Treat Your Family to a 'Night Out', Reap the Benefits for Years to Come!

By: Jolene Roehlkepartain

Every year, on the first Tuesday in August, communities across the nation gather to create neighborhood spirit, get to know their neighbors, and create safer neighborhoods. If you’ve never attended the annual event, I have a few good reasons why you should!

We’ve lived in our neighborhood for 20 years, and it’s always a treat when we all come together every year for National Night Out. Not only is the event fun for kids, it’s also beneficial to helping them grow up well.

National Night Out Builds Developmental Assets
Developmental Assets are the essential building blocks for helping our children grow up well, and National Night Out naturally builds on two important Assets: a caring neighborhood, and neighborhood boundaries

Learn more about the Developmental Assets >

National Night Out is a Fun, Free, Family-Friendly Event!
When our kids were young, they thought it was amazing that the annual National Night Out event closed off the entire street, and they could ride their trikes, bikes, and skateboards and play with the neighborhood kids safely and freely. Every year, we enjoy connecting with the neighbors we know and getting to know new neighbors who have moved into the neighborhood.

National Night Out is a Bonding Experience
In turn, we’ve been able to keep those connections with our neighbors, and help each other out. We have teenagers in the neighborhood who enjoy mowing lawns, raking leaves, and shoveling. We also have a lot of elderly people in our neighborhood who find these tasks difficult to do. With our forces combines, we now have teenagers helping neighbors, and deeper relationship- building happening as these connections are made.

We’ve also witnessed how neighbors can band together to deal with problems. When one neighbor got his garage broken into, the word spread quickly. Neighbors began paying more attention to their own garages—and to each other’s garages. A few blocks over, neighbors came together to teach kids boundaries and expectations in their neighborhood. They found that they had more impact with the kids they already knew. (No one wants to meet a neighbor for the first time by being scolded!)

Neighbors can be key people in the lives of our kids and families. One of our neighbors believed strongly in getting to know the kids in our neighborhood. Every year, she would set up a grill in her front yard and invite the kids over to roast marshmallows and make s’mores. What she loved most about this is that it was an easy way to talk with kids because it takes a while for the marshmallows to melt.

Find more tips for getting involved in your neighborhood >

In our neighborhood, one of the stay-at-home moms decided to make her home a “McGruff House.” It was nice to have a caring neighbor nearby to reassure the neighborhood kids that if they ever felt unsafe and couldn’t make it home, they could run to the McGruff House and this neighbor would take them in.

So in August, unite with your neighbors! Click on the link below to find out if your neighborhood is celebrating National Night Out, or contact your local police department for more details.

Find your local National Night Out event >

Getting to know our neighbors makes a difference in helping us feel safe, connected, and part of a community. Neighbors also greatly benefit our kids. When kids know the neighbors, they know other adults they can trust and go to.

1. National Night Out.

2. McGruff House.

3. Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, ParentFurther.

4. Image via Greene/Ellis on Flick’r.