Program helps young students volunteer

December 1, 2008 9:21:15 AM PST
A unique program at an East Bay school is proving you're never too young to start giving back.

Nathan Tucker is one of a group of 5th graders at Lydiksen Elementary School in Pleasanton who spends one lunch hour a week volunteering their time. The current project is making blankets and dolls as Christmas gifts for the Tri-Valley Haven, a community shelter for women and their children.

"We just want to help them and make them feel loved," said Nathan Tucker, Lydiksen Elementary School 5th grader, Club 40.

"I feel good about making them because we're making them for people that don't have toys or anything," said Angel Negrete, Lydiksen Elementary School 5th grader, Club 40.

"We want to help them. We want to make them know it's alright and that kids can help other kids in the world," said Shelby Carter, Lydiksen Elementary School 5th grader, Club 40.

These students are doing this work through Club 40 -- a school club teaching them what's called character education; it's part of a first-ever district wide program called 40 Assets.

"The 40 Assets is the way for students to get involved, but also to be able to learn a little bit more about support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations," said Jennifer Roush, 40-Assets Task Force Coordinator - Pleasanton Unified School District.

So far this year, five schools in the Pleasonton Unified School district have launched a Club 40. The concept is that there are 40 assets, or building blocks that help develop the characteristics and environment for a healthy, caring and responsible child. Some assets include positive identity, constructive use of time, and compassion. All things you can find in this doll and blanket project.

"It's warm. It's comfortable, and it's made with a lot of love, so the kids will really like it," said Madalin Warren, Lydiksen Elementary School 5th grader, Club 40.

The 40 Assets concept was developed by the Search-Institute, a non-profit organization which has spent 50-years designing methods to help nurture healthy kids and communities. The Pleasanton Unified School District's 40 Assets Task Force says it has already seen positive effects of the program -- from higher grades to better self-esteem.

Abby Johnson, a counselor and Club 40 advisor at Lydiksen Elementary, is passionate about the program. She helped organize a 40 Assets youth summit over the summer.

"I think they're getting the idea -- I'm a child. I'm a student. I do make a difference," said Abby Johnson, Club 40 Advisor, Lydiksen Elementary School.

To find out more about the 40 Assets program by reaching out to the Pleasanton Unified District leader at 40assetstaskforce@gmail.com, or to review more about the program and its creators, go to www.search-institute.org


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