New Colorado Youth Thrive Collaborative Aims to Improve Youth Well-Being

New Colorado Youth Thrive Collaborative Aims to Improve Youth Well-Being

Illuminate Colorado has been working to increasing community and family protective factors since our formation in 2017 and long before through our founding organizations. Recently, our organization also began working to build protective and promotive factors for young people aged 9-26 by offering a new Youth ThriveTM training and convening the Colorado Youth Thrive Collaborative focused on creating the best long-term well-being outcomes for young people.  


The Youth Thrive Framework

The five protective and promotive factors are a part of the Youth Thrive framework developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). According to the CSSP, protective factors help eliminate or mitigate the impact of negative life experiences, while promotive factors actively enhance healthy development and well-being.

Research from the CSSP shows that building protective and promotive factors in young people, such as youth resilience and knowledge of adolescent development, creates positive long term outcomes for young people and even helps overcome the harmful effects of racism, systemic oppression, and policing disparities.

Learn more about the role of protective and promotive factors in promoting youth well-being and preventing child maltreatment.

Helping Youth Thrive in Colorado

Illuminate Colorado is proud to convene the Colorado Youth Thrive Collaborative and support partners Compound of Compassion, Bigger Than Me, Fatherhood Support Services and the Youth Empowerment Agency  incorporating the CSSP Youth Thrive framework into their existing and future programming. The work began last summer when the Compound of Compassion hosted Safe Zone events in response to the rapid rise of youth violence. “We want to bring some kind of cohesiveness and collaboration so that there is a personal relationship that’s built, so that we all commune together as a whole and address the issues,” said Compound of Compassion Founder Shana Shaw last month when local news highlighted how the Aurora nonprofits are working to support youth during a spike in violence. 

Even though there has been a recent uptick in youth violence, research shows that communities can foster positive and meaningful change. According to Dr. Apryl Alexander, Associate Professor at the University of Denver and the director of Denver FIRST, which works with adults and juveniles in the criminal justice system, community-based interventions are the most effective at reducing concerns such as youth violence, and community-led interventions are far more effective than system-based interventions.

It Takes a Village

The strength of community-based and -led interventions, coupled with the five protective and promotive factors, means that there is a unique opportunity for each of us to mitigate risk and improve the well-being of young people in our communities. Here are some suggestions and examples of how you can support young people in your community:

      • Identify and celebrate moments when a young person draws on their inner strength.
      • Show trust, respect, and appreciation for the children in your life.
      • Be a trusted and knowledgeable adult when a child, teenager, or young adult comes to you to talk about adolescent development.
      • Normalize asking for help when you need it for the young people in your life.
      • Model how to be kind and interact positively with others.

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Keeping Kids Safe Online

Keeping Kids Safe Online

This year, planning for school means planning to keep kids safe online.

Last week, I had to decide how my children were going to return to school year.  I don’t know if I made the right decision. It was so difficult and it seems every parent I have talked with has struggled to know the right decision and are instead making the best decision for their family.  And still, I am pretty sure every parent who made a decision could very easily be convinced that they made the wrong decision.

What I do know is that since making the decision, several districts have decided that students won’t come back in person at the start of the year.  That means most parents will again be faced with online school—either for a few weeks, or the whole year. Here are a few things that have been on my mind since then:

      • I have no idea what it is going to look like.
      • At least they will be learning something other than Tik-Tok dances online.
      • Will they teach kindergarten like Tik-Tok taught Savage, because my kindergartner has that down.
      • Please don’t teach high school like Tik-Tok taught my teenager Savage. That was 8 hours straight, on repeat.
      • At least Beyonce and I both have to jump to put on jeans.
      • Wait – does this mean the kids will be online even more? This last thought is the one that has me most worried.

I already question how safe my kids are online. In fact, they learned all their Tik-Toks through YouTube since I don’t allow social media, a practice which is getting more difficult every day.  Now they will be online even longer every day and many will be online for the whole year.  We know that the more kids are online, the more vulnerable they are to cyber-bullying, inappropriate content and online predators and exploitation.

I remember the first time I found out, purely by accident, that one of my children had been exposed to inappropriate content. After a private freak out session with my partner and a couple of trusted friends, I took a friend’s advice.  By not blaming, but rather walking through what they see, and talking about how to avoid it in the future, parents can answer questions and support their children in being savvy with the technology that will be a part of the rest of their lives.

The good news is, there is no shortage of training and materials on how to keep your kids safe online. There are programs you can pay for, accounts you can create and videos you can watch.  The best part is, the research is clear.  Talking to our children about threats online, just like talking to them about drugs, just may be our best defense.

1. Talk With Your Kids About the Risks of Increased Time Online 

Guide their online behaviors by teaching them to identify and avoid red flags, and be explicit with them. Make sure your child knows that it’s safe for them to talk to you if something makes them uncomfortable. You can find a great guide HERE or see a full-sized version of our “How to Talk with Your Kids about Online Safety” guide at the bottom of this post or HERE.

2. Create an Online Safety Plan or Agreement With Your Child

Together, set clear guidelines like when and where they can be online. Teach them to spot red flags and encourage open communication. Have a plan in place in case your child is impacted by one of the threats. Practice what your responses are so you can focus on helping your child deal with their feelings.


3. Every Device Has a Way to Set Up Parental Controls

I have even had my kids help me set them up so that it felt less about me controlling them and more about all of us being safe.  It worked great because they are way more tech savvy than I am anyway!

Now, I may not be able to dance Savage like my teenager or my kindergartner, but at least I can take these simple actions to protect them while they learn more dances and avoid their schoolwork.

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