Last week on Oct. 21-22, 400-plus students and another 400-plus adults participated in the 3rd Annual Greater Dayton Conference on Youth. What makes this conference extraordinary, I think, is that it celebrates children and adolescents – a focus that is often cited as essential, but one that does not always translate into deliberate and intentional collaborative action on the part of adults who live with and work with young people.
This annual two-day convocation of community partners is a sometimes raucous yet substantively rigorous amalgamation of ideas and action that emanate from the 40 Developmental Assets – the building blocks which help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. As you might expect, relationships are at the core of the 40 Developmental Assets and engagement by entire communities is the linchpin in creating a culture of support for our youth.
This culture of support for youth used to exist organically in the communities of a bygone era. Today, it has not disappeared but it is being challenged by a cultural shift created, in part, by the media.
At this year’s conference, Dr. David Walsh, president and founder
of the National Institute on Media and the Family, posed an intriguing question during his keynote presentation. “Do you believe parents of the 1950’s and 1960’s were better parents than today’s parents?” After acknowledging some affirmative head nodding he continued, “I, for one, do not believe today’s parents are any less capable of good parenting, nor any less motivated to raise competent, successful children. Yesterday’s parents were not better or more motivated parents, but the culture supported them.” He explained that today’s parents are faced with a “Yes Culture” that promotes “more, fast, easy, and fun.” (Did you know that 28 percent of children under two years of age have some type of media projection screen in their room?) The goal is not just to say “No”, however, but also to rear children who can learn to say “no” to themselves. (Did you know that studies have found self-discipline to be two times stronger as a predictor of achievement than intelligence?)
Dr. Walsh is but one example of the research-based, youth-focused presenters who educate our area Asset Builders at the annual Conference on Youth. On behalf of Dr. Rusty Clifford, West Carrollton superintendent and lead Assets cheerleader, and all the members of the conference leadership team, thank you to the businesses and organizations who underwrite this significant event.
Thank you to DP&L, WDTN, Dayton Daily News, The Dayton Foundation, Miamisburg City Schools, Bishop Leibold, Sinclair Community College, West Carrollton Schools, Miami Township, City of Moraine, Catholic Education Collaborative, City of West Carrollton, South Metro Regional Chamber of Commerce, Valley View Local Schools, West Carrollton YMCA, City of Miamisburg, United Way of Greater Dayton, Valley View Local Schools, Oakwood City Schools, Montgomery County Juvenile Court, O’Neil and Associates, City of Kettering, City of Oakwood, Miamisburg Education Foundation, Miamisburg Rotary, West Carrollton Education Foundation, and West Carrollton Rotary.
The “Project 40” members and sponsors multiply with each passing year. Their commitment to supporting healthy, caring, and responsible young people complements the region’s focus on work force and economic development. They understand that the more Developmental Assets young people have, the more likely they will be to mature into productive, responsible citizens.
Nothing is more important than what we do today for our young people. Save the date for next year’s conference: Oct. 20-21, 2009.