In our field, who doesn't? But most of us struggle with knowing what really makes a difference in the lives of teenagers we know and love.
Here's a little secret. We rarely change any kid's life on our own. Most often it's through collaboration with others, partnerships that sometimes come easy, sometimes less so. But chances are you aren't going to be anyone's messiah—not even your own children if you have kids. (That's a good thing, actually.)
One of the most research-backed approaches to how families and communities can boost child and adolescent thriving comes from the Search Institute. Their 40 Developmental Assets are the result of research with over 3 million kids (in and of itself astounding). What's the big deal? This list is research-proven to be connected to thriving in all aspects of life. And the general rule with assets is, the more the better. Here are some ideas for how you could use this list of assets this summer or in the coming fall:
- Share it with volunteers. Ask them to identify ONE way they can be an asset builder in the life of ONE kid over the rest of the summer and make a goal to do it.
- Share it with other staff and pastors. Whether they directly work with youth or children's ministry or not is irrelevant. Every person in every community can be an asset-builder in some way for kids.
- Share it with parents. Invite them to note the assets their kids have, and the assets their kids might currently be lacking. Then ask them to brainstorm a list of people and resources that might be able to help nurture assets that aren't as strong. Partnership is key—not guilt over what they aren't already doing.
- Use it as an inventory when you meet 1-1 with students. How would they rate themselves on the level of each asset in their own life? What ideas do they have for strengthening their weakest areas? How do they provide assets for others who are younger?
We cant change any kid's life on our own. But tapping into resources and working together, the summer can be full of opportunities to build assets that help kids thrive.
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