Ak Shara Foundation Youth Programs

Youth Programs

Youth Programs

A youth program is any organization or activity that allows participation by persons under the age of 18 in activities that are supervised and directed by adults. This includes, but is not limited to, sports and recreational groups, clubs, youth camps and trips. It also includes volunteer and work experience programs for youth, community-based organizations, educational, cultural and civic activities.

Youth programs are designed to empower teens and help them reach their full potential. This is accomplished by providing opportunities for teens to build leadership skills, prep for college, play a sport or give back in an environment that builds self-confidence and teaches them about the importance of taking responsibility for their actions and decisions.

The early development of youth programs was driven by the view that children acted out because they had not been given adequate opportunity in life and that this lack could be corrected with services focused on providing them with increased opportunities to succeed. This was the premise of Opportunity Theory, which was advanced by Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin in their 1960 book Opportunity: The Farthest Frontier.

As the century progressed, it was recognized that young people needed more than just a safe place to learn and grow. They also needed positive adult role models, a sense of belonging and community, and social and emotional support to help them cope with life’s challenges. This led to the development of youth agencies and programs that included apprenticeships, summer camps, community centers, vocational training and youth-centered housing.

In the early 1990s, a new way of thinking about youth issues emerged. This approach, called Youth Development, is a strength-based model that recognizes the active participation of youth as a vital component to building healthy communities. Youth development is based on the belief that teens need specific guidance and support to overcome problems such as substance use, involvement in violence, and early parenthood.

YMCA Youth Programs provide safe spaces for kids and teens to learn, build self-confidence and foster healthy relationships. With child care, afterschool, sports and summer programs, teens can work on their leadership skills, prepare for college, play a sport or giveback through our unique and impactful programming.

Youth are a critical part of our community, and it is our job to ensure that they have the tools and resources to thrive. We are committed to partnering with City Council, elected leaders at the state and federal level, and the private and philanthropic sectors to develop creative solutions that will help children and teens stay safe this summer. This is a moment of great urgency that we can no longer afford to ignore. Together we can create a brighter future for our youth. To get involved, please email us at ccc@nycchildren.org.