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Building Healthy Life Skills

Youth who are prepared for adulthood are comfortable demonstrating fundamental life skills such as communication, cultural competence, conflict resolution, and the ability to cope. Youth programs can help young people develop self-efficacy — a belief in their own capacity to succeed — by providing opportunities to learn and practice these skills in real-life settings.

The resources below are intended to help program leaders work with youth in building these skills. Look for related resources in Supporting Healthy Development.

Resources for Program Providers

Casey Life Skills

Casey Life Skills, a program of Casey Family Programs, offers assessments, learning plans, and teaching resources at minimal cost.

Botvin LifeSkills Training

Originally developed as a substance abuse prevention program for middle school students, this training includes sessions on communication, decision-making, coping, and conflict resolution skills. Curricula are also available for high school students.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Toolkit

Program providers can help youth build skills related to self- and social-awareness, communication, and relationships by utilizing an SEL approach. This toolkit offers web-based resources to help youth work professionals provide opportunities for social and emotional learning.

Overcoming Obstacles

This free life skills curriculum was developed to be flexible enough to fit into everything from core content classes and advisory periods, to after school and summer programs, guidance and counseling sessions, and college and career prep classes.

Media Education Foundation

The Media Education Foundation offers educational videos on gender, health, race, commercialism, and more.

SALTO-YOUTH Toolbox — For Training and Youth Work

SALTO-YOUTH is a European network of seven resource centers advocating for advanced learning and professional training within the youth work field. In this database, they provide hundreds of tools for trainers and youth workers.

Resources for Young People

TeensHealth: Stress and Coping Center

This youth site from Nemours Foundation includes articles on stress, mental health conditions, and getting and giving help.

Center for Young Women's Health: Emotional Health

Developed by Children's Hospital Boston, the Center offers many resources on emotional health, stress management, and coping.

Young Men's Health: Emotional Health

Children's Hospital Boston offers resources for dealing with stress, depression, and anger, as well as friendships, among other topics.

Community Partners in New York State

As you plan activities to support youth in building life skills, consider drawing on local expertise.

BOCES may offer workshops on conflict resolution, cultural competence, and critical thinking.

4-H may offer workshops as well as opportunities for youth to learn and practice communication skills, public speaking, civic engagement, and other leadership skills. To find a 4-H program near you, contact the local office of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Community Dispute Resolution Centers may train youth as mediators and offer workshops on conflict resolution.

Independent living and foster care programs of the local Department of Social Services may use the Casey Life Skills training.

Local substance abuse prevention coalitions may offer expertise in evidence-based programs such as Botvin LifeSkills training.

Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP): Adulthood Preparation

Federal and state grants may include PREP topics as part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Grantees may be required to educate adolescents on at least three adulthood preparation subjects. Federal resources include: