Mary Oliver: Involving the Faith Community A Key Component in Youth Development Programming The Institute for Youth Development March 18, 2004 Aspects of a Healthy Adolescent • • • • • Intellectual Physical Emotional Social Moral/Spiritual Foundations for Family Life Education – McGraw & Whitehead Community Partnerships • • • • • • Business Law Enforcement Government Public Health Social Services Private & Public Funders • • • • Media Schools Families Youth-Serving Organizations • Faith Community Pathways to Prevention: Guiding Youth to Wise Decisions What researchers say… • A majority of teens say religion is important in their lives and that it is their religious beliefs, morals, and values which most affect their decisions to have sex. • When teens feel religion and prayer are important in their lives, they are less likely to engage in other risky health behaviors. Data Sources Reducing the risk: Connections that make a difference in the lives of youth National Study of Youth & Religion, University of N.C. at Chapel Hill Faithful Nation: What American Adults and Teens Think about Faith, Morals, Religion, and Teen Pregnancy Keeping the Faith: The Role of Religion, Faith, and Values in Teen Pregnancy Prevention . A Need for Positive Connections ―Adolescent health is influenced not only by the strengths & vulnerabilities of individual adolescents, but also by the character of the settings in which they lead their lives.‖ Reducing the Risk: Connections That Make a Difference in the Lives of Youth—from the ADD Health Study data ―Emerging in contemporary psychology is a general belief that the good life involves a significant spiritual component.‖ Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities Current Faith Community Activities • • • • • After-school programs Mentoring Tutoring Youth sports leagues Life Skills Training • Summer camps and programs • Volunteerism and other Community Service Opportunities • Healthy Risk Behavior Prevention Assets of the Faith Community • Focus on values • Have community credibility • Have access across the generations, to young people, parents, and potential volunteers • Have skills in reducing conflict • Are willing to provide in-kind contributions • Have strong networks within faith communities Get Organized:A Guide to Preventing Teen Pregnancy, Nat’l Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Tips for Working With Faith Communities • Believe that the work of the faith community is important • Receive the faith community as a full partner in the program’s efforts • Acknowledge and respect the values of the faith community, even if they differ from your own Get Organized: A Guide to Preventing Teen Pregnancy, Nat’l Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy More tips… • Ask members to explain their beliefs and perspectives. Do not assume to know them if you do not. • Focus on points of agreement that the program has with the faith community • Acknowledge and appreciate the work that the faith community has already been doing Get Organized: A Guide to Preventing Teen Pregnancy, Nat’l Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy In addition… • Realize that there may be fundamental differences in the language of ―faith‖ and ―youth development‖. Faith communities may draw on different traditions and values to describe why teens should adopt a certain behavior. It is suggested that teens themselves might become resources for bridging these gaps. Keeping the Faith: The Role of Religion & Faith Communities in Preventing Teen Pregnancy, Nat’l Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Accepting the challenge • A recent report recommends that youth serving organizations ―purposively seek to promote the moral & spiritual development of children, recognizing that children’s moral and spiritual needs are as genuine, and as integral to their personhood as their physical and intellectual needs…Finding new ways to strengthen, and not ignore or stunt children’s moral and spiritual selves may be the single most important challenge facing youth service professional and youth serving organizations in the U.S. today‖. Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities (A Report to the Nation from the Commission on Children at Risk) Resources • Pathways to Prevention-Guiding Youth to Wise DecisionsA Prevention Guide for Youth Leaders In Faith Communities, (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2003) • Blum, R.W. Rinehart, P.M., Reducing the Risk: Connections that make a difference in the lives of youth. Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN • Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities, YMCA of the USA, Dartmouth Medical School, Institute for American Values • Faithful Nation: What American Adults and Teens Think about Faith, Morals, Religion, and Teen Pregnancy, 2001. A National Survey Conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. • Keeping the Faith: The Role of Religion, Faith, and Values in Teen Pregnancy Prevention, 2001. A report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. • Get Organized: A Guide to Preventing Teen Pregnancy, 1999, published by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. • All are available at www.teen pregnancy.org • The National Study of Youth & Religion, University of N.C. at Chapel Hill, is available at the NSYR web site, www.youthandreligion.org • Keeping the Faith: The Role of Religion and Faith Communities in Preventing Teen Pregnancy, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Whitehead,Wilcox, and Rostosky, 2001. • Foundations for Family Life Education: A Guidebook for Professionals & Parents, Whitehead & McGraw, 1991.