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Public meeting will focus on youth survey results

 

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The results of a survey that was given to Havre youths will be presented to the community Monday night.

The survey, which took place last spring, was intended to measure the "assets" of students between sixth and 12th grade.

The presentation will be given by author James Vollbracht at 7 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club, formerly the Devlin School. Organizers are hoping for a large turnout.

"We really need to get all of the community involved in this process," Vollbracht said Thursday.

The survey is part of a nationwide program called Healthy Communities Healthy Youth, which was created in 1996 by the Lutheran Brotherhood. More than 600 communities have participated in the program. The program defines assets as "positive building blocks that young people need to grow up to be healthy, principled and caring adults."

The assets are tallied on a score of 1 to 40, with a point being given for every "yes" that a respondent gives to each of 40 questions.

According to the program, students with more assets are less likely to engage in destructive, high-risk behavior, and more likely to participate in positive behaviors, such as community service and performing well in school.

The program is being administered in Havre by an advisory board made up of representatives of student groups, local government, service groups and nonprofit organizations.

Students' answers are used to create an "asset profile." The profile is divided into eight categories, which are used to determine the student's strengths and weaknesses. The categories are: support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity. In addition, the survey also identifies high-risk behavior patterns.

Students are asked to respond to questions that measure problem alcohol use, illicit drug use, sexual activity, and violence.

Vollbracht will analyze and explain the results of the Havre survey, as well as compare them to the national averages. Then the presentation will focus on how the community can use those insights to create a healthier environment for its young people.

Community leaders will be encouraged to develop asset-building programs such as mentoring, service learning activities, peer helping, and recreation. Vollbracht will also list and explain the six keys to asset building.

Vollbracht, who wrote "Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand: How to Create a Culture That Cares About Kids," is optimistic about the response from the community.

"We're going to discuss examples of some programs that have been implemented in other communities," he said. "They are really exciting and really inspirational.

"The problem we have seen is that the extended family has disintegrated. It is time to think creatively and really engage kids proactively."

He said that kids, especially those in grades six through 12, really needed to attend the meeting.

"I'm really excited about the ideas that they will generate on Monday," he said. "We need to focus on how to reconnect as a community. I think that overall, the message is going to be very affirmative and positive."

Following the presentation, Vollbracht will focus on five areas of interaction for young people: neighborhood, parent and family, faith community, school- based, and community.

Introducing Vollbracht on Monday night will be the Rev. Brad Ulgenes. A pastor at Havre's First Lutheran Church, Ulgenes said Monday night's presentation is "an opportunity to do something positive for the community as a whole."

 
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