Simply stated, a community that values its young people values its future. The ways in which we partner with our youth to dream together and to work alongside each other to accomplish both community and individual goals are the ways we ensure that Clinton enjoys a healthy future.
When we come together, when we become allies and partners, we combine the energy and freshness of our youth with the experience and stability of our adults. The awesome result is that we are all empowered and inspired to create the kind of environment in which one generation gains strength and vision from the other to keep our community thriving. So how do we as a community stand when it comes to valuing our youth and making them feel esteemed and worthwhile contributors to the progress of Clinton? According to the Search Institute Surveys on Developmental Assets from 2005-2012 we have definitely improved. In 2005, 16% of our youth aged 12-17 felt that their community valued them. By the year 2012, this number had blossomed to 28%. PiC has been extremely intentional about raising the awareness of this much-needed asset, and our schools and other community groups have responded well by giving our kids many leadership opportunities. And for the first time this year in PiC, many of the committee leadership positions are held by youth! However, we are still faced with the fact that less than one third of our young people feel valued by their community. Hopefully this number will challenge and encourage us as adult members of Clinton, especially our members of the business community, to become champions of this asset, to use our imaginations to seek and discover more ways to inspire our young people to become involved, engaged, and active in the life of our community for the benefit of us all.
To provide some inspiration and to get the juices flowing, here are some examples of ways other communities have contributed to building the Asset of Community Values Youth:
- Welch Cleaners in Wichita, KS printed out paper hanger covers with “3 simple ways to show a child you care” from Search Institute’s 150 Ways to Show Kids You Care poster and placed them on all their hangers with returned dry cleaned clothes
- Groups in Monroe County, NY worked with the local Wegman’s Grocery Stores to distribute plastic shopping bags bearing an asset-building message and local contact info to get customers involved with area initiatives
- A local hardware store in Warren County, PA started a gift registry for the high school so that community members could donate supplies for a youth-led community painting day
- Kaiser Permanente sponsored a youth theater troupe that performed around CO, providing info on health topics for teens
- Portland, OR provided young people minigrants to support asset-building activities such as a tutoring program
- A youth commission was formed in Hampton, VA that not only advises city government on policies but also has a budget to support asset-building
If this list has sparked any ideas, PiC would love to hear any suggestions you may have regarding ways to expand and develop this asset in our Clinton youth.
Written by Clinton parent Nancy Williams