Building a healthy foundation for adolescent youth

Young people from Wilmington, Delaware help announce the AstraZeneca Young Health Program: IM40 in January, 2012

In January, AstraZeneca and the United Way of Delaware announced a multi-year collaboration called The AstraZeneca Young Health Program: IM40.

As we enter the implementation phase of this statewide effort, we will dedicate space in this blog to sharing what we learn along with the personal stories of adults and young people who are supporting youth development in their communities.

40 assets for healthier youth

IM40 is based upon a set of 40 developmental assets, those positive factors within young people, families, communities, schools and other settings that research has found to be important in promoting the healthy development of young people.  The challenge is that far too few young people have enough of these essential building blocks.

Updated data from Search Institute’s “The Fragile Foundation” survey of nearly 90,000 U.S. youth in grades 6-12 shows that the average young person experiences only 20 of the 40 assets, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity and family situation. Among the survey’s findings are those assets youth are most likely and least likely to experience.

Assets young people are least likely to experience: 

  • Creative activities – young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theatre or other arts
  • Reading for pleasure – young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week
  • Community values youth – young person perceives that adults in the community value youth
  • Adult role models – parents and other adults model positive, responsible behavior
  • Youth as resources – young people are given useful roles in the community
  • Positive family communication – young person and his/her parents, communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents

Assets young people are most likely to experience:

  • Positive view of personal future – young person is optimistic about his/her personal future
  • Family support – family life provides high levels of love and support
  • Achievement motivation – young person is motivated to do well in school
  • Integrity – young person acts on convictions and stands up for his/her beliefs
  • Honesty – young person ”tells the truth even when it’s not easy”

What can we do?

All of us can be asset builders for young people in our lives – from the middle-school teacher, to the parent, to the volunteer at a neighborhood youth group, to young people themselves.

Watch this space for a series of posts that take a closer look at what the developmental assets are and the steps to build them. We also invite you to learn more about the AstraZeneca Young Health Program by visiting www.im40.org and to join the conversation with other asset builders on Twitter #YHP40 and on Facebook.