Positive Youth Development and Hot Cheetos and Takis

Photo Credit leff Jason Brackins

Photo Credit leff
Jason Brackins

I’m sure by now many of you have seen this video of “Hot Cheetos and Takis” by the YNRich Kids at the North Community YMCA here in Minneapolis.  Kids all over Minneapolis (and probably all over the country) can’t get enough of these crunchy, spicy, stain your hands and your clothes and your face bright red snacks.

I work on the southside of Minneapolis and have lived on the southside most of my adult life.  I was unfamiliar with the North Community YMCA. After seeing the “Hot Cheetos and Takis” video I went to their website to learn about their youth programs.  Beats and Rhymes was just one of several classes offered over the summer, I love the description:

beats and rhymes
the Beat and rhymes Club gives young people the opportunity to express themselves by creating music, writing lyrics and expanding on their musical talents.

I was impressed by how beats and rhymes and the other youth development programs aligned so well with the Search Institutes 40 Developmental Assets for Youth.

What I love about this video and the youth program that created it, is that it shows so many of the positive developmental assets that all youth need to transition successfully to adulthood.

The Developmental Assets® are 40 common sense, positive experiences and qualities that help influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible, successful adults. Because of its basis in youth development, resiliency, and prevention research and its proven effectiveness, the Developmental Assets framework has become one of the most widely used approach to positive youth development in the United States.

You can learn more about Search Institute and the 40 Developmental Assets through this 30 minute course or by going to the Search Institute Website.

One successful video will not guarantee a healthy transition to adulthood, but as part of a larger system that builds assets in kids lives this video shows at least 9 of the Developmental assets.

Many of the assets from the Search Institute focus on the connections that youth experience with their community: other adults; caring neighborhood; community valuing youth; and participation in youth programs.  I love that the YMCA is committed to the neighborhood, I love that through rap and hip hop, kids find meaningful ways to connect with nonparent adults, I love that the YMCA offers so many programs for kids throughout the summer that kids can be involved in youth programming for all eleven weeks of summer if they need to or want to.  Here are some of the assets from Search:

Other Adult Relationships | Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.

Caring Neighborhood | Young person experiences caring neighbors.

Community Values Youth | Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.

Safety | Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.

Youth Programs | Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community

I believe that something happens to kids when we give them opportunities to be not only consumers of programming, but creators of something meaningful.  Here’s what Search says:

Creative Activities | Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.

Service to Others | Child has opportunities to help others in the community

The cover of the YMCA’s summer registration brochure says this:

The Y is committed to quality family programming and strengthening our ommunity.
Every day, we work side-byside with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow
and thrive.  At the heart of our summer programming is our focus on Youth Development and our core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.

Search lists 6 personal values as core developmental assets, including caring, honesty and responsibility.

Caring | Young Person places high value on helping other people.

Honesty | Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.”

Responsibility | Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.

I’m looking for ways to incorporate more of the assets into our programming at Park Avenue, both in the children’s and youth ministry and in our PAYFS programs.  The list of assets can be a great way to evaluate programs.