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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development
lescence, some of this turmoil has settled down, but the long-term consequences of some of these changes begin to emerge—consequences such as inadequate academic skills needed to take college preparatory courses, teen parenthood, dependence on drugs and alcohol, and alienation from conventional social institutions. By middle adolescence, there are also growing needs for help with more intellectually challenging courses and support in dealing with identity issues, cultural heterogeneity, career planning, and romantic relationships. By late adolescence, occupational and postsecondary educational issues are particularly salient.
It is critical that community programs for youth take these developmental changes and needs into account. First and foremost, program designers need to make sure programs are developmentally appropriate by providing the opportunity for increasing autonomy, participation in program decision making, leadership, and exposure to intellectually challenging material as participating youth mature. Second, program designers need to design the specific content of their programs to the changing developmental needs of the young people attending their programs.