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This week we look at Asset #7 Community Values Youth. According to the Search Institute, youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they perceive that adults in the community value youth.
When I started my interest in working with Assets, our community rated 15 percent, according to our youth, on how the community valued them. While the current data results aren’t due back for a few months, I’m certain the tide is changing.
Since our last data collection, Los Alamos County has implemented a youth driven advisory council and built a skate park in the heart of downtown.
The Los Alamos Historical Museum has made an effort to acquire youth feedback to support its work in the community.
The YMCA’s Youth Mobilizers through support of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board have researched how youth spend their money in the community and made the information available to local businesses.
The Mobilizers also spent time studying the causes that led youth to drop out of school and what they wish had been done differently. The information continued with researching if the students continued their education or left the educational system.
A new Assets program that started with this school year is Cookies and Conversation. Principal Grace Brown, with the help of the Key Club, allows students to see that local senior citizens value sharing time together discussing a variety of low-key topics.
Adults are fighting their resistance to technology and demonstrating to youth that they’re willing to text, facebook and if that wasn’t enough, here comes twitter.
The younger kids can see that adults take time away from other projects to volunteer in the classroom, sign up for programs such as lunch buddies and put their efforts toward events including spelling bees, science fairs, and speech contests.
You can even go further by demonstrating the importance of adult volunteers in junior wrestling, soccer, and hockey and little league programs.
Parents can use these opportunities not as a drop and run babysitting opportunity, although on occasion conflicts arise, but to show interest in youth. It doesn’t even matter if the aptitude for a particular sport is years away. I believe there’s a saying about attitude being 99 percent of success.
You don’t need to volunteer for everything, but you also can’t always use the excuse that you are too busy. After all, the child has the time to be there, or is she or he really busy but made the time to show up because they needed to be there?
My husband and I have always tried to keep our kids involved in no more than two activities, unless something overlaps slightly. Thus far it has allowed the kids to not be overwhelmed with obligation and the parents to stay sane, or at least relatively speaking. We’ve always believed that it shouldn’t be a matter of who signs up for the most things wins.
I’m as cheap as the day is long when it comes to spending money on things especially when they aren’t used, valued or appreciated. I often see parents paying for kids to have things or be involved in activities and then never enjoy or take part in them, but I digress.
The great thing about this asset is that money isn’t necessarily at the top of the list when it comes to acquiring this asset. Something as simple as feedback or input matter equally, even though many of us might not admit it.
You should never solicit the input unless you really will act on what you receive. It doesn’t mean that we can always accomplish something important to our youth, but you can demonstrate that you value the time they spent to provide it.
There’s another out of the box way that all adults can demonstrate value, even if children aren’t yours. As the weather begins to turn, we see tons of kids out on bikes, scooters and skateboards, often without helmets. Now even though it is the law, you can let youth know that you care about their safety, not just about breaking the law.
Whenever I see a kid without a helmet, I always like to say, “Where’s your helmet, I’d hate to see you hurt that pretty face.”
I don’t know if they think about it the same way, but I believe it is one way to let them know, related or not, somebody cares about and values them.
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.
She’ll talk to folks about the Senior Center Technology Fair and about YMCA Healthy Kids Day, both taking place next weekend.