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Building Strong Community Foundations for Children & Youth

Developed by the South Fraser Valley Regional Child & Youth Committee in partnership with Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives Association

About the 40 Developmental Assets

Asset Building

Asset Building

The Fraser
Region Project



Principals & Administrators as Asset Builders

What you can do to make a difference in the lives of children and youth


The following ideas are small ways that can help build Assets among your students everyday with little need for extra financial resources. It only takes a bit more time and energy! Every school is different, and it is likely that you have to adapt some ideas to your school’s particular needs.




Photo: Mike Cooper, Morguefile


Have parent support groups that meet regularly.

Have meetings every second week for single parents. Have resources so parents can get information, support, or help as a single parent.

Assign each class a building-maintenance or cleaning project that they can work with the custodians on. This will build respect for the building and environment that they learn in and as well as build connections with the staff that work to keep it well maintained.


• Have an afternoon dedicated to garbage pick-up where every class has an assigned area to pick up garbage.
• Provide teachers with material that they can show their class before they go out to clean up garbage about the importance of preserving our environment. This may be a video, a story or research information about waste and environmental issues.

Include information about Asset Building in school newsletters, as a way to have people become familiar with the language.


Have a strict limit on how many students can be in one class. It is important that teachers




Spend time in each staff meeting to talk with the staff about Asset Building, and provide inspiration to teachers about the importance of this philosophy.

Example: Offer stories, information, resources and ideas about Asset Building.


Invite students to the school board meetings so that they can have input on how the schools are operated, what is working and what is not. This helps to build leadership skills and a good comprehension of the importance of decision making.


Take time to thank staff and students whenever you see them doing something positive around the school.


Take advantage of special guest speakers that present to students about social awareness issues. Offer them the opportunities to learn from other people’s experiences.

Example: Special presentations on positive youth experiences or people who have changed their lives around in a positive way.

Fully support and promote student leadership classes or groups. Offer large amounts of responsibility to these groups and let them learn the importance of planning and decision making.  

Example: Let leadership groups plan and organize school assemblies, events, and dances.


Expect all staff and students to do their best.


Have all school rules posted in every classroom. Ensure that these rules and consequences are well known. They should be displayed in a direct and non-threatening manner. Refrain, as much as possible, from using the terms “no” or “do not.” Include positive rules as well. 



• “Respect everyone!”

• “Bullying is not acceptable in this school. Those who bully will be referred to the school’s peer mediation services and will have to write a letter of apology to their victim.”

• “Stealing is not acceptable in this school. If you are caught stealing you will have to repay the losses to the person that you stole from. Other consequences may be endured.” 

• “Have fun.”

• “Make the most of your day.”

When standards are not met, be consistent with consequences. Consequences should be directly related to the inappropriate action and learning should be encouraged by the experience.


Example: When a student picks on another student, bring the two students meet together to talk about the situation. Ensure that it is voluntary and both students feel safe in this situation.


Keep well informed about other events and activities that are happening in spiritual or cultural groups in your neighborhood so students can be active in both school events and religious or cultural events.


Offer before school and/or after school programs for all students.

Examples: Arts, theatre, sports, academic interests.

Research the interests and hobbies of the noticeably unsupervised students, and create programs that will interest these students. Engage them in conversations about what they would be interested in doing in their spare time, and look for ways the school can provide resources for these ideas.

Example: If you have youth who get in trouble for graffiti, set up a designated graffiti wall at your school. Set a clear rule that this is the only place where they are welcome to paint graffiti.

Make a point to consciously praise students when they achieve something. You may want to do this publicly, privately, or amongst their family only.

Example: Send a letter to the student's home that lets the parents know their child is doing well in school and that you appreciate his/her hard work.



Encourage administrators to greet both staff and students at the door every morning. This reinforces positive connections and a caring environment.


Create a unique visual reminder of Asset Building. Have all the staff and students contribute to a project that symbolizes Asset Building.

• Set up a project for students and teachers to create a mural on the cement walkways or building wall. Have special artists come in to work with the students to create a meaningful and interesting mural that symbolizes the school’s values and sense of community.

• Have a garden that is created by students and teachers on the school grounds that symbolizes the importance of working together to create a something beautiful.

Offer incentives for students to be Asset Builders amongst their peers.


• As part of their school time, provide interesting opportunities for students to attend workshops on Asset Building and on positive development.

• Have school credits that can be put towards Asset Building projects around the school, such as making a video, creating a garden, or painting a mural dedicated to the school's commitment to Asset Building.

Create an Asset Building team that works to provide the school with fun events and activities, and  is dedicated to educating other students about the values of the Developmental Assets.

Example: Seek two or three youth who are interested in becoming well informed about Asset Building to organize the group and recruit other students to get involved.


Generate discussions with all people that are connected to your school about what values they feel should be shared in the school.

Talk with parents, teachers, students and board members about what values they think are important and create a list based on these suggestions. Refer to the Asset values to encourage positive ideas. Be open to all ideas and work towards a general consensus for each value listed.

Set high standards for your staff to demonstrate care and respect all students and colleagues. Use this as a guideline for how all students should care and respect others as well.


Encourage teachers to facilitate interactive activities with students on learning how to truly feel and express empathy. Provide teachers with resources and activities with which to engage their students.


Example: On a Professional Development Day, have a guest speaker talk to teachers about the value of teaching children to empathize and the positive/negative effects of either creating/neglecting this value.

Encourage teachers to have classroom discussions when there are differences in opinions. Help students learn the value of respecting the fact that people have different opinions for different reasons, that no opinion is better than the other, just different.




Provide training to staff and students on non-violent conflict resolution skills. Encourage this to be part of the classroom culture so children and youth can learn the importance of practicing these skills.


Create a peer mediation group that facilitates conflict resolution between peers in their school. Ensure that the students have adequate training as peer mediators before they take a case.


Example: The Langley School District's Restorative Action teams.


Provide free resources for students for planning and managing their time, such as agendas and calendars.



Promote cultural diversity.



• Have social groups based on various ethnic/cultural backgrounds, and have social occasions that encourage the intermixing of ethnicities and cultures.

• Plan school events that embrace and acknowledge different cultures.
• Recognize and draw awareness special holidays of all cultures.



Encourage the school to have banquets and assemblies that are meant to honour students. Be present and involved in these events.


Set up Career Days for students. Have representatives from the community come to your school and set up stations where students can view different career options and learn more about jobs that interest them.

Examples: Recreation, parks and culture coordinators, health professionals, small business owners, legal professionals, teachers.

Get to know students on a personal level. Say hello to them and keep updated with previous conversations you have had with them about topics non-school-based topics. This creates an ongoing connection that goes beyond school.



• Talk with students about their favorite hockey team and how the team is doing.

• Ask for students opinions and suggestions on various issues.  Validate their opinions and suggestions and thank them for sharing with you.

• Check up on students that you know are going through difficulties and show genuine concern for their well being.

Adapted from Pass It On! Ready To Use Handouts for Asset Builders, ©1999 by The Search Institute