Middletown boasts a very diverse population both ethnically and economically. It is one of the only communities in Connecticut to include urban, suburban and rural characteristics within its 42 square miles.
Since 2006, the Middletown community and its public school system have administered the Search Institute’s “Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors Survey” to all students in grades 7-12. This survey provides a way to identify, measure and articulate the qualities and experiences that young people need to thrive and avoid risky behaviors.
Some of the most critical indicators focus on how youth feel they are valued and supported by their community. When we first started working with Middletown Youth Services Bureau (MYSB) in 2010, this number was shockingly low — 19%.
The Asset Promise Campaign targeted teachers, parents, coaches, neighbors, shop-owners, PTA – every adult kids could come in contact with. The elements of the campaign were designed to empower young people to deliver their message in their own words, and to empower adults to change their own perception of youth by giving them the information and the opportunity to make a participatory promise to their community’s teens. It also clearly sent the message to all Middletown youth that their concerns and wants were heard and taken to heart.
That campaign was a critical kickoff to a community-wide conversation and effort that MYSB has tirelessly championed and grown since. As the approach became a part of Middletown’s ethos, we were able to help MYSB solidify its own brand and design programs and supports in a way that extended our original work together. (Shameless plug: Be sure to check out MyConnections and explore the awesome opportunities that Middletown provides its youth!)
We’re proud to still be working with MYSB. They are truly an example of youth development and community building at its best, and they have taught us so much. They are one of the main reasons our business evolved, because in working with them, we felt the humbling power of helping to motivate a community to do something meaningful, real and Good.
So thanks, Justin and MYSB. We owe this crazy ride to you.