The research-driven principles found in the positive youth development, character, health behavior, and resilience literatures inform us how to shape young lives so they are prepared to be productive citizens. This knowledge, however, has had insufficient impact because it has not consistently been effectively communicated to and applied by parents, professionals, and most critically, youth themselves. We intend to design a Center that will fill the critical gap between knowledge and meaningful action by conducting research and translating the rapidly growing scientific literature.
•A research core will develop and evaluate professional-parent-teen communication strategies to optimize teachable moments by: 1) recognizing, reinforcing, and building character, including resilience; 2) promoting healthy behaviors; and 3) steering youth away from risky behaviors. We will use and evaluate a strength-based approach because increasing evidence supports that noticing character strengths and positive life choices increases receptivity to guidance and willingness to consider suggested change.
•A translation core will reframe existing research and disseminate findings after crafting them into easily understood messages, actionable strategies and research-informed interventions. It will also serve researchers seeking guidance in dissemination strategies.
We aspire to support parents and professionals to better guide youth. We also aim to change adults’ attitude about youth so they will uniformly set high expectations for them. And because youth want to be “normal,” we intend to help them understand it is normal to display virtuous behaviors.
We are requesting support for a planning year to assemble a world-class multidisciplinary team, including expert, youth, and parent advisors, and to thoughtfully develop plans for a sustainable Center that will ultimately disseminate high-yield strategies to build healthy, resilient adolescents who possess strong character traits.