Character development is critical to every person’s success, and there’s no better time to instill positive values than during childhood and the transitional years of young teens. WPYC uses a broad range of engaging approaches that includes personal mentoring, positive peer pressure and innovative exercises and games.

WPYC supports the social-emotional development of our children to help them mature into well-balanced adults. Our program has three thrusts:

  • Ability to Self-Regulate (“Mind” your own behavior)
  • Prevention Education
  • Early Involvement in Community Service

Ability to Self-Regulate

We learn what we do.  That is the simple premise that guides our efforts. WPYC does not want to teach our children to “wait to be directed”in order to do the right thing. We help students develop the internal processes necessary to “mind” their own behavior.

This jury of peers seriously considers another student’s actions.

Innovation: We the Jury

Peer pressure takes on a new meaning in We the Jury . When students misbehave, their peers review the offensive behavior based on WPYC themes. For example, the jury of peers asks, “Were the offensive students caring about others? Working for what they want, instead of taking it from others?  Using common sense?” As the peers review and debate the situation, the youth center’s lessons become more deeply ingrained.

Prevention Education:

Drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence are every day threats to our children, our community and ultimately society as a whole. Kids’ beliefs about drug use, gang membership and violence drive their choices. WPYC programs  inform students’ beliefs and educate students on the real dangers of drugs and alcohol, the psychology of gang recruitment and the life-long backlash that follows violence.

Innovation: Keep Away!

He’ll always remember running from drugs!

Keep Away is a lively playground game that ingrains the message that people should keep away from life deterrents like alcohol, drugs and gangs. Volunteers wear T-shirts labeled “Bully”, “Gun”,  “Weed”, “Crack”, “Gangs”, “Cigarettes”, “Alcohol” and other things children should run away from.  Meanwhile, our students are trying to grab the good things in life, by grabbing bean bags labeled “Freedom”, “Happy Family”, “Good Education”, “Good Job”, ” Own Home”, etc.  Students who capture the most good things win, but if they are tagged by the undesirables, they have to give up all they gained.

Keep Away is one of our kids’ favorite games and was developed by WPYC staff.

A key element is Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS), a program that teaches children to think for themselves and find other ways of dealing with peer pressure, sadness, anger and other realities. PATHS is an evidence-based, nationally-recognized* program built on the understanding that children have strong emotional reactions when faced with personal choices about drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence.  WPYC works daily to help children identify and work with the emotions that otherwise lead to bad choices.

Early Involvement in Community Service

Young, old or in-between, everyone has something they can offer to meet a community need. From holding  bake sales to help homeless children to our Smiling City Sidewalks program–where students, armed with colorful chalk, descend in all four directions on the sidewalks of Winton Place, drawing happy doodles and uplifting words–our kids learn early that they too have something special of value to give.

Innovation: Book Buds

Our youngest students learn that they too have something to share in the larger community.  Faithfully, they visit new friends at Bridgeway Pointe Assisted Living Center on the Drake Hospital campus.

*PATHS  has received the highest possible ratings from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Dropout Revention Center; the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL); and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).