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Youth as resources

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

This is the week is when I fill the well. As you read this column, we are winging our way back from the 2010 Assets conference.
It is a week when I am, “among my people.” Much like an engineer attending an engineering conference, I have the opportunity to be surrounded by 1,500-2,000 youth and adults that are doing this work across the United States and internationally as well.
I equate it to being a large sponge and sucking every possible ounce of inspiration while here. I can get it out of every speaker, session and individual I take the time to lend an ear.
I believe this is my fifth conference, visiting Minnesota, New York and Ohio along the way. This year, we’re spending a little time in Texas, Houston to be exact. The truth is, we may never leave the convention center, as every possible waking moment is spent doing something related to Assets.
You’ll notice that I keep saying, we and normally when I talk about Assets, there’s usually only an I. This year, Los Alamos has a youth attending the conference for the first time.
The goal is to implement ideas at the middle and high school level as seen through the eyes of our youth. So for our first attempt, I decided, for a number of reasons, to take one of my three my sons.
Chandler is an LAHS freshman, a football player, wrestler and member of Los Alamos Youth Leadership. He’s a great kid and after day one, I think he’s having a good time. That is in part due to free internet access at the Assets teen center.
You see we’re on the low budget travel plan. Chandler is even helping with the fundraising to pay for the expenses associated with his trip, so an additional fee for Internet access isn’t part of the plan.
The teen center, which is sponsored in large part by Target, is complete with Wii, bean bags, computers and board games.  There are also youth led sessions to attend, youth tracks for both youth and adults and more.
We started out with a session on SPARKS, followed by a youth session on the DNA of self discipline and how important it is for kids to learn it. Didn’t I mention our local youth is the one that selected both sessions to attend? That was just the first two sessions of the day and since I only have so much space, I’ll leave it there for now.
When we get back from the conference, we’ll speak with school administration, members of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and anyone else who would like to listen about what we learned.
If you would like to purchase a re-useable grocery bag, for just two dollars each, to support the work of Chandler in our community, call us at 661-4846. The funds will be used to cover conference costs and youth projects inspired as a result of his time spent. This allows him to be our Asset focus of the week, youth as a resource and service to others.
Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets Coordinator for Los Alamos. Assets In Action is sponsored by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce.