There is excellent research that shows investing in youth leadership development makes a difference in the lives of youth and in their communities.
But it also just makes sense. If kids believe that they can achieve great things, and we give them skills they need for success, it will be a win-win for them and for their community.
The Texas School Safety Center has collected much of the research on the outcomes of youth leadership development programs. You can read the original article with references here.
Here are five ways that youth leadership programs help young people and their communities:
Young people gain leadership skills.
This may seem obvious on the surface, but studies show that leadership skills such as communication and teamwork gained by students through programs like Ciudad Nueva actually stick with them into adulthood. Just learning about them isn’t enough either. They need to be able to put the skills into practice through volunteer and internship opportunities. At Ciudad Nueva, we offer leadership development through our mentoring programs and give young people the opportunity to practice their skills by volunteering in our programs as they get older. Some of the leadership skills we value are:
- Goal-setting & Time Management
Leadership skills = life skills
All of the skills learned through our programs are designed to help our students in school and beyond that, into their futures. Whether or not they choose careers in which they are actively leading others, we know that all the skills we work on help them to become more responsible, confident members of their communities and families. Leadership development really is simply life skills practice.
Better problem solvers are more involved in their communities.
Studies have proven that students who participate in youth leadership programs actually help solve problems in their communities. When they are equipped with the skills and the confidence to share their ideas, students can become an important voice in identifying and addressing problems in their own communities. They can bring a fresh perspective and renewed energy to the tasks that they engage in.
Kids who have leadership experience have higher job aspirations and greater confidence in their abilities.
This is where the skills and confidence kids develop in programs like Ciudad Nueva translate into new opportunities. Many of the kids in our programs do not have strong positive influences at home. Sometimes it is because the parents are absent simply because they must work long hours to support the family. In the worst cases, the influences at home are actually damaging. We believe that investing in kids to help them see how much they can do now has the possibility of changing their lives forever.
Getting kids involved helps to reshape the perception of youth in the community and bring the generations together.
One thing we love about our programs is seeing the generations come together to encourage each other. We have adults volunteering with our Launch Pad program and high school and college age students volunteering in our Kids Create program. By providing these opportunities, we believe that the blessing is reciprocal. The volunteers and the participants are enriched.
In addition, we are providing an opportunity for young people to prove to themselves and to their community that they have a lot to give, and that they are productive, important participants. More than just keeping them out of trouble, leadership opportunities can change the trajectory of their lives forever.
Click here to read about how involvement with Ciudad Nueva changed the course of Gustavo’s life.