As the cold winter months set in I find myself dreading the cold, the shoveling, and the layers and layers of clothing that make me feel like a stuffed sausage. The winter routine is so long and ritualistic that it can easily make a person lose their passion and drive. Don’t get me wrong I love the peaceful evenings when the snow is falling, the pellet stove is burning brightly and my family is settled in for a long winter’s night. As adults it is just far too easy to get lost in the patterns set by life. What is it that snaps us out of our rut and allows us to grab a hold of life again?For me it is having something to look forward to such as a walk or lunch with a friend, a special occasion to celebrate, a vacation or down time with my family that puts the bounce back in my step.
Young people can also become unsatisfied, and bored with the patterns in their lives. A typical day might include waking up for school, riding the bus, going to classes, doing homework, and going to bed…only to begin again the next day. They need something to look forward to, something that will help them remember their passion and drive. For most youth that something is found in youth programs whether it be the arts, sports, clubs, or organizations. As they look ahead to the big game, opening night, or a 4-H event, they come alive. Youth Programs, Asset 18 of Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, the qualities, experiences, and relationships that help young people grow up healthy, caring and responsible, help to put the spark back in young people’s lives.
If a youth program is full of the 40 Developmental Assets it is the best place youth can go to build and strengthen a lot of assets at one time. In asset rich programs, youth are given the opportunity to form relationships with caring adults and role models, and are encouraged to contribute in meaningful ways through serving others. In addition youth programs should be safe havens where they feel safe from ridicule, violence or bullying. In asset-rich youth programs, young people meet friends who model responsible behaviors and share similar interests. The promotion of positive values, social competencies, and positive identity should be the foundation upon which all youth programs are be built.
According to Search Institute, about 57 percent of young people, ages 11–18, spend three or more hours a week in youth programs. These youth benefit by having higher self-esteems, better leadership skills, and are less likely to feel lonely than those youth not participating in programs. What about the other 43 percent of youth who are not participating? Talk with them about their interests. What do they like to do? What would they like to try? Together research and identify youth programs, teams, clubs or organizations in your area that match their interests. There are many wonderful youth programs out there just waiting for you to find them. Don’t wait, make the call today…it could transform a young person’s life.
This blog post was written by Allison Heidorn, ASAP Coalition Asset Coordinator.