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The Power of Valuing Each One

February 26th, 2014
Here, we share the fourth winner in the Caring Child Contest.
Whenever I’m disappointed with my spot
in life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott.
    Jamie was trying out for a part in the
school play. His mother told me that he’d set his heart on being
in it, though she feared he would not be chosen..
    On the day the parts were awarded, I went
with her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her,
eyes shining with pride and excitement..  ‘Guess what, Mom,’ he
shouted, and then said those words that will remain a lesson to
me….’I’ve been chosen to clap and  cheer.’
I love how the teacher made this child feel valued and valuable!  There is no too small role – everyone counts!


Fred Katagwa on Youth Work

January 27th, 2014

“May of our students struggle with a ‘failure’ mentality.  We work to discover the abilities that lie within them and help them overcome that attitude.”

telling of his story at New Life Ministries Rwanda in the book, ‘What’s Your Mark?’

November 1st, 2013

An after-school agency asked us to develop a training to help equip their frontline staff in the basics of positive youth development.  They have a lot of very young staff members as well as a lot of staff that have been working with them for over a decade.  They want to break some bad habits in their youth workers and nurture staff members to build strong relationships within their team and with young people.  After talking with the supervisor, we developed this 2-hour workshop for them.  We’ll lead 8 different sessions of this workshop, so we can reach 160+ of their staff.

Youth Development Training:  This workshop will introduce staff to the 40 Developmental Assets and help them consider  how they nurture assets in their programming.  We will also explore foundations for positive youth development in an interactive and applicable way.  Finally, we will dig into strategies for engaging youth and deepening relationships.

How are you investing in your youth workers and educators?

How might we partner with you to help strengthen your agency?

Give us a call at 615.262.9676 or email


The Perseverance Process: Cultivating an Attitude of “Think Forward, Act Now” in Your Kids

October 30th, 2013

Re-posted from Search Institute:

Dr. Kent Pekel, President and CEO of Search Institute, continues his discussion of how to help kids persist in achieving goals. Research shows that when the present self and the possible self are aligned, people are more willing to invest in the future and defer gratification in the present. Dr. Pekel’s next webinar will help parents cultivate within their children an attitude of “think forward, act now.” Learn how to motivate your children to envision their best possible selves, then help them act upon what they need to do today to realize those possibilities for tomorrow.

Use the link below to register for this seminar on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013, 12PM – 1PM, CST.

Belief, Resilence and Baseball: Caring Child Contest

September 17th, 2013
In this week’s highlight of great stories of things kids do and say, we have #3 on the list from the caring child contest.  Enjoy!
On my way home one day, I stopped to
watch a Little League base ball game that was being played in a
park near my home. As I sat down behind the bench on the first-
base line, I asked one of the boys what the score was.
    ‘We’re behind 14 to nothing,’ he answered
With a smile.
  ‘Really,’ I said. ‘I have to say you
don’t look very discouraged.’
  ‘Discouraged?’, the boy asked with a
puzzled look on his face…
‘Why should we be discouraged? We haven’t
been up to bat yet.’


Caring Child

September 10th, 2013
If you missed last week’s blog, we’re sharing the top 5 stories from a Caring Child Contest that came our way via e-mail.  Here’s #2.
Teacher Debbie Moon’s first graders were
discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the picture
had a different hair color than the other members. One of her
students suggested that he was adopted.
   A little girl said, ‘I know all about
adoption, I was adopted..’
   ‘What does it mean to be adopted?’, asked
  another child.
‘It means’, said the girl, ‘that you grew
in your mommy’s heart instead of her tummy!’


The Most Caring Child Contest

September 3rd, 2013
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once
talked about a contest he was asked to judge.
The purpose of the
contest was to find the most caring child.
We want to share the stories during the next five weeks. ENJOY!
    The winner was:
1.  A four-year-old child, whose next door
neighbor was an elderly gentleman, who had recently lost his
wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old
gentleman’s’ yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
   When his mother asked him what he had
said to the neighbor, the little boy just said, ‘Nothing, I just
helped him  cry.’


Making Asset Building a Mindful Practice, Part 2

August 8th, 2013

There are lots of ways to start building your own mindful influence and practice to more intentionally and thoughtfully feed into young people’s lives.

You can start by committing to saying hi to every young person you see within each day. You can try beginning your youth program with relationship check-ins to see how everyone is, nip discouragement and self-degradation when you hear it with words of encouragement and sincere compliments, or by making an effort to speak to each youth personally at least once during the course of the program. At home, you can try having dinner together as a family at least twice a week, play board games together or find ways to spend time together offline.

There is no one right way to build your asset practice. Picking an asset practice that draws from who you are, your interests and strengths, what you find most enjoyable- and most effective to connect in a meaningful way with youth. Do you have hobbies you can share? Are you good at listening? Can you mentor or tutor in a subject? Throw a ball? Cook?

Today, determine to be consciously aware of your interactions and to act mindfully on your intentions to feed into the lives of young people who show up in your life.

Each day as you focus on your intention and deliberately take on one mindful action – just one, you will begin to develop a practice that works for you. That practice will become a habit. The mindfulness of focusing on one thing only daily will allow you the space and time to learn from your actions and how you might need to adjust. Learn from it. Play with it. Perfect it. Become more natural with it. Listen to what your inner voice of wisdom tells you as you focus in on one way you can practice mindful connection with youth.

Then add another technique after this becomes second nature.

Be patient with yourself. The idea is not to check it off a “to do” list or to enforce an asset with thoughtless automation, but to consciously, mindfully be aware of the youth around you and let your personal practice gently feed into their lives. Grow and experiment with whatever is natural to you and serves them best. Share your energy! Share the love you have within you.

Reflect:  What did adults around you do to help feed into your well-being as a child? If you could only pick one thing to do daily to connect with youth, what would it be? Why is that chose important? How can it make a difference?

Making Asset Building a Mindful Practice

August 1st, 2013

“Start with one mindful practice a day…When you do this, you awaken the inner intelligence inside you.” - Dr. Deepak Chopra


You’ve learned many asset principle; many factors that contribute to the well-being of youth.

“But how,” you may be wondering, “do I make this happen on my own? How do I integrate 40 things that youth need? How do I impact them?”


You don’t. You aren’t responsible for all 40 factors.


So, first, you need to remember that you are not alone. You are part of the village and are not responsible for more than you can do.


The key to becoming even more of a caring adult in young people’s lives is to keep your personal practice simple. Choose one place to start, one action to take. Then be mindful to practice and apply that asset principle over and over again until it becomes second nature.


Which asset is important to you?  Which is important to the youth you know? Which one can you begin to mindfully practice and build into your interactions with youth?


Pick one and begin. Watch to see what happens over time.

The Natural Power of Play

August 1st, 2013

As I walked my dogs the other day, I passed a huge t.v. box sitting in a neighbor’s yard. On my return route, I rounded the corner and saw two of the neighbor boys attempting to carry the box between them. Picture this: the sun is starting its downward descent so the light frames the tykes in a glow. They walk, pause, stop and readjust the box between them. Now, the box height wise is barely shorter than the boys.

They are taking on a Herculean task to get the box from the neighbor to their house. Their faces are scrunched in concentration and effort. As I pass them, I smile and ask, “what cha got?” “We’ve got a box! It was just sitting in that yard!” “What are you going to do with it?” “We’re gonna get IN it!” “Are you building a fort?” “Oh, yeah!”

And on they go.

It was just one of those zen moments when you know all is right with the world because as long as there are kids, empty boxes, imagination and creativity, anything is possible.

Be Surprised

July 11th, 2013

Recently I helped lead a Youth Summit with middle schoolers.  We were asking their input on what an agency needed to offer youth that wasn’t already available in the city.

The experience reminded me of something that absolutely delighted me –  Plan to be surprised.  Always. Youth come up with innovative ideas and you just never know when they will come up with “THE” idea. They will dream of things that adults discount because we automatically check off all the reasons why something won’t work (done it, didn’t work) or because it’s “too hard.”

In this session, I dubbed the best idea of the day this one: turn the swimming pool into a skating rink. Freeze the water and let people skate.  Love it!  I would never have thought of that, but someone in that room saw possibilities beyond the pool season.

The 12 or so youth in the room played out what brain development facts tell us: the brain thrives on novelty and challenge, and developmentally, youth are fresh, more open to possibilities and aren’t afraid to take risks – great resources for a vision process!

Our job when youth dream is to let them. Let them dream and dream big. Let them figure out pathways to achieve their dreams and support them. So, again I say, plan to be surprised – don’t let your own experiences (even though they are valuable!) color the process so much that they cut short new possibilities. You never know when you may just be the one grooming an Einstein, Mozart or Ford. So listen and be surprised.

The Joy of Serving

July 8th, 2013

Today I got to do something worthwhile. Today I got to give and receive. Today  was our first day of camp. Fourteen girls and two staff. None of them knew each other, none knew exactly what they would be doing. But they did know what they signed up for. To serve. Each girl signed up to participate in Care Bears Camp where the whole theme is to give back and serve the community.

Camps have always been a particular joy for me – the energy, the fun, and the friendships that grow. But a camp that serves has an extra “umph” to it that delights my soul because I know the girls who are there want to be there and are wired a certain way to give, encourage and help another.

Today we went to Charis Ministries and in our short time there packed 20 boxes to go to families who are running short of food supplies and need a little help to make meals happen in their homes. The girls went at it wholeheartedly and packed away, making sure each box had a variety of food and that all items were still good to go (no expired cans!). They then decorated the inside flaps of the boxes with messages and images of hope and encouragement.

As we ended our time together, the girls took turns sharing their wishes for the families that will receive the food boxes. And boy, that’s the time that makes me smile the most as I listened to the earnest hearts of 9-12 year olds. My wish is that even though right now it’s hard, they’ll have hope. My wish is that they’ll not have to know hunger again. My wish is for them to have good meals and to be happy.

And then there was my personal favorite from a 9 year old: my wish is for them to have a puppy!

After all, we all know that puppies make everything better! (And if I were to say this to them, every camper would agree!)

The Power of a Smile

January 1st, 2013

“A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it. Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.” – Author Unknown

How might a smile change the spirit of your program/classroom/home today?
How might your smile change one child’s perspective today?
How could your smile change your own spirit today?
Your smile is powerful – use it often and be known for the smiles you share with others.

Building Positive Identity in Children and Youth

January 1st, 2013

Positive Identity is one of the 8 categories of strengths (Developmental Assets) that all children need to succeed. The Search Institute defines positive identity as “young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel that they have control over the things that happen to them.”

The characteristics listed under positive identity are:
1. Personal power. Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.”
2. Self-esteem. Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
3. Sense of purpose. Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.”
4. Positive view of personal future. Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.

Researching positive identity today, I stumbled upon an article titled, “Helping Your Child Develop Self-Esteem” by the Child Development Institute.

It talked about the characteristics of children with high vs. low self-esteem. It mentioned strategies to build a child’s self-esteem, including my favorite method of generously giving specific praise when praise is due. I also liked how they connected the dots between healthy decision-making and high self-esteem.

They close the article with 10 additional steps you can take to help a child develop a positive self-image. Five of the ideas are on my personal and professional radar lists this month:
1. Encourage your children to develop hobbies and interests which give them pleasure and which they can pursue independently.
2. Let children settle their own disputes between siblings and friends alike.
3. Help your children develop “tease tolerance”
4. Help children learn to focus on their strengths by pointing out to them all the things they can do.
5. Laugh with your children and encourage them to laugh at themselves.

If you want to learn more about building developmental assets visit, where you can learn more about the research behind assets and discover many other resources to promot your journey to nurture healthy youth.

How are YOU building positive identity in your children and youth? Leave us a comment with your stories, or email us at ann(at)theassetedge(dot)net.

Power Packed 40 – the list of Developmental Assets

January 1st, 2013

* Family support * Positive family communication * Other adult relationships * Caring neighborhood * Caring school climate * Parent involvement in schooling * Community values youth * Youth as resources * Service to others * Safety * Family boundaries * School boundaries * Neighborhood boundaries * Adult role models * Positive peer influence * High expectations * Creative activities * Youth programs * Religious community * Time at home * Achievement motivation * School engagement * Homework * Bonding to school * Reading for pleasure * Caring * Equality and social justice * Integrity * Honesty * Responsibility * Restraint * Planning and decision making * Interpersonal competence * Cultural competence * Resistance skills * Peaceful conflict resolution * Personal power * Self-esteem * Sense of purpose * Positive view of personal future *

You can see more about the 40 assets at The research on these building blocks for youth is great – take time to look at it. And print a copy of the assets to post on your refigerator or desk!