Making youth a resource

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By The Staff

This week, we take a look at Asset #8, Youth as Resources. According to the Search Institute, “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they are given useful roles in the community.”

This asset might be best understood by first approaching it from a family perspective. Do your children or grandchildren have tasks they do as a useful role in the family? Even if they don’t admit it, that’s where it all begins. Everyone needs to have a role in the family to feel like a valued part of it.

The same philosophy translates into the school environment or the community. Last October, the Los Alamos Middle School students pitched in to create a Pledge Garden at the school. As spring materializes, they will be asked to plant flowers to beautify their school and contribute to a useful project at the same time.

This task could easily be accomplished without the help of youth, but it wouldn’t have the same impact. The same garden wouldn’t grow without the continued effort of Mr. Dryja’s community service classes that diligently water the garden and some newly planted trees.  

Tap into a young person’s strengths and then see where it can take you. The Los Alamos Youth Leadership programs have three teams that will come together this weekend for the second annual LAYL Wild Day.

The wild event unites teens and their younger counterparts for a day of play and hands-on fun. While these youth enjoy a six hour recess with kindergarten through sixth grade students, that is actually the culmination of many months of planning.

The youth drive the entire process while the adults stand at the ready to answer questions and provide guidance.

The teens plan the events for the day, which will include art, games, snacking and probably the most fun, chasing teenage boys. I think the average teenage boy is the only species with the energy to outlast elementary aged boys and girls.

Many months ago, the youth leadership students sat down and brainstormed about the way the second annual LAYL Wild Day would unfold. They used the information from the lessons learned the previous year to make improvements to the second annual event.

The day was divided into three parts with the first team taking on the art projects. The S3 team decided on the artful creations that would be part of the day, including the younger youth making their own tie-dyed T-shirts. That team planned out the supply list, taking into account the supplies leftover from last year, in order to save money.

The Flashdance team has taken on lunch and snacks for the day. Much like their colleagues, they needed to take into consideration the foods that went over well and not so well with the pint sized Picassos the previous year. The Silly Sandwich lunch is a popular part of the day, where peanut butter and marshmallow fluff will be combined with gummy worms and chocolate chips in what would be viewed as a Dagwood delight by their parents or grandparents.

Last but not least are the games, everything from old fashioned Twister games donated by KRSN to DDR, which is short for Dance Dance Revolution and what may be the finest part of physical education classes and were also donated by the Heart Council to Los Alamos Public Schools.

The busy work, the request for use of items and the request for the use of the facilities has all been taken care of by the youth. The old people, of course I mean the older people, facilitate the steps to make sure the boxes are checked. They drive the big trucks and pick up tents or tables, but the day is run by the youth.

The youth as resources for this event doesn’t begin and end with LAYL. The resource list increases with requests made by the youth to their fellow students in a variety of clubs and organizations. The NJROTC, Key Club, Student Council, Natural Helpers, DECA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Gay-Straight Alliance have all been contacted to lend a little muscle to the festive festivities.

As the event comes down to the wire this week, the decision was made by the youth to limit it to the first 100 participants, with a deadline of Wednesday. The only thing the teens can’t control is weather, although I’m sure the force driving of Keanna Cohen has put in a good word. Don’t worry, they have a back-up plan and everything is under control.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets in Action Coordinator, sponsored by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. You can also hear her on Monday Matters on AM 1490, KRSN from 9-10 a.m. This week she’ll speak with Kim Knapp about raising funds for brain cancer research to support local mom and all around great gal, Julie Meadows.