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ASSET #18: Youth Programs. “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they spend three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or school or community organizations.”

Search Institute of Minneapolis says that a better name for “extracurricular” activities might be “essential curricular.” In fact, youth programs are so important that some schools have started referring to sports, clubs and organizations as “co-curricular” activities.

“To many young people, youth programs at school and in the community are the highlight of their day. They meet new people who share their interests or introduce them to new ones. They spend time with adults who enjoy the activity. And they boost their skills.

“But that’s not all these activities do. They can help children channel aggressive behavior. In addition, researcher Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., says extracurricular activities provide these benefits:

• Unique learning opportunities—Young people get to learn new skills that their academic courses rarely teach. Children get the chance to exercise their initiative and independence.

• Teamwork emphasis—A spirit of cooperation is encouraged, since most after-school programs are group activities.

• Educational interests—Often, young people who aren’t particularly interested in academics get turned on to a subject through an after-school activity.

• Connections to caring adults—People who supervise after-school activities develop important relationships with kids. Young people often turn to a coach or adviser if they have concerns or problems.

• Opportunities to meet new friends—Afterschool activities create another way for young people to meet new friends, to develop more relationships.”*

It’s normal to hear youth complain that there’s nothing to do. And, transportation can be an issue to overcome. But in North Hawaii, the truth is that there are multiple opportunities for young people to connect with each other in activities and programs, and be as busy and engaged as they’d like to be.

We’d like to congratulate Roots Skate 4 Youth in North Kohala on another successful Go Skate Day, and give big props to Transition Youth Projects in Waikoloa and groups in Honokaa and Waimea, working hard to create and complete safe skateparks for all of us. We acknowledge Hamakua Youth Center and Five Mountains Hawaii for teaming up on Project Huinawai, taking 26 youth and 15 adults into Waipio Valley for a two-day youth leadership camp out and learning experience.

We’re proud that our North Hawaii Little League Junior Division All-Star team will be representing the Big Island at the State Championships in July, and that 4-H had such an amazing Livestock Show and Sale earlier this month—their 56th Annual. Our own Friday Night Crew has been busy this summer, hosting Neon Summer Nights dance, “Dark Shadows” movie night and costume party, and more. And, we’re now in a fundraising “frenzy” to help us reach our goal of $15,000 to travel to Austin, Texas in July for national drug and alcohol prevention training.

From the Friday Night Crew to all of you, thank you for helping our community develop Asset #18—it’s appreciated!

“40 Developmental Assets” (values, experiences, and qualities that help kids succeed) were identified and introduced in 1997, by the Search Institute of Minneapolis. They have shown that young people with more assets are more likely to be successful and have positive experiences, while those with fewer assets are more likely to get involved in risky behaviors. To see the full list and learn more, visit

With gratitude to North Hawaii News, The Pantry and its Friday Night Crew youth group share a different one of the 40 Developmental Assets each month. The Pantry is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit, of which the Friday Night Crew Youth Group & Community Coalition, Mama’s House Thrift Store and Waimea Artists’ Guild are components. For more information, call 887-2289.

*Excerpt reprinted with permission from Ideas for Parents, Newsletter #23, 1997, 2003, 2005 by Search Institute, Minneapolis, Minn.