Award-Winning “Strengthening Families” Program comes to Orcas

  • Mon Feb 3rd, 2020 4:18pm
  • Life

The Funhouse will be offering a 7-week award-winning program called Strengthening Families.

“It takes a different kind of parenting, when kids go from being, well, kids, to being teenagers. This program gives parents and adolescents a road-map for how to deal with that transition, and in a way that brings the whole family to the table” says Alison Sanders, Coalition for Orcas Youth Coordinator.

Developed by Iowa State University, the program equips families with youth ages 10-14 with tools, skills, and strategies to thrive in the adolescent years, over the course of seven weekly sessions.

“When I did the training I was impressed with the amount of communication tools I learned to navigate this age group. So much of it is about giving love and respect with boundaries. The program mantra is love with limits .” Says Sara Joy Palmer, Funhouse Strengthening Families Coordinator, and trained program facilitator. “It’s for everybody,” she added. “Everyone comes away with something.”

Participants will meet at the Funhouse on Thursdays from 5- 7:30 p.m. from March 12 to April 30. Each session begins with a shared meal, followed by families splitting into 2 groups; youth head off to a facilitated youth program, and parents meet with a parent facilitator. An hour later, the parents and children reunite for fun family activities that solidify the evening’s learning. The program and dinner are completely free and onsite childcare will be provided for younger siblings.

The Coalition for Orcas Youth has selected Strengthening Families as a priority program within their strategic plan to attain their vision of “a community empowering youth with skills and resources to become compassionate, healthy adults.” The curriculum helps parents establish the foundation for a strong relationship with their young adolescents. Youth build skills such as goal-setting and tools for dealing with peer pressure, helping them navigate towards healthy choices.

The World Health Organization named Strengthening Families the #1 prevention program out of 6,000 programs analyzed for long-term effects on substance use and misuse. Lopez and San Juan Island have offered the class several times since 2018, in English and Spanish. The Funhouse and San Juan Island Prevention Coalition will offer a Strengthening Families facilitator training in February. There are over 18 people county-wide who are trained as facilitators of Strengthening Families. The upcoming facilitator training will increase each island’s readiness to deliver the program. It will be held at the Orcas Firehall on Feb. 10-12.

For more information, contact