Organizational Readiness to Engage in Policy, System, and Environment Changes Supporting Positive Youth Development for Health: Case Studies from the Cooperative Extension System Framed by the Transtheoretical Model
Cooperative Extension's National Framework for Health and Wellness identified Positive Youth Development for Health (PYDH) outcomes at the individual (education) and community (policy, system, and environment) change levels, calling on Extension professionals to integrate public health principles into youth development programs. However, Extension professionals may not be equipped to effectively incorporate these principles and related strategies in the youth development context. An assessment of Extension professionals’ readiness to integrate public health approaches, such as community-level change strategies, with youth program efforts suggests these professionals may lack knowledge of practical steps for including policy, system, and environment change methodology into their daily work. Recommendations framed by the transtheoretical model (TTM) to guide Extension in advancing readiness among Extension educators at the organizational level have been developed. However, context-specific examples that illustrate such approaches and show how they fit within youth development programs are lacking. This article provides concrete case examples from the Extension system illustrating readiness levels at each TTM stage. Associated recommendations and implications for supporting youth development programs to effectively engage in influencing multilevel change strategies are also provided.
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