Sarah explains why she wrote the program.
I wanted to find a program that would help children learn to make better decisions but this program needed to be able to keep the childrens interest so they would participate in and learn from the experience. I found many good programs but could not find any that would keep the children interested in learning; so I created one.
During the 12 years as an administrator of an adolescent shelter and detention center, I watched kids gravitate towards the Chicken Soup books on the library shelves. The books seemed to satisfy a need – to not feel like they were the only ones who ever experienced the traumas of adolescents. Knowing that these books are filled with stories teaching kindness, empathy, and that struggles can be overcome in order to lead happy and productive lives; I decided to make them an integral part of the curriculum. Along with this, I had three other goals:
First that the curriculum be broad enough that it would fit in multiple types of groups from those who have experienced poor choices and faced serious consequences to those dealing with the typical struggles of adolescents;
Second that the curriculum be flexible to the experienced leader to incorporate their knowledge, creativity and expertise into the curriculum while giving novice leaders direction and activity options to choose from;
Finally, I wanted this curriculum to be designed for a discussion group format where group leaders guide the discussion but dont lecture and participants do the majority of the talking.
After writing the Preteen and Teen version of Choices I and Choices II, I asked Roxanne to join me in writing the Parent versions and help to enhance the leaders guides. Roxanne brought extensive experience in adult learning and family relationship building. With Roxannes help, the Parent Versions were completed and the quality and useful techniques contained within the leaders guides increased. In addition to Chicken Soup stories, the Parent Versions also connected with the Casey Family Programs book Ready Set Fly! This is an excellent parent guide to teaching life skills. The activities in this book are useful for all parents as they teach life skills to children and youth.
With the parent versions released in May 2006, parents are able to attend parent groups to reinforce what their children are learning through the Choices program. These versions also provide parents the opportunity to look at their own choices regarding parenting. Parents are the core resource for children and should be supported in their effort to teach and care for their children.