What We Need to Do Differently

to Ensure Success

The reality in this country is that the majority of the data collected on children, youth and families is related to their problems and is almost always presented in the most negative of terms. Therefore, when communities attempt to address the issues of young people many naturally fall into the trap of planning based on deficit data that, for the most part, only represents a small number of people.

While this may have an impact on reducing the at-risk behaviors of individuals, it fails to address anything about the majority of young people who are not currently exhibiting that behavior. It also does nothing to ensure that all the young people in a community will be fully developed for the future, nor does it promote thriving.

With Manchester starting with an inclusive question focused on thriving, the intent shifts from a singular focus on a problem behavior, to allowing Manchester to create strategies that benefit all children, youth and families. This approach will also greatly increase the likelihood that the future resources needed to implement and maintain risk reduction strategies can be significantly reduced over time.

The following demonstrates the shifts that the community and its citizens will need to adopt to ensure that the all of Manchester's children and youth thrive:

Deficit Approach 
Strength-based Approach  
Intended to solve youth problems
Building a community where all youth thrive
Focused on individuals   
Focused on systems
Focused on problems
Focused on opportunities
Addressing the few in need
Addressing the first two decades for all youth
Reducing deficits
Increasing assets
Fragmented in its approaches
Collaborative in its approaches

                                               

To begin the planning process, Manchester is creating the "snapshot" of current conditions and what the town wants to accomplish. This begins by identifying who has a stake and what role they will play throughout the planning and implementation phases. Our planning process will be as much about building partnerships that ensure success as it is about data gathering.

The Plan’s vision, "Manchester, where all children, youth and families thrive", can be embraced by the many, rather than the few; will help those involved focus on a new broad reality, rather than a "statistics only" reality; will assist in creating a groundswell of support to ensure resources and energy can be placed into the development of Manchester's children and youth; and will create structures that begin the process of learning to work effectively, efficiently and positively together, especially among the town's youth and adults.

Research indicates that the greater the citizen involvement in the earlier phases, the greater the their involvement when it's time to implement. Manchester is intent on creating a community where all children, youth and families will have services, opportunities and supports to thrive. It is also committed to ensuring that every citizen has a role in the healthy development of its children and youth. Those in the planning process need to understand that thriving systems are what it takes to raise thriving children and youth and to support thriving families. The more that formal systems (government, schools, faith-based organizations, non-profits, businesses, etc.) and informal systems (families, youth peer groups, athletic associations, neighborhoods, etc.) have a clear and meaningful role and understanding that they must also be willing to make shifts in attitudes and behaviors, the more likelihood that success will occur.

Throughout the planning process, youth and adult citizens will work in committees constructed around the seven key action areas in the NLC platform framework. Each of these committees will research, benchmark, deliberate and achieve consensus on a recommendation that addresses their area of focus. Then the recommendations of the seven committees will be synthesized into one coherent set of strategies for the town.