Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Positive Youth Development Approaches- Youth Engagement
  • Youth engagement can be defined as “meaningful participation and sustained involvement of a young person in an activity with a focus outside of him or herself” (Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement, 2003).
  • Youth engagement is based on the understanding that, in order to make a successful and healthy transition from adolescence to adulthood, youth must possess certain skills and competencies.
  • Youth engagement models operate under a youth-adult partnership structure while working toward an agreed upon outcome in which youth are seen as partners rather than clients.
  • Youth Engagement is a type of youth participation that leads to:
    • development of strengths and assets and the protective factors to successfully transition from childhood into adulthood,
    • encourages active citizenship among youth, and
    • instils a sense of social responsibility that they will carry to adulthood.
  • Building assets and/or resiliency in youth, as well as providing youth with opportunities to be engaged, are protective factors that promote positive youth development and prevent youth from engaging in risk taking behaviours
  • There is mounting evidence to suggest that young people who take active roles in organizations and in their communities have fewer problems, are better skilled and tend to be lifelong citizens (Irby, Ferber, Pittman, Tolman, & Yohalem, 2001).
  • Programs operating within a youth engagement model have better uptake and outcomes for both participants and organizations.
  • Adoption of the model facilitates a more youth-friendly environment, and allows organizations to create a better relationship with the communities they serve.