Neighbors helping neighbors

Asset-building in youths happening across the community

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Tips for building support assets:

The Youth Wellness Initiative is a collaboration between Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, the Northwest Colorado Community Health Project, the city of Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Springs School District.

From birth through high school, young people need support from caring and loving people. Anyone can build assets, even you.

Ages birth to 1: Smile at every infant you see.

Ages 1 to 2: Offer to watch a toddler to give parents a break.

Ages 3 to 5: When you meet preschoolers, ask them how old they are and chat about their day.

Ages 6 to 11: Attend a neighborhood child's school program, recital, concert or sports event.

Ages 12 to 15: Be available to listen. Pass along your wisdom.

Ages 16 to 18: Ask teenagers for their opinion or advice.

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

This week's Asset category: Support

The six Support Assets are external assets. They are the relationships and opportunities that surround young people.

# 1 Family Support

Family life provides high levels of love and support.

# 2 Positive Family Communication

Young person and his/her parent(s) communicate positively. Young person is willing to seek advice/counsel from parent(s).

# 3 Other Adult Relationships

Young person receives support from three or more non-parent adults.

# 4 Caring Neighborhood

Young person experiences caring neighbors.

# 5 Caring School Climate

School provides a caring, encouraging environment.

# 6 Parent Involvement in Schooling

Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.

Visit www.search-instit... for a complete list of the 40 Developmental Assets.

— Jonathon and Kristi Spence value many aspects of their home in West End Village. One of the best features is their neighbors. Living in West End Village includes having caring adults who help each other out.

"We started a phone list for all of the neighbors. The kids - Ethan and Hanna - know who their safehouses are, who to go to first, and, if they are not home, who to go to second. We are also adding a gazebo to our park/playground area for the parents to hang out in while the kids are playing," the Spences said.

Children know their neighbors, and the neighbors know them.

Neighbors helping neighbors may sound like common sense. What West End Village families may not realize is they are building Asset No. 4 - Caring Neighborhood for their young people.

Anyone can build assets in youth. Asset-building already is happening all over our community. Mark Wertheimer, program director of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, works to encourage local students to steward their environment and get involved in the Yampa Valley Science School. In his free time he volunteers for Partners in Routt County and mentors a local at-risk youth. In his public and private life, he is building Asset No. 3 - Other Adult Relationships. Every young person needs this form of external adult support.

This series highlights the eight categories of the 40 Developmental Assets - Support, Empowerment, Boundaries and Expectations, Constructive Use of Time, Commitment to Learning, Positive Values, Social Competency and Positive Identity. The six Support Assets are the relationships and opportunities that surround young people.

According to the 2005 Search Institute's Profile of Our Youth survey, the following percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students possess each asset: Family Support, 72 percent; Positive Family Communication, 26 percent; Other Adult Relationships, 48 percent; Caring Neighborhood, 29 percent; Caring School Climate, 25 percent; Parent Involvement in Schooling, 31 percent.

Steamboat Springs High School students have an average of 16.9 of the 40 assets. Youths with more assets are less likely than youths with fewer assets to engage in 24 risky behaviors, such as substance use, gambling, violence and shoplifting.

All children and young people need assets, and everyone can build them. One positive experience in a child's life can make a difference; a lifetime of positive experiences will ensure youths grow up healthy, strong, caring, competent and responsible.

If you know of an asset-builder in our community who deserves to be highlighted, call Grand Futures at 879-6188 or the Yampa Valley Community Foundation at 879-8632.

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