Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 10, 2010

Palo Alto district, agencies launch youth well-being program

Developmental Assets model focuses on 'essential elements' for health, resilience

by Chris Kenrick

Community members are invited to get educated about "Developmental Assets," a youth well-being program recently adopted by Palo Alto schools, the city and a variety of local agencies that serve youth.

The program was developed by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute and focuses on the "essential elements for supporting the health, resiliency and overall well-being of youth."

About half of the 41 assets are classified as "external," such as "positive family communication" and "caring school climate." The others are classified as "internal assets," such as "bonding to school" and social competencies including "planning and decision-making" and "interpersonal competence."

In the wake of five student suicides in Palo Alto last year, school and community leaders chose the Developmental Assets model after surveying youth well-being programs nationwide.

Upcoming events to explain Development Assets to Palo Altans are planned for Sept. 16, Sept. 22 and Oct. 9.

In addition, a six-week "Palo Alto Asset Champion Training Series" begins Oct. 13.

"Research done by the Search Institute has confirmed that the more of these assets kids have, the better they do in school and life," according to a statement from Palo Alto Project Safety Net.

"Therefore, in this community that cares so much about youth and education, we are asking everyone in the community who interacts with youth or cares about teens to become an asset builder."

The Developmental Assets approach officially has been adopted by the Board of Education, the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA and a variety of other youth-serving local agencies.

A survey of Palo Alto's high school students, as well as fifth- and seventh-graders, is planned to serve as a "benchmark for our community showing how well we support the healthy development of youth and teens and a signpost toward areas that need to be improved."

For a student to take the survey, parent or guardian consent is required.

The Sept. 16 event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Fireside Room at Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road; and again Saturday, Oct. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon in the Lucie Stern Ballroom at the same address. The event will be hosted by Project Cornerstone, a San Jose organization that promotes the developmental assets.

The Sept. 22 panel presentation at school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave., will feature Superintendent Kevin Skelly as well as representatives from the city, the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, the nonprofit Youth Community Service and Project Cornerstone. It will start at 7 p.m.

The event is sponsored by the Palo Alto Council of PTAs.

The six-week "Palo Alto Asset Champion Training Series" will be offered Wednesdays at 7 p.m. starting Oct. 13 at the Palo Alto Family YMCA, 3412 Ross Road. A second session will be offered in 2011.

Information is available from Anne Ehresman, executive director of Project Cornerstone, anne@projectcornerstone.org or 408-351-6424.

Information about the survey is available from Amy Drolette, coordinator of student services for the school district, at adrolette@pausd.org or 650 833-4202.

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