As this video from the Center on the Developing Child illustrates, in looking at determinants of health and well being, it is important to consider the enormous influence early childhood and later youth development have on children’s futures. Physical, social, and emotional health and well being, as well as factors related to health and well being such as education and income levels, can often be predicted from childhood exposures. Moreover, brain development research suggests young people are particularly receptive to prevention and youth development interventions and supports, as well as strategies geared towards developing resilience and social competence.
In a 2010 report entitled The Foundations of Lifelong Health Are Built in Early Childhood, the following framework is put forward.
The framework highlights much of what we are striving for here at occupy healthcare – public health, community development, primary healthcare – all with the goal of better health across the lifespan.
And while interventions and supports in very early childhood are critical, continuing this support through adolescence is also imperative. Young people who are surrounded by a variety of opportunities for engagement encounter less risk and ultimately show evidence of higher rates of successful transitions into adulthood.
The positive youth development movement centers around cultivating five essential characteristics, commonly known as the five Cs:
While both early childhood development and positive youth development are extensive fields, with a vast array of research and related programs and policies, this simple introduction establishes the essence of these fields and the link between them and health and well being.
So, what can we do? This week’s action items:
*Support evidence-based positive childhood and youth development programs by volunteering, fundraising and donating, and advocating for policies that help sustain and expand them.
(This post is cross-posted at www.pursuitofpublichealth.com)