My daughter has participated in the STAR program for two sessions so far. As a special education student, she spends her school days outside the standard academic track. Through STAR she is able to be recognized for her achievements among peers. I can't say how much this has done for her confidence. As a parent, I am thrilled to know that she is learning important life skills while having a great time.
After school in downtown Camden I see middle school kids I knew as kindergartners and in early grade school. The expressions on their faces are beginning to harden ... they look bored, alienated, almost disgusted. Those are not the expressions I see on the kids in the afternoon programs at STAR ... they are enthusiastic, happy, interested, engaged. What makes the difference is they have not been abandoned by the grown-ups around them. They are treated with respect yes, but still guided by grown-ups interested in sharing new skills and new experiences. So they stay oriented and part of life, not disoriented and sidelined.
I've been involved with FTCTC since its inception. I was at the initial training events held at the local YMCA in 2003 and have served in some capacity ever sense. I am currently part of the Community Coalition and on the Youth Involvement Workgroup. I have run a Youth Forum at the High School, taught the Guiding Good Choices parenting classes, and served in various other capacities. The successes are well documented. http://knox.villagesoup.com/news/story/Five-Town-Communities-That-Care-gains-national-attention/174617 http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/teen-drug-alcohol-abuse-reduced-maine/Story?id=8509881 http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/program-curbs-teen-substance-abuse-delinquency/Story?id=8511369 http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=8517933 http://www.wcsh6.com/video/default.aspx?maven_playerId=immersiveplayer&maven_referralObject=1247806837 http://www.nida.nih.gov/newsroom/09/townhall.html (If you want to hear directly from me about FTCTC, in the "View part 1 of 2" video, I am in the "interview" segment at the very beginning of the Town Hall) FTCTC has brought together all segments of our community - building relationships and improving communication amongst all of us who work with teens. Rather than just putting our community's weight, money, and efforts behind someone's pet project, the programs implemented are all tested and effective programs. The programs are strictly tracked and evaluated to ensure fidelity to the program and effectiveness - as such, we know we're not wasting our time/efforts/money and have concrete evidence we are truly making a difference. Frankly, I can not speak highly enough of FTCTC and the work that they continue to do in the Five Town community.