Being, Belonging, Becoming: A Developmental Approach
We believe that it is our responsibility as Minnesotans to support and guide young people during the developmental process of being, belonging and becoming. This requires focus on wholeness and wellness, and seeing our youth as "a promise" rather than "a risk."
Viewing adolescence in stages yields a better understanding of physical and psychological development and potential problems.
Adolescent development is a process that all young people experience as they move through adolescenthood toward adulthood. There are specific developmental tasks that all young people need to accomplish in order to enter adulthood well-prepared, yet young people develop in unique ways as they move through adolescenthood.
Young people who successfully complete these developmental tasks are better prepared to make a successful transition from adolescenthood into adulthood. Supporting young people as they grapple with the changes and challenges of adolescence contributes to their health and well-being. Clearly, young people who are not given health outlets for growth are likely to find potentially harmful alternatives.
Adolescence is usually described as 'pre' or 'in between' – a stage between childhood and adulthood. It is seen as a turmoil because one moves from a protected state into a state of independence. I prefer to see adolescence as a significant state in itself, an 'adolescenthood' with new experiences and new strengths, not merely an interim period and a problem.
Gisela Konopka, 1985
Healthy Youth Development
A cornerstone of our approach, the phrase "healthy youth development" is used in many ways: it describes a goal for the developmental process; it defines characteristics of youth programs; it highlights our values and underlying philosophy and it contrasts to "problem-centric" health strategies. Traditionally, health systems have tried to address one "problem" at a time – although research shows that health problems cluster and are inter-related.
This is why healthy youth development is our most basic strategy. It recognizes that young people have fundamental, underlying needs, some of which are unique to adolescence as a time of life. By meeting these needs, we support young people to avoid multiple health problems.
It also ensures that we view young people holistically as multi-dimensional people that live as members of families, schools and communities. To truly support their development, we must acknowledge and address the strengths and weaknesses within those contexts.
The developmental tasks of adolescence build on the developmental experiences of childhood and lay the foundation for adulthood. The tasks of adolescence are best described by the theme of Being, Belonging and Becoming:
Being refers to "defining who I am" (physical, psychological, spiritual) and includes personal values, attitudes, knowledge and behaviors. These developmental tasks revolve around defining a clear sense of identity, a positive sense of self-worth and control over one's life.
Belonging refers to "finding my place in the world" and recognizes a young person's fit with their environment (physical, social, community). These developmental tasks focus on the ability to form healthy relationships with others, using available support systems, finding a valued place in their world and finding ways to be useful to others.
Becoming refers to "achieving my personal goals, hopes and aspirations." These developmental tasks include mastering social skills, developing lifelong learning habits, developing a sense of curiosity and exploration, seeing a promising future with real opportunities, acquiring skills to participate in our economy and establishing a respect for diversity.
Adolescent Development is "…the ongoing growth process in which all youth are engaged in attempting to 1) meet their basic personal and social needs to be safe, feel cared for, be valued, be useful, and be spiritually grounded, and 2) build skills and competencies that allow them to function and contribute in their daily lives."