Healthy Tips for Elders

Building Resilience in Youth

According to the United Nations, there are 1.8 billion young people between the ages of ten and twenty-four in the world. They estimate this is the largest youth population that ever existed. Sadly, many of these young people live in risky environments and are often led to engage in at-risk behaviors that may ruin their health and shorten their lives. About one in ten of the world’s youth live in conflict zones, and twenty-four million of them are out of school. Political instability, broken homes, poverty, and limited leadership opportunities have led to an increasing isolation of youth in societies and faith communities worldwide.

We can make a difference in building resilience among youth and young adults and preventing them from engaging in at-risk behaviors by collaborating together through health, youth, family ministries, and education. Good health and quality education are two of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals identified by the United Nations.1 Both are important as we reach in to equip Adventist youth and young adults, and also as we build partnerships by reaching out to at-risk youth in our communities.

One of the ways Seventh-day Adventist churches and schools can impact the lives of young people is through the Youth Alive program. It focuses on building resilience among youth through intergenerational relationships that foster empowerment and disciple youth. Young people can lead Youth Alive clubs and friendship groups, impacting the lives of their peers in a positive way. Through Youth Alive, youth can build strong relationships with adult mentors and peers, grow spiritually, and find their purpose through service opportunities. Youth Alive focuses on educating youth about healthy living and empowering them to sign a pledge saying yes to God and no to at-risk behaviors such as substance or behavioral addictions, violence, suicide, and early sex. This discipleship program is built on scientific evidence, and is a wholistic learning experience that can make teens and young adults resilient in settings where they live, learn, and worship.


Leader’s training: Youth Alive promotes training for adults and youth to co-facilitate and coordinate Youth Alive clubs and/or friendship groups (small groups for youth discipleship).

Conferences and retreats: At a Youth Alive conference or retreat, youth come to learn, make friends, have fun, engage in service, and grow spiritually through friendship small groups, workshops, and outreach activities.

Youth Alive clubs/friendship groups: These groups are formed in churches, schools, and/or centers of influence, and involve youth in activities that focus on learning about healthy living, playing cooperative games, engaging in service, and growing spiritually.

Online platform and app: Youth Alive offers an online portal with free courses, books, articles, and media resources on topics relevant to the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being of young people. A leader’s site is also available through the portal for young people or adults wishing to become facilitators to start a Youth Alive Club or friendship group in their church and school.

The Bible reminds us, “Start children off on the way they should go [teaching them to seek God’s wisdom and will for their abilities and talents], and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Prov 22:6). Inspiration tells us that “ministers of the gospel should form a happy acquaintance with the youth of their congregations. Many are reluctant to do this, but their neglect is a sin in the sight of Heaven. . . . Why should not labor for the youth in our borders be regarded as missionary work of the highest kind? . . . The youth are the objects of Satan’s special attacks; but kindness, courtesy, and the sympathy which flows from a heart filled with love to Jesus, will gain their confidence, and save them from many a snare of the enemy.”2

Let’s do more as we commit to this missionary work of the highest kind.

1 “About the Sustainable Development Goals,” United Nations,
2 Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, 207.

Katia Reinert, PhD, is Associate Director of the Health Ministries at the General Conference World Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, USA.