Response Ability Pathways (RAP) is a training program that provides skills for working effectively with all youth and supporting them on pathways toward responsibility. RAP training is highly practical in design and can be provided both to mentors and mature youth. RAP builds positive connections among youth and with their elders to create a climate of respect.

To succeed in the face of risk and challenge, children need concerned adults and peers who respond to their needs rather than react to problem behavior. RAP provides these “response-abilities” to all who deal directly with young persons experiencing conflict in school, family, peer group, and community. This training can include key adult stakeholders as well as youth who exercise positive influence among their peers. RAP turns problems into positive learning opportunities by creating a system for communicating with youth. RAP uses a clear-cut problem-solving format: Connect ► Clarify ► Restore. This is the normal process for resilient coping found in all cultures. Thus, RAP taps the strengths and natural capacity kids already have to connect with others for support, clarify challenging problems, and restore respect.

• Connecting: A mentor’s first challenge is to create positive social bonds. While “building relationships” with reluctant youth may appear to be a daunting task, many meaningful connections can be made in a short period of time, both with individuals and with groups. Positive connections are built upon small acts of respect and kindness. Once youth connect, they are able to use that person for positive support.

• Clarifying: By helping a youth understand “here-and-now” problem situations, mentors support the development of resilient coping strengths. Youth learn to use strengths and overcome limitations to meet important life goals. Young persons need to learn to think clearly about their behavior in order to creatively solve problems, master difficult challenges, and meet their needs.

• Restoring: Interpersonal harmony involves respect for self and others. A restorative plan taps inner strengths and external supports to meet growth needs for belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. Though complicated problems may not be resolved immediately, a young person can take steps on the pathway toward responsibility.

RAP starts with problems but searches for strengths and solutions. RAP provides whatever support the “teaching moment” allows, whether literally a moment or an hour. Sometimes a few short RAP interventions distributed over time have more lasting impact than a long session. RAP training grew from the Circle of Courage model based on Native American philosophies of child rearing as described in Reclaiming Youth At Risk by Larry Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg, and Steve Van Bockern. The goal is to create opportunities for belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. RAP is also grounded in research on resilience and brain science.

More information about this, and other resilience-training opportunities by the Circle of Courage, are available on

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