Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2012

Program builds resilience in students

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Although weeks away from the beginning of their freshmen year of high school, 32 students took two days out of their summer to build resilience and enhance mental performance.

To make their four years in high school more successful, the Faith Middle School Comprehensive Soldier Fitness-Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program is designed to provide the mental skills, competency and critical thinking necessary for students, said Sam Rhodes, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program manager.

“The nature of performance and resilience enhancement in itself is unique because it falls back to goal setting … goal setting is the No. 1 thing that will enhance performance,” he said. “These star athletes that are winning the Olympics, that are winning high batting averages — their performance is because they have a goal. It increases resilience, so we’re tackling creating a resilient individual. The more our kids are resilient, the more successful they will be.”

Cody Sohn likens her job as a performance enhancement specialist with the CSF-PREP program to teaching people the skills needed to perform at their best in any situation.

“A lot of what the Soldiers do here — they are really trained highly on the idea of physical, technical and tactical skills,” she said. “The Army, in particular, does a really good job of teaching people how to do that. But what we do is help people learn the mental skills behind that.”

For 13-year-old Emily Harvey, a student attending the program, confidence is most important.

“Confidence is a key to any situation that you are in from going to a new school in ninth grade … confidence is the key whether you are going to try out for a sport, try out for a play, or just excel at something you love,” she said. “That’s what has really impacted me … is that to excel at anything you love you just need to believe in yourself and have confidence.”

Because of the unique experience military children face, said Faith Middle School principal Dan Perkins, the program gives them opportunity to learn how to face their challenges.

“Some of these kids — their parents have faced multiple deployments, they’ve gone the better part of the year without even seeing their parent … but we’re trying to help them build ways to deal with whatever life throws them,” he said.

The skills and experiences the teens face is comparable to adults, Sohn said. Worries such as how to stay focused, pay attention and build confidence can be developed and are transferable across all age groups.

“We are gonna take and learn from this pilot,” Rhodes said. “We are going to make it better for the next generation.”

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