Author Archive

February Postcard

February Postcard

Capturing the Voices Youth Report

Recent Survey Indicates Young People

Desire Meaningful Roles in Their Community

A recent survey highlights feelings about present and future in Pottawattamie County

A recent 2011 survey comprised of 2,400 participants from ages 11 to 24 in Pottawattamie County gives local attitudes, opinions and needs of area youth. Those surveyed were asked what their favorite part of the community is, where it needs to improve, what the future holds and what their attitude of the future is.

The county-wide survey, funded by the Iowa West Foundation, conducted with assistance from Promise Partners, Pottawattamie County’s Alliance for Youth and the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, was designed to capture the area’s voices and let their opinions be heard.

Jerry Mathiasen, Interim President & CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, explained that the youth survey is a “key follow-up” to a Pottawattamie County Community needs assessment done in 2007. Iowa West funded both assessments. “The Foundation believed it was important for local communities to hear the voices of youth,” Mathiasen said. “The youth assessment supplements the community survey because those were household calls and this one was a grassroots outreach to our youth,” he added.

The community report reflected more than anything else young people want to be heard and taken seriously. They want to be engaged and involved in their community. They want meaningful leadership roles alongside adults in an effort to make their community more desirable.

Some of the highlights of the comprehensive survey include:

Community Strengths: Small, close-knit, and yet close to the city, midwest friendliness and beautiful parks and open nature space.

Community Weaknesses and Concerns: Drug and alcohol abuse among adults and youth, bullies and crime, lack of entertainment, lack of employment opportunities and appearance of the community.

With a number of young people accessing area programs, services, clubs and facilities, young people gage these at average or below average.  Youth were often cited saying there is a lack of youth input on service provision and delivery.

Participants in the survey were also asked how they spend their time. The highest rankings went to social networking Web sites, cell phones, watching television and streaming radio and video.

The future: Of the 2,400 surveyed, 71% said they intend to go to college or a technical school after graduating high school. 35% say they plan on staying in the area after high school, while 38% say they plan on leaving.

When asked what is important to them in creating an ideal community, participants ranked job opportunities, housing, college access programs, additional college and universities and more recreational activities at the top.

Respondents suggest youth planning events in the community, input in local government, city planning, school issues, as well as time to speak with local leaders on an equal playing ground.

Jessica Simons, Youth Engagement Coordinator for Promise Partners, explained the philosophy of “nothing about us, without us”. Young people have valuable ideas and input and want more opportunities to be involved in their community – especially when it comes to programs, services, and decisions that impact them directly.

For more information, view the report here: Capturing the Voices Youth Report.

Ideas for Parents: Youth as Resources

Ideas for Parents: Youth as Resources

Empower Youth, Empower the Community

Empowerment Newsletter

Empowerment: December & January Assets

View Full Flyer Here

Be An Asset Builder: Here’s How

Full Flyer Available Here

Support: Balloon Web Activity

Balloon Support Web

Ask participants to stand and form a tight circle. Instruct one participant to keep a grasp on the end of a ball of yarn (or crepe paper), name something/someone that is a support to them, and toss the ball to someone on the far side of the circle. Continue this until everyone is holding yarn and a web has formed in the center of the circle.

Toss a balloon into the center of the circle and say, “This is a young person who needs our support. Please keep him aloft!”

Continue to add balloons to the circle. (The number of balloons will depend upon how many participants you have and the level of difficulty they experience keeping balloons aloft. Keep adding until some balloons “fall through the cracks.”)

Tap someone on the shoulder and ask that they drop the yarn and move away from the circle. Observe the results. Repeat by tapping someone else to step outside the circle. Continue until the web fully collapses.

Ask the following questions:

1) How successful were their efforts to keep all the balloons up in the air?

2) What would have been needed to make it more successful?

3) What did you find frustrating?

The Power of Support

The Power of Support

When encountering the daily struggles in life, support from others can be one of the key ingredients to success. Think back to your years as a teen. Remember all the difficulties? Things that seem minor now, but were a big deal back then and could make every day difficult to wake up to. Boyfriend or girlfriend problems, academics, athletics, friends, and work can take a real toll on a teen’s mind. Having family support and encouragement, as well as keeping an open line of communication can go a long way towards ensuring positive and healthy teenage years.

The Council Bluffs Asset Champions Network would like to share some helpful tips and suggestions. These Developmental Assets, the qualities, experiences, and relationships help young people grow up healthy,     caring, and responsible.

Positive Family Communication – As a parent, having an open door and encouraging ongoing conversations with your son or daughter can be a big deal.  Let your son or daughter know that you are there to listen with an open mind to problems and concerns that they may have. Ask open ended questions, and listen, listen, listen.  Keep an open line of communication so that your child may voice their opinions and release what is on their mind.

Family Support – Having the full support of family can give teens the confidence to do well in school as well as maintain focus. Family support can also help give teens achievable goals, constructive criticism, and positive thoughts. Give your child the full support he or she needs by letting them know that you support them and that you will do whatever you can to help them.  A hug, “I love you”, or kudos for something they’ve done well might be a start.

Parent Involvement in School – When children start kindergarten, most parents attend school conferences, cheer on their children at school concerts, and proudly display their children’s artwork. But far too often, parents get disconnected as their child gets older.  Parents don’t have to have their child’s teacher(s) on speed dial or volunteer at every school play, but it’s important to know what’s going on with their children’s education. Even if your child doesn’t show it, they probably need your help.  Consider checking in with your child or their teacher(s).

Even if you aren’t a parent, you can play a critical role in the development of a child….

Other Adult Relationships – If you had an adult outside of your family growing up who you could count on during the tough times and supported you through the good, you probably understand how important support like that is for a young person. Now you can be that adult friend. Whether it is a boss at work, family friend, or teacher, being another caring adult can give young people someone to turn to and identify with.

Caring Neighborhood – Growing up in a neighborhood that watches out for each other helps build a sense of community and protection, and helps young people to feel safer giving them a good foundation. It’s important for the well-being of young people reach out to one another and get to know neighbors. Friendships and trust only develop when people take risks by acknowledging their neighbors, getting to know them, and taking time to form relationships.

Caring School Climate – A caring and encouraging school climate helps students to develop healthy relationships, maintain good grades, and reach for their dreams. Teachers, school staff, and parents can show dedicated care, encouragement, support, and friendliness to create an environment that helps children thrive.

Bullying & the Developmental Assets

Anti-Bullying Advertisment

Bullying Article in MS Word

Local Asset Champions Recognition Power Point

Local Asset Champion Organizations