St. Louis Park reaping rewards of Children First - KMSP-TV

St. Louis Park reaping rewards of Children First

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ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (KMSP) -

Two decades ago, people in St. Louis Park, community members and leaders separate from city government decided they needed to do something more to raise better children, not just their own, but everybody's. They started an initiative called Children First and now the survey's from the kids and the graduation rates show it has really worked. About 200 people that live and work in the city of St. Louis Park are trained in Children First, the initiative that began in 1993.

The program was based on 40 specific things, influences that they call assets in kids lives that make them happier and healthier among them having good adult role models and perceiving that adults value them.

"When we first came up with the concept that it's a proactive inclusive approach to reaching out to young people," said Dr. Bob Tift, Co-Chair of Children First. "It's something that has been embraced and it sends a wonderful message that our youth are our future."

The research found the more of these assets the kids can say they have, the better their grades and the better their health. St. Louis Park began using the concepts in the ninth grade class and the Superintendent believes it's a big factor in the high graduation rates, especially among African-American students which are 82.9% now compared to 57% statewide. A new survey of all kids of all ages in the city shows they're now above national average in the number of good assets that they're reporting.

Twenty years ago, St. Louis Park was the first to try the approach but since then it has been copied across the country.

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