Positive Youth Development Programs

The Bridge's Positive Youth Development programs focus on young people's strengths and offer them hope for the future.

Students at lunch table

Positive Youth Development Programs

The Bridge Family Center’s Positive Youth Development (PYD) program is comprised of a constellation of services and activities for youth, both in and outside of school. Mentors and youth counselors work with youth one-on-one as well as with school administrators and teachers. Teens participate in after-school and evening activities at the West Hartford Teen Center. For those who are interested in more commitment, the Teen Leadership Committee focuses on community service. The Bridge Counseling services are also available for youth who need more targeted therapeutic intervention. Support groups are held at the elementary, middle and high schools. Examples of youth groups are:

  • Sisterhood Girls 
  • Middle School Boys
  • Children of Divorce and Separation 
  • Anti-bullying 
  • Lunch Clubs

What unites all these distinct services is the focus on adult-teen connection, relationship, and communication. Counseling and group activities often extend beyond the school year, into the summer months.

Circumventing Peer Pressure

As pressure on our youth in general seems to be growing, social pressure to conform to group norms is also on the rise. Youth often seek peer acceptance and a sense of community, so it is more important now than ever that we empower them to seek out positive sources of support. Intervention is needed to help youth learn there are safe and positive ways to connect with others that can benefit themselves, their relationships, and their community. Through Positive Youth Development Programming we are able to offer groups and activities that teach positive social skills, model healthy relationships, and encourage youth to identify and reinforce their boundaries with others. By increasing the youth’s self-esteem and trust in themselves, we encourage them to go out in the world and create their own path.


Long-Term Program Goals

The fundamental goal of Positive Youth Development hasn't changed over time. Youth still need substantial structure and support from knowledgeable adults so they can develop the skills and inner resources to manage life's complications. The Bridge staff works to help teens develop life skills including decision-making, communication, stress management, and a sense of positive self-regard so that they choose healthy rather than harmful behaviors.

Teenagers laughing together

Lasting Impressions

Through the various activities offered by PYD, students learn to better navigate the challenges that arise in their lives. They find their community and build their self-esteem. They learn that there are many ways to deal with their anxiety and fear. Most importantly, they learn how to manage their emotions and ask for help when needed.

By engaging youth in meaningful activities that involve thoughtful discussions about life in general and specific problems in particular, the groundwork is laid for long-term success. Youth are learning healthy ways to fill the need for connection and closeness with others. Through their participation in PYD, youth come to realize they have the power to make choices about their behavior. Over time, some subtle and surprising changes can happen: a student’s behavior in the classroom can improve, their involvement and leadership in groups might increase, and they may even mentor and share their learning with others.