Conference puts focus on helping kids thrive

Meeting in Westminster spotlights character, values as keys to success

May 16, 2001|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

About 200 community leaders, parents and youths gathered in Westminster yesterday to discuss "creating a community where young people thrive," an attempt to strengthen and promote assets such as caring, integrity, restraint and responsibility that are key to communication and learning.

The daylong conference attracted leaders and officials from Harford, Howard, Baltimore, Allegany and Frederick counties. It was sponsored by Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County Inc., which promotes a "Healthy Communities - Healthy Youth" initiative developed by the Search Institute in Minneapolis.

The institute has identified 40 assets that would help young people make sound decisions. In many respects, these assets mirror the character traits - such as perseverance, responsibility and trustworthiness - that Carroll County public schools and the county commissioners are trying to encourage in students and government workers.

"The character trait of the month is perseverance, or determination, which is appropriate because I think if we persevere, we will achieve our goal," Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier told conference participants yesterday. "I believe we can make our community an even better one ... if we just change Carroll County one person at a time, beginning with you and beginning with me."

When they took office in 1998, the commissioners called for a "focus on youth and families" to "reduce the risk of crime and substance abuse."

To that end, the board supported the creation of ACTIVE - Adults and Children Together Improving Values and Ethics - Alliance. The alliance aims to strengthen Carroll County families through programs ranging from faith-based marriage counseling to greater availability of long-term care for substance users.

"The purpose of the conference is to help people understand asset building and the role that everyone can play in that, from young people to adults," said Patricia Supik, executive director of Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County and a member of the alliance's executive committee. "Our goal is to give young people visibility and a voice so they can build on the strengths they have."

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