VICENZA, Italy -- Surpassing traditional borders, Child & Youth Services, United States Army Garrison Italy, has formed a coalition of agencies here that are typically separate from one another, even though they are integrally important in building strong and resilient youth.

As the Army focuses on Ready and Resilient (R2) Soldiers, CYS will parallel that mission by providing R2 skills through a recently awarded $10,000 grant to families.

Through a combination of experiential learning and real world-relevant instruction, certified Master Resiliency Trainers Ray Jojola and Beth Potter will provide the training through fun, but challenging, activities for parents and children.

With the support of USAG Italy, the U.S. Army Health Center-Vicenza's Behavioral Health team and Department of Defense Educational Activity have collaborated on the training.

Jojola, operations specialist with CYS, explained.

"The program will be offered to adults and youth who can benefit from the strength-based instruction model," he said. "The goal of leveraging divergent agencies is to maximize our community's ability to target frontline staff through shared terminology and concepts that are flat, integrated, synchronized and interoperable."

Diana Vidrini, instructional support specialist for DODEA Europe South, added that "we recognize that problem-free youth are not fully prepared to meet challenges, and we are committed to focusing on a strength-based prevention program within a broader context.

"For example," she said, "Although we want our students to be drug-free, we need to create skills for youth to express their anger/anxiety, etc., and appropriately channel it into a skill that is offered through R2 programs."

"Kids serve as the best teachers and role models for other kids. In order to maximize their ability to positively impact their peers, we need to ensure that the adults with whom they come into daily contact are supportive and instructive," said Beth Potter, school liaison officer.

"Developing cultural humility is paramount. In the process of conveying R2 ideas, we must provide a standard where professionals acknowledge that parents and students are the experts on how they can most effectively integrate this knowledge."

Potter said it's important to develop youth and adult mentors by providing them with opportunities to relate to one another and giving them opportunities to stretch. As grant authors, Jojola, Vidrini and Potter realize that integrating diverse agencies exponentially increases training value and transferability of skills.

Positive youth development requires schools and community to set the stage for trustworthy engagement with youth and other adult professionals. The awarded grant will assist in this endeavor.

Enhancing awareness and growth encourages personal motivation to change. This can be best accomplished, according to Potter, in an environment that delivers a common language and overlaps fields within the same community. (SLO)