Like plants, youth grow.
Whether they are planted in soil that is difficult or rich, they stretch toward health. Positive Youth Development is a constructive, measurable model of how “nutrient” rich a young person’s life is. I am grateful to Jacob, Elinor, and Anika – youth who helped run a workshop on it at the MidAmerica UUA Regional Assembly.
The Search Institute has identified forty assets that correlate with lower risking-taking and higher healthy behaviors in young people. Half the assets are internal -things like a sense of personal control, peaceful conflict resolution skills, or reading for pleasure. Half are external – such as a caring school climate, support from non-parent adults, or being involved in a youth group. Raising the number of assets can bring positive change across several domains at once. Like a balloon that’s more full, the young person has more “bounce” to be resilient and to aim high.
The number of assets is more predictive of youth thriving and risk avoidance than are family backgound, race/ethnicity, or geographic location – and can add nuance to understanding each of those factors. This model points the way for whole communities – not just parents – to play a role. It also can show young people specific things they can do to help themselves be more resilient.
Consider: Whether you are young or old, what simple steps can you take to be an asset for a young person in your life? Do you make an effort to let small moments count with a smile or a word of hello?
Learn more at Search-institute.org