Throughout this well-written and fascinating book, Curtis explains how important it is that kids be given opportunities to thrive, and she gives examples of situations where youths have led projects, founded charities, and contributed memorably to their communities. Interwoven with these stories is the underlying message to adults who come into contact with young people that we need to be "asset builders." Curtis lists 40 Developmental Assets -- factors that are instrumental in benefiting youths. These Developmental Assets include a caring neighborhood, adult role models, and positive peer influence.
Adults tend to categorize youths as either objects, recipients, or resources. As objects and recipients, youths have no hope of sharing in any kind of decision-making. However, once adults begin to view youths as resources -- to value their input and actually use it -- great strides can be made towards a successful future.
While further training is available to adults who want to learn more about empowering young people and encouraging involvement, Curtis reminds readers that starting down that path is easy. Just make eye contact and smile at kids!
Additional features inside Empowering Youth include detailed activities that involve kids and adults, and a series of reflection questions. There are also checklists that can be used to gauge current levels of empowerment.
Empowering Youth is a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to motivate, foster, and support young people of all ages. For anyone needing a reason, in the introduction, Curtis offers a quote from Mary Patterson of Project Cornerstone: "People never recall the bicycle, but who taught them to ride it. They don't recall the basketball game, but who taught them to play it. They don't recall the English class, but who taught the lesson."
Curtis then adds, "Be the who."