Building a positive identity

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Tips for building the Positive Identity Assets

Ages Birth to 1 Always love, accept and respect babies.

Ages 1 to 2 When children act out or make a mistake, focus on the behavior, not the child. Instead of saying, "No! You are so naughty," try, "No, it's not OK for you to do that."

Ages 3 to 5 Talk with children about the good things that happen in their lives.

Ages 6 to 11 Talk with children about what gives your life meaning and a sense of purpose.

Ages 12 to 15 Expect young people to experience ups and downs of self-esteem during these years and for it to increase as they get older. Avoid comparing young people with other young people.

Ages 16 to 18 Let teenagers know that you are proud of and excited by their talents, capabilities, and discoveries.

Ask local youth-serving agencies what they do daily to build assets in our community.

This week's Asset category: Positive Identity

These are internal assets that help youth be hopeful, optimistic and confident about their future.

#37 Personal Power

Young person feels he/she has control over "things that happen to me."

#38 Self-Esteem

Young person reports having high self-esteem.

#39 Sense of Purpose

Young person reports that "my life has a purpose."

#40 Positive View of Personal Future

Young person is optimistic about his/her personal future.

- For a complete list of the 40 Developmental Assets, visit www.search-instit...>

— New Frontiers for Girls and Women, a local, all-volunteer nonprofit organization, aims to improve the self-sufficiency of girls and women in Northwest Colorado. The organization's fourth annual Financial Literacy Symposium for 11th grade girls and boys included students from Steamboat, South Routt and Hayden. On April 3, students spent the day learning from local professionals about financial responsibility and economic self-sufficiency. The volunteer presenters are building Asset No. 37, Personal Power, and an array of skills for success.

New Frontiers will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the eighth grade Girls to Women Conference on April 8 at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel. The event brings together eighth grade girls from every corner of Routt County.

"The program is all about building the Positive Identity assets," said Gail Kellogg, the event's co-chairwoman. "It's the reason we have done it, for 10 years now, and will continue. Having a day for young women to interact with inspiring, successful local women on issues of career and positive relationships is an impactful way for them to believe that they can do and achieve meaningful and great things."

Girls have the opportunity to explore careers that interest them by hearing from numerous local women from a variety of professions. Last year, one girl reflected, "Because of the 'Apple a Day' workshop, I learned that I really could be a pediatrician." Other workshops focus on building interpersonal skills and self-esteem, including the popular yoga session.

April is the Month of the Young Child, and Sherry Moore, a certified Yoga Kids International facilitator, says it's the perfect time to explore what yoga has to offer for youths.

"Children are living in a demanding environment of peer expectations, stress from school and sports, let alone world news and the media. They feel confused, overwhelmed, depressed, and often present challenged immune systems," she said. "Cultivating self-esteem, increased focus and concentration, less illness and good coping skills are a few of the benefits of yoga."

Call Sherry at 879-2848 or the Yoga Rx Studio at 879-2990 to learn about individual and group yoga sessions for young children and teens.

The Positive Identity Assets focus on helping youth feel good about themselves and their abilities. The 2005 Search Institute's Profile of Our Youth survey reveals the following percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students possess each of these assets: Personal Power, 48 percent; Self-Esteem, 51 percent; Sense of Power, 62 percent; and Positive View of Personal Future, 73 percent, which matches the national norm for this particular asset. The Positive View of Personal Future asset also is the most commonly possessed asset in the country for young people, and the same holds true locally.

The more assets a person has, the more likely they will live a meaningful life. Thirty-one or more assets is the ideal goal.

Young people need to know they are valuable, worthwhile individuals and have talents, skills, abilities and promise. Everyone has the ability to notice and promote what makes individual kids unique and promising.

The Youth Wellness Initiative works to build collaboration between parents, schools and community members to foster healthy lifestyles among youth.

For more information on the Youth Wellness Initiative or to nominate an asset builder for this series, call Grand Futures at 879-6188 or the Yampa Valley Community Foundation at 879-8632.

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