We believe advocates for youth have an obligation to educate and encourage policy makers to be active in acknowledging, protecting, and enhancing the value of youth to the nation.
We believe young people must be seen as full-fledged citizens of our world. Youth empowerment, the act of bringing out natural talents and energies in youth, is effective. Youth should be provided the supports and opportunities that enable them to increase individual self-worth and skills and have significant impact on services to communities, states, and the nation. Youth should be active participants on decisions affecting their lives, including their living situations. Further, the involvement of young people in the planning and implementation of services and in mobilizing community support for programs that affect their lives, and those of their families, is essential to their individual development and the success of the programs working with them.
National Network has worked with community-based organizations, schools, state agencies and in state and local health departments and clinics. Training services are available in the areas of HIV, adolescent health, sexual and reproductive health, youth development, and sexual minority youth.
We believe families are the foundation of our youth and society. Further, youth thrive when positive change is effected in the family context. The primary function of the family, at minimum, is to protect, nurture and educate children. Often, for many reasons, family is challenged in this role. We, then, must acknowledge and build on existing family strengths, with the primary objective of unifying families. We recognize that a family environment is the most appropriate setting for youth.
We believe in healthy, positive options for all youth. We believe young people can, and will, make informed choices concerning their own health and futures.
We believe each person is unique and important. We respect, value, and celebrate the diversity of individuals of every race, age, gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability, and family background. We believe all youth are entitled to receive services that recognize and are based on cultural strengths and differences. Organizational procedures, as well as public policies, must reflect positive efforts to promote the equality of all people, including youth. Existing civil rights and affirmative action legislation must be vigorously enforced. Programs serving youth and their families should accommodate differences and encourage access to services and participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth as well as racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural minorities.
We believe local communities are most aware of the problems and needs of youth in their area. For this reason, communities need to be the creators and partners in the development of innovative youth services. Partnerships between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors need to strive to create innovative community resources that ensure essential needs are met for individual programs and other community endeavors. Volunteerism needs to be encouraged, valued, and recognized.
We believe youth / adult partnership play a very important role in achieving the goals of organizations working with, and on behalf of, youth and families. These interactive relationships are built by people acknowledging and honoring each other's uniqueness while striving to achieve a common goal.
We believe quality services for youth—nationally, regionally, and locally—are dependent upon, and developed and enhanced through, networking (that is, information sharing, the coordination of services and mutual support). The National Network is committed to strengthening networking activities at local, state, regional, and national levels. Reciprocity, diverse representation, mutual respect, uninhibited communication and leadership are essential elements of dynamic networking.