Dear Friends, Good morning. As I listened to KYW's report about President Bush and the Pope's meeting in Rome, I thought about the Upper Bucks Healthy Community Healthy Youth Coalition conference I attended a few months ago. Let me set the stage.The brainchild of Lee Rush, the Healthy Community, Healthy Youth project is about five years old. It measures the risk of unhealthy behavior among students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades by comparing them to 40 developmental assets. Periodically, about 3,000 children answer questions about their lifestyle.

Those answers provide rankings among 40 topicssuch as, the level of family support, neighborhoods, schools, peers, role models, expectations, honesty, responsibility, self discipline and the like the factors which influence student behavior.

There's definite good news in the Palisades, Pennridge, and Quakertown communities.

At that April 1 meeting held at the Michener Library, about 100 of us learned that students have reduced risky behaviors and increased healthy behaviors over the five-year period. The use of alcohol and tobacco is declining, as is sexual activity and attempted suicide. Student summaries indicate that more of them are succeeding in school; and they value diversity, maintain good health, and resist dangerous choices.

At the session's end, Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth presented its community service award to Roger Hiser, the Chief Executive of Life Quest. He gave excellent advice to the group. "Find out whom your children see," he said. "Meet their parents."

Lee Rush has been involved with teaching and children programs for 30 years. He told us that children face four risks: (1) the availability of alcohol, tobacco and drugs (2)

Commitment to academic performance in school (3) Parental attitudes and (4) peer pressure. I was impressed with the number of students who participated in the 156 (anonymous) questions questionnaire 96 percent!

The chart that we received gives a story of hope as well as worry. The average number of the 40 assets for the three school districts is 19.1, which means that the typical student has only half of the assets. Fortunately, that number has increased, although slightly. Younger kids have more assetseighth graders had an average of 21.4 assets [out of 40]; tenth graders had 18.8 and twelfth graders had 17.1.

Unfortunately, as the age of the students increased, the number of assets they had decreased. It was similar to the academic performance of the federal program, No Child Left Behind. Typically, the highest scores are in the fifth gradethe worst in the 11th grade.

Our communities need to be more involved with organizations like Healthy Communities Healthy Youth. To find out more, go to www.justcommunity.com

So I thought about children making smart choices as I listened to KYW's report about the President and the Pope. Picture this scene. There's Pope Benedict XVI strolling with America's President George W. Bush. Think about the choices they've made and who influences them.

Personally, I think these two are men of high principle and strong, stubborn courage. They are good people but have terrible flaws.

The Pope could change arbitrary church rules about the priesthood. At the stroke of a pen, he could permit priests to marry and welcome women into the priesthood. He doesn't and won't. In the meantime, Roman Catholics suffer throughout the world as their church becomes less relevant.

That's too bad.

At least, here in America, the population has the option of continuing or discontinuing George W. Bush's policies. In November, voters will choose whether to create a third term for advocates from the religious right, and supporters of big government with higher deficitsor not.

In the last 50 years, whom have Popes been listening toft That's obviousa cadre of very old men, unwilling to try something new.

And what advice was available to George W.? He could have listened to his father, his father's former Secretary of State (James Baker), Colin Powell, or Christie Todd Whitman. Unfortunately, this President relied upon Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove.

And that takes me to the obvious final point. Life is full of choicesone after another. Like President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI, today's students are making choices, which will influence how their lives will be 50 years hence. I can't speak for either the President or the Pope. But I wonder how George W. would have turned out had he listened more attentively to his parents?

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

Charles Meredith, a lifelong Quakertown resident, is the former publisher of The Free Press. He can be reached at MeredithIII@comcast.net. Dear Friends, Good morning. As I listened to KYW's report about President Bush and the Pope's meeting in Rome, I thought about the Upper Bucks Healthy Community Healthy Youth Coalition conference I attended a few months ago. Let me set the stage.

The brainchild of Lee Rush, the Healthy Community, Healthy Youth project is about five years old. It measures the risk of unhealthy behavior among students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades by comparing them to 40 developmental assets. Periodically, about 3,000 children answer questions about their lifestyle.

Those answers provide rankings among 40 topicssuch as, the level of family support, neighborhoods, schools, peers, role models, expectations, honesty, responsibility, self discipline and the likethe factors which influence student behavior.

There's definite good news in the Palisades, Pennridge, and Quakertown communities.

At that April 1 meeting held at the Michener Library, about 100 of us learned that students have reduced risky behaviors and increased healthy behaviors over the five-year period. The use of alcohol and tobacco is declining, as is sexual activity and attempted suicide. Student summaries indicate that more of them are succeeding in school; and they value diversity, maintain good health, and resist dangerous choices.

At the session's end, Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth presented its community service award to Roger Hiser, the Chief Executive of Life Quest. He gave excellent advice to the group. "Find out whom your children see," he said. "Meet their parents."

Lee Rush has been involved with teaching and children programs for 30 years. He told us that children face four risks: (1) the availability of alcohol, tobacco and drugs (2)

Commitment to academic performance in school (3) Parental attitudes and (4) peer pressure. I was impressed with the number of students who participated in the 156 (anonymous) questions questionnaire 96 percent!

The chart that we received gives a story of hope as well as worry. The average number of the 40 assets for the three school districts is 19.1, which means that the typical student has only half of the assets. Fortunately, that number has increased, although slightly. Younger kids have more assetseighth graders had an average of 21.4 assets [out of 40]; tenth graders had 18.8 and twelfth graders had 17.1.

Unfortunately, as the age of the students increased, the number of assets they had decreased. It was similar to the academic performance of the federal program, No Child Left Behind. Typically, the highest scores are in the fifth grade the worst in the 11th grade.

Our communities need to be more involved with organizations like Healthy Communities Healthy Youth. To find out more, go to www.justcommunity.com

So I thought about children making smart choices as I listened to KYW's report about the President and the Pope. Picture this scene. There's Pope Benedict XVI strolling with America's President George W. Bush. Think about the choices they've made and who influences them.

Personally, I think these two are men of high principle and strong, stubborn courage. They are good people but have terrible flaws.

The Pope could change arbitrary church rules about the priesthood. At the stroke of a pen, he could permit priests to marry and welcome women into the priesthood. He doesn't and won't. In the meantime, Roman Catholics suffer throughout the world as their church becomes less relevant.

That's too bad.

At least, here in America, the population has the option of continuing or discontinuing George W. Bush's policies. In November, voters will choose whether to create a third term for advocates from the religious right, and supporters of big government with higher deficitsor not.

In the last 50 years, whom have Popes been listening toft That's obviousa cadre of very old men, unwilling to try something new.

And what advice was available to George W.? He could have listened to his father, his father's former Secretary of State (James Baker), Colin Powell, or Christie Todd Whitman. Unfortunately, this President relied upon Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove.

And that takes me to the obvious final point. Life is full of choicesone after another. Like President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI, today's students are making choices, which will influence how their lives will be 50 years hence. I can't speak for either the President or the Pope. But I wonder how George W. would have turned out had he listened more attentively to his parents?

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

Charles Meredith, a lifelong Quakertown resident, is the former publisher of The Free Press. He can be reached at MeredithIII@comcast.net. Dear Friends, Good morning. As I listened to KYW's report about President Bush and the Pope's meeting in Rome, I thought about the Upper Bucks Healthy Community Healthy Youth Coalition conference I attended a few months ago. Let me set the stage.

The brainchild of Lee Rush, the Healthy Community, Healthy Youth project is about five years old. It measures the risk of unhealthy behavior among students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades by comparing them to 40 developmental assets. Periodically, about 3,000 children answer questions about their lifestyle.

Those answers provide rankings among 40 topicssuch as, the level of family support, neighborhoods, schools, peers, role models, expectations, honesty, responsibility, self discipline and the like the factors which influence student behavior.

There's definite good news in the Palisades, Pennridge, and Quakertown communities.

At that April 1 meeting held at the Michener Library, about 100 of us learned that students have reduced risky behaviors and increased healthy behaviors over the five-year period. The use of alcohol and tobacco is declining, as is sexual activity and attempted suicide. Student summaries indicate that more of them are succeeding in school; and they value diversity, maintain good health, and resist dangerous choices.

At the session's end, Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth presented its community service award to Roger Hiser, the Chief Executive of Life Quest. He gave excellent advice to the group. "Find out whom your children see," he said. "Meet their parents."

Lee Rush has been involved with teaching and children programs for 30 years. He told us that children face four risks: (1) the availability of alcohol, tobacco and drugs (2)

Commitment to academic performance in school (3) Parental attitudes and (4) peer pressure. I was impressed with the number of students who participated in the 156 (anonymous) questions questionnaire 96 percent!

The chart that we received gives a story of hope as well as worry. The average number of the 40 assets for the three school districts is 19.1, which means that the typical student has only half of the assets. Fortunately, that number has increased, although slightly. Younger kids have more assetseighth graders had an average of 21.4 assets [out of 40]; tenth graders had 18.8 and twelfth graders had 17.1.

Unfortunately, as the age of the students increased, the number of assets they had decreased. It was similar to the academic performance of the federal program, No Child Left Behind. Typically, the highest scores are in the fifth gradethe worst in the 11th grade.

Our communities need to be more involved with organizations like Healthy Communities Healthy Youth. To find out more, go to www.justcommunity.com

So I thought about children making smart choices as I listened to KYW's report about the President and the Pope. Picture this scene. There's Pope Benedict XVI strolling with America's President George W. Bush. Think about the choices they've made and who influences them.

Personally, I think these two are men of high principle and strong, stubborn courage. They are good people but have terrible flaws.

The Pope could change arbitrary church rules about the priesthood. At the stroke of a pen, he could permit priests to marry and welcome women into the priesthood. He doesn't and won't. In the meantime, Roman Catholics suffer throughout the world as their church becomes less relevant.

That's too bad.

At least, here in America, the population has the option of continuing or discontinuing George W. Bush's policies. In November, voters will choose whether to create a third term for advocates from the religious right, and supporters of big government with higher deficitsor not.

In the last 50 years, whom have Popes been listening toft That's obviousa cadre of very old men, unwilling to try something new.

And what advice was available to George W.? He could have listened to his father, his father's former Secretary of State (James Baker), Colin Powell, or Christie Todd Whitman. Unfortunately, this President relied upon Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove.

And that takes me to the obvious final point. Life is full of choicesone after another. Like President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI, today's students are making choices, which will influence how their lives will be 50 years hence. I can't speak for either the President or the Pope. But I wonder how George W. would have turned out had he listened more attentively to his parents?

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

Charles Meredith, a lifelong Quakertown resident, is the former publisher of The Free Press. He can be reached at MeredithIII@comcast.net. Dear Friends, Good morning. As I listened to KYW's report about President Bush and the Pope's meeting in Rome, I thought about the Upper Bucks Healthy Community Healthy Youth Coalition conference I attended a few months ago. Let me set the stage.

The brainchild of Lee Rush, the Healthy Community, Healthy Youth project is about five years old. It measures the risk of unhealthy behavior among students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades by comparing them to 40 developmental assets. Periodically, about 3,000 children answer questions about their lifestyle.

Those answers provide rankings among 40 topicssuch as, the level of family support, neighborhoods, schools, peers, role models, expectations, honesty, responsibility, self discipline and the likethe factors which influence student behavior.

There's definite good news in the Palisades, Pennridge, and Quakertown communities.

At that April 1 meeting held at the Michener Library, about 100 of us learned that students have reduced risky behaviors and increased healthy behaviors over the five-year period. The use of alcohol and tobacco is declining, as is sexual activity and attempted suicide. Student summaries indicate that more of them are succeeding in school; and they value diversity, maintain good health, and resist dangerous choices.

At the session's end, Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth presented its community service award to Roger Hiser, the Chief Executive of Life Quest. He gave excellent advice to the group. "Find out whom your children see," he said. "Meet their parents."

Lee Rush has been involved with teaching and children programs for 30 years. He told us that children face four risks: (1) the availability of alcohol, tobacco and drugs (2)

Commitment to academic performance in school (3) Parental attitudes and (4) peer pressure. I was impressed with the number of students who participated in the 156 (anonymous) questions questionnaire 96 percent!

The chart that we received gives a story of hope as well as worry. The average number of the 40 assets for the three school districts is 19.1, which means that the typical student has only half of the assets. Fortunately, that number has increased, although slightly. Younger kids have more assetseighth graders had an average of 21.4 assets [out of 40]; tenth graders had 18.8 and twelfth graders had 17.1.

Unfortunately, as the age of the students increased, the number of assets they had decreased. It was similar to the academic performance of the federal program, No Child Left Behind. Typically, the highest scores are in the fifth gradethe worst in the 11th grade.

Our communities need to be more involved with organizations like Healthy Communities Healthy Youth. To find out more, go to www.justcommunity.com

So I thought about children making smart choices as I listened to KYW's report about the President and the Pope. Picture this scene. There's Pope Benedict XVI strolling with America's President George W. Bush. Think about the choices they've made and who influences them.

Personally, I think these two are men of high principle and strong, stubborn courage. They are good people but have terrible flaws.

The Pope could change arbitrary church rules about the priesthood. At the stroke of a pen, he could permit priests to marry and welcome women into the priesthood. He doesn't and won't. In the meantime, Roman Catholics suffer throughout the world as their church becomes less relevant.

That's too bad.

At least, here in America, the population has the option of continuing or discontinuing George W. Bush's policies. In November, voters will choose whether to create a third term for advocates from the religious right, and supporters of big government with higher deficitsor not.

In the last 50 years, whom have Popes been listening toft That's obviousa cadre of very old men, unwilling to try something new.

And what advice was available to George W.? He could have listened to his father, his father's former Secretary of State (James Baker), Colin Powell, or Christie Todd Whitman. Unfortunately, this President relied upon Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove.

And that takes me to the obvious final point. Life is full of choicesone after another. Like President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI, today's students are making choices, which will influence how their lives will be 50 years hence. I can't speak for either the President or the Pope. But I wonder how George W. would have turned out had he listened more attentively to his parents?

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

Charles Meredith, a lifelong Quakertown resident, is the former publisher of The Free Press. He can be reached at MeredithIII@comcast.net.

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