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Wild Child Conference 2011: Asset Building

Every year in September in Marion, Ohio there is a conference known as The Wild Child Conference. The goal of this conference is to keep educators and organizations that work with teens in the know about teen life, culture, and the topics that impact their lives. For the third year in a row, I have the honor of being a part of the board of the Wild Child Conference. The 2011 WCC looked at addiction in the lives of teens.  Here, Jodi Galloway, a licensed social worker and coordinator for the local anti-drug education program, discusses how she uses the 40 Developmental Assets as a means of empowering teens and decreasing at risk behavior.

Information about the 2012 Wild Child Conference

Jodi Galloway, licensed social worker, uses the 40 Developmental Assets from the Search Institute to build assets and help curb risk seeking behavior http://www.search-institute.org/assets (introduced in 1989, started out as 30 assets now 40)


The 40 Assets is a model of PREVENTION
What kids are doing well in life? What do they have that is making them be successful?


We need to hear about teenagers doing good! We hear about bad teenagers. We need to hear about the ones who are doing well – there are more doing well than not.


Adults have to remember what it was like to be an adolescent. Things are very different, but they are the same.


Ways Asset Building is different

  • Problem centered approach vs Asset building approach
  • Grounded in research and proven in programming
  • The more assets a teen has, the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors
  • The more assets a teen has, the more likely they are to be engaged in positive behaviors


Internal and External Assets
External – community around them including family and school
Internal – inside self


Complete list of 40 assets http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18


Look at your community: Is every headline in the newspaper focusing on teens doing negative behaviors?  It isn’t just about having something for them, but about them giving back.

Empowerment is that sense of feeling valued and important

Empowerment includes: 

1) Boundaries and Expectations – Family, School, Community
“Our school has a dress code but nobody enforces it”

Kids need positive role models and high expectations


2) Constructive use of time: libraries can help with this
Creative activities, programs, reading (but they still need hang out time)


3) Commitment to learning
They must be motivated to do well. Not all kids work well in school, it can be a different type of environment.


4) Positive Values
Teens need to see positive values being lived out so that they can internalize them and incorporate them into how they live their life.


5) Social Competencies
Isolated teens are less likely to do well.


6) Positive identity
How teens view themselves, the world, and their place in the world; have a sense of purpose

You can help teens be empowered by being an asset focused individual, organization and community – and by engagin in daily asset building activities.

Daily Asset Building Activities:

  • Smile at young people
  • Ask people about themselves and listen
  • Notice when they are doing something right and encourage them to continue
  • Involve youth in leadership and program planning
  • Compliment young people
  • Talk about how to have a positive outlook when life gets difficult
  • Ask young people about their talents and abilities. help them identify and strengthen them.
  • Ask young people to tell you about a good book they’ve read recently.
  • Train volunteers leaders and coaches in asset building.
  • Attend a school function for a young person such as a play performance, game, recital, etc.
  • Discuss how community and world events can influence a person’s outlook of the future.
  • Reward asset-building activities.
  • Sponsor neighborhood activities, get-togethers.
  • Plan parent/teen nights

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