There are many challenges facing youth and their families today, and although efforts are made to help them, most have limited success. When youth begin engaging in “risky” behaviors, such as substance use, it can lead to serious problems, not only for the youth involved and their families, but also for their community and society. There is good news though. There are programs out there that have been proven to decrease risky youth behaviors, enhance positive youth development, and strengthen families. And since resources are limited, it only makes sense to use programs that we know work.
Effectively delivering these evidence-based programs year after year requires a level of human and financial resources that would be difficult for any one agency or organization to sustain. This is why in 2001, Carbondale formed a team of volunteers representing a number of local youth-serving entities to take on this task. This group of individuals, known as the PROSPER Team, is led by Karen Thomas who is a representative from Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County and is co-lead by Ann Vadella from the Carbondale Area Elementary School. The Carbondale PROSPER Team includes representatives from NHS Human Services, Goodwill, EOTC, and the Lackawanna/Susquehanna Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs.
What the Carbondale PROSPER Team does for the community
The team is relatively small compared to traditional “big-tent” coalitions so that it can focus its efforts on helping youth make good choices and become responsible citizens. Each year the PROSPER Team invites every Carbondale fifth and sixth grader and their parents to participate in the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14. The PROSPER Team also implements the anti-aggression program, Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) in grades K-3 and works very closely with the Carbondale High School to provide the school-based LifeSkills Training Program to all 8th graders each year.
To ensure that these programs are offered year after year, the Carbondale PROSPER Team seeks financial and in-kind support from local agencies, foundations, businesses, service clubs, churches, and individuals. To date, the team along with the Scranton team has obtained approximately $430,000 in grants, donations and fundraisers for prevention programs in Lackawanna County.
Because of the PROSPER Team and its supporters, these programs have been making a difference in the lives of Carbondale youth and families for over 8 years.
"This program opened my eyes to how my daughter and I functioned as a unit before and after the program. I have learned so many valuable things and discovered that my daughter is a very unique and cool individual. Thank you for offering this program!"
—2010 Parent Participant
The Carbondale PROSPER Team is Helping Youth and Strengthening Families!