Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation recently received an Eli Lilly Endowment Grant along with a supporting grant from Heritage Foundation to implement stronger personal/social development in its students. The grants will run concurrently to the end of school year 2020-2021.
There is a two-tiered purpose to the grants. Both deal with a systems based approach to dealing with student mental health issues. The first, reactive, approach focuses on a holistic community based partnership of the schools and community providers to address current student needs. The second, proactive, approach focuses on the building of student positive supports and strengths needed for success. These are called developmental assets. These came about from research done by the Search Institute (Minneapolis, Mn.) in the 1990’s.
Developmental assets are divided into segments of external assets and internal assets. External assets focus on what students need in relationships and opportunities within their families, schools, and communities. Examples would be support (families, schools, neighborhoods, and other adults), empowerment (communities valuing youth, service to others, safety, and utile roles in the community), boundaries and expectations (clear rules in the student’s various environments, positive adult role models, positive peer influences, and high expectations), and constructive use of time (creative activities, youth programs, religious communities, and positive time at home).
Internal assets focus on personal skills, commitments, and values needed to make good choices, be responsible, and be independent and fulfilled. Examples would be commitment to learning (achievement motivation, school engagement, homework, bonding to school, and reading for pleasure), positive values (caring, social justice, integrity, honesty, responsibility, and restraint), social competencies (planning and decision making, interpersonal competence, cultural competence, resistance skills, and peaceful conflict resolution), and positive identity (personal power, self-esteem, sense of purpose, and positive view of personal future).
There a total of 40 assets within the developmental asset body. The more assets a youth possesses the better she/he can deal with all the challenges presented, including pressures to use drugs and alcohol.
Data from the Search Institute (2017) supports the above. Thirty-nine percent of youth with 10 or less assets used alcohol regularly in a month as opposed to only 2% who had 31 or more assets. Marijuana use was at 35% a month for young people with 10 or under assets. Youth with 31 or more assets showed only one percent a month. Yearly violence also dropped from 53% (10 assets or less) to three percent (31 or more assets).
The school corporation will be focusing on awareness, knowledge, training, and implementation of these developmental assets across its entire student body and staff over the next three years.