What began as a series of recommendations from teachers and community members has since blossomed into a dedicated group of students working to improve multiple aspects of home and school life.
The Youth Asset Team, as the group is called, was formed in an effort to help address a list of developmental assets that were scored through surveys taken by students. The team then looks at the areas where the most improvement was needed, such as communication, and brainstorms ideas on how to educate students and parents.
"It all started last year when a bunch of us got a Facebook message saying we had been recommended," YAT member Amy Sanborn said. "There was originally a list of 20 people but about 10 of us ended up sticking with it."
One of the current members, James Burgoyne, became a part of the team after being invited.
"I'm second generation because I was invited by someone who was already in the group," Burgoyne said. "I'm kind of like a prodigy," he joked.
Sanborn said this year the group is focusing mostly on the developmental assets to help improve the scores.
"Our major focus is on the assets because of the poor outcome," Sanborn said. "We've really been focusing on a caring school environment, teacher/student relationships and talking to younger parents."
When the group was just getting started last year, the focus was more on getting the results of the developmental assets surveys to the public.
"Last year we worked with getting the results out to students and parents," YAT member Sarah Smith said.
Getting the word out has been one of the obstacles the group has faced since its formation.
"There's this kind of `who are you?' line of thinking when students hear about us," Sanborn said. "I still think students don't really know who we are but we've had articles written about us and we are trying to let people know what we do."
In an effort to publicize the group's existence, YAT member Evan Rogers said the group is currently working with the Chamber of Commerce to give an award to the restaurant that is the most student-friendly.
"If someone wants to get involved with kids then we can help connect the two sides," Rogers said.
Thriving Youth Coordinator Martha Rhein said the group has gained momentum through their work with the assets.
"These assets have the power to protect and promote," Rhein said. "We got the word out into the community and got some interested people."
YAT member Kate Ferguson said a lot of work has been done to promote the group but students aren't always aware the YAT was responsible for hosting an event.
"It's hard to put a face to what we do," Ferguson said. "Connecting what we do to the students is necessary."
Ferguson explained that she and another member, Jay Alter, would be attending a conference in Texas in order to learn more about what other groups like the YAT are doing.
"We're going to listen to what is being done around the country and how we can better our cause Ferguson said.
The YAT is currently hosting a series of lectures on different aspects of the developmental assets for students and parents.