University of Connecticut–School of Social Work Continuing Education presents:
Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage:
A Whole Systems Approach

Posted on August 22, 2016 by David Blumenkrantz

Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage
A Whole Systems Approach
Dr. David G. Blumenkrantz
Date: Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Time: 8:30 – 3:00
Location: School of Social Work, West Hartford, Connecticut

A fundamental question facing parents, schools and communities: how do we raise our children to be resilient, self-reliant and capable adults with compassion that is manifested in civic engagement, contributing to a world that works for all?

Language is Consciousness
All things are related.
Change the Story – Transform the Future

What was the “village” doing that birthed the proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child?” They were probably doing something very similar to what today is called rites of passage, the initiation of children into adulthood within the culture and values of the tribe. We believe this essential community-organizing process is vital to human development and our survival. Something needs to happen around the time of puberty for children and their parents that honors and respects nature’s signal for the coming of age process to begin through initiation and rites of passage. It needs to happen just as much for the parents, enabling them to begin the process of release and separation as it does for the child. It also needs to happen for the community and culture.

The celebration of a rite of passage is renewing for the entire community which includes earth and all our relations.  A child's public expression of, and commitment to, a community's values and beliefs reinforces expectations for behaviors for the survival of the entire community and health and well-being of all our relations.  A child's coming of age presents an opportunity for the whole community to examine, adapt and re-commit themselves to their social and cultural heritage. In this light it takes a whole child to raise a village, (Blumenkrantz 1996).

The Play Ground

Like threads in a tapestry, language weaves a common story that links techniques along the traditional continuum of practice between prevention and youth development with identification, treatment and maintenance. The practice of youth & community development through rites of passage offers a whole system’s approach and recognizes reciprocity between youth and human development and community development. You can’t have one without the other. There are design principles that inform the development of integrated elements for a community-oriented rite of passage. Each component presents opportunities for youth, parents and the community to engage in rite of passage experiences that commence around the age of 10-12 which is the time of puberty and/or the transition from primary to secondary school. Each component is comprised of thirty thousand years of human experience and synthesized through Dr. David Blumenkrantz’s fifty years of scholarship and practice.

Dr. Blumenkrantz will guide participants on an exploration into community-oriented rites of passage and their application in contemporary society. He believes that learning should be fun and is the highest form of play where everyone teaches and learns together.

This learning community will examine 30,000 years of evolutionary evidence of rites of passage and its integration into contemporary theory. Participants will explore how a framework of rites of passage is used to (a) weave a common language for raising children together throughout the community, and (b) link techniques for education and youth development with prevention, positive youth development, identification, intervention and treatment, thereby integrating all education and youth development programs and strengthening the fabric of community support.

A wide variety of resources will be used to support this learning community, including David’s recently published book, Coming of Age the Rite Way: Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage (Oxford University Press) & the 5th edition of the practice manual, “Guide for Promoting Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage.” 

 Seminar participants will learn how to:

  • Understand the history and general characteristics of rites of passage
  • Understand the link between rites of passage and contemporary education, and youth and community development theories, such as developmental assets, character education, resiliency and “grit,” and academic and social emotional learning
  • Become community organizers who can lead their schools, communities and/or groups to design a rite of passage experience; and,
  • Access ongoing, free web-based resources to support continued learning and efforts to organize groups, schools and/or communities to integrate all of their efforts through a common language and shared story of youth & community development through rites of passage.

Since 1981 Dr. Blumenkrantz has conducted seminars for hundreds of professionals at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work in a wide array of topics, ranging from “Working with Teenage Substance Abusers” to “Play as Secular Spirituality.”


‘Jester’ David with playmates at the UCONN School of Social Work Play Daze.

For more information and to register go to:

Posted in Events

Read more about Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage in the new and highly acclaimed book by Dr. David Blumenkranz.

David Blumenkrantz, Ph.D., Ed.M., Founder & Executive Director, the Center for Youth & Community

What I’m Writing About

Recent Posts


Why This Blog Now?

It’t time for a Paradigm Shift – a fundamental change in beliefs, theory and approach – in developing community-centered responses to the challenges faced by today’s Youth & Community. More here>>