The Exploring Experience

A National Program-Outcomes Study Conducted by Louis Harris & Associates

The Exploring program contributes to the healthy development of today's young adults by providing them with the environment, resources, and relationships they need to learn and grow. This study addresses the issue of how healthy development is fostered by addressing a key question that a growing number of organizations concerned with youth development have attempted to answer: What are the specific components or elements of youth development that contribute to healthy, positive outcomes?

Two organizations in particular, the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development and the Search Institute, have focused attention on desirable traits that youth programs should address. The Carnegie Council, after a decade-long research effort, offers the following 10 conditions as "fundamental human requirements"* that must be met if children are to grow up to be healthy, constructive adults:

Similarly, youth development researchers at the Search Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have developed the following framework of developmental assets that give young people a strong foundation for life:**

From the important youth-development variables identified by these two comprehensive sources, several common elements emerge. Integrating these common elements yields the following six critical elements of healthy youth development:

  1. Strong personal values and character
  2. A positive sense of self-worth and usefulness
  3. Caring and nurturing relationships with parents, other adults, and peers
  4. A desire to learn
  5. Productive/creative use of time
  6. Social adeptness
The results of this report demonstrate that the Exploring program addresses each of these important elements.

What you need to succeed Exploring exists to accomplish a major goal: To provide the structure and resources needed for the youth of America to learn about career opportunities, to make ethical choices, and to achieve their full potential as individuals. In a new study, researchers at Louis Harris & Associates have built on the work of two particular organizations, the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development and the Search Institute, that are pioneers in the study of desirable characteristics that youth programs should foster.Great 
* Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development; Great Transitions, Preparing Adolescents for a New Century, page 49
** Peter L. Benson, Ph.D.; Judy Galbraith, M.A.; and Pamela Espeland; What Teens Need to Succeed; Search Institute and Free Spirit Publishing, 1998

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