Empowering Teens to Make Healthy Choices

Written by Harriet Fagan. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on October 12, 2011 with No Comments

The alert parent is always on the lookout for opportunities to have discussions about family values. These are not for the purpose of delivering lectures, mind you, but to truly discuss what you stand for and the standards to which you expect your child to adhere.

Perhaps, from time to time, you find news items, movies, sermons, or television programs that provide springboards to a particular values topic relating to friendships, teen sex, helping others, telling the truth, etc.

But how often have you had the opportunity to provide your child with practical ways to uphold your family’s values or taken time to explore with him how the choices he makes today can have serious implications for his future?

Finding the time and the right opportunity and having the confidence presents challenges. However, there’s urgency in clarifying your family’s values and expectations for your middle-schooler. He needs practical tools for getting out of situations that may conflict with those values now.

The lucky among you will be helped with this important task when your sixth-grader participates in PATH’s new Planned Potential program at his school this semester.

As the only Indiana recipient of a federally funded research and development-based grant, PATH has a developed a five day curriculum for sixth graders.

Planned Potential is designed to get a student thinking about his future and to guide him in making choices that will lead him in a positive, fulfilling direction.

Among topics explored are relationships, peer pressure, positive and negative outcomes, identifying healthy and unhealthy relationships, the consequences of choices and the importance of maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.

The lessons implement lots of role-playing aimed at providing the middle-schoolers with strategies for exiting uncomfortable situations. Information that allows the sixth-graders to acknowledge the importance of respecting themselves and understanding their self-worth is woven throughout.

PATH Executive Director Donna Golob sums up the objective of Planned Potential by saying simply, “It’s about empowering kids with information that challenges them to decide for themselves the best and healthiest way to live their lives.”

The current grant makes the new curriculum available to sixth graders in only 12 rural Northwest Indiana schools and provides very fertile ground upon which parents can build those all-important values discussions.

Next year, seventh- and eighth-grade components will be added to the curriculum. So why is this government-funded pilot program first being implemented with the youngest middle schoolers first?

Because statistics and findings from the Center for Disease Control indicate that young people are making decisions that negatively impact their ongoing health at younger and younger ages. Consider this for example: An estimated 8,300 young people aged 13-24 years in the 40 states reporting to CDC had HIV infection in 2009.

Given the environment at large in which your sixth-grader lives, he needs as much correct information and personal empowerment as he can get. But how can you empower your child to make healthy choices if he doesn’t attend one of the Planned Potential pilot schools?

One of the many resources that PATH offers on an ongoing basis is the EEE (Equip, Empower, Engage) Parenting Seminar. You’ll find more complete information on these seminar opportunities at www.pathblazer.org.

For now, though, consider the philosophy that is the basis of the seminars:

A parent equipped with the right tools can be more effective in leading his teen to make healthy choices.

A parent empowered to take positive action will empower his child to greatness.

A parent who engages with his child can create a strong relationship that lasts far beyond the teen years.

Share This Article

About Harriet Fagan

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Harriet Fagan is a mother, grandmother, freelance writer and former educator; she creates this column under the auspices of A Positive Approach to Teen Health (PATH, Inc.).

Browse Archived Articles by

No Comments

There are currently no comments on Empowering Teens to Make Healthy Choices. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.