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Free time after school presents opportunity and risk for young adolescents.

The first comprehensive study of community organizations serving adolescents concludes that these organizations are not reaching millions of young adolescents whose after school hours are often unsupervised and who otherwise are occupied in high-risk activities that can lead to accidents, death, or permanent disability.

Approximately 10 million of the nation's 20 million young adolescents, ages 10 to 15, are estimated to be at serious or moderate risk of not reaching their full potential as workers,. parents, and citizens, according to the report by Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Young people of this age group spend about 60 percent of their waking hours in school, personal care, or unpaid employment. The remaining 40 percent,-- at least five hours daily- is discretionary time.

Many of these adolescents spend their free time watching television or engaged in drug use, sex, gang activity, and violence. They have little or no access to constructive alternatives.

"A Matter of Time: Risk and Opportunity in the Nonschool Hours' was prepared by the Task Force on Youth Development and Community Programs, which included Denver City Council Member Timothy Sandos and former Denver Mayor Federico Pena. The Task Force was cochaired by James P. Comer, a distinguished education reformer from Yale University, and Wilma Tisch, Chairman of the Board, WNYC Foundation (New York).

"Young adolescents are exposed to significant risks during their ,free time, especially if they are left alone," said David A. Hamburg, Carnegie Corporation's president. "They need safe places to go and a sense of belonging to a valued group. They need activities that enable them to develop personal and work skills and a sense of social responsibility."

Yet many community programs are not responding to the needs of young adolascents and too often fail to attract those who are older than the age of 12 or 13.

Those from low-income urban and rural areas who could benefit the most from community youth programs are the least likely to be reached. Approximately 29 percent of eighth graders are not involved in any youth program.

There are an estimated. 17,000 youth-serving organizations in the United States that are now serving more than 30 million young people. Programs are not only offered by well-established national organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America or 4-H, but also by libraries, parks and recreation departments, museums, civic organizations like the Rotary Club, and religious, cultural, and senior citizen groups.

"American youth organizations are second only to the public schools in the number of young people they serve," commented Hamburg. "Greater public and private support for community organizations and more efforts to reach underserved young adolescents are essential. Failure to offer them 'front-end' preventive programs results in the need for far more expensive rehabilitative 'back-end' expenditures for criminal justice, health care, and welfare."

Task Force Co-chair James Comer declared, "Families and schools represent two sides of a triangle of human development. The third side is surely those community organizations that provide safe havens and caring role models, especially during the out-of-school hours."

"Even when excellent schools are available, they are not sufficient in today's complex world. All major institutions of the society affecting young people must become partners with strong community organizations to bring young adolescents into their mutually protective embrace."

The report proposes a comprehensive set of recommendations for improving, at beth national and local levels, community organizations' programs for young adolescents. These recommendations key to adolescents' developmental needs, focus on the programmatic, funding, and public policy changes the task force believes must be implemented if community organizations are to fulfill the goals of the report.

Copies of A Matter of Time: Risk and Opportunity in the Nonschool Hours are available for $13.00 from the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 2400 N Street, NW, 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20037-1153 or by calling 202/429-7979.

How Community Organizations Contribute to Youth , Development

Opportunities to socialize with peers adults

Group programs; mentoring and coaching relationships; drop-in activities; structured programs that focus on the development of interpersonal skills; safe places; constructive alternatives to gang involvement

Opportunities to develop skills that are relevant now and in the future

Programs thor incorporate the teaching of such critical life skills as goal setting, decision making, communicating problem solving

Opportunities to contribute to the community

Community service programs; design and implemenation of solutions to community problems; participation in decisions of the organization

Opportunities to belong to a valued group

Group programs; formal and informal groups of varying sizes and changing configurations; symbols of membership and belonging

Opportunities to feel competent

Programs that encourage practice of new skills, public performance and recognition, and reflection on personal and group accomplishments

Risk and Opportunity in the Nonschool Hours The Call to Action, Sector by Sector Community-Based Organizations/National Youth Organizations, Grasroots Youth Agencies, Religious Youth Institutions, Adult Service Clubs, Senior Citizens Groups, Sports Organizations, Museums, Libraries, Parks and Recreation Departments

* Expand work with young adolescents, especially those living in low-income urban and isolated areas.

* Engage in joint planning, share training resources, and collaborate in advocacy with and on behalf of youth.

Schools

* Construct with community agencies alliances that recognize common goals, combine strengths for maximum effectiveness, and respect inherent differences. Parents and Families

* Help young adolescents make wise choices about the constructive use of their free time.

* Direct energies to youth organizations as program leaders and advisers, board members, or fund-raisers.

Health Agencies

* Increase adolescents' access to health care services, information about disease prevention and health promotion by combining forces with youth organizations and schools.

Higher Education Institutions

* Help community agencies identify what works in youth programs, improve capacities for evaluation, strengthen professional development and conduct joint programs that serve youth.

Researchers and Evaluators

* Expand efforts by forming partnerships with community-based youth organizations on program development and evaluation.

Funders

* Strengthen and stabilize the funding base for youth development programs by moving from categorical funding to core support of youth agencies, combining public with private funds, and facilitating collaboration among fragmented youth and community organizations with the schools.

* Target new resources to low-income neighborhoods.

* Establish as funding priorities the professional development of youth workers, evaluation of programs, replication of programs that work, and vigorous advocacy with and on behalf of youth.

Media

* Expand coverage of positive youth activities and success stories by increasing publication and broadcasts of material created by young people, encouraging high-quality programs that feature youth in key roles, and publicizing available youth activities to adolescents and their families.

Local, State and Federal Governments

* Articulate a vision for youth of all communities by coordinating policies for youth at all levels, intensifying support for youth development programs, targeting services to youth in low-income areas, and devoting special priority to locally generated solutions.

Young Adolescents

* Become involved in designing and implementing youth programs.

* Serve communities as volunteers.
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Title Annotation:includes related information on community organizations and planning
Author:Kyle, John E.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 21, 1992
Words:1129
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