Assessing positive youth development programs for sustainable participant outcomes

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Positive Youth Development (PYD) programs include intentional efforts by peers, adults, communities, schools, and organizations to provide opportunities for youth to increase their skills, abilities, and interests in positive activities.

Positive Youth Development (PYD) programs include intentional efforts by peers, adults, communities, schools, and organizations to provide opportunities for youth to increase their skills, abilities, and interests in positive activities. The goal of PYD is to provide positive outcomes where youth are viewed as resources to be developed rather than problems to be managed. Future generations rely on youth as active contributing members of society and PYD programs promote sustainable futures for young individuals and the community. PYD programs started in the United States and grew out of interest in prevention programs targeting risky behavior of youth.

Interest is growing in expanding PYD programs internationally as they may promote resilient characteristics and sustainable life skills. In particular, and one focus area of this dissertation, interest is growing in rural Asia. However, given the interdisciplinary nature of PYD programs, there are no standard assessment metrics or tools in place. Without standards, comparing PYD programs effectively is impossible. Within this dissertation, in four papers, I 1) develop a universal PYD assessment tool, the Positive Youth Development Sustainability Scale (PYDSS), 2) apply the PYDSS to two PYD programs in rural Thailand as a quantitative analysis, 3) use the categories of the PYDSS as a coding guide for qualitative analysis of two PYD programs in rural Thailand, and 4) assess a PYD program in the Phoenix-metro area that integrates physical activity, academics, and ethics. Results indicate that the PYDSS can be applied to PYD programs in both Thailand and Phoenix and that a mixed methods approach is a suggested form or data collection. My research could lead to the further improvement of current PYD programs and their intervention role, while also promoting universal PYD assessment techniques that support sustainable impacts on youth as a result of program intervention and design.