Building blocks of healthy development

Want to help kids make healthy choices? Help them out by nurturing the building blocks of healthy development.

What are building blocks of healthy development?

Building blocks of healthy development—also known as developmental assets or strengths—are attributes and values essential to the development of healthy individuals.

The 40 developmental assets help children and youth grow-up empowered, supported, connected, and resilient so that they can thrive in life.

Developmental assets help young people make smart and healthy choices. The power of these assets is such that they help young people develop positive attitudes and health behaviours that lead to success in all areas of their life.

The asset-building difference

For healthy development to occur for all children and youth, we need to rebuild communities where people and organizations feel connected, engaged, responsible, and committed to young people. In order to do this, some essential shifts in thinking need to happen.

We need to make a conscious effort to change our thinking.

MOVE FROM...        TO...  
Talking about problemsTalking about positives and possibilities
Focusing on troubled and troubling youthFocusing on all children and adolescents
Focusing primarily on ages birth to 5Focusing on all young people, ages birth to 18
Age segregationIntergenerational community
Viewing young people as problemsSeeing youth as resources
Reacting to problemsBeing proactive about building strengths
Blaming othersClaiming personal responsibility
Treating youth as objects of programsRespecting youth as actors in their own development
Relying on professionalsInvolving everyone in the lives of young people
Competing prioritiesCooperative efforts
Conflicting signals about values and prioritiesConsistent messages about what is important
Managing crisesBuilding a shared vision

Developmental Assets® are positive factors within young people, families, communities, schools, and other settings that research has found to be important in promoting the healthy development of young people. From Pass It On! Ready-to-Use Handouts for Asset Builders, Second Edition. Copyright © 2006 by Search Institute®; 612.376.8955; 800.888.7828; Adapted with permission from Search Institute®. Copyright © 2008 Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN; 800.888.7828; All rights reserved.

Asset-building ideas

The best way to deal with issues is to focus on positives. Research shows that building developmental assets can be a more effective approach to raising healthy, competent kids.

Even if you don’t call it “asset-building”, chances are good that you already incorporate some of the ideas into your interactions with young people. Here are some additional suggestions to help everyone be intentional and purposeful about asset-building:


Teachers and administrators

Support staff


For more information on the building blocks of healthy development, contact the School Health Promotion Team.

This item was last modified on September 21, 2017