Pass the Mic Series: A Dialogue Among Young People

By: Wintre Foxworth Johnson


  • Youth-Nex recently hosted their 8th conference entitled Pass the Mic: Amplifying Youth Voice & Agency, co-chaired by Drs. Wintre Foxworth Johnson and Nancy Deutsch.
  • In this Pass the Mic blog series, we are highlighting each of the sessions from the conference and in future posts including youth voices to summarize and reflect on what was discussed.
  • In this first blog, co-chair Dr. Johnson introduces this blog series and shares our first session on “Youth Voice and Agency in the 21st Century: A Dialogue Among Young People.”
Source: Youth-Nex

Adults often talk about youth as “the future.” That, however, is a partial truth. Many of the issues that adults debate and the policies that we create affect young people’s day-to-day lives, arguably more than they do our own. Young people are the present as much as they are the future, and we need their ideas. They should have a say in how we think about social issues and what we do to address them. 

At Youth-Nex, we take a strengths-based approach to youth development. And every day we are amazed by the ingenuity, energy, and hope of youth as they tackle the problems they see in the world. Part of being an adolescent is forming an identity that includes a sense of meaning and purpose. We see young people enacting that meaning and purpose, often within systems that do not value their voices or expertise. 

Youth voice and agency were central to the recent convening. Throughout Youth-Nex’s 8th conference, we heard from young people and adults who are actively working to amplify the voices of youth across the systems that shape their lives. Our goal is for everyone to approach the issues affecting youth with new eyes because they are complex and require all our experiences, expertise, and ideas. We want adults to not only see but also engage youth as true partners in working for change!

The first session of the conference grounded us in youth voices. This panel was moderated by Zyahna Bryant, an activist and community organizer, and included all youth panelists. We asked: Are young people ready to lead and if so, in what ways? How do we center and uplift youth voices in the 21st century? What are action-oriented steps to support youth? Listen to this session and learn more.

Source: Youth-Nex

In this blog series, we will share each of the sessions from the conference with an accompanying young person’s perspective who attended the conference. Listen to these sessions, hear these youth voices, and consider how you can “pass the mic”!

Stay tuned to this Pass the Mic blog series to learn more about:

  • Social & Justice Systems, 
  • Youth Voice & Agency in Schools, 
  • Health & Well-being, 
  • Politics, Organizing & Civic Engagement, and 
  • Programs that Elevate Youth Voice & Agency.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: Dr. Wintre Foxworth Johnson’s scholarship lies at the nexus of sociocultural literacy studies, critical race scholarship, and critical pedagogies for and with young children. Her research has two primary aims: to examine the relationship between literacy teaching and learning in race-conscious and social justice-oriented elementary educational contexts; to investigate the sociopolitical development of children from historically marginalized communities, with a particular focus on Black children’s educational experiences, racial awareness, and experiential knowledge.

How Will We Address the Social-Emotional Learning Loss from COVID-19? Lessons from Camp Common Ground

By Zach Bell

This blog post is the second in a two-part series from Zach Bell reflecting on the Youth-Nex 2019 conference and SEL loss from COVID-19. If you want to learn more about the other researchers and practitioners who inspired this post, read the first post here.


  • Zach Bell is the Co-Founder of Camp Common Ground and a Physical Education and Social-Emotional Learning Teacher in the Oakland Unified School District in California.
  • With COVID-19 and distance learning, students are experiencing more social-emotional learning loss than ever before. 
  • In the second and final post of this series, I further explore the “Four Factors for Youth Moral Development”: (1) safe-environment, (2) well-trained facilitators, (3) experiential pedagogy/youth power, and (4) accessible to most students. I use this framework to evaluate different interventions for doing social-emotional learning work in our current education environment.
Source: Color War Simulation from Zach Bell & Camp Common Ground

“I don’t know if my school is really a safe place to do this work,” I admitted to the 2019 Youth-Nex conference chamber, referring to the Color War simulation we run at Camp Common Ground.

In this simulation, campers experience inequality in an embodied way through a day-long competition where students hold positional privilege or disadvantage based on their assigned color team. Youth must navigate their emotional reactions towards their peers, and towards the authority figures (me and the other staff members) who are enforcing this inequitable system – and make hard choices whether to “rebel” and face consequences. For the full talk about Color War, watch the video here.

What I didn’t realize at the time of the conference was that school might be the only place in 2020 to do “this work” of developing our youth’s social-emotional skills, moral development, and dialogical abilities because in-person programming for Camp Common Ground (and so many other related programs) were cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

Camp Common Ground, is a two-week overnight summer camp for a diverse cohort of Bay Area middle schoolers, was co-founded by myself and current Executive Director Ron Towns, both Oakland educators. The camp includes carefully scaffolded skill-building workshops that lead up to integrative simulations, like Color War. Our program has led to statistically significant boosts in empathy, perspective-taking, self-esteem, and cross-cultural friendships. To learn more about the organization and our impact, click here.

As a middle school math teacher at an experimental bilingual public school in Oakland Unified School District during distance learning, I found that even the “normal” social-emotional learning this year was largely disrupted. I tried to engage students with “virtual restorative justice circles” and daily check-ins, but it simply was not the same. I found that the students who were most active over Zoom and Google Classroom were more likely to be affluent and with a quiet space in their home, and not necessarily the students who were in the greatest need of social-emotional support (though, all students need social and emotional support and development).

So how can we address this social-emotional learning loss from “distance learning” and cancelled summer and after school programs?

Can we use the disruption of COVID-19 as an opportunity to think more broadly about how to reorient our “education system” (or perhaps “holistic child development system”) to prioritize non-academic skills?

If so, where, when, and how do we implement this “re-prioritization”?

What I learned from the 2019 Youth-Nex conference is that for moral development, dialogue, and social justice education to be effective we need the following in place. I’ll refer to these as the Four Factors going forward.

  1. Safe environment with bonds of community, belonging, and trust, so that youth can be vulnerable.
  2. Well-trained adult facilitators who can responsively adapt their work to the developmental and identity intersections of their youth. 
  3. Experiential pedagogy and power structures that share authority with youth so that there is authentic co-construction of rule-based systems with meaningful stakes (e.g. hiring staff) and space for critical reflection and praxis.
  4. Accessibility to most students. In hopes of being realistic given the often under-resourced state of public schools and structural inequity that exist in our systems, I want to add one “realism-check” category so that we’re not just finding solutions for affluent youth.

Below are avenues I see to explore options for doing social-emotional learning work, and admittedly cursory evaluations of each option’s potential:

To read more about the pros and cons of each of these venues please see this downloadable PDF.

At the end of the day, a diversity of tactics is likely the approach we’ll need to take to address this overwhelming need – now more than ever – to teach our youth to be moral actors with a strong foundation of social-emotional and dialogical skills.

The gaps can be daunting; when I recently searched for “gender education nonprofits” there was not a single hit on the first page of Google that mentioned boys or men, so we have a long way to go on providing truly holistic identity development for all of our kids.

But as many of us take a step back during the COVID-19 pandemic to evaluate our current systems, it may be time to think imaginatively and critically of concrete ways that we can support all students in becoming moral actors, in whatever context they are in.

Let’s look at our educational practices with that lens. Rather than just asking “can they score a point?”, let’s ask, “are they grappling with what’s a fair rule?” and “are they deciding how to score the points, and if they even want to?” May we approach these challenging tasks with playfulness and a love of learning (see the Calvin & Hobbes comic in the downloadable PDF).

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: Zach Bell is a public middle school P.E. and social-emotional learning teacher in Oakland, California. In 2015, he co-founded Camp Common Ground, an inter-cultural overnight summer camp, where he co-designed and facilitated a curriculum about empathy-building, conflict resolution, and gender norms. Earlier in his career, he was a freelance writer and co-founder of an online magazine for youth activists, before working in business development at an ed-tech start up. More recently, he has deepened his work as a gender educator, including as a middle school basketball coach, running a boy’s group, and founding Real Men Share, an online magazine for men to share vulnerably. He is also writing a film about masculinity, listening to a lot of Ram Dass, and going to the beach.

1-Year Later, Reflecting on Dialoging for Democracy and Teaching in a Pandemic

By Zach Bell

This blog post is the first in a two-part series from Zach Bell reflecting on the Youth-Nex 2019 conference and SEL loss from COVID-19. Read more about how to address the social-emotional learning loss from COVID-19 in the second blog post here.


  • Zach Bell is the Co-Founder of Camp Common Ground and a Physical Education and Social-Emotional Learning Teacher in the Oakland Unified School District in California.
  • In the first post of this series, I examine the content from the 2019 Youth-Nex Conference on “Dialoging for Democracy: Youth Moral Reasoning and Social Justice” and consider what it means for the future of social-emotional learning in public schools.
  • Reflecting on the presentations and panels from youth performances, practitioners and researchers, I provide a foundation for Four Factors I will refer to later (safe-environment, well-trained facilitators, experiential pedagogy/youth power, and accessible to most students).
Zach Bell presents at the 2019 Youth-Nex Conference.

One year ago in November 2019, I attended and presented at the Youth-Nex 2019 conference on “Dialoging for Democracy: Youth Moral Reasoning and Social Justice.” Since then, the world for teachers and after-school programs has changed dramatically. In this short series, I reflect on what I learned at the conference on moral development, dialogue, and social justice education, and then apply this to my experience as a P.E. and Social-Emotional Learning Teacher.

What’s required of the setting for youth to develop as moral actors?

Social and emotional growth requires vulnerability, and the opening panelists at the conference discussed the need for creating an environment of safety and trust for youth to be open to vulnerability. Similarly, the power dynamics in the space need to actually trust youth with authority if we expect them to practice being moral actors, not just rule-followers.

Shawn Brown, at Teen Empowerment Rochester, said it “Takes real time, and effort, and trust…young people come to us because they’re needed, not because they’re needy.” At TE-Rochester, the ten young people in their program had a 50% vote on adult staff hiring decisions. Emma Yackso, Director of the Side-by-Side Youth Leadership Council, an LGBTQ “youth led, adult supported” center in Virginia gives the youth council a say in all decisions each week, from the design of the space to curricular choices, from the date for prom to the strategic priorities for the organization.

How can these models of “youth led, adult supported” learning be applied in a school setting? Is that even possible without totally reimagining school?

Further panelists discussed the need for not just safe environments, but well-trained educators who have done their own internal work and can provide developmentally appropriate curricula. For example, Larry Nucci, PhD, Professor of Education at UC Berkeley, discussed the “Moral Development Curve,” in which 8-year olds and 19-year olds are more likely to have similar responses than 11 to 16-year olds to a situation where they see someone drop a $20 bill.

Gutsavo Carlo, PhD, Professor of Human Development at University of Missouri, explained the necessity of layering in cultural identity when cultivating moral development. For example, he found that understanding the concept of familismo, the family unit, was important in predicting prosocial behavior in Latinx communities. Emma Yackso, from the youth-led Side-by-Side center mentioned above, noted that she needed to “prep the adults in the board meeting about what it’s like to have kids there.”

It’s hard enough to find qualified educators amidst a national teacher shortage. How can we find, or train, educators with these complex identity and moral-development skills?

My panel was tasked with speaking to the actual pedagogical practices to cultivate these skills. This included elevating youth voices, like the Mikva Challenge’s “Project Soapbox” that supports youth in engaging in civic participation on issues they’re passionate about. Similarly, it included resourcing youth artistic creation, like A King’s Story, a play by Joshua St. Hill, a high school student, about police violence. 

In my talk, I shared about simulation and game-based pedagogy for moral development, looking at the co-construction of rule-based systems like in John Hunter’s famous “World Peace Game”, and Jane Elliott’’s famous 1968 blue-eyes brown-eyes experiment to process Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination with her third graders.

That sounds “cool”, but seriously, how can any of these pedagogical practices find their way into 48-minute academic period-packed school days?

Well, the truth is I don’t know. But I want to explore that with educators and collaborators at a distance. Using these experiences, I created Four Factors to evaluate possible routes to democratizing these critical moral and social-emotional skills in the context of the U.S. education system. These Four Factors are:

  1. Safe-environment,
  2. Well-trained facilitators,
  3. Pedagogy/youth power, and
  4. Accessibility to most students.

To learn more about these factors and an evaluation of different routes for addressing the social-emotional learning loss from COVID-19, please read the second blog posted here

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: Zach Bell is a public middle school P.E. and social-emotional learning teacher in Oakland, California. In 2015, he co-founded Camp Common Ground, an inter-cultural overnight summer camp, where he co-designed and facilitated a curriculum about empathy-building, conflict resolution, and gender norms. Earlier in his career, he was a freelance writer and co-founder of an online magazine for youth activists, before working in business development at an ed-tech start up. More recently, he has deepened his work as a gender educator, including as a middle school basketball coach, running a boy’s group, and founding Real Men Share, an online magazine for men to share vulnerably. He is also writing a film about masculinity, listening to a lot of Ram Dass, and going to the beach.

Reflections on Youth Voice, this Historical Moment, and Dialoging for Democracy

By Symia Stigler & Kaitlin Nichols


  • After attending the Dialoging for Democracy conference, members of City Year national staff reflect on the last eight months.
  • Lifting up youth’s voices and allowing them to speak their truths is essential, especially in the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Supporting young people’s voices leads to transformative citizenship, even in the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: City Year

In November of 2019, Youth-Nex hosted a conference on “Dialoging for Democracy: Youth Moral Reasoning and Social Justice” in Charlottesville, VA. I was thrilled to be attending with three City Year colleagues and looked forward to exploring how the topic might support and stretch our service ideas rooted in social justice and transformative citizenship. 

What we did not know when we entered the double doors of the UVA Alumni Hall is that in the subsequent 195 days, George Floyd would be killed and that killing would be recorded and replayed on television, social media and in the minds of every conscious human. The shock and horror after 8 minutes and 46 seconds and the last cries of “I can’t breathe” stunned the world. However, this time, in place of recurring silence and deliberately closed eyes, thundering masses of citizens across the globe raised their collective voices and loudly proclaimed, “Black Lives Matter!”  

Given our current social and physical reality, the conference topic from eight months earlier, “Dialoging for Democracy”, still resonates with me, as does the words of the organizers who spoke at the conference.  

During the welcome, Dr. Johari Harris, a Research Assistant Professor at the Curry School of Education and Human Development asked, “How do youth process complex moral and social issues?” She asked attendees to consider how that processing changes as young people grow and develop. Over the course of two days panelists, youth and community organizers shared examples from research, policy, and practice to address these grounding questions. At the conclusion, Dr. Harris reiterated that…

The best way to support positive youth development in African American adolescents is through a strength-based approach which builds on their cultural backgrounds, while keeping their powerful and unique voices at the forefront of the conversation.  

In my role as national director of student engagement at City Year, I design and pilot social-emotional learning and development (SEL/D) resources that our City Year AmeriCorps Members use every day in their work as near-peer mentors. AmeriCorps Members partners with teachers to co-create positive learning environments and customize small group tutoring sessions for students in systemically under-resourced schools. Our SEL/D supports are grounded in relationships, which I believe are the most powerful lever in K-12 education. The trust and connections built between students and AmeriCorps Members, over time, prove fertile soil for social-emotional and academic growth. Each day of the school year, City Year AmeriCorps members support students as they lift their voices and speak their truths. When young people engage as equal contributors in classrooms and communities, their voices are elevated, their courage is unveiled, and their perspective and perpetual energy create momentum, demanding positive change in our world.  

-Symia Stigler, National Director of Student Engagement, City Year

Source: City Year

Having served as a City Year AmeriCorps member, I have seen firsthand the amazing things that can come from young people’s voices being at the table.

  • I saw it when a group of 7th grade students had the great idea to host a city-wide toy drive for the local children’s hospital and had their City Year team help make it happen.
  • I saw it when we heard our students wanting to do lessons in the concrete courtyard by our classroom, so we led a service project with the students to plant flowers, paint benches, and beautify the courtyard.
  • I saw it when we created interactive bulletin boards outside our classroom that students could add their voices to connected with a monthly theme – anything from honoring a loved one impacted by breast cancer, to writing a valentine for a Black person in history who made a difference in our world, to sharing tips for self-care leading up to the next standardized test.
  • I saw it in the one-on-one relationships, when my teammate worked closely with one of her students to help him apply for summer jobs he was interested in, and when my other teammate intentionally gave special attention to her student suffering the recent loss of her younger brother.
  • I saw it when my students helped me understand how to best meet their learning needs: when one student shared that using different colors helped her concentrate, we worked on reading comprehension with lots of highlighters; and when another student shared he preferred to read over breakfast, we ate together before discussing what we read.

And I’ve been seeing it now – when schools closed abruptly in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, our City Year AmeriCorps members stepped up to creatively connect with their students in the virtual space. Our young adult leaders have continued supporting these near-peer relationships by replicating viral video dances, recording videos assuring their students that they are still thinking of them, and coming up with thoughtful prompts and activities for students to engage in distance learning.

Participating in the Dialoging for Democracy conference alongside my City Year colleagues was a rich learning experience, and it was affirming to be able to hear from researchers and practitioners about the evidence base for the activities our young adult leaders are doing with their students every day. Now more than ever, it is important it is to uplift, celebrate, and listen to the voices of our young people – and embrace all the good that can come from it.

-Kaitlin Nichols, Sr. Impact Services Operations Manager, City Year
City Year Alumni ‘13, ‘14

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: Symia Stigler brings over twenty years of field experience from education and youth-serving non-profits to her role as National Student Engagement Director at City Year Headquarters. In this position, Symia leads our work on upgrading or improving the network-wide Attendance, Social-Emotional/Youth Development, and After School tools and strategies. Symia is motivated by the power of relationships which are leveraged to forge new paths towards social justice in education.

Author Bio: Kaitlin Nichols currently serves as the Senior Impact Services Operations Manager at City Year Headquarters in Boston, managing operations and projects for our national group of program departments. Prior to joining City Year staff, Kaitlin completed two years of service with City Year Columbia as an AmeriCorps Member and Team Leader, serving middle and elementary school students across two school districts in South Carolina.  

Dialoging for Democracy, the 7th Youth-Nex Conference

By Johari Harris


  • Youth-Nex hosted their 7th conference in November 2019.
  • The title of the conference was “Dialoging for Democracy: Youth Moral Reasoning and Social Justice.”
  • Co-chair Dr. Johari Harris discusses why this conference was chosen and what participants got from attending.

The Unite the Right White Nationalist march that took place in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12th 2017 demonstrated the resiliency and inherent violence of White supremacy. In the time since, this nation has continued to see a rise in hate crimes directed at different, often marginalized, communities within the United States. These events run parallel to larger conversations about justice and human welfare happening both in the U.S. and abroad. From immigration to global warming, people are grappling with what solutions to these problems should look like. While these issues and subsequent conversations are often viewed as “best left to the adults,” events like March for Our Lives, the Global Climate Strike, and A Day Without Immigrants demonstrate the vested interest today’s youth have in these and other moral issues and the health of our overall democracy.

We at Youth-Nex wholeheartedly support these efforts. Further, we believe that, rather than overlooking the concerns of youth, our educational and policy systems should center youth in the process of understanding complex problems by paying attention to how youth think about these issues and how adults can support youth’s engagement in creating solutions to them. I had the wonderful opportunity to co-chair the 7th Youth-Nex conference on “Dialoging for Democracy: Youth Moral Reasoning and Social Justice” with Dr. Nancy Deutsch (Director of Youth-Nex) in November 2019. 

We realized during the planning of this, however, that there are key questions we must consider as we seek to support and collaborate with youth.

First, how does youth’s thinking about complex moral and social issues shift as they grow and change? What does the science of child and adolescent development tell us about how to best scaffold youth’s engagement with moral issues and how do we then engender civic engagement among youth? Second, what is the role of dialogue in this process? What are best practices for engaging youth in moral issues? Finally, how do we engage youth in moral issues in our current social and political climate? In particular, how do we do this work within K-13 spaces, both formal and informal educational settings?

To begin answering these questions, the conference looked closely at the developmental processes related to how youth think about moral issues, the power (and constraints) of dialogue, and the relationship of both of these constructs to democracy. Importantly and intentionally, we kept the structural issues youth face at the forefront of the conversation. There must be an understanding of macro-level forces, like systemic racism, that dictate the effectiveness and expression of individual agency. Therefore, we discussed how implicit and explicit issues of power cannot be divorced from the types of dialogue in which youth can engage. We unpacked the developmental process related to moral reasoning, empathy, civic engagement, and perspective taking, and provided examples of best practices of how to do this work in a range of spaces from classrooms to camps.

Our hope was that participants left the conference ready to return to their own spaces better equipped to amplify youth’s engagement with moral issues and social justice in ways that further their existing capacity as today’s change makers, and the future leaders of our democracy. You can watch video from all the sessions and many performances at the conference on the Youth-Nex youtube channel and our website.


If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: Dr. Johari Harris is an Assistant Research Professor at the Curry School of Education and Human Development. Her work examines how social identities, specifically race and gender, along with cultural values systems, like Afro-centric values, influence African American adolescents social-emotional competencies. Her research is grounded in intersectionality, developmental psychology, and social psychology theories.

An Inside Look at AERA 2015

Chicago – Site of 2015 AERA. “ChicagoOverheadTiltShift”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Over the course of five days in mid April, thousands of researchers, teachers, and administrators came together to discuss current educational issues. Valerie Futch, Ph.D., gives us a look into the 2015 American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference held in Chicago this spring. aera jpeg


Valerie Futch, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor of Education, and Youth-Nex faculty member at the Curry School of Education. Her current work includes several projects that aim to improve understanding of youth experiences in the classroom, in after-school programs, and in relationship to adults. Futch is Program Chair for the American Educational Research Association Out-of-School Time (OST) SIG, American Educational Research Association, 2015 & 2016 Conferences. She was a Youth-Nex postdoctoral fellow from June 2011–August 2014.

Since I’m only one person and can’t be in multiple places at once, I followed a lot of the concurrent sessions on Twitter. If you want a great recap of the main points as well as links to lots of other resources, definitely check out the #AERA15 conversation.

The theme this year was “Toward Justice: Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis” and many of the keynotes took up issues of achievement and opportunity gaps, disciplinary discrepancies, access to quality schools, and issues of education policy and reform. For a full listing of keynote speakers and information about their talks, visit the conference page.


AERA OST-SIG Business Meeting Panel

I also had the opportunity to chair the program for the Out-of-School-Time Special Interest Group (OST-SIG). We had several roundtable and paper sessions, as well as a few posters. Some of the topics that were covered included discussions of what constitutes quality in after-school programs, how we can build collaborative opportunities in out-of-school-time settings, a full paper session documenting outcomes in these programs, and a look at global programs for youth. We also had a very productive business meeting with leading researchers in the OST field where we discussed the ESEA renewal debate in Congress and the importance of funding after-school programs. We are working on compiling all of the slides from our presenters and will post them on our SIG webpage for you to have access to in the next few weeks. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to have access to these materials when we post them!

Maxine Greene_3150

Maxine Greene Memorial Program

There were somber moments as well, as several memorial sessions honored and mourned the loss of brilliant scholars. Two who were influential to me were Maxine Greene and Greg Dimitriadis. Both took up issues of art, aesthetics, justice, and philosophy of education. Their ideas fuel many educators and researchers and inspires us to create classrooms that spark creativity. The full rooms and heartfelt memories shared by former colleagues, students, and friends attests to their long-lasting influence on many in the education field.

The highlight of my trip was definitely the Saturday morning Youth Research Festival coordinated by AERA President Joyce King and Distinguished Professor Michelle Fine. Over ten teams of youth researchers from across the nation (and one group from South Africa!) presented their participatory research projects and highlighted the impact these projects had in their local communities. You can learn more about several of the projects by visiting the Public Science Project webpage. I’m looking forward to chairing the OST-SIG program again next year and encourage you to submit your work for presentation at the 2016 conference, to be held in Washington, DC.

Health Effects Of Physical Activity In Youth – Russell Pate, Ph.D.


The annual Youth-Nex Conference on Physical Health & Well-Being, was held October 11 & 12, 2013 at the University of Virginia.

The following is a summary of the presentation by Russell Pate, Ph.D., by Jeanette Garcia, graduate student in the Curry School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology, under the direction of Art Weltman, Ph.D., conference chair. Video also available here.

Russell Pate, Ph.D., is Professor and Director, Children’s Physical Activity Research Group, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. He is also the current president of the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance. His research interests include physical activity and physical fitness in children and the health implications of physical activity. 

There is evidence that the following strategies are effective:

  • Multi-component school interventions
  • Physical education in school

There is evidence that the following strategies are emerging or suggestive:

  • Activity breaks in school
  • Pre-school and childcare settings

Community and built environment

The following strategies have insufficient evidence at this time:

  • School physical environment and after-school
  • Camps, youth organizations, and other programs in the community
  • Family and home
  • Primary care settings

Current Physical Activity Guidelines for Adolescents and Youths Continue reading

The Middle School Conversation Continues…

In Between Banner

Deb Zehner chats with Alma Powell after the keynote.

Deb Zehner chats with Alma Powell after the keynote.

Welcome to the Youth-Nex blog. Let’s continue the conversation started at the Youth-Nex middle school conference. Simply reply to posts here or email to contribute your own post. You can also subscribe at the top right of this post.

As they accumulate, related posts will be found “under one roof” so to speak, under Middle School Conference 2012.

The first entry is by Deb Zehner, Management Consultant (with a specialty in social network analysis), NetVision LLC. Deb works closely with U.Va. business professor Rob Cross. Their application of social network analysis has traditionally been in the business sector but they are transitioning to the educational sector as well. More on the business application of social networking can be found here. Comments from her 13-year old daughter follow her post.

Youth-Nex’s In Between Conference, held Oct. 18-19, surpassed my expectations. I attended for two reasons. First, to explore possible applications of social networking to benefit middle school students by better understanding what adolescents need and how the schools are serving those needs. Second, for practical ideas of how I could get involved in a hands-on way myself. A nice side benefit was that I gained knowledge helpful to better understanding my own 13 year old daughter and her friends (her thoughts are below). The conference blended the worlds of research, application, and policy, allowing for discussion with the speakers and other attendees. There were many interesting findings, but some of the most striking ones for me follow. Continue reading

“Conflict and debate?! Okay, I’m listening!”

Laurie Jean, Adolescent Educator at SARA, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, gave us her thoughtful insights on the bullying prevention conference co-hosted by Youth-Nex, this summer. She was one of 500 teachers, law enforcement personnel and others, who attended the statewide event held at Charlottesville High School.

Bullying Prevention conference slide

Related posts can be found under Bullying.

Walking past tables covered in white paper and coffee urns, I expected little from yet another conference as I entered the Martin Luther King, Jr. Performing Arts Center. I rarely find much useful substance amid conferences’ broad, non-targeted material. As I settled into a folding seat in the back of the theater, a wave of empathy for my students came over me as I recalled many of the sensations of attending a mandatory high school assembly. Continue reading

Critical Considerations in a Capability Focused Approach to Intervention Design and Evaluation – YN Panel Video

Nancy Deutsch

Related posts available under YN Working Conference April 2012

View the video for this discussion looking at methods, broadly and integratively, through a Positive Youth Development lens.

Panelists used four guiding questions:
1. How do we bring in developmental theory as we design evaluations of programs? Specifically, how do we relate Positive Youth Development processes and constructs to expected outcomes. How do we resolve the tension between evaluating competencies— promotion, and measuring problem behavior—prevention? Continue reading