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New program aims to strengthen families

LITTLE ROCK, Iowa — A new program in Little Rock is connecting parents and children on a deeper level.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is sponsoring a Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14) at George-Little Rock Middle School in Little Rock. The program is designed to help parents and children communicate about important preteen and adolescent issues.

“The purpose is to help families as teens transition, and we want kids to be successful in that transition from child to young adult,” said Catherine Webb, SFP 10-14 program assistant. “We try to teach youth skills for dealing with stress and peer pressure and help parents learn skills that support their children.”

The program will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. for six consecutive Tuesdays, from March 11 to April 15.

The program is free and open to anyone; families from Little Rock and Lyon County are welcome.

“We normally take about seven to 10 families at a time because the program is so hands-on and individualized,” Webb explained. “However, if more families sign up, the facilitators of the program can bring it, so it’s not something that will just go away.”

The SFP 10-14 program is an Iowa-designed curriculum that started 12 years ago and has been named the World Health Organization’s No. 1 prevention parenting program for decreasing youth drug and alcohol problems.

“What’s unique about our program is that we are an evidence-based program,” Webb explained. “This program has been rigorously tested and has successful results.”

During the first hour of each session, parents and children meet in separate rooms to discuss different techniques of copingwith a variety of life struggles.

“In this program, parents and kids learn together, and I think that’s what makes the difference,” Webb said. “If, for example, parents attend a class on their own and do not involve the kids, it may be difficult for the youth to get on board with the new changes — but if they do it together, then children will know where their parents are coming from.”

During the second hour, parents and children meet for an activity to strengthen the family relationship. Every session is designed to be interactive and hands-on.

“For the first week, it’s all about setting goals,” Webb explained. “The kids get to make treasure maps and list all their goals and what the end result will be.”

Through the program, parents will learn to show love and set limits, and family members will be encouraged to show appreciation for each other.

There are three facilitators for the SFP 10-14 program in the area; Mackenzie Johnson of Spencer, Donna Mills of Orange City and Ron Vincelli of Spirit Lake.

“All of the facilitators are trained by Iowa State University Master Trainers, which is necessary in order to be a certified SFP facilitator,” Webb noted.

Meals and childcare are provided. Participants do not have to make a commitment to attend each session, but it is encouraged.

“I think this is a great way to not only benefit families, but to benefit the community,” Webb said. “I hope the community will support this program.”

To register for the SFP 10-14 program call (712) 472-2576 or visit

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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