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.
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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