PDFD promotes assets for raising successful youth

Asset #34: Cultural
Competence
By Charlene Jones
Most people tend to gravitate to others who are most like or similar to them. Being exposed to people from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds is as important to understanding who we are, as it is to understanding other people. Cultural competence (also referred to as diversity) is an ability to interact with others, while understanding and appreciating differences. The difference could be related to social-economic status, beliefs in faith, educational status or ethnic background. For the month of October, Partnership for a Drug Free Dorchester (PDFD) is promoting Cultural Competence, Asset 34 of Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets. According to Search Institute’s youth surveys, 43 percent reported having knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, according to Search Institute. PDFD offers the following tips to promote cultural competence to build strong, capable and interesting youth:
At Home
• Discuss or research your family history/background.
• Encourage children to engage in activities with diverse groups.
• Model cultural pride.
• Teach children to be comfortable with their own identity/heritage.
• Affirm children’s identity.
• Teach children to respect differences among people.
• Expose children to events/activities different from their culture.
At School
• Cultivate an environment where youth can be comfortable with their identity.
• Create an environment that is inclusive.
• Be intentional about celebrating diversity throughout the year. Youth can plan and celebrate events that support their heritages such as a cultural fair.
• Provide ongoing training in cultural competency for all staff.  Reflect current best practices in the school environment.
In the Community
• Be intentional about celebrating diversity within the community.  Support/participate in events that are different from your culture.
• Model appreciation of diversity.
• Ensure that all youth you are in contact with know they are appreciated, important and acknowledged.
In the Congregation
• Fellowship with congregations of different backgrounds.
• Be intentional in building a diverse congregation.
• When planning events, be sure that activities are inclusive.  Ensure that youth do not feel left out do to ethnic, financial or cultural differences.
• Celebrate differences.  Provide opportunities for youth to share their heritages with each other.
• Provide ongoing training in cultural competency for all staff.  Implement strategies that reflect best practices.
Writer’s Note: While implementing the above tips and participating to celebrate cultural competency this month, you will find that for as much as we are different, “we are also the same.”
Now log onto PDFD’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/drugfreedorchester and share how you are being an asset builder for Planning and Decision Making. There are probably lots of activities you do that are worth sharing and may inspire others. For more information, view Search Institute’s website: www.search-institute.org/assets or contact Charlene Jones, PDFD Coordinator, at 410-901-8162.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of articles provided by Partnership for a Drug Free Dorchester (PDFD) to promote the 40 Developmental Assets, the most widely used approach to positive youth development. PDFD is a community coalition established to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse in Dorchester County.

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