Traditionally, the health of young people has not been a priority concern because they are generally less vulnerable to diseases than children and older populations. However young people are highly vulnerable to fundamental changes in social, economic, cultural and political situations, which can have a profound effect on their health. As a result, certain types of morbidity and mortality affect them more than any other groups. In many societies including the Cook Islands, these changes have contributed to at risk behaviours such as substance abuse (alcohol), resulting in motor vehicle accidents; unprotected sex leading to teenage pregnancy and STIs; unhealthy eating with little physical activity resulting in obesity, depression and suicides; and juvenile delinquency and crimes. Many intervention programs introduced to counter these problems have led to some success. However, a broader holistic view to help young people realize their full potential and promotes positive outcomes is now the preferred paradigm. Such programs involve a new direction in public policies that focus on strength-based community and school empowerment and partnership approach, and within a Cook Islands context.