A Quick-Start Guide to Building Assets in Your Prevention Program

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Deborah Fisher
Search Institute Press
28 pages. $14.95.

This slim guide describes how to infuse the developmental assets model into existing prevention programs for youth in schools, organizations, and juvenile justice and health settings. Introducing Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets as “supportive conditions that help young people thrive,” it charts research data from 148,000 young people, showing how assets increase positive behaviors that reduce high-risk alcohol and drug use, violence and sexual activity.

National trainer Deborah Fisher, who helps communities implement asset-based initiatives, recommends how to use five action strategies, with examples from a variety of successful prevention programs that follow the asset model.

For example, the “Engage Adults” strategy, one of the most effective in preventing risky behaviors, is used in Victoria, Australia, where adult volunteers are invited to play team games with youth in custody. Youths build confidence about returning to community life when they greet, thank and invite adults back.

Another valuable strategy, “Mobilize Young People,” showed results in a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project that revealed teenagers are the heaviest users of public libraries that engage them in planning and running their own programs. Teen advisory boards, joint projects between libraries and other youth-serving programs, such as suicide prevention and juvenile detention, and events such as youth-produced film festivals make libraries popular hangouts for youth.

Imaginative programs for every setting are also described for the “Invigorate Programs,” “Activate Sectors” and “Influence Civic Decisions” strategies. In a user-friendly format, packed with a wealth of ideas and resources, this brief publication inspires doable makeovers for any prevention program. (800) 888-7828, http://www.search-institute.org.

Cathi Dunn MacRae, former editor of Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA), specializes in teen writing and reading.