At a time when many people feel overwhelmed by the problems and challenges facing children and adolescents, communities across the country need to discover new energy in working together, building civility toward a positive vision for young people.
Instead of focusing only on problems of young people, communities need to build and support a foundation of development all young people need.
Uniting a community to nurture the positive development of youth and build civility is much like playing in a jazz ensemble. Each musician (community member) must know the tune and listen to the other ensemble members; all players must improvise together–sometimes taking the lead and sometimes blending into the background. To create a community-wide commitment to youth, all the “players” need to be an ensemble working toward a common vision of what is needed to promote the healthy development of young people.
Healthy Be WUCA! communities that build civility and family friendly supports need to act:
• All residents take personal responsibility for the efforts to build civility in relationships.
• The community thinks and acts intergenerational.
• All children and teenagers frequently have opportunity to by in service to others.
• Families are supported, educated, and equipped.
• All children and teenagers receive support in both informal settings and in places where youth gather.
• Neighborhoods and schools are places of caring, support, and safety.
• Schools mobilize to promote caring, clear boundaries and sustained relationships with adults.
• Businesses establish family-friendly policies for all employees.
• Virtually all 10-to-18 year-olds are involved in one or more clubs, teams, or other youth-serving organizations that promote community building as a central part of their mission.
• The media (print, radio, television) repeatedly communicate the community’s vision, support local mobilization efforts, and provide forums for sharing innovative actions taken by individuals and organizations.
• Youth have opportunities to serve, lead, and make decisions in community government and service organizations.
• Religious institutions mobilize their resources to build civility both within their own programs and in the community.
• The community-wide commitment to building civility is long-term and sustained by business and industry and the public sector.
Communities utilizing these Be WUCA! strategies will stem their population decline and attract new families. If you had a choice to live in a community that did not care about its youth or live in a community that engaged youth, into which community would you want to move your family? Think about it: all communities think they have great schools but I believe all parts of the community are needed to assist youth in education and to recognize as this is the place they wish to live or return with their families because of the importance that is placed on youth.