Youth have program options to help them excel

August 19, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — Programs around the Panhandle are often structured to help children. Two programs, the Human Performance Project and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, learned on Wednesday that, even though they have different approaches, they are working to create better outcomes for youth.

The choices we make each day has a cumulative effect, said Mike Thompson, FCA huddle leader. If you tell a lie and then another lie, you have to tell a third to cover for those first two.

“The challenge becomes, what can we do collectively to effect the choices young people make?” Thompson said.

For FCA, they focus on three ways to have an impact on a young person’s life — positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement and shaping and changing core values.

“There’s nothing groundbreaking there,” he said. “Positive reinforcement has probably been around since the first baby.”

Society expects certain behaviors, so those behaviors are rewarded positively but Thompson said FCA also recognizes the effort in addition to the result.

“Sometimes, you don’t get the desired results,” he said. “I can prepare the right way and put in tremendous output and still not get the desired result.”

These rewards can take different shapes, such as in the workplace as a monetary reward or extra time off. In athletics, after a hard practice, it could be skipping a drill at the end of the workout.

“We look to encourage and edify,” he said. “We’re looking to build them up.”

The opposite of positive reinforcement is negative reinforcement, which occurs when there is a desire to discourage a person from certain activities or actions. Thompson said the penalties are interesting because they can affect the same things.

“We can reward monetarily, but there can be a monetary consequence as well,” he said.

If there are going to be negative consequences, it must be explained what is expected and what will happen if the desired result is not achieved.

While FCA focuses on making changes in a person’s life through religion, the Human Performance Project reaches similar outcomes by with a focus on a general change in behavior that is good for the person and the community. Both groups are seeking to find ways to modify a person’s motivation to where they ask, “Why would I choose to do this?” FCA approaches the situation from a perspective of introducing youth to the gospels as a motivator to make different choices.

“It’s not about me. It’s not about self-focus,” Thompson said. “We want to change that and focus on Jesus Christ because everything we do is for an audience of one.”

Richards said HPP also works to make sure students are making the right choices.

“The mission is to have successful adults and that’s it,” she said. “That’s what we do.”

Retired minister and MPC member Lauren Ekdahl said whatever the program is, it is vital to have the community supporting the program.

“It’s the community that shapes the life of the community,” Ekdahl said. “We model what we mold in our children.”

Whether it is through FCA or the Human Performance Project, both organizations are looking to change the heart of youth, which they believe will result in a change of behavior.

“At the end of the day our approach, and I’m not saying it’s the only approach, is if we can change what motivates them, we will affect that outcome and they won’t be visiting with Sherri Overman,” Thompson said.

There are FCA programs in the Kimball, Sidney, Alliance, Gering and Scottsbluff school districts.

Update hourly