Developmental assets proven to strengthen youths’ success

By CHARLES TWEED

It’s the old cliché, it takes a village to raise a child. We all say it, but do we actually take responsibility for being part of the village, or do we merely point fingers at the child.

Sgt. Lorne Adamitz, with the Drugs and Organized Crime Awareness division of the RCMP, was in Ponoka Feb. 17 for an informational seminar.

The seminar was aimed at youth at risk and parents who may not know the warning signs of drug use.

“A lot of people don’t feel they understand the issues, they don’t feel they have the knowledge to properly bring these issues up. Parents didn’t feel empowered enough to discuss the issue,” said Adamitz. “If you see a change in your child, any change, it may be a sign of drug use. Could it be something else, certainly, but you have to build that relationship and communication with your child.”

The session also focused on building 40 Developmental Assets within each child to give them the best chance of success as they transition into an adult.

The assets are broken down into two main categories: external and internal assets.

External assets are further broken down into four main categories: support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and constructive use of time.

Support focuses around simple principles as a parent, from being involved in school to creating a caring neighborhood, from positive family communication to cultivating adult relationships.

Empowerment is achieved when the youth feels as though he or she is a vital contributor to the community, be it through the community valuing youths, giving youths useful roles, and serving in the community.

Boundaries and expectations are centred on clarity; the family having clear rules and consequences, school and neighborhood boundaries as well as setting high expectations for the youth and cultivating an environment through positive adult role models and supportive friends to reach those expectations.

Constructive use of time is just that. Keeping youths busy with creative activities and programs: an attempt to eliminate the ‘there’s nothing to do’ time.

From there, the assets switch from external to internal. Internal assets are broken down into commitment to learning, positive values, social competence, and positive identity.

Commitment to learning deals with motivation, engagement and bonding at school. It focuses around education and how to cultivate environments and attitudes that are conducive to learning.

The positive values area is straightforward. Developing the intrinsic values important to being a good person. It deals with honesty, responsibility, integrity, restraint and overall caring for people in the community.

In the social competence section, planning and decision-making are important. Nurturing cultural sensitivity and dealing with peaceful conflict resolution.

The final category is about having a positive identity and self-image. The youth must have personal power, self-esteem, a sense of purpose and a positive view of their future to be successful.

“Asset development is the philosophy that everybody has the ability to change things. Too many times we talk about youth instead of talking to youth. It has been proven that the more of these 40 assets have the better chance they have of being successful and being good people,” said Adamitz

For more information on the assets and to find out how you can take action visit http://bit.ly/12xbiy

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