Designing a Character Strengths Development Program for Youth Living in Violent Contexts


  • Betsabé Vásquez Glasswing International, El Salvador
  • Lelys Dinarte Díaz Development Research Group, The World Bank



positive youth development, character strengths, curriculum development, Values in Action (VIA), Central America, Glasswing International


This paper describes the design and piloting of a Character Strengths Development (CSD) curriculum for Glasswing International’s after-school program. The CSD curriculum was designed to be implemented in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, countries that make up the Central American Northern Triangle (NTCA) and have extremely high rates of violence and criminality. Development of the CSD curriculum included 3 stages: a consultativeprocess with youth, review of relevant literature and design of the curriculum, and piloting of the methodology. Students’ perspectives were engaged throughout the development process to ensure the curriculum was relevant to the lives of youth living in violent communities. The curriculum is the first to be built on the Virtues in Action framework in NTCA countries. Lessons learned are shared for CSD program design and implementation in other contexts with high levels of violence.


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