Young people need a healthy mix of structured activities

This is the third in a series of posts that take a closer look at the developmental assets that are at the foundation of the AstraZeneca Young Health Program: IM40.  The first two posts may be found here and here.

Today’s post explores “constructive use of time” as a category of external assets provided by families, individuals and communities.

What is a constructive use of time?

How young people spend their time makes a big difference in the way they grow up. Involving youth in activities that provide structure is not just a nice thing to do; it is essential, says Search Institute. Ideally these activities are led by principled, caring adults who nurture and model skill and capacity through group activities, lessons, relationships, and supervision.

The four constructive use of time assets

The developmental assets framework includes four constructive use of time assets that recognize that young people need constructive, enriching opportunities for growth through creative activities, youth programs, congregational involvement, and quality time at home.

  1. Creative activities— Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
  2. Youth programs— Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in the community.
  3. Religious community— Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution.
  4. Time at home— Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.

Assets in action: Ian’s story

“I never thought that the sport I was involved in could bring such change and make such a difference in people’s lives,” said Ian Wogan, regulatory affairs director at AstraZeneca. Through his volunteer work with the Cadence Cycling Foundation, Ian helps young people set and achieve their goals through training and participating in cycling events.

Ideas for building constructive use of time assets

The following tips are courtesy of Search Institute:

  • Encourage youth to explore a variety of out-of-school activities
  • Ask them what they like about the activities in which they participate
  • Encourage youth to develop and showcase their gifts and talents
  • Help remove barriers to participation (transportation, fees, equipment)
  • Support local programs that provide these opportunities for youth

For more information about the Young Health Program: IM40, visit To connect with other asset builders on Twitter, use #YHP40 or visit us on Facebook.