Wyoming Valley West
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 2002, Wyoming Valley West (WVW) 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 Melissa Tomascik, a representative from Luzerne County Extension, and the PSU Prevention Research Center and is co-led by Debbie Kester from WVW Middle School. The WVW PROSPER Team includes representatives from the WVW School District, Luzerne County Children and Youth Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, and parents and youth from the community.
What the Wyoming Valley West 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 and 6th grade students and their parents to participate in the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP: 10-14). The PROSPER Team also works very closely with the middle school to provide All Stars to 7th graders.
Because of the PROSPER Team and its supporters, these programs have been making a difference in the lives of Wyoming Valley West youth and families for over 11 years.
The WVW PROSPER Team believes in helping our children, families, and communities be the best they can be. To date, over 700 WVW families have completed the SFP: 10-14.
"One of the most valuable things I learned is how to handle peer pressure and how to listen or understand my parents when they speak to me."
—2013 Youth Participant