Critical Positive Youth Development: A Framework for Centering Critical Consciousness

Maru Gonzalez, Michael Kokozos, Christy M. Byrd, Katherine E. McKee


While positive youth development (PYD) has proven beneficial in developing youth’s strengths, fomenting youth–adult partnerships, and cultivating leadership, missing from the framework is a critical understanding of the role and impact of power, privilege, and oppression on young people’s development and lived experiences. To address this absence, we developed a critical positive youth development (CPYD) framework. Bridging positive youth development (PYD) with critical theory, CPYD positions critical consciousness—consisting of critical reflection, political efficacy, and critical action—as the 7th C of PYD and as integral to both the learning process and healthy socioemotional development. This paper introduces the CPYD framework and examines implications and applications for practitioners, including exploring the role of storytelling as an effective method through which to apply CPYD and highlighting one specific example.



positive youth development; critical consciousness; storytelling; Five Cs; critical theory

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