Youth Development & Leadership: The Five Areas

NCLD-Youth uses the five areas of youth development and leadership, learning, connecting, thriving, working, and leading to guide our work. These five areas correspond with 7 of the 8 areas of emphasis listed in the Developmental Disabilities Act (employment, education, housing, recreation, health, childcare, quality assurance, and transportation.)

Learn more about the five areas by selecting one to the right.

Learning Icon: Apple

Learning is the area of development wherein young people take what they learn in school and use it in other contexts, such as the workplace or social settings. Not only should young people with developmental disabilities be encouraged to strive for academic success but also the ability to approach learning with a strategy for success.

Connecting Icon: Puzzle Pieces

Connecting is the area of development that includes relationships with elders, peers, supervisors, family, and other community members who commonly influence behaviors, skills, and attitudes.

Thriving Icon: Sun Flower

Thriving is the area of development that recognizes that although a young person must have intellectual and social capabilities to achieve success in adulthood, he or she must also have the wherewithal to maintain his or her physical and emotional health at its highest level. This includes having the social and intellectual competencies to identify environments and situations that would potentially compromise one's physical health; however, the core of this area of development is the ability to identify and access those situations that enhance one's physical and mental health.

Working Icon: Brief Case

Working is the area of development that emphasizes young people’s need to be actively involved in activities that will expose them to and offer the opportunity to practice not only the actual skills needed for a particular career, but also the work readiness skills needed to find and maintain employment.

Leading Icon: Chess Piece, King

Leading is the area of development that centers on positive skills, attitudes, and behaviors around civic involvement and personal goal setting (Ibid). Youth who are civically engaged in a positive manner, willing to participate in public activity, and able to navigate the civic arena are likely to become adults who participate in civic upkeep. In this case, the term "civic" can refer to an entire city, a neighborhood, a community, and anything else that implies public environs.