By Carole McWilliams
Times Senior Staff Writer
Bayfield Middle School Spanish teacher Paloma Morales was named as this year's Adult Role Model Champion for Bayfield at the April 22 town board meeting. The award is sponsored by the Celebrating Healthy Communities Coalition, part of San Juan Basin Health Department and the Children, Youth, and Families Master Plan.
Local youths nominate adults for the award. Those who nominated Morales said she takes time each day to make each of her students feel special, and her habit of doodling helps calm students.
Mayor Rick Smith read a proclamation citing 40 Developmental Assets for youth, including positive adult role models. The assets involve relationships, opportunities and personal qualities. Statistically, the more of these assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in high risk behaviors, and the more likely they are to thrive. These assets are a better predictor of future successs than living in poverty, asset supporters say.
Youths in La Plata County in grades 6-12 were surveyed in 2007 to see how many of the 40 assets they identify with; 28 percent said their parents or other adults provided a model for positive behavior. On average they listed 19 assets.
Pat Senecal from the Celebrating Healthy Communities Coalition said, "The ultimate goal is to increase the average number of assets to 21 for all youth in the county." That seems to be the magic number for turning away from risky behavior, she said. The survey will be repeated this fall with a sampling of county youths.
In May, adult role model awards will be presented in Ignacio and Durango.