IT PAYS to Ask!

by Randy Ziegenfuss on April 9, 2013

ctcThis article was submitted by Denise Continenza, the local Communities That  Care (CTC) Coordinator. You can contact Denise at dhc128@psu.edu.

Between November and February, students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 participated in the Pennsylvania Youth Survey, or PAYS.  This questionnaire is part of a systematic and strategic effort to find out from the youth what they think is good about the environments in which they live and what they think could be better.  The anonymous surveys were then sent to a data research company for tallying and the compiling of a report for each school.  The reports should be arriving in the very near future.

Based on the extensive research on risk and protective factors for positive youth development, the data gathered from the PAYS will help identify benchmarks for STSD.  Through a systematic process, we will assess where we are in relation to what the research tells us young people need in order to grow up into responsible young adults.  From there, we can select specific risk and protective factors that we want to target and choose the best strategies accordingly.

This process follows the Communities That Care (CTC) model which is unique to PA.  Overseen by the EPISCenter at Penn State University’s Prevention Research Center, this model assists communities in going through a process that is based on real data gathered from the youth themselves.  The effort is being coordinated by Denise Continenza of Penn State Extension in Lehigh County.   Very often, adults believe they know what the issues are among the young people in their community, and programs are selected based on those assumptions.  The CTC model does the opposite.  It starts by asking the youth the real questions.

Stay tuned for more information on the CTC in Salisbury Township.  As the model develops, there will be a need for people in the community to work together to develop the resiliency of our youth.  One thing is certain . . . Salisbury knows that it PAYS to ask!

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