Positive Youth Development

Positive Youth Development.

A framework for improving the lives of all Texas youth  

Adolescence is an age of opportunity. MCH defines it as the period of life ranging from 10 to 24 years of age.  

All Texas youth deserve to be healthy and happy. Young people need access to opportunities to:

  • build competencies,
  • build skills, and,
  • connect with caring adults.  

When adolescents have a safe, stable, supportive, caring and responsive family and community, they thrive.


One approach is using the Positive Youth Development (PYD) model. PYD is an approach, not a program. It is a process that enhances prevention, intervention and treatment models. It builds on the strengths youth have and uses this belief as a foundation in all aspects of services to adolescents.

Using PYD means:

  • Programs are Strengths-Based – The activities focus on
    • positive physical and mental health,
    • education,
    • social skills,
    • vocational goals,
    • creative outlets, and
    • civic outcomes.
  • Youth are Engaged – Youth have a positive sense of self. They connect to positive peers, adults and communities.
  • Youth-Adult Partnerships exist – Youth work with adults as partners to make decisions for programming.
  • Activities are Culturally Responsive – Adults and youth recognize and respond to different backgrounds and cultures including:
    • Ethnic
    • Racial
    • Linguistic
    • learning and physical abilities
    • sexual orientation
    • socioeconomic status
    • geographic location
  • Inclusive of ALL youth – The approach is for all youth. It does not focus only on youth at-risk or displaying risky behaviors.
  • Community Collaborations are present –Families and the community work together to support youth. Communities may include private organizations, public agencies, state and local partners.
  • Programs are Sustainable – Long-term planning exists. The plan includes:
    • funding,
    • capacity-building,
    • professional development, and,
    • evaluation for ongoing support of youth.

POSITIVE experiences + POSITIVE relationships + POSITIVE environments = PYD          

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, parent support, school connectedness, and connection to a caring adult impact the health of young people.  

Youth-focused policies and programs should:

  • Support youth voice
  • Support youth engagement
  • Promote building on strengths
  • Foster confidence
  • Connect young people with caring adults  

PYD depicts youth and young adults as resources to cultivate, not problems to fix. Youth with more developmental assets have reduced health risks and better health outcomes. Being connected to parents, family and school promotes healthy youth behaviors. PYD promotes protective factors. It reduces risk factors. A PYD approach is a good public health strategy. It improves outcomes for youth.  

Positive Youth Development Resources:

You can find positive Youth Development resources at the following websites:  

For more information about Maternal and Child Health, or information regarding adolescent health in Texas, please contact us at:

Texas Department of State Health Services
Maternal & Child Health
PO Box 149347, Mail Code 1922
Austin, TX 78714-9347
(512) 776-7373: Phone
(512) 458-7658: Fax


External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Department of State Health Services. These sites may also not be accessible to persons with disabilities. 

Last updated March 27, 2019