How do you support youth in your community? |

How do you support youth in your community?

For my series of articles this year, I would like to dive deeper into Developmental Assets — factors all youth need to thrive and that are critical for their growth and development, according to the Search Institute out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

At the Buddy Program we weave these assets into our work with youth and families, as well as with volunteers who work directly with these youth.

The Search Institute breaks the 40 assets into two categories: External (positive experiences that youth should be receiving) and Internal (qualities that young people should be developing within themselves).

We will start with Internal Assets and work our way through all 40 throughout the year.

The first Internal Asset listed is support. Support comes in a variety of ways and the Institute breaks it down as:

• Family support: Family life provides high levels of love and support.

• Positive family communication: The youth and her or his parents communicate positively, and the youth is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.

• Other adult relationships: The youth receives support from three or more nonparent adults.

• Caring neighborhood: The youth experiences caring neighbors.

• Caring school climate: School provides a caring, encouraging environment.

• Parent involvement in schooling: Parents are actively involved in helping the youth to succeed in school.

Most of us can identify the family support systems in place for our own children, and it is important to think about how these support systems extend from our own families into our community. While our schools and neighbors do the best they can to provide support for their youth, we all play a role in working with all of the youth in our communities.

I challenge you to be a part of this support network for not just your own youth, but a child next door, a classmate of your child’s or perhaps a child you know through sports or church.

The National Mentoring Partnership released a study this year indicating that nine million at-risk youth will reach age 19 without having a mentor — and are therefore less likely to graduate high school, go on to college, and lead healthy and productive lives.

While formal mentoring relationships can exist in programs like the Buddy Program or YouthZone’s Pal’s Program, they also can exist in informal settings: a coach to a player; a youth pastor to a youth group attendee; an empty nester neighbor to the middle school student next door.

You can play a part in shoring up this support system that is so critical for youth in our communities.

For more information on mentoring youth from Aspen to Carbondale call the Buddy Program at 927-1001. For more information on mentoring youth from Glenwood Springs to Rifle, call YouthZone at 945-9300.

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