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Youth group sharpens focus

April 14, 2012
Jenn Brookens - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - From one caring adult to an entire community, all can have a lasting impact on a child's life.

As a follow-up to last month's Healthy Youth committee workshop in Fairmont, a second meeting was held Friday morning to concentrate on how to implement ideas expressed last month.

As part of the group's outline, there are 40 developmental assets. During the last session, the five of those listed by attendees as most important were: safety, positive family communication, adult role models, planning and decision-making, and responsibility.

"We've looked at the work from the last meeting, and it looks like we have a consensus on which direction to go," said Martin County Judge Robert Walker. "The points of interest are spread throughout all the developmental asset groups ... We will reap the rewards if we can get a better foundation for these positive values."

While the groups went in-depth with the five points on how they can be implemented throughout the community, a guest speaker showed that some small things, such as a knowing look, a little time to vent and listen, and a little respect can go a long way.

Mandi Wiltse-Kosbab admits she had a rough childhood, but today she is a successful businesswoman with children of her own.

"It's ironic to stand here and be part of this Healthy Youth study because I was a part of it the first time in the '90s," she said. "I grew up with only five of those 40 assets."

Despite patches of her early childhood being wiped from her memory, and getting into all types of trouble in her teen years, Wiltse-Kosbab remembers those who gave her just enough to keep going.

"I remember this coach I had," she recalled. "He would just give me this look that said he knew and I knew that I could do better. He never had to say a word. He would just see me coming out the principal's office, and he'd just give me that look."

She also remembers two police officers who were willing to just listen.

"I'll never give their names, because they probably went against their protocol, but they went above and beyond the call of duty," Wiltse-Kosbab said. "All the other kids had curfews. I didn't. So if one of those officers would see me out, they would pick me up, they'd let me rattle myself out, and then they'd take me home. They could've busted me every time, and it just would've added fuel to my angry fire. But they were keeping me safe."

Her faith also helped her get through, teaching Sunday school. She also relied on several chaplains who helped her have faith and get through.

"People have come onto my path at certain points in time, and they've helped me," Wiltse-Kosbab said. "Talking about this is all a healing process now ... But seeing people placed at different points in my life, it took a village to raise me and see me through. Some of those people may never know that they helped me. God had a plan, and it's for me to help others now by sharing my story. I am proof that you make a difference."



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