Newburyport Learns to “Let Grow”

This past December Dr. Peter Gray from Boston College came to speak to the Newburyport community about the positive effects of play for children. The interest in this speaker came from a local parent who had heard about the Let Grow initiative out of Utah. There, the courts changed the definition of childhood neglect after questions of whether or not kids should be allowed to play alone in the park.

Dr. Gray presented his position, from years of research, that the decrease of play and the increase in mental health disorders is no coincidence. He explained how when children engage in self-chosen, self-directed play, they learn to create and direct their own activities, solve their own problems, negotiate, compromise and cooperate. All of which are now being taught as part of social emotional learning curriculum in school because children are lacking these basic skills. Gray also argues that play helps develop more than just social skills but can also help in many areas of development including physical, intellectual, moral, emotional and personal.

The Let Grow Foundation provides support and ideas to parents, schools and towns who want to encourage “free-range parenting” in their communities. Newburyport will be exploring ways to encourage this model of play this upcoming spring. Stay tuned!


Georgetown Staff Trained on the Assets

This past November over 100 Georgetown staff at Perley Elementary School and Georgetown Middle High School were trained on the 40 Developmental Assets and how they can be used as a tool to enhance the school day experience.

Teachers were given the opportunity to look at the Georgetown data from the Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behavior Survey that was given to all students in grates 6-12 in November 2017. The data shows which of the 40 Developmental Assets are strong in Georgetown and which ones can be improved. The data was used as a jumping off point for discussion, helping to talk about what surprised them, what they had seen in the classroom, and question things that might not match their personal experience. The data is one of many tools that are used by the ECAB Network to help guide communities to supports and programs that are a good fit for youth. It is only one piece of the puzzle.

Staff were also given the opportunity to brainstorm about how the 40 Assets can supplement the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) work already taking place in their classrooms. The Assets overlap well with the SEL approach, with both frameworks identifying Social Awareness, Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision-Making as integral skills for youth to develop in order to be successful. The Assets merely provide a common language that school administration, teachers, parents and community members can all share so youth are hearing a consistent message whether they are in school, at home, or at the library, for example. The Assets can help build a strong sense of community, and bring people who care about youth together, to increase collaborations and supports for youth.


Amesbury’s 2nd SPACES Evening Draws Large Crowd

Amesbury’s second SPACES event (Student, Parent and Community Educational Series) was a huge success. Over 90 parents, teachers and community members heard Jon Mattleman present his keystone presentation, “The Secret Lives of Teens and Tweens” on Thursday, November 29th at the Amesbury High School Auditorium.

“The Secret Lives of Teens” is a high-energy presentation that actively focuses on what teens are really thinking, what they fear, why they do not share more, and how adults can effectively support the teens in their lives. This presentation covers areas such as depression, suicide, ‘acting out’ behaviors, drug and alcohol use, and more. 

Attendees left with new ways to understand teens and their behaviors (90%) and with strategies they can implement to more effectively communicate with their teens (92%). Parents were also able to build their confidence in their ability to connect with their teen (77%).

The SPACES team has a few events in the works for 2019 including a parent workshop, which will give parents an opportunity to talk one on one with local experts and get more specific skill building around communicating with their teens. Future speakers are being booked to discuss topics including screen time and drug paraphernalia recognition.

These initiatives have all been targeted at improving positive family communication, one of the 40 Developmental Assets that we are trying to build for youth in Amesbury. Only 37% of youth in Amesbury reported having this Asset in the Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behavior survey they took in 2017. The first presentation was on how to listen and effectively communicate with teens given by Anya McDavitt,
Director of Youth Services at North Shore Community Mediation Center. If you missed it, you can watch the presentation HERE.

This work is done is being done as part of a larger regional partnership with the Essex County Asset Builder Network, a group of communities working together to improve supports for youth in their communities.

Events, In the News, New Content

Triton spreads Random Acts of Kindness

Newbury Elementary School PTA (NES PTA), Pine Grove School PTA (PGS PTA), and Salisbury PTA (SES PTA) AKA Triton PTAs have been collaborating to help spread Random Acts of Kindness. This project has encouraged youth to think about how they can make a positive impact in their community, shows youth that adults care about them, and helps bring the community together.

Salisbury Elementary PTA president, Jen Roketenetz, said this activity is bringing out the best in her community. “We have been having so much fun collaborating on this project each week. Peeps that live in our community are just inherently kind, we are simply giving them an opportunity to shine!This project is intended not just for kids, not just for grown ups, not just for Triton- it’s for all of  us to enjoy a kind act bestowed and to bestow. Each week’s initiative is intended to be simple and achievable for all – try it on, we know kind looks good on everyone!”

You can support this initiative by liking one or all of our PTAs on Facebook or follow all the Triton Random Acts of Kindness on Facebook!

You can participate too!  Show someone you care by helping them out, or simply saying thank you.  Small gestures go a long way.  Take a picture and share with the group.  Help spread the word that kindness works!  You can reach out to any of the PTA’s if you have an idea or want to be connected to this great initiative.

Some examples of these projects can be found below.

  • I printed and shared the RAK Cards with my 2nd grade Brownie Troop, just one day later they are asking for more 🙂 My daughter, Lucy, shared hers in her classroom and by the end of the day it made thru the hands of each student! Awesomeness!
  • One “Mimi” decided to treat ALL the nail technicians in the salon to a $20 tip!
  • Michael C stopped by the book fair to thank Mrs. Chalifour for all her hard work.
  • In honor of yesterday’s act of kindness suggestion  Mrs. Pacenka’s  5th grade generated a list of ways to be kind to their neighbors. I know many of them have big helpful plans for the future.
  • I was just talking to a PGS parent who mentioned that Mrs. Coppola sent this home with all her students as a way to spread RAKs…it really is contagious!
  • SES PTA did a little sprucing up in the restrooms – hope your kiddos love them!

#TritonKind #BeYourBestViking

Michael C stopped by the book fair to thank Mrs. Chalifour for all her hard work.

In honor of yesterday’s act of kindness suggestion Mrs. Pacenka’s 5th grade generated a list of ways to be kind to their neighbors. I know many of them have big helpful plans for the future.

I was just talking to a PGS parent who mentioned that Mrs. Coppola sent this home with all her students as a way to spread RAKs…it really is contagious!

Sprucing up the bathrooms


Georgetown to Build Youth Rec Center

This summer over 40 youth from Georgetown grades 6-12 were given the opportunity to come together and brainstorm ideas for what they would like in a Rec Center.  The town is in the planning stages of making a Rec Center a reality, and from the beginning they wanted youth to be involved and have a voice in the process.  The need for a Rec Center began with discussions around the Attitudes and Behaviors survey and the realization that there were not many spaces in Georgetown where  youth could go to hang out.  Read the post below from Superintendent, Carol Jacob’s blog inviting teens to participate in the focus group.  There were a lot of great ideas that came out of the focus group and a lot of consensus around the types of activities and supports youth would like to see.  Discussions are ongoing among town leaders regarding next steps.

Plans to Launch Rec Center for MHS Students Needs Student Voice



Boys and Girls Club Youth Visit Salisbury Library

This summer a group of campers from the Boys and Girls Club visited the Salisbury Library.  They got a tour of the new facilities, were taught how to use and take out library materials and what activities and events were available through the library.  Then the youth took some time to think about their “Superpowers”.  An asset building activity designed to help young people identify their strengths and understand their ability to make a difference. This activity helped build the following assets for youth; Caring, Equality and Social Justice, Personal Power, Positive View of Personal Future, Sense of Purpose.  Thank you to the Salisbury Library and the Boys and Girls Club for partnering together to make this opportunity possible.



Salisbury Police Host first National Night Out

A hot, humid night at the beginning of August, possibility of rain, but nothing would stop the Salisbury Police from hosting their first National Night Out.  This event, organized nationally, is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.  The Essex County Asset Builder Network met with some of the officers a week before the event to talk about the 40 Developmental Assets and how events like this support positive youth development by creating safe, fun activities for families and showing young adults that the police and their community care.



New Content

The Results Are In!

Last fall the we surveyed youth in grades 6-12 from Amesbury, Georgetown, Newburyport and Triton school districts.  They completed the Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behavior survey developed by the Search Institute. This survey measured which assets our youth have and which assets we could help to foster.  All community members have a role in developing assets for youth, but is helpful to have the data that helps us know where to start.

View the results of the survey HERE

What role do you play in building these assets for youth? Do you have ideas of how you can build assets for youth or an initiative you’d like to start in your community? Do you know of existing programs that build assets for youth?  Do you want to learn more and get involved? We’d love to hear from you!

We work with individuals, organizations and community partners to offer support and training to help increase supports for youth.  Contact Tina Los, Regional Project Coordiantor at tlos@ecabnetwork.org or at 978-992-1671 to learn more and get involved!

In the News, New Content, Things to Do, Uncategorized

Little Free Library: Helping Build Neighborhood Communities

49% of youth in our region feel as though they live in a caring neighborhood environment. Research shows that young people are more likely to be successful and feel loved if they grow up in a supportive neighborhood. Summertime is an excellent opportunity to host neighborhood gatherings and start playgroups where your children can get to know their neighbors and build friendships. By reaching out to your neighbors and forming a community, it’s easier to feel comfortable letting your children play outside and hang out with neighborhood children.

One way to encourage youth (and adults) to establish a neighborhood community and read for pleasure is by taking part in or starting your own Little Free Library! Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. Visiting a little free library or starting your own helps promote assets like establishing a caring neighborhood environment where young adults can get to know their neighborhoods through a shared passion of reading.

To find a Little Free Library near you visit:


Community Partners, Events, In the News, Things to Do

National Night Out: Salisbury Police Station

The Salisbury Police Force is hosting a National Night Out On Tuesday, August 7th from 5:00-7:00pm! National Night Out fosters police and community partnerships to create safe and caring neighborhood environments. It provides an opportunity for community members to build relationships with law enforcement officers. There will be Police Station Tours, Touch a Truck, music and food!

This event helps build many of the 40 Developmental Assets® in youth. For instance, it provides young people with local police officers who can serve as adult role models, modeling responsible and positive behavior. This community-building initiative also helps build the assets of establishing a caring neighborhood and strong neighborhood boundaries. Events like this will help young people know that the community values them by creating meaningful relationships between law enforcement and families.

Click HERE to view the flyer for this awesome, asset building event!