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Our Asset of the week is number four, Caring Neighborhood. This is very simply defined as a neighborhood where the young person experiences caring neighbors.
Our 2009 data listed 39 percent of our youth feeling like they had this Asset in their lives. Our 2013 data shows only 38 percent.
While that may be too close to call, either way, that number is still in the wrong direction. I would hope that four years later, we may be trending up.
I love to hear stories of how people in the community try to build this Asset for youth, of all ages.
I have heard stories of people walking younger children to school and saying hello to teens waiting for the bus, adults extending an invitation to youth to community events and more.
Now my favorite Asset building activity is called Cookies and Conversation. It now takes place monthly at both Los Alamos High School and Los Alamos Middle School.
Last week was the first installment of the program at the middle school. We waited patiently for the move into the new facility and the result was awesome.
While the ratio of kids to adults tends to be about equal, we had 19 young people and three adults along for the fun.
We devoured sandwiches, cookies and Halloween candy all the while discussing music, movies, cookies, vacations and more.
The hour flew and all involved had a great time, even though some had to sit on the floor, because we filled the room.
This week, please be extra sensitive to young people when discussing this whole government shutdown.
While it seems far removed, you don’t know financially if it is bearing weight on a family’s financial issues.
Have a family meal and talk to your own kids, in case we get to the time when the Los Alamos National Laboratory goes on furlough.
I know of teens afraid that their parents will be out of a job, so even at that seemingly grown up age, it needs to be addressed.
If you are one of the people in question, try not to be overly dramatic, or quietly angry. Your attitude translates, even if you don’t say a word.
Now don’t get me wrong, you are 100 percent entitled to feel whatever way you want, but please consider addressing it constructively.
If the government shutdown is at your door, then while your kids are at school, take the dog for a walk, get outside and do something hands on and muscle involved.
Head to the library and check out a book on stress reduction, or Google it if you’re worried someone will see you. Find a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a therapist you can talk to and don’t keep things bottled up. The dog is a great listener and bound by all confidentiality rules.
This may be your situation, but don’t let it harm the daily activities of youth if it doesn’t have to, by not addressing the elephant in the room.
Have a good week and hang in there.
Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets In Action Coordinator for Los Alamos. The AIA program is funded by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation.