Building resiliency is a key component to keeping youth safe and healthy. Project Safety Net, in conjunction with Project Cornerstone, a local non-profit helping communities build asset-rich environments, has adopted the Search Institute’s 41 developmental assets model to provide a framework for building resiliency and other positive character traits amongst youth.
Developmental Assets is a framework of 41 building blocks that enhance the health and well-being of children and youth. They are the experiences and opportunities that all young people need to grow into healthy, responsible adults. A list of 41 developmental assets can be seen in Appendix D. The Asset model is a highly regarded approach to mobilize communities with a common vision and language for what youth and teens need to thrive.
Through years of research in youth development, these assets have been identified by the Search Institute, an independent research and educational organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their research has shown that when these assets are present, they help prevent negative behaviors, risk-taking, and help increase positive, thriving behaviors. Assets are cumulative: the more youth have the better. As the number of assets increases, so does a child’s well-being. As a framework for healthy growth and well-being, assets give communities a set of benchmarks to measure the positive development of their children and youth – regardless of community size, geographic region, gender, family economics, race or ethnicity. Search Institute found that the number of assets a young person has affects how they respond to and maneuver through difficult life experiences. The fewer assets a youth has, the more likely they are to participate in negative behavior to cope with difficult times. Young people who have 31-40 assets are more likely to bounce back from difficult situations and bounce back more quickly.
- Currently, the 41 developmental assets model has been endorsed by PSN, Palo Alto Recreation, YMCA, and the Palo Alto Unified School District.
- Parent education classes have been offered in Palo Alto by Project Cornerstone and the assets have been and are being used as a common language among many youth workers in the community.
- A multi-agency subcommittee of Project Safety Net, the Palo Alto Developmental Assets Initiative, has formed to bring a greater awareness and understanding of developmental assets in the community. The initial goal of the committee is to create a community where every adult is an asset builder.
- Two strategies are currently being used to move towards this goal.
- First, the sub-committee is working with Project Safety Net to define involvement from the PAUSD and the City. Second, the group is being trained to speak about developmental assets throughout the community.
- PAUSD has elected to employ the Developmental Assets Survey. The survey will be given the end of September or early October 2010 to 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th grade students throughout the District.
- The Palo Alto Children’s Theatre began a Teen Arts Council during the 2009-10 school year. The Teen Arts Council is dedicated to giving students a voice through all forms of creative self-expression and provides leadership and community service opportunities for high-school teens. The Teen Arts Council is comprised of 20 passionate students who are committed to promoting the well-being of youth through the arts with the guidance and support of the City’s Community Services Department.
- A PAUSD district representative must be identified to support and further the efforts regarding Project Cornerstone. Each school must have a point person who will help develop a plan for marketing and supporting the efforts.
- A working relationship with the PTA to both help give the survey and implement activities focused on continuing the asset model throughout the year.
- A City elected representative should be identified to bring high level visibility to the initiative and drive implementation.
- A plan must be created by the subcommittee to bring about the general community awareness and policy changes necessary to weave the developmental assets permanently into the fabric of our community.