November 9, 2011 (Towson, Md): Towson University has for several years been endeavoring to turn around the ailing schools of Cherry Hill in a focused effort to address trends among neighborhood youth that will undoubtedly perpetuate the area’s long standing problems.
For the past three years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has funded Towson University’s Partners in Academic and Life Success (PALS) program, a master plan targeting the improvement of academic performance within area schools and increased physical and mental health awareness. Spearheading the program are Marcie Weinstein, associate dean of the College of Health Professions, Jill Bush, associate professor of the Department of Kinesiology, and Beth Merryman, associate professor of the Department of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science.
The program provides tutoring, mentoring, counseling, and guidance to pre-adolescents in Cherry Hill schools with the ultimate goal of strengthening their day-to-day living skills, fostering strategies for planning their future, building each individual child’s self-esteem, etc. PALS also endeavors to involve the parents and families of mentored children via the formation of parental advisory groups, so that assertive, beneficial behaviors will be encouraged and perpetuated outside of the school system and become characteristic of each child’s daily conduct.
PALS program goals include the development of adult-specific training and support activities that will enable families to maintain and strengthen each student’s gains in healthy behaviors and discussions regarding good decision making and dealing with peer pressure.
In addition to enriching the Cherry Hill community one generation at a time, the PALS initiative will provide invaluable opportunities for learning, experience, and community interaction for the Towson University student body. All parties involved will reap the benefits of cross-cultural exposure and the development of personal connections with the different aspects of society comprising the Baltimore region.
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