New programs offered through Court Appointed Special Advocates and the GRAAB Coalition provide separate workshops for youth and parents in need of additional life skills enrichment and education.
A number of the youth participants in the empowerment program have been referred by CASA.
Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behaviors director Tanya Southerland quickly pointed out the long-term program is available to any youth from age 11 to 21.
According to a pamphlet on the program, youth learn necessary skills to transition into the workforce and/or higher education.
Key areas of focus include personal self-management skills (managing stress and managing time and money); general social skills (communication skills and ability to build and maintain relationships); career options and opportunities (job hunting and interviewing skills); and social responsibility (service-learning and character building).
The program meets once a month on a Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Cleveland Family YMCA.
“They seem very comfortable in the environment,” Southerland said. “It is not a typical classroom setting. We try not to meet in a classroom so they feel more relaxed and comfortable with talking about their grades and their situation.”
Both Southerland and CASA director Suzanne Wisdom agreed the program is another set of eyes and ears on kids who have demonstrated a need for help.
The program started in February and already has made an impact on the students and young adults involved.
One participant informed Southerland it seemed the court would no longer require him to attend the program after his July hearing.
“However,” added the student, “I want to continue to come, because I enjoy spending my Saturdays here.”
The program originally began as a six-hour meeting on Saturdays. Southerland said a lack of funding has reduced the time to two hours. Research is being conducted to see if money can be gained to provide lunch and resume the six-hour meetings.
Both Southerland and Wisdom would like to see mentors and tutors join as a component of the program in the future.
A Parent Enrichment Workshop offers three nights of information for individuals in need of anger management, proper discipline, drug awareness, effective communication and healthy stress management education.
Supplemental videos and materials are used to supplement the four sections:
- Introduction: overviews the issues related to adolescent drug abuse;
- Protective family factors: how to be a good role model for children, ways to convey clear anti-drug message and tips for effective family communication and parental monitoring;
- General life skills: provides information and engages activities to help children develop personal self-management and social skills;
- Additional resources: a comprehensive list of national and community resources to help parents seek out additional information.
Southerland said CASA identified the need for a parent workshop on these subjects.
“If you look at the statistics of families we work with in court ... 70 percent of our parents have drug issues,” Wisdom said. “If you meet them and talk to them, they love their children, but they ... make poor choices. The community has parenting classes, and some of them are really great, but they don’t really address drug issues.”
Wisdom continued, “A lot of them have been abused themselves and it is just part of the cycle. They just don’t have time to think about themselves, about what they need to do and what is best for their children.”
The next three-day sessions are set for July 7, July 14 and July 21; Sept. 1, Sept. 8 and Sept. 15; and Nov. 3, Nov. 10 and Nov. 17.
A Parent 2 Parent support group is also available once a month for individuals who need a support group following the workshop.
“We need to think, after they are done, what tye of support do these parents have in place? Most of them can’t go back to the previous enablers or stressors in their lives because they will repeat the same mistakes they made,” Wisdom said. “We want to maintain that positive outlook and keep them on the same path.”
More information on all three program can be found by contacting GRAAB at 472-5800.