Positive Youth Development

"We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." Group of teenagers.

Franklin D. Roosevelt 

Address at the University of Pennsylvania
September 20, 1940

Positive Youth Development is a framework for improving the lives of all Texas youth.

Adolescence is an age of opportunity. Maternal and Child Health defines adolescence as the period of life ranging from ages 10-17 (youth) and 18-24 (young adults).  

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that adolescents made up 1 out of every 5 Texans in 2019. Adolescence is a critical period of transition between childhood and adulthood. It is a period when significant physical, psychological, and behavioral changes occur. Youth develop habits, behavioral patterns, and relationships that will shape their adult life.  

All Texas youth deserve to be healthy, happy, and supported. Youth need access to opportunities to:

  • build competencies; 
  • build skills; and
  • connect with caring adults.

When adolescents have a safe, stable, nurturing, and responsive community, they thrive. One approach is using the Positive Youth Development model.

What is Positive Youth Development?

Positive Youth Development (PYD) is a way of working with youth and young adults. It builds on their strengths. It emphasizes the ability of youth to succeed when given the opportunity. It promotes youth involvement in decisions. PYD doesn’t focus on youth as problems to fix but rather youth are partners in their own development.  

 The PYD model can:

  • Guide communities in organizing services, opportunities, and supports.
  • Assist youth and young adults to reach their full potential.
  • Emphasize a shift in engaging youth as partners versus problems.  

PYD is an approach, not a program. It is a process that enhances prevention, intervention, and treatment models. It builds on the strengths youth have and uses this belief as a foundation in all aspects of youth services.  

Using PYD means:

  • Programs are strengths-based;
  • Youth take part;
  • Youth-Adult Partnerships exist;
  • Activities are culturally-responsive and inclusive of ALL youth;
  • Community collaborations are present; and 
  • Programs are sustainable. 
CDC findings (cdc.gov/healthyyouth/safe-supportive-environments/positive-yout-development.htm)
CDC findings (cdc.gov/healthyyouth/safe-supportive-environments/positive-youth-development.htm)

PYD depicts youth and young adults as resources to cultivate, not problems to fix. Youth with key supports have reduced health risks and better health outcomes. Being connected to parents, family, and school promotes healthy youth behaviors. PYD promotes protective factors. It reduces risk factors. A PYD approach is a good public health strategy. It improves outcomes for youth.  

Positive Youth Development Resources

You can find Positive Youth Development resources at the following websites:

For more information about Maternal and Child Health, or information regarding adolescent health in Texas, please contact us at:  

Texas Department of State Health Services
Maternal & Child Health
PO Box 149347, Mail Code 1922
Austin, TX 78714-9347
(512) 776-7373: Phone
(512) 458-7658: Fax

External links to other sites are informational and do not have the endorsement of the Department of State Health Services. These sites may also not be accessible to individuals with disabilities.