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Assets for Success at Any Age

Developmental Assets-what are they and how do they help improve a community?

Hello there, fellow Patch readers!  I haven't been able to add a post recently, but I was reminded of something worth sharing at a local event I attended recently.  Our friends at Roosevelt Elementary School hosted a Community Breakfast on May 2nd, to offer their gratitude to the groups and persons from the area who support the school in various ways.  I was pleased to represent Sylvan Lake Lutheran Church at this event, and even more delighted to meet faculty, staff and volunteers from the school and the West Bloomfield community.  I had the privilege of sitting at a table with a group of Special Education teachers, whose dedication and caring I can only admire.  We talked about various matters pertaining to the school, and they shared their concern with me that budget cuts had impacted them by taking away their social worker.

Once I returned to my office, I was reminded of an old resource that may need to be revisited. It's one that some of you may already have read about.   A few years ago, the Search Institute, operating under a grant, conducted extensive research into the question, "What elements are found in the healthy development of children, teens and adults?"

From this research came a list of 40 developmental assets, critical factors affecting positive child and adolescent development.  If you want to read the research more thoroughly, you can find it at:  www.search-institute.org.

My brief time spent at Roosevelt Elementary School highlighted for me the need for an entire community to consider which assets we are offering our young people, and which ones we might need to work on.  I can see that some of these benchmarks are already part of the very dna of the school system, which is commendable.  Students receive support, empowerment and clear boundaries and expectations.  They are offered options for constructive use of learning time that allows them to learn about choices and consequences in a guided manner.  They are treated as valuable persons, whose ideas, concerns and safety is respected.  As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that it isn't just young people who benefit from these elements. Many adults also seek to grow personally throughout their lives.  

These 'External' Assets are the framework upon which the other developmental assets are built.  Parents, schools, businesses and agencies in our area would be wise to spend time learning about developmental assets and thinking about how they apply to their area of concern.  Although many of what the Search Institute calls 'Internal Assets' are normally developed in the home environment, I challenge our community to think about ways we as churches, businesses, agencies and even governments can support our citizens to be strong internally as well.  The Internal Assets affect a person's perception of themselves and of their purpose in life.  They concern such matters as a deep commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies and a positive identity. 

What if an employer committed to treating employees within the framework of these assets?  What if our local community considered developmental assets in planning recreation programs, adult education classes, etc?  What if we found ways to teach these assets to parents whose children attend our schools?

It's something we can all help with. It is something that will help make West Bloomfield and its' surrounding communities an excellent place to live, work, learn, worship and do business.

I would love to offer more information on developmental assets and how they can make a positive impact in any community.  Please feel free to contact me via this blog or at the email address listed for me.  Let's talk!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

richard john orban May 22, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Amen.
Margaret May 22, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Well said.

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