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Developmental Assets Immunize Youth Against Risky Behaviors

“A stitch in time saves nine.” “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” These are but two of many familiar adages regarding the value of prevention over treatment. Most of us organize many of our daily activities and habits around this concept. For example, we brush our teeth to avoid cavities, change oil in our cars to avoid costly engine repairs, and become immunized against many formerly crippling or even fatal diseases such as Polio, Yellow Fever, Typhus and the like. But can a teenager be “immunized” against risk-taking behaviors? This intriguing possibility arose from a 2006 study conducted by The Legacy Center for Community Success (TLC) using the concept of Developmental Assets originated by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute. Developmental Assets are a series of 40 positive character traits or qualities that all adolescents should possess. Twenty of them are defined as External in that they describe a youth’s relationships with family, school, community and the like. The remaining 20 are said to be Internal in that they portray intrinsic qualities such as honesty, self-esteem, integrity, etc. In the 2006 study, TLC found that the more Developmental Assets teens possess, the fewer the number of risk-taking behaviors in which they participate. As indicated in Figure 1, teens with 31-40 Assets participated in fewer than one of the 24 risk-taking behaviors studied. At the other end of the spectrum, youth with 0-10 Assets were involved in an average of 8.8 risk-taking behaviors. These intriguing results strongly suggested that if teens were instilled with the Developmental Assets they become essentially “immune” from risk-taking behaviors. This “immunization” idea was all the more interesting because extensive research indicates that the conventional strategy of trying to curb risky behaviors by speaking to their negative consequences is not very effective. The gains from […]

Rock Youth Center Program Encourages Youth To Make Good Choices

The ROCK Youth Center’s three-year effort to build developmental assets and encourage youth to make good choices is paying off, according to an independent program analysis conducted by The Legacy Center for Community Success. “About three years ago, we began searching for a practical way to assist young people in discovering themselves,” says Beverlee Wenzel, executive director for The ROCK Youth Center in Midland, Mich. “Out of that search came ROCK Exposure and an important program called Exposure PX2 R.” The PX2 program hones in on encouraging individuals to make smart choices, choose right from wrong, and better themselves as young adults. R addresses critical concepts and skills that young adults need to better themselves in the future. When the two programs are paired together, it creates a well-rounded approach to help students succeed in life. The Legacy Center evaluated the students using the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP), designed by the Search Institute in Minneapolis, Minn. Developmental Assets are defined as being 40 common sense, positive experiences and qualities that help influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible, successful adults. Research has shown that when Developmental Assets are increased, risk-taking behavior decreases. The DAP is designed to provide a standardized description of an individual’s Developmental Assets as they perceive them. “Asset building is one of the five strategic goals in the Midland County Youth Master Plan. This particular goal focuses on developing assets through social opportunities, mentoring programs, enhanced life experiences, and increased involvement in sports and fitness programs.” says Jennifer Heronema, president and chief executive officer of The Legacy Center. The DAP survey was administered before and after the program to approximately 94 male and female students. As a group, the students scored higher in all eight developmental asset categories after participating in the ROCK […]

Barton Program Helps Struggling Readers

    By Kaitlyn Pake, Public Relations Intern   Have you ever wondered what life would be like if reading or comprehension came as a struggle to you? Something so simple that many individuals take for granted every day. Something so simple yet something so many others strive to understand. However, doors have been opened for those who tussle with low literacy skills. The Barton Reading and Spelling System is an ongoing intervention that currently serves hundreds of people in our community and nationwide. Due to the unemployment rate and the reduction of funding from school systems, the number of individuals seeking these services has steadily increased over the past few years. Success is always the end result with the Barton system. Over the years, countless success stories have surfaced but there are three stories in particular that exemplify the program as a whole. Shannon was a 14 year old female, who was being homeschooled. Upon entering the Barton system, Shannon was reading at a third grade level. After three years in the program, Shannon graduated at a twelfth grade reading level. Not only did her reading, writing, and spelling improve, but she also grew into a confident young lady with personal goals she is now able to pursue. Jason, a young boy who had been enrolled in special education classes at a public school, entered the program as a fourth grade male reading at a second grade level. In two years his reading improved from 2.6 (2nd grade, 6th month) to a 6.5 (6th grade, 5th month) and he graduated reading at his grade level. Brad, an adult enrolled in the Barton system, was reading at a 2.7 grade level. Seventeen months later, he was reading at a 6.5 grade level. Brad felt he had reached his reading goal […]

Preschool Tool Totes Bridge Learning Gaps for At-Risk Kids

        Pediatric brain research indicates that 80-85% of a child’s neural network for cognitive learning is “hard-wired” and in place by age 6. This neural network development occurs through cognitive stimulation of the child through activities such as reading, coloring pictures, etc. Beyond age 6, the brain’s neurons that are not linked into this network are slowly reabsorbed by the body as it shifts its focus to physical growth and development. Children who do not experience such stimulation exhibit a reduced capacity for learning. Related research on kindergarten readiness indicates that children from economically disadvantaged families exhibit the greatest gaps in their school readiness skills. Unfortunately, many preschool children from economically disadvantaged environments are denied an opportunity to develop their cognitive skills owing to a lack of learning supplies, as well as information for parents about how to promote their learning and derivatively, brain development. This problem is especially acute in urban areas where the demographics indicate that in addition to grinding poverty, other variables contribute to poor learning outcomes such as single parent families, low birth weights, teenage mothers, crime, etc. As a consequence, children from these environments arrive at school woefully unprepared for kindergarten. Furthermore, the brain research referred to previously tragically indicates that these unprepared children are in a severe deficit-learning situation from which it is almost impossible to recover. The Legacy Center for Community Success (TLC) has developed a Preschool Tool Tote (PTT) program to address this problem. PTTs are a series of four canvas tote bags filled with various preschool learning supplies such as books to read, crayons, coloring books, construction paper, marker pens, etc. that are designed to stimulate neural network development among economically disadvantaged children. In addition to the supplies, PTTs contain an easy to use parent’s guide (actually a […]

TLC Receives ProLiteracy Certification

The Legacy Center for Community Success announced today that its Literacy Services group has received national accreditation from ProLiteracy. For more than 26 years, The Legacy Center (and its predecessor the Literacy Council of Midland County) has been helping adults and children throughout Midland County improve their literacy skills. The organization originally received accreditation in 2006. Jane Hugo, Proliteracy’s vice president of programs and services, says, “We are proud that The Legacy Center will remain on our growing list of accredited organizations. They have once again demonstrated that their program meets the highest national standards for volunteer literacy programs and that their services to the community are effective. We applaud the many volunteers, staff and learners who have devoted their time and effort to achieve this goal.” “Accreditation is very important to our organization,” says Jennifer Heronema, president & CEO of The Legacy Center. “We continuously benchmark ourselves against similar organizations to ensure our programs remain effective and that we’re utilizing the best available resources to meet the changing needs of our learners.” ProLiteracy’s Accreditation provides literacy programs with a comprehensive process for: 1) conducting an organizational self-assessment; 2) developing program improvement plans; and 3) demonstrating that their organization meets the highest standards for governance, program management, program operations and volunteer development.

Midland Area Community Foundation Seeking Input Through Community Needs Survey

The Midland Area Community Foundation is championing the community needs assessment process because it wants to be a proactive agent of change in the area. The needs assessment will provide critical information to enable the foundation to be proactive in its grant making. This will help to ensure that key needs in the community are being adequately addressed. This needs assessment will incorporate publicly available data, including that collected by organizations/agencies within Midland County. In addition, the needs assessment will elicit the opinions and ideas of individuals in the county. Put together, this will help to build a comprehensive picture of community needs. Visit the Foundation’s website for more information.