Patterns of Early Adolescents' Participation in Youth Development Programs Having Positive Youth Development Goals

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Theory and research suggest that structured, out-of-school-time activities, and in particular youth development programs aimed at promoting positive youth development (PYD), are key developmental assets for such development. Using longitudinal data from 945 fifth and sixth graders participating in the 4-H Study of PYD, initial descriptive information is presented about early adolescent participation in youth programs having or not having PYD goals. Within each grade, early adolescents participated in multiple programs (overall mean for Grades 5 and 6 are 3.8 and 2.9, respectively). In Grades 5 and 6, 44.1% and 35.8% of youth, respectively, participated in PYD-related programs, but typically in combination with other program types. Researchers and practitioners should consider implications for healthy early adolescent development of participation in multiple programs, only some of which seek to promote PYD.

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