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Developmental Assets

The Search Institute has identified 40 assets (factors that protect development) that support students to achieve their optimal learning and developmental potential. The Developmental Assets ® framework can be used in schools to engage in positive mental health promotion.

Research from the Search Institute show that the assets students have, the less likely they are to engage in high-risk behaviours and the more likely they are to thrive. It is essential that child have relationships with caring adults who help them discover who they are and help to cultivate the abilities they need to shape their own futures. Examples of assets include valuing young people as resources, empathy, and friendship skills, and feeling connected to school.

The more assets that students have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviours and the more likely they are to thrive at home, at school, and in their communities.
Developing students’ assets through supportive school environments and positive relationships with educators support the mental health, stress, and resiliency themes found throughout the Ontario Health & Physical Education Curriculum in Strand A: Social-Emotional Learning Skills and Strand D: Healthy Living as it relates to health topics including Mental Health Literacy.

Many school activities and teacher-student relationships will already be positively contributing towards student asset development. Developmental Assets ® is a framework for building strong student supports and a strong school community.

To get started, we recommend that schools:

  • Have a copy of the Strong Staff Strong Student book available for reference.
  • Introduce the Developmental Assets ® framework at a staff meeting. Your School Health public health nurse can provide this overview session.
  • Identify 1-2 staff champions to help lead Developmental Assets ® activities.

We work with schools to incorporate the Developmental Assets ® framework into existing activities for promoting positive mental health, or can help you to use the framework as a starting point for promoting student connection and well-being:

  • First, we will help you reflect on how you are already building assets.
  • Next, we work together to integrate DA into your School Action Plan by identifying 2-3 ways Developmental Assets ® can support the work you are already planning.
  • We will also provide strategies to help you and your team be intentional to build assets through daily interactions with students. 
  • We can also provide continued support to learn about and apply the Developmental Assets ® framework through a variety of school and classroom activities. 

To book a staff meeting presentation, or to request support with planning and implementing the Developmental Assets ® framework at your school, contact your School Health public health nurse.

For more school-based information and resources, please visit Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

For background information please visit Search Institute.

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