Embracing and accepting one another

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By The Staff

Today we look at Asset #10, Safety. According to the Search Institute, “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they feel safe at home, at school and in the community.”

This week, the counselors of the Los Alamos Public School District pursued a training called, A Change of Heart.

The goal of the training is a prevention-based approach to a state mandate to reduce bullying in the schools. This program is an attempt to change school climate by implementing an assets approach.

Ten sixth-grade students were selected from each elementary school and trained in asset language, how to break down barriers, how to build relationships and how not to judge a book by the cover.

This community of sixth-graders will soon rotate up to a brand new school environment, where they will meet hundreds of new students forming a new school community. The activities in the training allowed them to see how they were similar to each other in more ways than they are different.

We’re all the same really, irrelevant of income, social status or background. A Change of Heart illustrated the lessons to empower our youth to understand the healthy power they possess to, as Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The training is designed for sixth through 12th grade students, although I did overhear someone say, “Duh, a sixth-grader is not a 12th-grader.” By nature I would answer this comment with a duh of my own, but I’ll explain.

The big question is, why did we start with sixth-graders? The short answer is we needed to start somewhere.

The longer answer is seventh grade is known as one of the transition years. The year where you can take on extra curricular sports, join a multitude of clubs and in a really different way, when boys become boys and girls become girls.

There are so many changes in their view of education. As a seventh-grader for the first time you have the chance to select your own electives, move around a large campus and for some, ride a bus for the first time.

There are so many changes, that common language can be a tool to get everyone on the same page. This common language is something we plan to develop within every business, organization and congregation in the community.

Our first asset leaders became educated on topics like support, cultural competencies and constructive use of time, boundaries, and expectations. The students were able to identify their own strengths and discover who helps them to build these assets.

The students were asked to think about what asset they needed to work on and what adult in their life could help them with the task.

They could also share the message with someone who looked up to them in an effort to build the assets of their younger siblings, classmates or neighbors. They could also understand no matter what the past held, they could make a difference when confronted with a situation.

The work of the district will train every sixth, seventh and eighth grade class in the district, when the school bell rings in August. The same training could be applied to a kindergarten class or a senior class with slight changes in the language, activities or length of time spent.

The possibilities are endless with the Developmental Assets and small changes can make a difference. If people would like to learn more, check out the Search Institute website.

Our Asset Builder of the week is Ms. Ellen Cort of Piñon Elementary. Cort and her Piñon Panthers were an excellent addition to the Asset Leaders training. Student Derek Selvage nominated Cort for being one of the nicest people in the building.

Bernadette is the Assets In Action Coordinator and would love your feedback at  661-4846. Assets In Action is a program of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.