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Jeannette School District offers program to strengthen families

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By The Jeannette Spirit
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The City of Jeannette School District will offer a program intended to strengthen families for parents and students ages 10 to 14 beginning early next month.

According to the educators in the Family Strengths Team at Penn State Extension, research shows that a strong bond with a caring adult is one of the most powerful influences on the growth of a child into a responsible, caring and competent young adult.

As children enter the teenage years, the transitions and developmental changes, often pose new challenges for the family.

Youth entering the teen years can experience new stressors, such as new schools, new friendships and new peer influences. They can have a more demanding school curriculum, increased homework, added responsibilities and increased opportunities for independent decision-making.

The team at Penn State Extension indicate that during this time of growth and transition, it is important to strengthen family bonds and to help youth learn skills to handle the new challenges and to make healthy decisions.

To help those families facing the challenges of the teen years, the school district and Penn State Extension will offer the Strengthening Families Program for parents and children ages 10 to 14 starting in October.

The program is recognized as a scientifically proven effective program by some national agencies, such as the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It has been recognized by a World Health Organization sponsored review by the Cochrane Collaboration as the best program available for substance use prevention.

According to the educator's team, the program allows parents to protect and empower their children through communication of family values, their standards regarding substance use and their hopes for their child's future.

The Strengthening Families Program is an opportunity for families to have a chance to spend quality time together while learning new skills through games and fun, interactive activities.

Parents and youth attend one evening per week for seven weeks with the goal of having fun together while learning ways to promote family bonding, to keep the lines of family communication open and to use family strengths to solve problems together.

Youth will spend the first hour of each session together learning about topics such as empathy, how to deal with stress and peer pressure resistance. Parents will meet separately for that first hour to discuss parenting strategies and how to guide their youth in setting goals, making good decisions and fulfilling responsibilities.

The second hour of each session is spent together working on family activities to promote strong family relationships.

The seven-week Strengthening Families Program will begin Oct. 3, from 6-8:30 p.m. at Jeannette McKee Middle School and will continue each Thursday at the same time throughout the seven weeks.

There is no cost to attend. A family dinner will be served at the beginning of each session and childcare will be provided for younger siblings. Families of sixth- and seventh-graders can register now by calling 724-837-1402 or by sending an email to

For more information on programs offered by Penn State Extension, visit

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