Life-Saving Learning

GOOD TROUBLE defines life-saving learning experiences as those that meet the four universal youth development needs prioritized by the Reclaiming Youth at Risk Framework.

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Circle of Courage values in a Native American medicine wheel. Credit: Lakota Sioux artist George Blue Bird


The Reclaiming Youth at Risk Framework is used globally to re-engage youth who have faced adversity. Synthesizing Indigenous wisdom (i.e., Circle of Courage), youth development expertise, and resilience and neuroscience research, it calls for prioritizing four universally recognized youth development needs.

Source: The Science of Raising Courageous Kids (2003)

"In this materialistic, fast-paced culture, many children have broken circles, and the fault line usually starts with damaged relationships. Having no bonds to significant adults, they chase counterfeit belongings. Guarded, lonely, and distrustful, they live in despair or strike out in rage. Families, schools, and youth organizations are being challenged to form new tribes for all of our children so there will be no psychological orphans."

Architect of the Circle of Courage model

Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Futures of Promise

by Larry K. Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg & Steve Van Bockern

This completely updated third edition of Reclaiming Youth at Risk expands the impact of the Circle of Courage resilience model which has been embraced world-wide.  Native American professor Joseph Gone of Harvard University describes this work as “a brilliant and modern fusion of Indigenous knowledge and scientific psychology.”

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