Why do some kids grow up with ease, while others struggle? Why do some kids get involved in dangerous activities, while others spend their time contributing to society? Why do some youth “beat the odds” in difficult situations, while others get trapped?
Many factors influence why some young people have successes in life and why others have a harder time. Economic circumstances, genetics, trauma, and many other factors play a role. But these factors – which seem difficult, if not impossible, to change – aren’t all that matters. Research by Search Institute has identified 40 concrete, positive experiences and qualities -”Developmental Assets”- that have a tremendous influence on young peoples’ lives. And, they are things that people from all walks of life can help to nurture.
Research shows that the 40 Developmental Assets help young people make wise decisions, choose positive paths, and grow up competent, caring, and responsible. The assets are grouped into eight categories:
- Support / Empowerment / Positive identity
- Commitment to learning / Positive Values
- Social Competencies / Boundaries and expectations
- Constructive Use of Time
- Click Here for more Developmental Assets
The Asset framework can be used by families, schools, neighborhoods, faith communities, businesses and all organizations, and individuals in a community. Everyone can, and does, play a role in building Assets for youth. Asset-building is about relationships. It’s about being purposeful and taking the time to do good things with and for youth. It’s about making common sense, common practice.
KidsMatter is a Naperville not-for-profit organization. Our mission is to educate and encourage people in our community to build Developmental Assets in youth.
Asset-building is about relationships. It’s about being purposeful and taking the time to do good things with and for youth. It’s about making common sense, common practice. The Naperville Youth Developmental Coalition’s beginning dates back to 1995 when Edward Hospital conducted a community wellness survey. Teenage destructive behaviors, such as substances abuse, pregnancy, violence, smoking and alcohol use were identified as one of five significant health risks that Edward Hospital chose to address with community based programs. Recognizing that a problem-centered approach which relies heavily on professional and public sector resources rarely works by itself, a complementary approach which focuses on healthy development and requires action by all residents of the community was sought.
Recognizing that a problem-centered approach which relies heavily on professionals and public sector resources rarely works by itself, a complementary approach which focuses on healthy development and requires action by all residents of the community was sought. The Healthy Communities/Healthy Youth model from Search Institute, a nonprofit nonsectarian organization dedicated to research that benefits children and youth, was selected to be the operating vehicle to mobilize community action in this area. This Asset-building model of positive youth development was chosen because of the effective and comprehensive way it could be used to assess the needs of Naperville youth.
A hospital-supported team of representatives from youth serving organizations met monthly to implement the program. The first goal was to raise funds and administer Search Institute’s assessment survey, Profile of Student Life: Attitudes & Behavior, to 8,000 6th – 12th grade students in District 203 in November of 1998. The results of this survey provided a baseline to measure community needs. This survey showed Naperville youth to have an average of 21 assets, or character building blocks, which is above the national average of 17. However, only half of the possible 40 assets needed to successfully avoid teenage pitfalls and set a constructive course for adult life were realized by our youth.
Since this initiative’s origin in 1995, it has evolved into “KidsMatter,” known formerly as the Naperville Youth Development Coalition. KidsMatter is part of the national effort by Search Institute to educate and encourage Asset-building, and to date, approximately 600 communities across the country are involved in similar initiatives.