Lisa Brown: The building blocks of youth development


— Immunizations keep young children healthy and protect them from disease. Similarly, developmental assets help kids make healthy choices and inoculate them against a wide range of risk-taking behaviors, including substance abuse, violence and school failure. The more assets young people have, the more likely they are to be healthy.

In October 2005, all Steamboat Springs High School students participated in a Search Institute survey that revealed what they think about their lives, values, opportunities and relationships with families, teachers, friends and neighbors. The good news is a majority of our young people, 73 percent, have a Positive View Of Personal Future (Asset #40) and 72 percent have family support (Asset #1). The bad news is only a few, 13 percent, feel the community values youth (Asset #7) and only 21 percent have positive adult role models (Asset #14). These findings tell us there's a lot each of us can do to help young people thrive.

The asset concept is simple and based on common sense: Young people need positive external supports and internal strengths to succeed in life. Most important, they need people to help nurture these assets. If you are interested in learning more about the 40 developmental assets and how you can help build them for our community's youths, please contact any of the following mentioned organizations for more information. provides a list of the 40 developmental assets and ideas for contributing to a healthy and nurturing community for everyone.

Steamboat Springs High School students report an average of 16.9 assets. The national average is 19 of 40 assets. Young people with more assets are less likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors. The SSHS survey indicates 20 percent of our youths have less than 10 assets, and only 4 percent have more than 31 assets. Only 4 percent of our youths are rich with the factors that can contribute to their success.

Youth-serving agencies in Routt County are versed in the language of the developmental assets. Currently, several initiatives are under way to build healthy relationships between teens and adults and provide parents with the support and tools they need for raising children. Grand Futures Prevention Coalition along with the city of Steamboat Springs' Youth Programs is hosting a Free Community BBQ on Saturday at Howelsen Beach for teens and adults. They have been working with a group of students who created, planned and orchestrated this community event. The Youth Wellness Initiative is a collaboration of schools, parents and community partners to foster healthy lifestyles in local youths. Look for their information at Back to School Nights at Routt County high schools.

First Impressions of Routt County is hosting a Parenting and Pizza Night on Sept. 25 at Olympian Hall. The Yampa Valley Community Foundation has funded high-level assets training for two individuals in all three school districts in Routt County. Partners in Routt County's school-based mentors also are assets champions.

These are a few examples of what local nonprofits are doing to build the 40 developmental assets. However, they will not succeed working alone. The Yampa Valley Community Foundation encourages the active involvement and support of community organizations, government agencies, businesses, schools, congregations and other caring individuals to ensure this community is a place that cares for and nurtures our young people.

<p>Lisa Brown is the program manager for the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, a local nonprofit organization committed to building a healthy and vital community through the power of philanthropy. The Yampa Valley Community Foundation collaborates with local partners to support innovative programs


another_local 9 years, 8 months ago

Per today's paper, Lisa Brown is also a candidate for school board, making this letter a campaign piece.

I am a little skeptical of numerical measurements like the "assets" described above but at least this seems to be a candidate familiar with issues and commited to working for youth in our valley.


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