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OSU Introduces Programs for Youth Development

COMANCHE CO., Okla_ Too many youngsters in Comanche County are struggling after entering the work force, and the Oklahoma State University Extension Service is trying to change that.

Extension Agent Lynn Null announced plans to spearhead several programs aimed at teaching youth the necessary life skills for success, lessons that can not be found in a school book.

She said by working with several agencies, educators and parents, today's youth will be better prepared for the competitive work force.

There are several programs in the works, such as "Overcoming Obstacles", which prepares students with decision making and communication skills in the work force. Another program, "Conscious Discipline", will teach parents and educators how to better deal with young people. These programs go hand-in-hand to prepare youth for success.

Our youth may one day walk the grounds of Cameron University or get a job somewhere in Comanche County. Null said that's why it's so important to make sure these kids can measure up. She said right now, it seems many aren't cutting it.

"We're graduating students, and they do not have these skills that make them employable," Null said. "What overcoming obstacles teaches is the decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution. It teaches success skills that these students will need, whether they're going to the work force or to college."

Null said "Conscious Discipline" is a social emotional program that teaches parents and educators better communication skills when dealing with youth like empathy and composure.

"If you don't have composure, and you're screaming and yelling at children, they're not going to be able to learn from that," Null said.

These are skills she said are necessary to deal with life's sometimes stressful situations. Parents say they're on board with the programs.

"I think it will help them a lot," Null said. "With my children, it seems like when a parent has shown them other things, they do a lot better."

"Having kids of my own, I think it's good for them," Null said. "They'll be more advanced. It will be better for them, when they get out of school. The kids need these things."

Even 6th Grader Montana Phillips said he'd like to learn how to better communicate.

"When you're talking to older people, you're going to be scared and shy," Montana said. "You're going to stutter and stuff. So, yeah, there should be a class about that."

Null said Altus High School is planning on implementing "Overcoming Obstacles" for the 2013-2014 school year. As for Comanche County, the plans are very new, so there's no set start date. Null said she is also working on a health and nutrition program and plans on getting involved in the County Fit Kids Coalition.

Null said the success of these programs is all about collaboration.

"One person, one organization, one agency can't do it all," Null said. "When we focus on the needs here in the county and what we can do and the resources we can pull together, that's what will make a difference in the lives of the youth and families in the county."

She said the goal is to implement these types of programs across the state.

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