Theory of Change that Guides Footprints for Life Programming:

Footprints for LifeTM program design is grounded in the theory of asset-based prevention developed by The Search Institute, an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to provide leadership, knowledge, and resources to promote healthy children, youth and communities.

At the heart of the Institute‟s work is the framework of 40 developmental assets, which are positive experiences and personal qualities that young people need to grow up to be healthy, caring and responsible citizens. Young people with low levels of developmental assets are two to four times as likely to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs as those who have above-average asset levels. This is true for young people from all racial/ethnic, family, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The developmental asset framework is categorized into two groups of 20 assets. External assets are the positive experiences young people receive from interacting with the world around them. The internal assets are those characteristics and behaviors that reflect positive internal growth. These assets consist of positive values and identities, social competencies and commitment to learning, which help young people make thoughtful and positive choices and, in turn, be better prepared for situations in life that challenge them.

Footprints for Life TM addresses internal assets, particularly the area referred to as social competencies. The skills to be developed include planning and decision-making, interpersonal skills, peaceful conflict resolution, cultural competence, and dealing with peer pressure, specifically around substance use/abuse. Footprints for Life TM includes a family component with weekly assignments to be supervised by a parent/guardian. The assignments introduce effective language and techniques for communicating about feelings and problems. Parents/guardians as well as classroom teachers are strongly encouraged to promote the use of this language to reinforce the value of the program and its concepts around healthy decision-making and peaceful conflict resolution.

Each of the five characters in the stories has unique footprints and personalities as well as family situations. Each comes to learn how to become more self-aware and consider the consequences of their actions. They demonstrate an increased appreciation and understanding of their friends and realize the positive power of healthy problem solving such as coping instead of moping.

Lessons include practical skills to manage anger and the use of the Solution Stoplight™ for effective conflict resolution. These strategies are proven to build self-confidence and positive social emotional development. The information on tobacco and alcohol is age appropriate, woven within the broader themes of decision-making.

Footprints for Life is specifically designed to build students’ social competencies, which include planning and decision-making skills, interpersonal skills, peaceful conflict resolution skills, cultural competence skills, and resistance skills.

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