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 2007, Scranton 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 lead by Karen Thomas who is a representative from Lackawanna County Extension. The Scranton PROSPER Team includes representatives from Lackawanna County Children and Youth Services, Lackawanna County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Lackawanna County District Attorney'S Office, Lackawanna County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Judge Harhut, President 45th Judicial District, EOTC, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Scranton School District.
What the Scranton 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 sixth graders and their parents to participate in the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14. The PROSPER Team also works very closely with area middle schools to provide the school-based LifeSkills Training Program to 6th-8th graders each year.
To ensure that these programs are offered year after year, the Scranton PROSPER Team seeks financial and in-kind support from local agencies, foundations, businesses, service clubs, churches, and individuals. The team has obtained $72,385 in grants, donations and in-kind contributions to date.
Because of the PROSPER Team and its supporters, these programs have been making a difference in the lives of Scranton youth and families for over 3 years.
"I learned to get along with my parents and understand their point-of-view"—2010 Youth Participant