A four quadrant diagram is often used to represent the 4-H Essential Elements (Mastery, Generosity, Belonging, and Independence). In these graphic representations each element is depicted in equal size. However, this is actually a misrepresentation as not all elements are equally important.
The Essential Element model of positive youth development (PYD) which we use in 4-H is based on the Circle of Courage model. The Circle of Courage model was designed by Dr. Martin Brokenleg (professor of Native American studies) and Larry Brendtro (professor of child behavior disorders) to explain how indigenous cultures were able to raise respectful, responsible children without resorting to coercive discipline.
In Dr. Brendtro’s book, “Reclaiming Youth at Risk” he asserts that while all four elements are important, “belonging trumps them all.” A youth who does not feel a healthy sense of belonging cannot be expected exhibit independence, generosity, or mastery.
What does this mean for us? As we make decisions and design programs it is critical that we are intentional in our approach toward belonging within 4-H. For more information on techniques to ensure all youth experience a sense of belonging within 4-H check out: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/4hteenteachers/documents/Belonging-Fact-Sheet.pdf