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Programs helps families build better relationships

Published December 16. 2013 05:00PM

A program in the Jim Thorpe Area School District is helping families learn to communicate.

During the recent meeting of the Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative, Mindy Graver, family living educator at Carbon County Penn State Extension, gave a presentation on the PROSPER program. PROSPER stands for promoting school-community-university partnerships to enhance resilience.

Graver explained that the PROSPER program began in Jim Thorpe in 2002, as a result of a partnership between Penn State and Iowa universities.

It began as a research project in the hopes of learning how to help families. Out of the research came PROSPER and the Strengthening Families class.

Graver said that Strengthening Families is a voluntary seven-week program for parents and fifth and sixth grade age children of the Jim Thorpe School District.

She added that Jim Thorpe was one of seven schools in Pennsylvania that started PROSPER a decade ago.

The classes work on building stronger relationships between parents and their children.

During the course, families work on positive parent-child interaction, being supportive of each other, respect, dealing with peer pressure, handling stress and substance use, understanding family values and communicating with each other.

"Every family does have strength, even if they don't think they do," Graver said. "We help them find that strength and family value."

Graver added that PROSPER is funded through the United Way of Carbon County and L.B. Morris and Penn-Kidder elementary schools.

PROSPER is just one component in the seamless network of programs that Jim Thorpe is involved in.

In addition to PROSPER, fourth grade students take part in PATHS, an in-school curriculum that teaches students important life lessons; as well as Lifeskills, which is a seventh grade in-school program taught by social studies and health teachers in Jim Thorpe.

Graver also spoke about a pilot program, Lifestyle Triple P, which is currently taking place in Jim Thorpe.

The Australian-based program addresses childhood obesity and Jim Thorpe is one of only two schools in the country being utilized as pilot schools.

It teaches about nutrition, healthy eating habits, being active and parenting.

A total of 18 families took part in the fall session and another 20 are signed up for the spring.

Graver said that data is currently being compiled from the sessions.

In other matters, Graver announced that the annual Community Safety Day will again be held at Mauch Chunk Lake Park. It will take place on the first Saturday in May.

Last year, Safe Kids Carbon County, the Masonic Lodge 242 of Jim Thorpe, and Sen. John Yudichak, moved the event, which formerly was known as Fun-N-Safety Day, to the lake and expanded the agencies that participated. Over 1,000 people attended.

Viki DeMarco, Head Start family service manager, announced that Head Start had its federal review recently and passed with no areas of compliance. The next review will be in five years.

Timm Berger of state Rep. Doyle Heffley said holiday open houses wll be held at Heffley's offices this week.

On Dec. 18, from 3-5 p.m., Heffley will welcome constituents in the basement of the Lansford American Legion.

On Dec. 19, from 4-6 p.m., he will be at his Lehighton office on Third Street.

Berger added that Heffley is working on three events for next year: a sportsman expo, family fun and fit day and senior expo. More details on each event will be announced at a later date.

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