Saturday, March 29, 2008

Instilling Positive Values in Kids

One of the most important gifts an adult can give a child is to teach them good values. Consistent relationships with adults who behave with integrity is essential for their character development.

Some children lack this quality of relationship with their parents, or the primary adults in their lives, and it plays a part in their behavior. Other adults who come into contact with these children can have a constructive role in their development when they offer what is needed, positive youth-adult connections, where kids can observe good values put into action.

We're in the process of planning a series of programs that engage youth with supportive Law Enforcement Officers in a dynamic learning environment. The goal of this program is to teach and reinforce good values in youth, strengthening their internal compasses that can result in better decisions.

“Instilling Positive Values” is one of the key “developmental assets” or essential building blocks that research has shown has a positive impact on the lives of youth. They provide a foundation for kids as they grow. Good adult role models can provide young people with guidance as they put the values they’re learning into practice. These connections provide a safety net that is especially important during the teen years.

Assuming we're able to secure all of the required resources, we plan to engage city youth with Law Enforcement Officers in a series of Adult/Teen Dialogue Sessions. Four groups of 20 youth (up to 80) will have an opportunity to go through the program, along with four groups of 10 Law Enforcement Officers (up to 40) who will assume the role of “Asset Builders”. Young people living on the Northside of Syracuse will be targeted as a priority, as will the Officers who work in the community with youth and families in various capacities. But any teen or Officer who expresses an interest in participating is encouraged to contact us.

Each of four six hour programs will begin with a three hour “Teen Night Out”, where youth will be guided by facilitators in ice-breakers and skill building exercises. These fun and challenging group activities will prepare the youth to assume leadership roles as the session progresses. In the next three hour session the following day, teens will practice what they learned by leading Officer’s through an Adult/Teen Dialogue to build greater understanding and strengthen these relationships.

The primary outcome of this program is to reinforce the value of treating others with dignity and respect in participants, and show them how to put this into practice. By getting to know one another as individuals, discussing past experiences with each other and their perceptions, communicating effectively and other learning opportunities, participants will learn to value others as individuals, and treat them with dignity and respect.

The program will be available on a first-come, first served basis, giving priority to teens living on the Northside of Syracuse and Officers who are engaged with youth and their families. While we regularly involve city kids in events throughout the year, this program is particularly suited to tweens and teens.

We want to make this opportunity available to any interested and motivated young person who wants to be involved in a positive program that will give them a foundation for their short and long term development. $3,500 in funding will make that a reality for up to 80 city youth this year who will receive an experience that can make a positive impact on their lives. Equipping them with tools needed to make better decisions can result in a healthier community for all.

We have sought funding for this program from 9WSYR's "Oprah's Big Give CNY" giveaway. Supporters who partner with us in the planning stage of this endeavor can make this program available to more young people in our community.

If you are interested in learning more or want to participate, email us or call (315)471-3257.

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