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 2010, the Coudersport School District joined Penn State Extension to form 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, was led by Cathy Straub (now Mary Freeman), a representative from Penn State Cooperative Extension in Cameron County, and co-led by Terri Shaffer, guidance counselor from Coudersport Elementary School. The Potter County PROSPER Team includes representatives from Potter County Human Services, a school nurse, county commissioner, and teachers.
What the Potter County 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 5th & 6th grade students and their parents to participate in the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14.
The Potter County PROSPER Team Vision
"Our hope for children and families is to develop and maintain positive life skills and a strong sense of confidence that empowers them to make healthy life-long decisions as productive members of their community. PROSPER’s role is to promote a sustained support system that enables children and families to develop and thrive in a healthy and safe environment."
Because of the PROSPER Team and its supporters, these programs have been making a difference in the lives of Potter County youth and families.
“Suggestions - Nope, it is perfect. It would help you with your family."—Youth
“I learned about peer pressure.”—Youth
“I am learning how to understand my children and how to better interact with them when it comes to peer pressure and making decisions as a family. Also learned how to set rules and boundaries.”-Parent
“Most valuable thing I learned - I realized I don't praise my daughter enough. I am trying to see positive behaviors. Such an informative program we completed it with a second child!” —Parent
The Potter County PROSPER Team counts on financial and in-kind support from area businesses, agencies, organizations, religious institutions, and individuals to ensure that youth and family programming is offered year after year.