Throughout the years, Sunshine has valued the vital role that parents play in their children’s lives. Recently, God has graciously opened a door for us to integrate the Familyhood program as a way of incorporating parents into our programming. Familyhood offers a new avenue to support the work parents are already doing.
Over the past two years, our staff have been training in understanding the role that trauma plays on the brain and the long-lasting effects it can have on the decisions youth make. Understanding this gives us empathy and greater commitment to helping youth develop resilience. This is where the work of Familyhood comes into play. Familyhood builds upon 50 years of research from the Search Institute, an organization dedicated to bridging research discoveries with practice in order to equip young people to be their best. In 1990, The Search Institute published research on the 40 Developmental Assets. Young people with more Developmental Assets report lower levels of high-risk behaviors (such as alcohol use and violence) and higher levels of thriving attitudes and behaviors (such as doing well in school, leadership, and valuing diversity). This correlation has been shown to be consistent across multiple settings, with studies conducted among nearly 6 million youth across the United States and globally. Research on childhood trauma has been largely linked to avoiding long-term health risks. However, there is a strong connection between understanding trauma while helping youth avoid risky behaviors. In essence, the more assets a child has, regardless of the trauma they’ve experienced, the more resilient they will be.
These assets are divided into eight categories—Support, Empowerment, Safe Boundaries, Constructive Use of Time, Commitment to Learning, Social Competencies, Positive Values, and Positive Identity. These categories are then incorporated into a curriculum to train parents within the context of their own communities. After parents complete the 13-week training, they are equipped to recruit and train other parents. This parent-led initiative allows parents to take charge of building networks of safety and resilience for children.
All of these assets line up with the values Sunshine has been instilling in our youth for many years, including the way Sunshine approaches discipleship. In the coming year, our staff will be implementing the 40 developmental assets in programming so we can further support and encourage what parents and schools are already doing. Our passion for seeing youth grow in Christ is why Familyhood provides such a great fit with our programs. It’s designed for equipping parents to teach other parents, thereby building a robust community of like-minded people. This is similar to the biblical model in Philippians where Paul calls on the community of believers to be of “one-accord” through a shared faith in Jesus. It’s an amazing opportunity.