Danelle Hughes Norman is a certified teacher with 20 years of experience working with young people, but, she notes, “none of the education, experience and training I received compares to how profoundly the Positive Youth Development workshop changes how I show up with youth, which, in turn, changes how youth show up in our programs.”
On Wednesday, Hughes Norman, a certified prevention specialist and program manager for Ouray County’s Voyager Youth Program, and her colleague, Alex Durham, also a certified prevention specialist, will provide training on Positive Youth Development, or PYD. The session will take place at the Telluride Community Room on East Pacific Avenue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is part of Communities that Care, an evidence-based, collaborative program that seeks to promote healthy youth behavior.
Tri-County Health Network, the facilitator and organizer of Telluride’s Communities That Care, is encouraging anyone who works with young people to attend. The event is free with lunch included. Attendees receive six hours of credit with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“Positive Youth Development is for anyone who works directly with youth or whose work impacts youth,” Durham said. “Youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, educators, parents, policymakers and any community members who care about youth are encouraged to attend.”
Durham described PYD as an approach that “views young people at the center of identifying solutions to the issues they face, rather than the recipients of adult decisions. With young people at the center, it is critical that the adults and organizations that impact them have the ability to ensure that environments, practices, programs and policies are set in place for authentic youth engagement.”
The training, she said, will help attendees “incorporate the development of skills, opportunities and authentic relationships into programs, practices and policies, so that young people reach their full potential.”
Durham added that PYD relies on five principles, including that the approach is strengths-based, focusing on the inherent strengths of an individual, family or community, and then building upon them; is inclusive; engages youth as partners; is collaborative; and is sustainable, addressing long-term planning through funding, training, capacity building, professional development and evaluation in order to ensure ongoing support and engagement of youth.
She continued, “PYD is an evidence-based approach that sees young people as resources to cultivate rather than problems to be fixed.”
Hughes Norman likewise stressed that the effectiveness of PYD is supported by evidence.
“Positive Youth Development has been evolving alongside prevention science through the late 20th century,” she said. “Nationwide, it has been proven effective — evidence-based through scientific study — since the late ’90s and early 2000s.”
Hughes Norman stressed that she and Durham will focus on “how,” not “what.” “We hope that attendees will not only leave the training with an understanding of youth behavior from a developmental perspective, but also with a formula that doesn’t change the programs delivered but rather changes how we deliver the programs so that youth can transition successfully into adulthood.”
Hughes Norman pointed to Rise Above Colorado, a drug abuse prevention organization, as an example of a youth-focused organization that has embraced PYD.
“Rise Above Colorado utilizes a youth advisory board from across the state to effectively deliver positive messaging to youth and with youth,” she said. “The Fill Your World with Good sticker contest chose Ridgway Secondary School student Maisy Gardiner’s submission as one of six winners from 400 student entries. Ouray County Communities that Care coalition will be printing and selling all local submissions to raise funds for youth-planned events.”
Hughes Norman explained that the development of training in PYD stretches back to 2012 when the State of Colorado passed legislation that created Colorado 9to25.
“Colorado 9to25 is a collective, action-oriented group of Colorado youth and adults working in partnership to align efforts and achieve positive outcomes for all youth, ages 9-25, so they can reach their full potential,” she said. “This collective developed the Positive Youth Development training system we are presenting Wednesday, and that is currently being operationalized across the state through the Communities that Care funding.”
Paul Reich of TCHNetwork said he was looking forward to welcoming Hughes Norman and Durham to Telluride and urged anyone looking to effectively engage with young people to attend.
“Working with and supporting our youth during their transition from childhood to being young adults is so important,” he said. “We like to say, ‘Do nothing for me without me.’ PYD training helps all of us as adults to learn to work effectively alongside youth to find solutions to the issues they are facing today.”
For more information on the event or to register, contact TCHNetwork at 970-708-7096 or visit voyageryouthprogram.org.