KNOX COUNTY, IND. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Samaritan Center and The Willows have partnered with the Knox County YMCA to host “Strengthening Families,” an evidence based 14-week program that concentrates on family bonding, communication and the importance of the family meal.

Amanda Sprinkle, Community Resource Specialist says the curriculum is fantastic, “Sometimes you get training on a program that isn’t too impressive but after completing training for the Strengthening Families program the whole group was so excited to start teaching the class.”

Through the Division of Mental Health and Addiction, in November of 2021, The Willows was awarded a Capacity Building Grant for primary prevention of substance use in Knox and Daviess counties.

Data was collected, a community needs assessment was completed, partnerships and a workgroup were formed to choose strategies to implement in the two counties that would best meet the needs of the community. “Strengthening Families,” was one of the strategies chosen for Knox County.

System of Care Coordinator at the Samaritan Center, Ashely Charleston, spoke about what a typical Strengthening Families meeting will be like, “We will be meeting in the evening to share a wonderful meal, break out into a parent session and also a child session, and then we will come back together at the end of the evening for a family project or game.”

Organizers say that running “Strengthening Families” will require five facilitators. In addition, the group added a volunteer from the Family Health Center. Together, the six facilitators have over 85 years of experience supporting families and youth.

“We have also had amazing support from leadership, and we all know the power in investing in families in our community,” Charleston said.

“The ‘Strengthening Families’ curriculum helps families build up protective factors that have been shown to reduce substance use in teens,” Charleston added.

The program is facilitated by:

  • Ashely Charleston – System of Care Coordinator
  • Amanda Williams – Community Resource Specialist
  • Amanda Sprinkle – Community Resource Specialist
  • Shelly Loffer – Family Care Specialist
  • Sasha McKinney – Certified Community Health Worker
  • Amy Ridgley – Community Resource Specialist

“We provide parent services and child services, but this program provides the missing link that combines the two,” Amy Ridgley, Community Resource Specialist, added.