The team at Interact for Health in Cincinnati, OH began using the Developmental Assets® in their youth-focused health promotion work in 2000. According to Mary Francis, Senior Program Officer, “The same is true for us that is true across the nation: the Developmental Assets provided a common language, validated people’s intuition, and led to next steps in our work.”

The organization—which promotes healthy living through grants, education, and policy—soon began presenting local workshops and partnering with other organizations interested in positive youth development. In 2004, along with several other organizations in the area, they launched the Tristate Asset Builders Network to share resources and best practices, put on conferences and training events, and to be more intentional about supporting each other’s youth development work.

After 15 years of building Developmental Assets, the team at Interact for Health was excited to hear about the developmental relationships research being done at Search Institute. So much so that the organization invited Vice President of Research and Development Dr. Gene Roehlkepartain to visit Cincinnati in October 2015 and present on the Developmental Relationships Framework.

Out of this workshop, Francis points to three ways the research on developmental relationships has helped invigorate youth development work in the community:

  • Reignite Interest: According to Francis, around 100 people came to the developmental relationships workshop to discuss the connection between the assets and relationships frameworks. “People came out of the woodwork, including 30 people who represented organizations that had been a part of the asset coalition, which was strong for about 7 years.” She also believes that the Tristate Asset Builders Network might be revived as the community begins to investigate ways to incorporate developmental relationships in their organizations.
  • Re-energize Work: “We were naturally ready and eager to dig a little deeper,” said Francis of Interact for Health’s Developmental Asset work. Now that their asset-building efforts had breadth, they were looking for depth and what more could be done to support youth and families in their area. Building developmental relationships was a natural fit for expanding the work. “We can come to the Developmental Relationships Framework to find ways to get families to connect to each other across communities,” said Francis.
  • Remove Barriers: Much like the Developmental Assets, the Developmental Relationships Framework highlights the strengths of youth and adults by showing them what they are already doing well. “When it came to developmental relationships, we are able to use what we know from the emerging research to lift up those in need and have different conversations,” said Francis. Interact for Health has found that developmental relationships help remove the focus on the negative and promote positive relationships within families, no matter their situation.

Francis is looking forward to the future and how this work with developmental relationships could grow in the Cincinnati area. “So many people who were trained in the past are still doing Developmental Assets work in their program. Those folks are ready for developmental relationships,” said Francis. “People continued to keep this work going. Now to know that we can add a layer of depth to that is very exciting.”

Are you interested in reinvigorating local positive youth development work by bringing a Search Institute workshop to your community? Contact Client Relationship Manager Mary Shrader at 800-888-7828 ext. 526 or training@search-institute.org to discuss the possibilities.

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