Helping Teens Plan for the Future: A New Website

What is (also known as The Youthhood) is a free, dynamic Web-based curriculum and tool to help youth […]

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What is (also known as The Youthhood) is a free, dynamic Web-based curriculum and tool to help youth set goals and plan for the future. Although the site addresses youth directly, it is intended to be used in classrooms, community programs, or any other settings where adults work with youth. The Youthhood includes information, interactive activities, and a wealth of other tools to help youth connect their future goals to their academic learning. Grounded in the principals of universal design, the site was launched April 11, 2005 by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition at the University of Minnesota.

The concept of Youthhood, as well as its content and activities, is based on current research in positive youth development and transition planning and their impact on post-high school success. Youthhood puts research into practice through a unique and extensive blend of content, interactive activities, links to related Web sites, and planning tools that tie youths’ future goals to their current academic work. In addition, the site provides a progressive learning experience. When a specific topic is explored, more activities are tried and more planning is done. In this way, the youth learn more and are able to apply the information to their own lives.

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

The Youthhood is organized like a neighborhood. Each section of the neighborhood provides tools and information to help youth plan for the future. The High School helps youth explore how their schoolwork can support their dreams and plans for the future. It also helps youth understand and plan for post-high school education, training, and employment opportunities. The Job Center encourages youth to explore their interests, identify their skills, and discover what they still need to learn in order to achieve their employment goals. The Community Center focuses on leadership, mentoring, and community involvement and how development of skills and goals in these areas can lead to post-high school success. The Hangout addresses belonging, friendships, and having fun. Youth learn about themselves, their relationships with others, and things they can do for fun in their free time. The Health Clinic focuses on health issues including managing health care and preventing health problems. It also addresses disabilities and chronic illness, health insurance, relationships, and sexuality. The Government Center outlines the rights of youth at school, at home, in employment settings, and within the court system. This unit also addresses legal rights gained at the age of majority. The Apartment helps youth explore their independence. This unit provides information on being safe, budgeting, using public transportation, finding a place to live, and more.

My Youthhood: Interactive Features

The Youthhood also includes several exciting interactive tools that can be accessed through the ‘My Youthhood’ sidebar. These can be used to enhance learning in content areas and youth can save and store these to our online database. These include the: Private Journal: Here, youth can log their thoughts, ideas, issues, or anything else as they work their way through the Web site. This journal is completely private, with access only to youth through use of their password; Activities Folder: Each content area has corresponding activities to reinforce what youth learn. These activities can be saved in the Activities Folder for viewing, editing, or printing at a later date; Life Map: The Life Map is a tool to help youth plan for the future. Youth can write down their goals, steps they will take to achieve their goals, and other important information related to what they’re learning on the Web site. Teachers can also use the Life Map for assignments. For youth with disabilities, the Life Map parallels the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and can be used by young adults and transition case managers in transition planning meetings; Class Notebook: Teachers, mentors, and parents can ask youth to write in their Class Notebook about what they have learned on a certain topic, and then comment on and grade their work. The Class Notebook is not private. Adults working with you have access to both the Class Notebook and the Life Map. These two tools can be utilized within the classroom or as homework assignments to emphasize content area information. Both can be viewed, comments can be posted, and grades can be assigned.

The Teachers’ Lounge

The Teachers’ Lounge isn’t just for teachers — it’s for all adults working with youth who use Here you can read about how The Youthhood was developed, receive instructions on how to use The Youthhood, create “classes” and give feedback to the youth you are working with, and join listservs to receive updates and support in using the site.

About Us

The Youthhood is a project of the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, which is funded by a five-year, $9.5 million grant from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education.

NCSET provides coordinates national resources, offers technical assistance, and disseminates information related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities to all 50 states and the U.S. Territories. NCSET is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education through a grant award. Go to for more information.

As part of NCSET’s sponsored grant activities, Youthhood is provided at no charge as a resource and transition planning tool for teachers, community service providers, parents, guardians, youth with and without disabilities, and anyone else who may benefit from utilizing this site to help youth plan for the transition from high school to adult life. For more information on Youthhood, contact Pam Stenhjem at (612) 625-3863 or [email protected]

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