The Academy’s approach to working with youth
The Academy’s approach to working with youth is based on a series of frameworks inherent in all YMCA youth programming:
Youth Engagement, Competence, Belonging and Identity are nurtured and supported through the following frameworks:
I. YMCA VALUES: we embrace the six core values of the YMCA of Greater Toronto:
Respect – we recognize and protect the inherent worth of every person, including oneself
Responsibility – we are dependable and accountable for choices, actions and commitments
Inclusiveness – we appreciate diversity, strive to be open to all, and seek to understand differences and find common ground
Caring – we act with compassion and concern for the well-being of others
Health – we are committed to physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development
Honesty – we demonstrate integrity and trustworthiness
II. ASSET BUILDING
The framework of Developmental Assets is grounded in extensive research on what adolescents need to succeed. Upon admission to the Academy students are asked to list those assets which are strongly rooted in their lives. Our programming assists students in developing the skills to increase the number of their developmental assets.
To see the complete list of 40 Developmental Assets click here.
III. TRANS-THEORETICAL MODEL OF CHANGE
The Academy understands that change is not a single action but a complex process of awareness, reflecting, planning, doing and sustaining behaviors. With this paradigm we can more readily work with students at their present stage of change. When we do this we can offer the appropriate supports that will help them achieve their goals and minimize resistance or sabotaging of their own efforts.
IV. DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH
We recognized that health is not merely the absence of disease but emerges from a complex interaction of many factors, including: socio-economic status, physical environment, genetics and biology, education and literacy, employment and working conditions, social environments and support networks, personal health practices and coping strategies.
V. DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE
The adolescent brain is in a very delicate stage of growth. The pre-frontal cortex, where higher level thinking and judgment are developed, is incomplete and does not finish growing until the age of 24. The Academy supports the development of these capabilities in students, creating opportunities for them to explore and take risks but not to endanger their well being. It is also proven that young people’s sleep needs are different from children and from adults. For this reason The Academy starts its day at 9:30 and has a full-time counselor present to assist in asset building.
VI. HARM REDUCTION
Respect is at the root of the Harm Reduction philosophy; respecting the right of another human being to make choices is its goal. This philosophy assumes willingness to understand all human behavior as having a positive intent, however maladaptive it may appear to the observer. This philosophy allows staff to assist students to make smarter, healthier, safer choices in their lives regardless of their stage of change.
*source: YMCA of Greater Toronto “Teen Strategy” October 2006 p20-21