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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



Nurses as Asset Builders

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


 Health professionals play a vital role in providing valuable information regarding health issues and promoting the overall wellbeing of children and youth in our society. The following information provides ways in which nurses and other health care providers can be Asset Builders.



Photo: Mary R. Vogt, Morguefile


During check
-ups, take the time to talk with young patients about how they are feeling, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. In the presence of the child/youth, do not talk to parents about the child/youth as if the child/youth were not there. If the child/youth is present, talk to them and involve the parent.


Understand that children and youth are much less experienced than adults and are unfamiliar with common medical practices and procedures. Have patience with young people while they become accustomed to medical visits.


Listen to children and youth non-judgementally.

• Use common active listening skills, such as paraphrasing what the child/you said to you, and making eye contact with them when they are talking to you.

Kneel down to their eye level so they can see that you are paying attention to them.

Be available to answer any questions children or youth may have.  



Provide free information and facts to families about health and wellness for children and youth.


Promote educating public sectors on important health information regarding children and youth in the community.

Example: Volunteer for an organization that promotes healthy living. Share knowledge by offering your expertise in the health profession.

Encourage young patients to get involved in volunteering in the health field. Explain to them the value of helping people in need.

Example: Have a list of volunteer placement sites where youth can get involved.  

Try to set up a volunteer program where youth can volunteer at the clinic or hospital that you work at.


Example: Have youth help with the elderly in care homes. They can spend time with the patients playing cards and board games, planting flowers, serving coffee/tea and treats, etc.


Be honest and clear with children and youth about the facts of healthy living. Let them know the realities of serious issues even
, though these realities can be grim. Also let them know that you expect they will make healthy choices that will benefit them.

Give the statistics about smoking and cancer causing deaths.  
When youth are old enough (15-16+) talk with them about issues around safe sex and the importance of doing so. Provide resources about this topic as well as on Fetal Alcohol syndrome.

Talk with young patients about taking care of their body as well as their mind.

Example: Encourage your patients to find ways to relieve stress and anxiety through exercise such as playing sports, running, or working out, and leisure activities such as reading, writing, and talking with friends about stressors in their life.

Be well aware of signs that a child or youth is being abused mentally, physically or emotionally. Find ways to appropriately address these issues by asking the child or youth about where they get certain bruises or marks from, or what their relationship with their parents/ guardian is like.



When you have extra time
, spend some time just talking with patients.

Example: When you notice a hospital patient does not have many visitors, try to spend some extra time with them.

Find fun games that you can play with patients

Example: Always have a deck of cards, checkers, chess, or other fun games available

Offer information about the Developmental Assets to parents and guardians, especially new parents.



Maintain current knowledge
regarding recent journals and reports on youth health and wellness and about the 40 Developmental Assets.

Promote this information by bringing it to your office and letting coworkers know about updated information.

Talk with your patients about the benefits of working in health care and what they need to do to get involved and start volunteering.


Bring your hobby to work with you. If you enjoy doing something like reading, painting, sewing, gardening, or baking, offer to start a program for youth or children who spend a lot of time at the hospital.


For hospital nurses, spend time with long term hospital patients and help them with any homework that they may have to complete.



Always be optimistic
with your patients. Offer them honest but positive feedback about their medical condition.


Show interest in what your patients have to say or what they are doing.

Example: Ask them questions about the book they are reading or game they are playing.

 Promote “random acts of kindness” by doing them yourself and, when possible, letting your young patients see you do them.


• Leave an interesting magazine on a patient’s bed while they are out of the room or sleeping.
• Anonymously leave a get well” card for a patient from the whole nurses station.


Make eye contact with your patients w
hen you talk with them. For children, kneel down to their level to speak to them and make conversation with them.


Have fun strategy games for children and youth patients to play.

Examples: Pictionary, Monopoly, Life, etc.

Have a variety of books and reading material available for young patients to read. Include reading materials in different languages and books about different cultures. Encourage young people to learn about different cultures/ethnicities other than their own.


Lead by example. Deal with all conflict in a non-violent manner.

Example: Learn and know positive conflict resolution skills. Practice these skills at home and at work.

Encourage positive conflict resolution skills with your patients. Use empathic listening and paraphrasing to show them that they have your full attention.



Be attentive to all children and youth—regardless of whether they are in your care or not. Say hello to them and, if you have time, take a minute to talk to them and show them that you are interested .


Try to learn the names of your patients. Ensure you use the name that they prefer to be called, and make note of that in their file for the next time they visit.


Encourage the hospital or health clinic to display inspiring posters and quotes on the walls. Display encouraging quotes from youth as well.

Quotes or sayings from Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and other famous leaders.
Youth quotes from Charlotte Church,  Jonas Brothers etc.

Make a point to praise your young patients when they tell you about something positive they accomplished and feel proud of.

Example: Offer encouragement to continue with the “great work”, offer ideas of other accomplishments that they can work towards, or ask more questions about the topic to show that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying to you. If you want to broaden the answers you receive, ask open ended questions, that require more than a yes or no response.  Such as: “What is your favourite musical group?” or “How do you like to relax?"

Remain positive and optimistic about all situations, offer positive support and encouragement.