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Helping Kids Thrive

In a recent webinar, Helping Kids Thrive is Job # 1, Tim Duffey of Bolster Collaborative Inc. ( explained that thinking about Positive Youth Development centers on building resilience and helping kids thrive. Thriving means building the good things in youth and enhancing the relationships needed for positive development.

During the webinar, Duffey talked about a book by Bonnie Bernard, Resiliency: What we Have Learned. The premise of her book is that we build resilience in  children and youth through:

  1. authentic caring relationships
  2. high reasonable expectations
  3. meaningful opportunities for participation and contribution

He also referenced the late Peter L. Bensen, a psychologist and CEO/President of the Search Institute, who believed we can’t have quality programs for youth without a focus on high quality relationships. High Quality relationships are intentional, repetitive and persuasive. This applies to teachers, coaches, youth workers and parents and applies to all children, even challenging children.

Tim Duffey explained that there is a 100% correlation between students who are well known in their school or youth program and those who are successful. Being well known means we know their name and what they are passionate about. He suggests that two strategies to make sure we know all the children in our program. One strategy is to interview all incoming students. Ask them to identify 3 assets (Search Institute Developmental Assets) as their strength assets and continue to nurture those. Also ask them to identify 3 assets they want help with. The second strategy is to do Spark Interviews. Ask youth to identify their spark or passion (i.e. arts, animals, physics, music, sports). There is a YouTube video of Peter L. Benson talking about how to do this called Sparks: How Youth Thrive  that I recommend.


Tim Duffey, Bolster Collaborative,

Bonnie Bernard, Resiliency: What we Have Learned, 2004. WestEd, San Francisco

Peter L. Benson, Sparks: How Youth Thrive (YouTube)

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