Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Glossary of Terms

  • Adolescence: The period of transition from childhood to adulthood, and can be divided into early (ages 11 to 14), mid (ages 15 to 17), and late (ages 18 to 21) adolescence.


  • At-Risk Youth: A segment of the population that under current conditions has a low probability of growing into responsible adulthood. At risk youths experience difficulties with their family, in school and in the community; however, the factors that place these youth at risk are often not of their own doing.


  • Comprehensive School Health: A framework to support improvement in students’ educational outcomes while addressing school health in a planned, integrated and holistic way.  Recognizes that healthy young people learn better and achieve more. Understands that schools can directly influence students’ health and behaviours. Encourages healthy lifestyle choices, and promotes students’ health and well-being. Incorporates health into all aspects of school and learning. Links health and education issues and systems.


  • Health Promotion: The process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. Six key strategies for health promotion include: 1) building healthy public policy; 2) creating supportive environments; 3) strengthening community action; 4) developing personal skills; 5) reorienting health services; and 6) moving into the future.


  • Positive Youth Development: A set of strategies which any program or program model can adopt to help guide youth on a successful transition to adulthood. It is an approach that provides youth with the broadest possible support, enabling them to attain desirable long-term outcomes, including economic self-sufficiency and engagement in healthy family and community relationships.


  • Social Determinants of Health: The economic and social conditions that shape the health of individuals, communities and jurisdictions as a whole. The Public Health Agency of Canada (2008) identified 12 key issues regarding determinants of health: 1) income and social status; 2) social support networks; 3) education and literacy; 4) employment/working conditions; 5) social environments; 6) physical environments; 7) personal health practices and coping skills; 8) healthy child development; 9) biology and genetic endowment; 10) health services; 11) gender; and 12) culture.


  • Youth Engagement: Meaningful and sustained involvement of youths in an activity, with a focus outside of themselves. Youth engagement programs emphasize access, equity and social justice and facilitate positive youth development by providing opportunities for skill development and capacity building; providing opportunities for leadership; encouraging reflection on identity; and developing social awareness.
Women and Children
Enhancing Healthy Adolescent Development
Background Information