Strengthening Families offered in Greencastle

Andrea Rose news@echo-pilot.com

A program designed to help strengthen families, encourage academic success and avert the temptation of substance abuse is coming to Greencastle and Waynesboro early next year.

The Strengthening Families Program for parents and children 10 to 14 is focused on peer refusal skills, effective parent-child communication, age-appropriate expectations and discipline, goal setting and promoting strong family values.

"This program helps families through what can be very transitional and tumultuous years — pre-teen and teen years — and is offered free to all families,” said Karen Johnston, Healthy Communities Partnership executive director.

Each night of the seven-week program begins with a family meal, followed by a group discussion for parents and guardians, while the young people participate in games, activities and discussion on topics including setting goals, appreciating their parents, managing stress, following rules and resisting peer pressure.

Then, everyone comes back together to practice their skills by participating in family activities.

"The Strengthening Families Program is truly beneficial for any family that joins," said Brittany Peterson, program coordinator. "By participating in this program, families set aside time to come together as a family and enjoy their time together. Not only will families build communication skills and practice problem solving together, but they'll also just get to have some fun. There are many fun activities and games built into the program to make it enjoyable and an overall great experience."

The discussion-based curriculum is designed to allow families to learn from each other rather than being educated by the on-site facilitator.

According to organizers, research shows that immediately following the program, parents are more likely to set and communicate expectations and consequences about substance abuse, manage their anger and emotions during parent-child interactions and involve their child in family activities and decisions, which improves family bonds.

Young people who have completed the program also have been shown to have lower rates of substance abuse, improved academic success and less violent and aggressive behavior, and studies show the positive effects last well beyond the class time.


The Greencastle program begins Jan. 14 and will be held Tuesday nights from 5:30 to 8 for seven weeks in Trinity Lutheran Church, 1186 Jason Drive.

The Waynesboro program will begin Wednesday, Feb. 19, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., and will continue for seven weeks at Evangelical Lutheran Church, 43 S. Church St.

Free child care will be provided to families with children younger than age 10.

Families can register by calling 717-264-1470, Ext. 113, or emailing: