The Great KIDS make Great COMMUNITIES initiative began in 1999 as a project of Allen Superior Court, Family Relations Division. In its infancy, Great KIDS make Great COMMUNITIES experimented with ways to spread the message of positive youth development and strengths-based approaches to working with youth. Great KIDS signed on to the 40 Developmental Assets from the Search Institute after reviewing the Search Institute’s extensive research base supporting the 40 Assets message. Great KIDS now offers a library of resource material available for loan on the 40 Developmental Assets.
Once on board with the Assets message, Great KIDS looked for ways to spread the word about the Developmental Assets and their potential impact on the future of Allen County. During this period, Great KIDS held several Youth Development Academies for youth serving professionals. A number of youth serving professionals trained by this series can still be found in leadership positions around Allen County today.
In 2004, Great KIDS make Great COMMUNITIES was reorganized to more publicly situate the positive youth development message at the core of the Court. The Great KIDS offices were relocated from the historic Journal-Gazette building to their current home in the Allen County Courthouse. At this time, the Great KIDS Community Advisory Board was expanded to better reflect the face of the Allen County community and the youth and family-serving agencies that call Allen County home. A list of current board members is found on the Community Advisory Board page.
During this reorganization, Great KIDS further refined the means by which to accomplish its mission. With the 40 Developmental Assets as its key tool, Great KIDS make Great COMMUNITIES outlined the three strategies by which to improve the lives of youth in Allen County:
• Train youth workers in positive youth development concepts
• Support the work of youth serving organizations
• Create household recognition for the 40 Developmental Assets
In this way Great KIDS make Great COMMUNITIES seeks to multiply its influence by supporting and training the agencies and workers directly responsible for impacting the lives of youth and families.