Youth engagement is vital to overall community health. Programs that seek the input of young people benefit by being able to better plan and organize their services. Organizations with positive youth-adult partnerships teach, learn and contribute to their communities together.
Last week, La Plata County 4-H held its monthly council meeting. At this youth-led meeting, we were joined by two programs that actively engage young people. It is great to have community members interact with our 4-H program in such a meaningful way.
Iain McCourt, who serves as the vice president of County Council and member of the Rocky Mountain Rough Riders 4-H Club, organized our first guests of the meeting. Iain introduced the city of Durango’s youth-engagement program called the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission. Iain is also a current member of MYAC and sits on the utilities commission.
Assistant City Manager Mary Beth Miles and current Mayor Christina Rinderle joined us to explain and recruit new members for the program. Miles and Rinderle highlighted the direct impact the program has in the community. They passionately expressed how MYAC contributes to leadership development in youths and adults.
Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. May 11 for the 2017-18 program. People can submit applications to Dale Garland at Durango High School or Mary Beth Miles at City Hall. Applications can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were also joined at the meeting by Pat Senecal of the Celebrating Healthy Communities Coalition. 4-H has been active partners in the coalition for many years. Senecal knows she can count on our 4-H members to collaborate with the coalition.
Senecal talked to members about the coalition’s two most visible media campaigns. “Too Busy” and “They Are Listening” target youths and adults about strategies to address substance-abuse prevention. Senecal collected valuable feedback about images and wording that will be used in the media campaigns.
The coalition’s media campaign will be visible throughout La Plata County. 4-H members can take pride in their participation in a project that makes a positive difference in the community. The coalition and the city of Durango should be commended for their efforts to engage young people.
Finally, the coalition distributes a Development Asset of the Month. According to the Search Institute: “The Developmental Assets are 40 research-based, positive qualities that influence young people’s development, helping them become caring, responsible and productive adults. Based in youth development, resiliency and prevention research, the Developmental Assets framework has proven to be effective and has become the most widely used approach to positive youth development in the United States and, increasingly, around the world.”
This month’s asset, No. 38, is self-esteem. Local data from the 2015 Assets Survey indicated that 54 percent of youths in the county reported having a high self-esteem. The essential question to parents is, “Do I tend to my own self-esteem to model this value for my child?”
Tips for increasing self-esteem include complimenting your child. But make your compliments credible. Give specific praise to show you notice and appreciate your child’s positive behaviors and actions.
I will share the Asset of the Month in future columns.
Greg Felsen is the La Plata County 4-H youth development agent. Reach him at email@example.com or 382-6463. Greg Felsen