Campaign seeks to build assets in local youths

My turn

Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2000

Have you ever wondered what you can do to help make Juneau a better place for young people? Then you are ready to be an asset builder. If you don't know what that means now, you will soon. The Mayor's Task Force on Youth is coordinating an Asset Building media campaign to help you learn more about ways that you can help a young person develop into a strong, capable, caring person.

Just as accumulating monetary assets builds wealth, developing assets in our young people helps them to build a reserve to protect them from harm. The more assets a young person has, the less likely they are to have problems in school, use alcohol or other drugs, engage in violence or sexual activity, or be vulnerable to depression and suicide.

"Helping Kids Succeed-Alaskan Style" lists 40 possible assets adapted from the Search Institute in Minnesota. Some of these assets are external, such as participating in creative and cultural activities or having positive adult role models. Others are internal, such as reading for pleasure and being honest. We can all help build assets by doing seemingly small things like greeting a young person by name, helping out with a homework assignment, teaching a skill or letting a young person teach us something.

The Mayor's Task Force on Youth is promoting the idea of building assets in Juneau youth by coordinating a yearlong media campaign highlighting an asset each week. Local groups or agencies such as the United Way, Boys and Girls Club, and the Zach Gordon Youth Center will sponsor a display ad in each Sunday Juneau Empire. Each ad will not only highlight the good work done by these groups, but will promote one of the assets they help build in our youth. We encourage you to look for the Asset Builder of the Week each Sunday to learn more about assets and the caring youth service providers in town.

If you are interested in becoming an asset builder, you can pick up your own copy of "Helping Kids Succeed-Alaskan Style" by contacting Derek Peterson at the Association of Alaska School Boards, 586-1083. If you are part of a group that serves young people and would like to be part of the asset-building campaign, please call Wendy Marriott at Zach Gordon Youth Center at 586-2635.

The Mayor's Task Force on Youth meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Juneau School District conference room. The public is welcome.

Anita Hazell-Parrish is member of the Mayor's Task Force on Youth, and serves as the project coordinator for an Alaskans Collaborating for Teens grant from the Alaska Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

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