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Published: Friday, 11/7/2003

Hudson focusing on assets of youth Schools, community work together

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

On the school buses, in the local eateries, and plastered to the window at the police stations are words and phrases Hudson community members hope will catch the eye of area youth - words like honesty, integrity, and self-esteem.

They are all developmental assets, said Delight Creech, the Hudson Area Schools Communities in Schools coordinator. When coupled with the support of family and community members, these assets will help students build a foundation of good choices and positive values.

“The asset approach is giving kids what they need to succeed,” Ms. Creech said. “It s focusing on our youths strengths rather than their weaknesses.”

A school district of about 1,100 students in southwest Lenawee County, Hudson has tried to be a forerunner in the county in bringing the community and schools together to create a more positive environment. Identified early as a district need, asset building became one of the its focuses.

The 40 assets are taken from a list created by a national firm that works with communities on building youth leadership and opportunities. Hudson organized meetings with the company, Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth, in 2002 and soon after created an asset leadership committee.

Later that year, the Lenawee United Way and Volunteer Center hosted a Youth Asset Summit where members of law enforcement, service organizations, school districts, and churches analyzed the results of surveys given to kids. The group then analyzed how Lenawee County could offer more area youth.

In Hudson, daily affirmations were the result.

Police Chief Bruce Van Wieren changes the asset in the front window of the police station once a week. He hopes the program positively influences not only students, but adults in the community as well.

“Not only will it hopefully make the kids aware that we re thinking of them, but I talk to the adults about how they can use these assets as well,” the chief said. “Hopefully it will bring more people out of their shells, which is needed to create a community.”

School districts throughout the county are working with their communities in different ways, said Christine MacNaughton, executive director of Communities in Schools of Lenawee. While some work together to provide after school activities, others help students in educational support groups.

Together, the school districts and communities are helping the youth, Ms. MacNaughton said.

It was the desire to help out that led Heather Hall to attend a Asset Leadership Team meeting in Hudson, where she owns a business. Mrs. Hall said she displays the asset of the week proudly in the front window of her Main Street flower shop, though she may not remember to change it every week.

“I haven t really had anyone asking me about them but I do see people stopping to read them,” she said. “This is working with kids, it s working with the schools, and it s getting people involved with what s going on with the kids and what s going on with the schools. I want to support that.”



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