Seminar focuses on helping kids succeed

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Roane County Schools recently hosted a four-day training seminar focused on increasing a child’s chances to succeed in school and life, as well as increase their positive, civil behaviors.

Derek Peterson, founder of the ICARE-US initiative, personally instructed Phase I and Phase II of the Integrative Youth Development Program “Phlight Academy” for Roane County school counselors, support team, health coordinator, truancy officer, anti-drug coalition program coordinator and Mid-East Head Start staff.

Also attending were representatives from surrounding counties.

The science of the program is based on the multi-disciplinary study of young people within the context of their multiple and complex environments of home, school and community.

It includes research, data and insights from the fields of psychology, sociology, genetics, philosophy, theology, medicine and anthropology.

It has identified the framework for the development of individual youth in their developmental ecology. This framework demonstrates roles, individual traits, talents and strengths play within support from family, school, community and culture.

Peterson, an international child and youth advocate, has led in-service trainings, youth institutes, seminars and community workshops since 1986.

“What we’re learning about Tennessee is there are too many kids who don’t have anchors or strong adult relationships in their lives,” he said.

The seminar outlined a framework to help schools, communities and parents form a web of relationships to support and help guide children in school and life.

“Rather than just address issues, we need to establish relationships by empowering those important adults in their lives,” Peterson said.

Susan Dillingham has presented workshops, youth institutes and training around the Integrative Youth Development Program framework.

She was contacted by Roane County Schools Student Support Team, in particular, Tammy Melmige, to bring Peterson’s work to Roane County as part of the statewide initiative called ICARE-TN.

The goal of ICARE-TN is to ensure excellence and decency in children.

The initiative aims to increase well-being, school success and civil behavior while simultaneously reducing the risk behaviors of every child and youth in Tennessee.

Through the “Phlight Academy” training in Roane County, several key adults were trained to lead ICARE initiatives in their home counties.

During the training, Peterson used balloons to represent children and yarn to represent the web that’s created when several adults team up to support them.

As more adults support children, more strands are added to the web and, thus, more protective factors are available to hold up the child as he goes through life.

Adults creating the web are anchors for that child and provide as many tangible and intangible supports as possible or needed. These range from basic necessities of food and health issues to realizing their potential in life.

“What does it take to increase a child’s chances to succeed in school and in life?” asked Peterson. “A healthy dose of positive adult influence is essential.

Children who have adult anchors in their lives (moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, principals, youth leaders, coaches, mentors, religious leaders, neighbors) are more likely to make better choices.”

For more about ICARE-TN, Integrative Youth Development’s Phlight Academies and the program’s framework, contact Dillingham at susan@icare-tn.com.

More about the program is available from Patti Wells, school health coordinator at Midtown Education Center, at pawells@roaneschools.com or 882-3700, Ext. 1910.