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Youth work is a sacred opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of children and youth. Through research and personal essay narrative, The Heartbeat of the Youth Development Field: Professional Journeys of Growth, Connection, and Transformation
shines a light on the intricate connections between research and practice, touching upon both the vulnerability and triumph of youth development work. The passionate voices of youth workers in this volume lead to the inescapable conclusion that programs and policies for youth must be informed by these same voices and the values they express.
We hope this book shows OST workers, researchers, funders, and policymakers, as well as other education professionals, how youth workers' lived experiences inspire their ability to build the relationships that are the foundation of positive and healthy youth development. From relationships comes engagement, and from engagement, transformation-centered in equity, inclusion, and belonging. No one is better able to advocate for these truths than the professionals who found themselves-by whatever means-working with young people to bring positive change to their lives, their communities, and our world.