Eastern suburbs: Group honors health-minded 'asset builders'

Ten 'asset builders' honored at Ryder Park in DeWitt last week proved to be positive community role models -- either to kids or as kids. Asset builders are people who help young people in the community to grow and thrive.

The event was sponsored by Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth: East Area (HCHY East) and it celebrated the good work accomplished by people committed to the Search Institute's 40 developmental assets program.

"The Search Institute (a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy living) came up with 40 assets that every kid should have in their life," said Chris Nucerino, East Area Family YMCA executive director. "And the more assets a kid has in their life, the less likely they are to do drugs, to steal, to have sex at an early age."

It's been physically proven, Nucerino said, referring to the positive results that come from living a nurtured life -- which is why members of HCHY East band together. The group is a coalition of agencies and individuals from the eastern suburbs who share the goal of promoting a positive, community-based approach toward youth support and empowerment.

The 40 assets for children ages 12 to 18 are equally divided into two categories: external and internal. An example of an external asset would involve family support because family life provides high levels of love and support. Another case would include kids partaking in creative activities where he or she spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater or other arts.

Internal assets promote honesty, integrity and responsibility in children. A young person should have good resistance skills to say no to peer pressure, while cultural competence helps youth to feel comfortable around people with different backgrounds.

"A couple years ago, 13 school districts in this area took a test to assess the amount of assets that [students] have, Nucerino said. "Out of the 40 [assets], in Onondaga County, on average every kid has about 18 or 19 assets. So we've got some work to do."

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