Participation is a vehicle for social inclusion. This is particularly important for those young people who have missed conventional developmental experiences (see Section 2.1). Resilient adaptation is promoted when young people have viable opportunities to participate in meaningful education and training, gainful employment and/or sport and recreational pursuits.

Depending on a young person’s background and particular identifications, there is also an emerging but strong body of evidence that their capacity for resilience can be enhanced through connection with culture, faith-based organisations and communities, and broader social movements.

Participation in socially and culturally valued activities with others offers young people a range of benefits:

  • the opportunity to find a meaningful role in their community (Ungar, 2011)
  • the chance to build a repertoire of experiences, which helps young people learn how events connect to emotions, thus developing their capacity for good judgment (Bessant, 2008). Masten (2009) concurs in recognising that the cognitive capacity for planning and decision making is developed by new experiences.
  • practical skills can be learned and competence demonstrated, which contributes to a sense of mastery and self-confidence (Artz, Nicholson, Halsall, & Larke, 2001)
  • the opportunity to assist others, contribute to the greater social good and be recognised for doing so (Ungar, 2011).

The places and spaces that young people participate in and develop associations with can also have a therapeutic effect (Duff, 2011).