Local Program Helps Children PROSPER
By Susan Magnotta
PROSPER programs offer schools, communities, and families a unique opportunity to work together to build America’s youth, strengthen family bonds and teach valuable life skills to children and parents. Pennsylvania and Iowa are the first states to implement these programs in schools.
Locally, Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 program aims to teach skills and attitudes that foster improved family life and parent-child communication. During a 7-week period, students develop skills for planning, problem-solving and resisting peer pressure. Parents are taught to better understand their child, set healthy boundaries, and conflict-resolution strategies.
Parents and youth meet with a group of trained facilitators one evening a week during the course of the program. Strengthening Families utilizes videotapes, presentations, role playing, group discussions and bonding activities to help foster better communication, empathy and respect between parent and child.
Analysis of data since 1992 has demonstrated that these programs work. PROSPER parents showed significantly improved parenting behaviors including positive involvement with the child, controlling anger, and better communication. PROSPER youth experienced higher levels of academic success, lower levels of anxiety and depression, reduced drug use, improved emotional management skills, increased willingness to follow rules and improved ability to handle peer pressure. Donna Grey, Penn State Extension Educator, has seen firsthand the positive impact these programs can have on families. “Teen years can produce unique stress on both children and parents. I have had the privilege of watching families blossom while working through the bonding and skill-building activities the program offers.”
Prevention programs that work can produce measurable benefits to kids, schools, families and communities. Currently, Wyoming Valley West, Carbondale Area, North Pocono, Scranton and Pittston Area School Districts offer such programs. For more information about the Strengthening Families Program or if you are interested in offering such a program through your school or organization, contact Donna Grey, Penn State Cooperative Extension Luzerne County, at 825-1701 or email@example.com.