Building Assets in Your Community

For some time now, I have been writing about the benefits of building assets with young people.  This is the mission of the Search Institute (https://search-institute.org) using their huge research database to create the 40 Developmental Assets for Youth.  I have written about how to build assets with kids as an adult, whether a parent or a community member.  Today I would like to write about how to build assets in your community.  What can you do that will have a community-wide effect?  What can you start in your community that will gain momentum and become a part of helping kids succeed?  Two points here are integral to building a philosophy for your community.

First, kids need to hear positive reinforcement and frequently from all sources.  Compliments from adults is particularly true of community members who are distantly connected to kids.  When they hear something like, “It sounds like you all are having a lot of fun.  I like that.”  A statement like that can have a real impact on kids and even surprise them. Rarely will you get some flack from kids for saying something positive, but of course, it is possible.  If so, ignore them, wave goodbye, and move on.  More than likely, someone in the group will call the person who said something negative on it and admonish them.   Kids need positive reinforcements from parents, schools, congregations, and the general community.  Catch them being good and compliment them–it will stand out to them as something great.

The second point is that everyone has the potential to be an asset builder with kids.  It takes your effort first, then talk about it with various groups of which you are a member.  It may be church groups, service clubs, associations, and various other get-togethers.  What does it take?  There isn’t likely any one suggestion that will work in all communities.  The start is to simply ask the question of a group that you attend.  Ask them, “How can we build assets with our youth in this community?”  That will launch a conversation about what are the Assets for Youth, and from there, you can begin to look at the assets listed as “community assets.”  Everyone is an asset builder if they choose to make an effort.

There are six ways to get started, according to the Search Institute, and I will discuss each of them in the next two blogs.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich