y11Youths are the engine room of any nation. Denying their contribution to the development and growth of a society is impossible. Without youths, it is virtually impossible for a country to thrive. In fact, they can make or mar a nation based on the type of information which they receive. If youths are exposed to the best resources available, they will help the community to achieve prosperity. No nation on earth can afford to neglect its youths and still hope to move forward. All these are some of the reasons responsible for the creation of programs dedicated to developing youths.

Youth development programs are a series of coordinated and well-planned sets of activities that cater to the overall well-being of its participants. It arose from a desire to shape the growth of youths positively. Engaging young people in ways that are both productive and constructive is a way to achieve this. And youth programs can prepare the youths for the challenges of adulthood. Experts have shown in recent studies that when youths have several profitable opportunities, they are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. In other words, these programs lead to a decrease in adverse actions and an increase in beneficial effects.

Valuable relationships and better opportunities are some of the gains of being involved in these programs. Also, these platforms provide a support structure to enable you to capitalize on your strengths. Several youth development programs could be of value to you, and some of them are listed below.

4-H: 4-H is a club located in Ohio and established by A. B Graham in 1902. It was an organization born out of the need to teach useful skills to farm children at that time. It has since evolved into a reputable organization today. The primary goal of the club is to teach its members skills and groom them to be productive citizens. As a member, you get to participate in camps, trips, conferences and various constructive activities. 4-H also embarks on projects which are accomplished strictly by members. Getting involved with their numerous ventures allows you to learn by doing. Some of the projects include leather-craft, dog care, clothing and textiles, gardening, computers, photography, livestock, rocketry, and shooting among others. Members are also given liberty to either participate in the group projects or design their individual projects. As a nonprofit club, 4-H offers activities guaranteed to satisfy youths of ages between 5 and 19. All you need to do to become a member is to join the club, participate in the monthly meetings and explore your interests. In spite of its agricultural foundation, 4-H has programs that would appeal to any youth irrespective of vocation.

Young Non-Profit Professionals Network (YNPN): If you are interested in taking advantage of the opportunities in the social sector, then YNPN is for you. The first chapter of this network started in 1997 in San Francisco. Then, a little group of nonprofit professionals met to share their challenges and experiences in the social sector. From that small group, YNPN has expanded to over 50,000 members with branches in 42 cities. Its primary focus as an assembly is to raise leaders. They seek to accomplish this by bringing their associates into contact with ideas, people, and resources. YNPN provides you the opportunity to learn relevant skills. They also prepare you to be a change-maker by providing you with all the awareness you need. As a participant, you will be involved in social and networking events that will help you grow in your career. There are also professional courses that can help you thrive in your field of interest. YNPN’s passion is all about building healthy communities devoid of favoritism. So, if you desire an efficient and sustainable career, YNPN will guide you to the right path.

YMCA: YMCA is a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of youths, healthy living, and social responsibility. It was founded by George Williams in London on the June 6, 1844. Its chief focus then was to develop a healthy body, mind, and spirit using Christian principles. Since then, it has grown into a massive worldwide movement. YMCA started as an exclusive club catering to the male populace. But its present structure includes both genders from every walk of life. The programs implemented by the organization are tailored to meet the unique needs of its communities. If you are committed to effecting change in the world, this association is for you. Fondly called the Y, it nurtures the potential of every youth in its domain. It also encourages its members to give back to their communities. As a partner, you get access to resources that can keep you safe, healthy, connected and confident. The organization provides financial assistance to those that cannot afford its membership. With over 10,000 centers across the US, you can be sure of a Y in your community.

The Freechild Project: Freechild is a program focused on creating awareness about the roles the youths can play in society. It employs various means in achieving its aim. It seeks to build meaningful connections between adults and young people through the use of programs and training. Adam Fletcher started the project in 2001. Some of their plans include activist group incubation, service-learning, and topic-specific workshops. The team believes that youths should have an active part in the decision-making process of the society. Their top priority is empowering their members to canvass for radical democracy. They also liaise with other groups in areas of strategic planning, capacity building, and product development. So, if activism is your thing, you will feel right at home at Freechild.

Global Youth Action Network (GYAN): GYAN is an international network of youth NGOs present in about 180 countries. It encourages the participation of young persons in decision-making. About 20 kids from 12 countries came together to form this organization. GYAN promotes social activism and encourages collaboration among various youth-centered NGOs. As a member, you get to be a part of one of the largest networks of youth organization recognized officially by the United Nations. You also get access to information and resources that can empower your work for social change.

Bottom Line

The period between adolescence and adulthood can be turbulent. Why not take advantage of the guidance offered by these programs and sail smoothly. The skills and opportunities they offer can bring about a healthier dividend for you. Remember, a healthy youth equals to a healthy nation.

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