Character Development Pilot Evaluation of Two Programs for Youth with Chronic Illness

Gary Maslow, Sherika Hill, Amanda Rozycki, Rebecca Sadun, Mya Sendowski, Jodie Neukirch


This article describes the pilot evaluation of two Positive Youth Development (PYD) programs for youth with child onset chronic illness (COCI), reporting how the programs influenced participants’ character development. College students with COCI led high school students with COCI through activities pertaining to different aspects of growing up with a chronic illness. Participants completed the Positive Youth Development Inventory-Short Form (PYDI-S), which measures seven domains of youth perceptions of the contribution to their development from the program. Participants reported that both programs helped them the most with personal standards, which corresponds well to character development on the full version of the Positive Youth Development Inventory (PYDI). They also had high scores on prosocial behavior and future orientation, both important domains for character development. We discuss the idea that interventions promoting character development for youth with COCI are critical for promoting a positive narrative for chronically-ill youth, their parents, and society.

Full Text:



American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, & American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine. (2002). A consensus statement on health care transitions for young adults with special health care needs. Pediatrics, 110(Supplement 3), 1304–1306.

Arnold, M.E., Nott, B.D., & Meinhold, J.L. (2012a). The Positive Youth Development Inventory (PYDI and PYDI-S) Instrument Use and Scoring Guide. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University 4-H Youth Development Program. Retrieved from Oregan State University website:

Arnold, M.E., Nott, B.D., & Meinhold, J.L. (2012b). The Positive Youth Development Inventory Short Version (PYDI-S). Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University 4-H Youth Development Program. Retrieved from Oregan State University website:

Blum, R.W. (1995). Transition to adult health care: Setting the stage. Journal of Adolescent Health, 17(1), 3–5.

DuBois, D.L., Holloway, B.E., Valentine, J.C., & Cooper, H. (2002). Effectiveness of mentoring programs for youth: A meta-analytic review. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30(2), 157-197.

Eccles, J., & Gootman, J A. (Eds.). (2002). Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Gledhill, J., Rangel, L., & Garralda, E. (2000). Surviving chronic physical illness: Psychosocial outcome in adult life. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 83(2), 104–110.

Granger, R.C. (2010). Understanding and improving the effectiveness of after-school practice. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45(3-4), 441-446.

Lerner, R.M., Lerner, J.V., Bowers, E., & Geldhof, G.J. (2015). Positive youth development and relational developmental systems. In W.F. Overton & P. C. Molenaar (Eds.), Theory and Method. Volume 1 of the Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (7th ed.). Editor-in-chief: R.M. Lerner. (pp. 607-651). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Lerner, R.M., & Schmid Callina, K. (2014). The study of character development: Towards tests of a relational developmental systems model. Human Development, 57(6), 322-346.

Maslow, G., Adams, C., Willis, M., Neukirch, J., Herts, K., Froehlich, W., … & Rickerby, M. (2013). An evaluation of a positive youth development program for adolescents with chronic illness. The Journal of Adolescent Health , 52(2), 179–85. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.020

Maslow, G.R., & Chung, R.J. (2013). Systematic review of positive youth development programs for adolescents with chronic illness. Pediatrics, 131(5), e1605–18. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1615

Maslow, G.R., Haydon, A., McRee, A.-L., Ford, C. a, & Halpern, C.T. (2011). Growing up with a chronic illness: Social success, educational/vocational distress. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 49(2), 206–12. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.12.001

Rhodes, J.E. (2005). A model of youth mentoring. Handbook of youth mentoring, 30-43.

Schwartz, S.E., Rhodes, J.E., Spencer, R., & Grossman, J.B. (2013). Youth initiated mentoring: Investigating a new approach to working with vulnerable adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 52(1-2), 155-169.


Copyright (c) 2016 Journal of Youth Development

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.