel pride of competence and mastery
- Expand their capacity to enjoy life and know that success is possible
Before we dive into the how we can help youth attain these important developmental needs, we should evaluate where we are currently.
First, when you think of youth development what do you think of? What does it sound and look like? what experiences are important? What do youth value? What does it feel like? Jot some ideas down and hang it up somewhere.
When you were a youth, which of these were important to you? They all have an importance to the eight basic needs of youth.
Finally, what is your program doing right now to meet some of these needs?
When we are able to help meet the needs of our youth, we are able to better walk with them through their lives. As we look through these basic needs, we are able to improve our practices and our programs to allow for youth to have a place to belong.
There is a scene in the movie “A Beautiful Mind” that has always stuck with me.
It is a scene where the main characters and his friends are at a bar and a group of girls walk in. They begin to apply various theories into how to approach the girls. What stuck out to me was the idea that decisions should be made for what is best for the individual and what is best for the group. It brought to my attention what I would later learn to be the concept of Win-Win strategy.
Dealing with other organizations, finding new partners and even recruiting new volunteers can be complicated. Many times there are different agendas and motives for people wanting to participate. There is also this sense of control and who has more power over the other. Everyone wants to call the shots and everyone wants what is best for their own organization. However, what is often best for one party is not best for another. In these Win-Lose, or even Lose-Lose, scenarios relationships can be broken, partnerships fail and success if often hindered.
I have tried to apply Win-Win thinking into new endeavors and partnerships that I form. This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people. Win-Win helps people and organizations to collaborate and cooperate together, instead of competing with one another.
Thinking Win-Win is often not the norm of organizations and can be tricky. There is a balancing act between being empathetic to the needs of another person and sticking to vision and mission of yourself and your organization. It often takes out of the box thinking, innovation and giving up something inconsequential for something valuable. To apply Win-Win into your interactions with others it takes a lot of maturity, integrity, and understanding of what is core to achieving the purposes of your organization.
If you are in the middle of debating new partnerships or new collaborations and you just seem to be getting stuck, start to think Win-Win. Get to the Core of your organization, your mission and values, the things that if changed would radically change the function of your group. If the partnership starts to endanger these things, they may not be a good fit. However, what are some little things that you may be able to give up in order for something new to start. Start to think Win-Win and see how new things start to flourish and partnerships begin to form.