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Learn to build children’s ‘assets’

Alissa Widman Neese • Oct 3, 2013 at 4:00 PM

A sincere smile or constructive compliment could be a day-altering event in a child’s most difficult moments.

People who bestow these simple yet meaningful praises might not know it, but they’re building a child’s “assets.” And that’s a great thing, according to experts from the Search Institute, a national nonprofit promoting healthy children and communities.

Want to go?

• WHAT: Asset Implementation Conference 

• WHEN: 4:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 16; doors open at 3 p.m.

• WHERE: Castaway Bay, 2001 Cleveland Road W., Sandusky 

• COST: $15 

• MORE: To register, call Amy Roldan at 419-626-8694 or download a registration form below.

Deadline is Oct. 7. All are welcome to attend.

In 1989, the institute identified 40 developmental assets, or positive qualities and experiences, that help children become happy, healthy and successful adults.

On Oct. 16, local groups will host a conference promoting the concept at Castaway Bay.

“Some of the concepts might seem simple — looking a child in the eye, smiling, telling them they look nice today — but they’re just things we don’t always do anymore as a society,” said Brandy Bennett, director of Erie County Family & Children First Council, one of the group’s sponsors.

Partners for Prevention of Erie County, a coalition of local agencies aiming to reduce youth substance abuse, coordinated the conference with its new Asset Development Community, Bennett said. The committee promotes “empowerment” and “constructive use of time,” two assets studies indicate reduced problematic and risky behaviors.

Of almost 1,000 local seventh-graders the committee surveyed, only 21 percent said they feel their community values youth, and only 19 percent said they participate in creative activities, according to the committee. Those numbers dropped to 16 percent and 17 percent, respectively, for ninth-graders.

A few schools and organizations already tout the benefits of the National Search Institute’s assets, but anyone who interacts with children — parents, school staff, coaches, counselors, church leaders and more — can implement the concept to increase these numbers, Bennett said.

“This isn’t just about teachers and parents. This is a community-wide issue,” Bennett said.

Other key sponsors and organizers of October’s event include the Erie County Health Department, United Way of Erie County, Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services, Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, the Stein Foundation and North Point Educational Service Center.

The three-hour conference costs $15 and features discussions, presentations and educational handouts and materials. Participants can earn continuing education credits, and dinner will be provided.

Amy Roldan, local Big Brothers Big Sisters executive director, said she hopes the conference will be the first of several hosted in the Sandusky area. Her organization, another sponsor, has successfully used the National Search Institute’s developmental assets for the past several years.

“We’re hoping to promote a proactive approach, so we’re aware of how we’re interacting with children and what role models we are for them,” Roldan said. “Healthier kids become better adults and create a better community, which impacts all of us.”


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