Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FEED THE LOVE: Community Family Dinner Night, October 22, 2009

Last spring, Sewickley Academy brought Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., Harvard School of Public Health, to talk with us about his latest studies, documented in his book “Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age”. One of the more interesting results of his “Parenting Practices at the Millennium Survey”, which was designed to identify risk factors for teenager problems, is that one of the key factors that distinguished teens who didn’t have problems is that their families frequently ate dinner together.

Very simple. But very difficult, sometimes, to do. So to gain awareness to this simple, yet significant, activity, Youth Connect declares October 22 as Family Dinner Night for the community. All families are encouraged to sit down together for dinner on this night, whether at home or at a restaurant; whether over a home-cooked meal or a take-out pizza. The goal is that all families in the community are sitting down together and talking about their day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Calendar of Events for new school year announced

At its first meeting of the 2009-2010 school year, Youth Connect's steering committee announced the following events, all of which are free and open to the public. For more specific information about any of the listings below, please contact youthconnect@hotmail.com.

  • Valerie Johnson and Mary Webber will serve as co-chairs for a discussion of Michael Thompson's book, Best of Friends, Worst of Enemies prior to the author's October 13th visit to Sewickley Academy, where he will talk on the Complex Social World of Childhood in the morning, followed by Surviving the College Admissions Process in the evening. Details on the date and location of the book discussion will be posted here as they develop.

  • October 22nd is the date of Sewickley's first-ever Community "Family Dinner", an idea that Susan Kaminski is sharing with families throughout the Quaker Valley communities. "It's a night to set aside all other obligations, and put our families first. It will be a chance for parents and children to reconnect with each other over the dinner table--either their own, or at a restaurant, or other dining option. The important thing is the conversation and connecting, not the location, or even the menu!" Details of the Community Family Dinner will be forthcoming, but mark your calendars today for Thursday, October 22nd.

  • Dr. Christy Clapper is organizing another Youth Summit, to take place on Saturday, 14 November 2009 at Sewickley Academy The theme, Know More, Fear Less, speaks to the unease that many parents feel when confronted with the emerging technology around social networking. Cole Camplese, from Penn State University, will share his expert knowledge in a keynote address, which will be followed by age-appropriate break-out sessions that will include demonstrations of popular programs and websites, discussions on online games and gaming addiction, and a debriefing roundtable at the close of the event. The summit runs from 9 am until noon; further details to follow.

  • Looking into 2010, Jessie Barnes and Susan Kaminski will co-host an event investigating the causes of Teen Stress, and strategies for dealing with it, on Thursday, 21 January; Donna Bednarek, PhD, director of the Psychology Department at Laughlin Center, will present on Living with Divorce--a look at how families can function in a healthy manner--on Thursday, 25 February at Laughlin Center; QVSD's Caroline Johns will lead an event on Healthy Boundaries, at a daytime event on Wednesday, March 17th; and local father, Mark Gensheimer, will continue an important discussion in April on Underage Drinking that was begun last spring. More specifics will be announced as they develop.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

QVSD students to man Youth Connect booth

STOP BY THE YOUTH CONNECT BOOTH AT THIS YEAR'S HARVEST FESTIVAL, Saturday, 12 September from 10 am till 5 pm. Students from Quaker Valley High School's QV Voice, along with their faculty advisor, Amy Keller, will be on hand to answer questions about Youth Connect, the 40 Developmental Assets, how to avoid risky behaviors, and QV Voice itself.

Anyone interested in volunteering time at the Youth Connect booth is asked to email Ms. Keller: kellera@qvsd.org.

Longtime Youth Connect goal realized!

Through the generous support of local and regional partners, Youth Connect is proud to announce that Floyd Faulkner has been hired as Quaker Valley's first Youth Worker. Mr. Faulkner will work with students from the 11 communities that make up the Quaker Valley School District, and is being housed at Laughlin Center. Along with support from the school district, other organizations providing funding include Child Health Association of Sewickley, The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley and The Grable Foundation (http://www.grablefdn.org/).

More details about Faulkner's background and new responsibilities can be found in the two articles below. Those interested in speaking with Mr. Faulkner can reach him at 412-779-8110 or faulknerf@qvsd.org.

Quaker Valley School District photo
Floyd Faulkner: "I will immediately begin to build a rapport with [the students] and hope to establish relationships very early on."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09239/993394-54.stm#ixzz0QWt0YsTW

Post-Gazette covers new Youth Worker hire

Quaker Valley schools employee will have Laughlin Center office
Thursday, August 27, 2009
By Kathleen Ganster, Post-Gazette

Floyd Faulkner has always liked children -- he has four of his own -- and he thinks his appreciation of the needs of young people will stand him in good stead in his new role as community youth worker for Quaker Valley School District. "I feel it is my mission to help young children, through my own life experiences and education," he said.

In his new role, Mr. Faulkner will help youngsters find productive outlets for their time during the hours that they seem to need one the most -- after school and in the early evening.

Although he will be working for the district, Mr. Faulkner's office will be located in the Laughlin Center in Sewickley at the corner of Frederick Avenue and Broad Street.

The position is funded through grant money provided by the Child Health Association of Sewickley, The Presbyterian Church Sewickley and the Grable Foundation, according to Martha Smith, communications manager for the district. Mr. Faulkner will be paid $38,000 per year.

Ms. Smith said the district has approximately 2,025 students, with the middle school, grades 6 through 8, having just under 500 students.

Mr. Faulkner will identify youth who would benefit from using community resources and will put the teens in contact with those organizations. Ms. Smith said,

"There are already so many wonderful resources out there and we didn't want to reinvent the wheel. Having someone to help the students take advantage of these resources benefits everyone, most especially the students," she added.

Mr. Faulkner will also work as a parental resource and develop services and programs as needed.

"We see this position evolving as we go," said Ms. Smith.

Mr. Faulkner, who was formerly a social worker, and also worked for Northside Urban Pathways Charter School as the director of student services. "My primary focus was to oversee the discipline services and act as a liaison with services provided by outside agencies," he said.

He'll rely on that experience in his new role. "I will serve as a person for the students to connect to and help them find services in the community. The key word here is 'connector' -- I will help them connect to the assets in the community," said Mr. Faulkner.

The community resources that Mr. Faulkner refers to include an after-school program at the Quaker Valley Middle School and programming and services at Sweetwater Center for the Arts, The Sewickley Public Library, The Sewickley YMCA, The Presbyterian Church Sewickley, and Sewickley Community Center.

"By having this central location, I can be a very visible presence in the community," he said. In addition to students seeking out Mr. Faulkner, he expects referrals from families, teachers and district staff and others in the community.

"I will immediately begin to build a rapport with [the students] and hope to establish relationships very early on. It is our goal to cut down on risky behavior," he explained, "By using our wealth of resources in this community, we can do that."

Mr. Faulkner will spend time in the schools to meet students and staff and meet parents at open houses and other school-sponsored events. As Mr. Faulkner gears up for his new position and the start of the school year, he is enthusiastic.

"No community is a community not at risk. This is a win-win situation -- it shows that kids are really valued here," he said. "Our children will know there are people in their corner and we are there for them."

Freelance writer Kathleen Ganster can be reached in care of suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

First published on August 27, 2009 at 7:07 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09239/993394-54.stm#ixzz0QWowaQJU

Floyd Faulkner appears in Sewickley Herald article

New position created to connect area children with right activities
by Joanne Braun, Sewickley Herald Staff Writer
August 20, 2009

Area youth organizations are taking steps to make Quaker Valley children feel more valued.

One of those steps is hiring Floyd Faulkner as new community youth coordinator, said Susan Kaminski, Youth Connect chairman.

Kaminski introduced Faulkner to Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce members last week at their monthly meeting.

She said Sewickley has many area programs for the youth, but the challenge is connecting the right child with the right activity.

That's where Faulkner comes in.

The Coraopolis native said he has a lot of experience he can apply to his new position, but, "first it comes from the heart.

"If we can build relationships with the youth, then we have the opportunity to impact their lives. That's what I want to do. I want to reach children who feel lost and don't have a sense of belonging.

"We need to find out what their interests and needs are and instruct them to the vast resources we have in the community," he said.

Kaminski said data from a survey provided by The Search Institute on 40 developmental assets showed in 2003 and 2007, only about 25 percent of participating Quaker Valley students believe adults value them.

The Search Institute is an independent nonprofit organization that has developed an "assets" approach to reducing risky behaviors, and has created tools to measure and resources to help educate and develop.

Quaker Valley administrators decided to do the survey in 2003 when they first learned of the tool. A follow up was done in 2007 with 650 students in grades 6 through 12.

"The follow-up was done because from the first time around, it was clear information gained from the survey was valuable and timing-wise, the kids on the younger end of the first survey were about to graduate," Kaminski said.

The survey asks students questions relating to 40 developmental assets including participating in a sport, having someone helping with homework and believing adults in the community value them. They are asked questions such as do they spend more than two hours a day alone at home and have they gotten drunk once or more in the last two weeks.

Of all the categories, Quaker Valley scored the lowest in the do you feel valued by adults question.

The idea for the youth coordinator position grew out of results of the survey and other issues targeted by Youth Connect's steering committee--representatives from Quaker Valley School District, Sewickley Academy, The Laughlin Center, Sewickley Public Library, The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, Sewickley Valley YMCA, Sweetwater Center for the Art, Sewickley Community Center, Child Health Association of Sewickley and other community representatives.

"The groups have had some success in adding after-school programming of various types.

"But the reality is that the needs of the kids in the community vary greatly," Kaminski said.

"The issue isn't so much that we don't have opportunities and resources for our kids, it is that they (and/or their parents) don't know how to access them," she said.

Youth Connect worked to get the majority of the funding put together. Faulkner's $38,000 salary plus benefits for the one-year pilot program is being funded through the support of Child Health Association of Sewickley, The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley and The Grable Foundation.

School district administrators managed the hiring process and are overseeing the program.

There were 53 applicants for the position, and the interviews started at the end of March. Faulkner, hired as a school district employee, was interviewed four times before landing the job.

"Floyd is a perfect fit for this position," Kaminski said.

"Not only is his depth and breadth of experience well-suited for the job, his respect for and understanding of youth gives him the ability to connect with them. And this will be the most important aspect of his role."

Faulkner said he has felt welcomed by those he has met so far including police Chief John Ershner and borough Manager Kevin Flannery who pledged their help and support.

"We've been excited by the enthusiasm that everyone has shown for the position and the many ideas and offers of help that have come out of the initial meetings." Kaminski said.

"I am so excited about the possibilities that he is bringing to the community."

Faulkner's office is set up at the Laughlin Center because Kaminski said is it open late, and Faulkner will be working in the evenings.

Those who have questions or who need to contact Faulkner can call the center at 412-741-4087.

Meet Floyd Faulkner
Wherever the kids are, that's where Floyd Faulkner plans to be.

The new community youth worker wants to let Sewickley area children know he is there for them. He wants to find out their interests and get them involved in the right activities for them.

"I need to be visible in the community. They will know me as Mr. Floyd. Each day with a child is a teachable moment. We need to capture that time and build their self-confidence and academic achievements. We need to bridge the gap between adults and children," he said.

He plans to observe children in different environments by getting to know those who congregate at Sewickley Public Library and visiting children at the White House at The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley. He plans to work with Sewickley Community Center and has set up a program with Sewickley YMCA to bring kids in to try out the facility.

He also will attend evening community and athletic events.

In addition, he will meet with agency representatives to coordinate schedules to avoid overlaps and to add new programs such as youth groups.

Faulkner worked for eight years as director of student services at Northside Urban Pathways Charter School in Pittsburgh.

He was a Pee Wee football coach in Coraopolis for two years and a collegiate football player for Edinboro University, where he received a degree in criminal justice.

The Cornell High School graduate once dreamed of becoming an FBI agent, but ended up leaning more toward social work, moving from a management position at Hertz Corporation to a case worker job with Neighborhood Centers Association on the Northside.

He and his wife, Stephanie, have four children, ages 17, 8, 6 and 2.

His goal is to help kids become lifelong learners and to have a positive view of their future.

Faulkner said he believes area businesses and organizations have their eyes out for youth, but "we need to put our heads and resources together."

And, that, he said, will happen one child at a time.