Urban Programs Resource Network

About Extension

Youth Development/Youth-At-Risk

Youth development occurs, regardless of what adults do, as youngsters grow from infancy into childhood, then through adolescence, and beyond. Some necessary developmental tasks, however, can be influenced and enhanced through positive intervention.

The youth development and youth-at-risk programs are University of Illinois Extension's responses to the pervasive conditions in northeastern Illinois that place young people whose basic physical and social needs have not been met and are at risk of not being competent enough to participate in adolescent and adult life successfully. Risk and protective factors within peer-group, family, community, and work environments also have serious consequences for successful development

The 4-H youth development philosophy and mission reach diverse audiences in metropolitan Chicago and suburban communities. Educators and volunteers alike have identified community needs and research-based information that can be integrated into activities that build one success at a time. Critical developmental tasks include:

  • decision making
  • family enhancement
  • public presentations
  • physical health and wellness
  • informal and formal social groups
  • leadership skill development
  • mentoring relationships
  • democratic processes
  • self-determination
  • experiential learning
  • intercultural understanding
  • recognition and accomplishment
Activities that include these components are made part of many youth-focused activities. Professional staff as well as teenage and adult volunteers are trained to provide leadership and mentoring relationships throughout the metropolitan region

Educators within Extension are prepared to collaborate with professionals and volunteers in a wide variety of training topics to initiate or enhance programs focused on youth development and youths who appear to be at risk. Topics that could be explored include:

  • violence prevention
  • building self-esteem
  • goal setting
  • after-school care
  • specially challenged youths
  • decision making
  • sexuality and teenagers
  • communication
  • self-understanding
  • career awareness
  • diversity
  • service learning
  • nutrition for health
  • leadership
  • parenting
  • peer pressure
  • refusal skills
  • youth empowerment
  • recognition
  • planning youth activities
  • community needs assessment
  • science education
  • life-skills development