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News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Group works to replace 'at-risk' label

Is labeling a youngster "at risk" a self-fulfilling prophecy? At least one group thinks so. Kids at Hope is a national movement that is attempting to reverse the current youth at risk model to one of youth at hope.

Pittsburg was one of four communities in the U.S. this year to receive a National Recreation Foundation grant to provide training in the Kids at Hope philosophy. Others were the Houston Police Department; the San Jose, Calif., Recreation and Parks Department; and a community group in Herndon, Va.

Chuck Killingsworth, a member of the faculty in the Pittsburg State University Department of Health, Education and Recreation, is helping to pull together a group from across the community who will take training in the Kids at Hope approach to meeting the needs of children. A training session has been scheduled for 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9, at Meadowlark Elementary School in Pittsburg.

Killingsworth said a group of representatives from local schools, law enforcement, the city and youth agencies has already met once. This training session can accommodate up to 75 persons, Killingsworth said, and is open to anyone in the community who has an interest in or works with children. Killingsworth said that in order to ensure that enough training materials are available, he would like interested persons to register for the training by Tuesday, Feb. 8. Registration may be completed by calling Killingsworth at 620-235-4670 or by e-mail at .

Killingsworth pointed out that Kids at Hope is not another program to help kids.

"There are lots of good programs that serve so-called children at risk," Killingsworth said. "This is a philosophy that strives to change the framework in which we view these children. It is a holistic community approach to serving kids that views each one not as a potential problem or threat, but as a community asset and a potential success story."

Kids at Hope began in 1993 in Phoenix, Ariz. It was organized by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix. Since then, it has spread to a number of communities across the U.S. and today, more than 5,000 persons have been trained in the Kids at Hope belief system.

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---Pitt State---