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Teen Outreach Program (TOP)

Program Components

Program Objectives

TOP seeks to enhance positive youth development. The three primary objectives are:

  1. Healthy Behaviors: To promote the development of healthy behaviors and self-care so teens can avoid risk and successfully achieve an education and other life goals.
  2. Life Skills: To support the acquisition of valuable life skills in areas of relationships, communication, decision-making, etc., that are needed to be healthy, self-sustaining young adults.
  3. Sense of Purpose: To provide teens with a sense of purpose, increasing knowledge of their own worth as they contribute to their communities through meaningful service. A strong sense of purpose is linked to lower rates of risky behaviors.

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Program Content

The guiding principles of TOP include continuity of the program over time, weekly group discussions and activities with high teen talk-time, youth-initiated community service learning, and connections with a skilled, caring adult. The curriculum is designed to be interactive and engaging, and cover a wide variety of developmental topics of interest to teens. Core curriculum content includes:

  • Relationships: To explore and examine the factors of pro-social relationships, including dynamics of healthy relationships, friendships, family, and romantic relationships; conflict resolution; recognition of and response to peer pressure; and maintaining healthy boundaries.
  • Communication/Assertiveness: To review, practice and apply pro-social communication skills, including active listening, assertive communication, nonverbal communication; how to say “no” and refuse a request; the use of “I” messages; and how to utilize personal and community resources to meet their needs.
  • Influence: To develop critical thinking skills about the various influences on their lives and decisions, including peer pressure and media messages.
  • Goal-Setting: To enhance teens’ sense of future orientation through practicing goal identification; understanding short-term versus long-term goals; exploring their future options; thinking about plans for life after high school; and discussing the potential impact of teen parenting on their future plans.
  • Decision-Making: To examine social-emotional aspects of choices and consequences; practice using decision-making tools; and reflect upon recent decisions they have made.
  • Values Clarification: To explore and challenge their own values, the impact of gender roles on values, the values of family and friends, and the impact of the larger society on their value formation.
  • Development and Human Sexuality: To learn about adolescent development (emotional and physical) and human sexuality from a holistic perspective. The curriculum provides information on abstinence as the safest way to avoid becoming pregnant/or fathering a child and to remain free of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Information on the reproductive process and contraception is also provided to enable teens to make informed choices about their sexual activity.  Note:  Programs can determine if they will use a comprehensive sexuality education approach, or an abstinence-only approach.
  • Community Service Learning: To develop a sense of competence and self-efficacy through community service learning. Teens identify needs, plan and implement service projects, and reflect on their service experience.

TOP is grounded in a Positive Youth Development theoretical framework, which focuses on enhancement and promotion of adolescent well-being. A program logic model is available from the developer.

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Program Methods

The program is facilitated using the experiential learning cycle, multiple intelligences, service learning, and the "Quad-A" approach where facilitators are adaptable, age-appropriate, affective, and active.

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