Everyone can vote for youth assets

Blue or red? Republican or Democrat? Liberal or conservative? Thatís right, itís election time.

I encourage all eligible voters to take part in democracy and go out and vote. It has been quite an intense year of politics on a national, state and local level. I am sure some folks canít wait until Nov. 7. However, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, La Plata County 4-H program will continue to work hard on promoting positive community development for everyone.

4-H Youth Development builds community through its program efforts to develop assets for our young people. We share this vision with both the Celebrating Community Norms coalition and La Plata Countyís Children Youth and Family Master Plan implementation team. 4-H works in these groups to help build capacity among organizations in our community striving for a healthier society.

Positive family communication, youth as resources, adult role models, reading for pleasure, honesty, peaceful conflict resolution and sense of purpose are a few of the 40 developmental assets the Search Institute has identified for youths to obtain to make healthy decisions and thrive. Both Celebrating Community Norms and Children Youth and Family Master Plan use this model to increase community knowledge of the 40 developmental assets, thus increasing the number of assets La Plata County children and youths have. What we have learned is that the higher number of assets youths possess, the less likely they are to engage in risk-taking behavior (including substance use) and the higher their healthy behavior will be. For a full list of the assets visit www.Search-Institute.org.

Members of both groups will be hosting presentations and trainings promoting the 40 developmental assets tonight and in the coming weeks. In addition, these events will use local data collected from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.

For example, a correlation is seen through Asset No. 11, family boundaries. This asset is defined as: Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young personís whereabouts. This relates to data from the 2011-12 Healthy Kids survey that 96 percent of La Plata County youths reported they do not drink if they believe their parents feel it is wrong for them to use alcohol. This example is an acknowledgement that youths do in fact listen to their parents and value adults who care.

Anyone interested in child health is invited to participate. To obtain more information about upcoming presentations throughout La Plata County or if you are interested in getting trained in being an asset builder or would like to host a presentation, contact me at the Extension office or by email.

Finally, I would like to highlight Celebrating Community Norms alongside San Juan Basin Health Departmentís Lasso Tobacco Coalition for a city of Durango smoke-free ordinance for parks, the Animas River Trail and public bus stops. This ordinance would promote a positive community norm for our youths to exhibit healthy behaviors. We express our encouragement to Durango City Council to vote yes on this ordinance.

felsengh@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is La Plata County 4-H youth development agent.

Comments » Read and share your thoughts on this story