Edward Hospital created KidsMatter (formerly known as the Naperville Youth Development Coalition) as a community-wide prevention health strategy to combat teenage destructive behaviors. In 2001 KidsMatter was granted its 501(c)(3) status.
Recognizing a problem-centered approach which relies heavily on professionals and public-sector resources rarely works by itself, Edward Hospital and a team of Naperville community leaders looked for a complementary approach which focuses on the healthy development of all young people, regardless of race/ethnicity/economic background, and requires action by all residents of the community.
Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Asset Framework was selected as the infrastructure that would help KidsMatter ensure that our youth had access to the core building blocks for healthy development. This research clearly communicates: the more assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in many high-risk behaviors such as alcohol use, violence/bullying, and illicit drug use, and the more likely they are to exhibit positive attitudes and behaviors such as leadership, good health, valuing diversity, success in school, and ultimately success in life.
Our focus remains to empower kids and families “Building resilient kids who say ‘No’ to destructive choices and ‘Yes’ to endless possibilities.” Many factors shape why some young people have success in life and why others have a harder time. In its research, the Search Institute identified 40 concrete, positive experiences and qualities named the “Developmental Assets” that have a tremendous impact on young people’s lives. These assets are ours to nurture, and the research has demonstrated “that assets matter for young people from all backgrounds.”
The internal assets identified include a commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity. The external assets include support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and constructive use of time. “Across many of these strategies, though, is a singular focus: Strengthening relationships in young people’s lives.”
We all can remember someone who made a difference in our life. The Search Institute shared, “You may not think you have much to offer, but the truth is that most children and teenagers are transformed by the seemingly small things adults do each day. These efforts may seem like “no big deal,” but the small actions and simple words can have a huge pay off.”