Healthy Peabody Collaborative

Sandi Drover, middle row fourth from left, with Healthy Peabody Collaborative student leaders at Higgins Middle School.

Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a weekly series of practical tips from the Healthy Peabody Collaborative on how to strengthen the positive relationships that are essential to young people’s growth, learning and thriving.

At the Healthy Peabody Collaborative, we work to intentionally build the qualities, experiences, and relationships young people need to grow up healthy, caring and responsible. We use the Search Institute 40 Developmental Assets, a research based framework, and follow their philosophy of focusing on the strengths of young people — rather than the deficits — so they can build on what they’re already doing right.
The Search Institute’s newest work focuses on helping young people be and become their best selves by strengthening the positive relationships in their lives, including relationships with parents, peers, teachers, mentors, youth workers and others. These “Developmental Relationships” are the close connections through which young people discover who they are, cultivate abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage and contribute to the world around them.
The Search Institute has identified five elements, expressed in actions, that make relationships powerful in young people’s lives. In honor of mental health awareness month and the great asks that have been put on adults in the lives of children while we’re all trying to practice physical distance with social warmth, we will outline these elements and give practical tips for strengthening these developmental relationships.
The fifth element is to Expand Possibilities. Young people need us to connect them with people and places that broaden their world. We can do this by inspiring them to see possibilities for their future, exposing them to new ideas, experiences, and places, and to introduce them to people who can help them grow. To break it down even further, here are some actionable tips from the Search Institute Developmental Relationships Framework.
All adults can:
  1. When young people seem curious about an activity, topic, or issue, ask questions such as, “What strikes you about this?”
  2. Introduce young people to a wide range of people, places, ideas, cultures and vocations. Start with the ones they’re curious about.
  3. Broaden the web of relationships. Connect young people to people who share their interests or can expand their world.

Young people can:

  1. Take turns with friends trying new foods, music, or outings, based on each other’s interests.
  2. Introduce friends to people who can help them learn new things that interest them.

Parenting adults can:

  1. Find ways for your children to spend time with people who are different than your family.
  2. Encourage your children to try things they might be interested in. Maybe even try it together.

Teachers can:

  1. Demonstrate how what students are learning relates to their interests and to success outside of school and in the future.
  2. Connect students with educators, other students and community members who can explore with them areas of personal interest and strength.

Youth program leaders can:

  1. Introduce young people to other cultures, ideas and places that help them discover their place in the world.
  2. Model being a curious learner by asking questions and sharing what you’re learning in your own life.
See for more about the developmental relationships and the 40 Developmental Asset Frameworks. Follow Healthy Peabody Collaborative on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information about HPC.
Sandi Drover is the outreach coordinator at the Healthy Peabody Collaborative. Contact her at

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