The Upriver Youth Leadership Council (UYLC) will be offering The Strengthening Families Program (SFP) beginning Jan. 20. This program is a free, fourteen-week interactive workshop for parents and children ages 12 to 16. Classes will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Kamiah High School, and are facilitated by Jennifer Heitman, Carrie Wiley, Amber Hoodman, and Tina Brotnov. COVID-19 protocols and protective measures will be observed.

The sessions, which are designed to improve relationships between parents and their children, include dinner, games, discussions, shared activities and more. Each week’s two-and-a-half-hour session begins with a free family dinner. “We will offer nutritious meals that are family-friendly through an Aim High New York Life Grant as well as partnerships with local restaurants and churches” said Sharlene Johnson, UYLC Executive Director. 

Johnson also noted that there will be family-friendly door prizes throughout the course and that all graduating families will be entered into a drawing for a grand prize. Childcare for younger children is available, as well as mileage reimbursement for all families who complete the entire fourteen-week class.

After dinner, families are divided into groups, with adults and children meeting separately. In their session, youths are led by two trained facilitators through various activities, games, and discussions. Issues that are covered include setting goals, appreciating their parents, and dealing with peer pressure, among other topics.

In the meantime, the parents, working with a trained facilitator as well, discuss different expectations of parents that occur when raising adolescents, such as showing love, setting limits, making house rules, and encouraging good behavior. The parents and their children then reunite for a one-hour family activity that promotes team building. “This program will enlarge your tool belt as a parent,” stated Jennifer Heitman, a Kamiah Middle School teacher who participated in the training, “You will gain skills and strategies that build your family’s relationships.” 

Strengthening Families was developed at Iowa State University. Research done there has shown that youth who took part in the program have had significantly lower rates of using alcohol and other drugs and have also had fewer behavioral problems in school.

The program is offered in all 50 states and in more than 25 countries.

For more information, including how to register for upcoming sessions, please contact Tina Brotnov at (208)-743-0392 or email

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