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New program coming to Stanly to strengthen families, help combat opioid use

The Stanly County office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension is offering a new 12-session program “Empowering Youth and Families” for parents and youth ages 10 to 14.

The program specifically is designed to prevent teen substance abuse, especially opioids, and other behavioral problems, strengthen parenting skills and improve family cohesiveness, according to information on the N.C. Cooperative Extension website.

The goal of the program is to “equip families with the tools to help them build a strong foundation in their family unit so that as their kids become teens and young adults they’re equipped with tools to help with decision making,” said Lori Ivey, county extension director for N.C. Cooperative Extension.

The first session will start March 12 and run until June 4 and will be at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.

Stanly was selected to offer the program because of the county’s opioid overdose rate, Ivey said.

Some of the topics that will be covered in the sessions include peer pressure resistance, reducing stress, finding family values, decision making, communication skills, problem solving, goal setting and understanding each other as individuals within the family unit, said Ivey.

Cooperative Extension will accept five to seven Stanly County families for the program. Two more programs will be offered, one in the fall and one next January.

The sessions will be around 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays. They start with a 30-minute meal the families can enjoy. In the first hour, the parents and youth meet in separate groups with trainers and then the families come together during the second hour to practice skills, play games and do family projects. The sessions are highly interactive and include role-playing, discussions, learning games and family projects.

“Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14” is an evidence-based program developed by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and covers the first seven weeks of the entire program. Beginning on the eighth week, curriculum developed by N.C. State University Extension will focus on opioid prevention, according to the N.C. Cooperative Extension website.

The program has previously been piloted in three counties, including Montgomery, Ivey said.

The program is paid for by the Rural Health and Safety Education Program and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

After the 12 weeks, the families will partake in a family camp weekend at Black Mountain where they can enjoy usual camp events (like hiking and canoeing), while also practicing many of the skills they learned from the program, Ivey said.

If families are interested, they can register for the program by calling 704-983-3987.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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