Last updated: July 07. 2014 1:44PM - 219 Views
Laura Eldridge Contributing Columnist

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Take in a deep breath… ah! Now close your eyes and imagine this: A warm, sunny summer afternoon perfectly framed by an azure, cloudless sky. You are surrounded by shimmering cool water that is being playfully ruffled by a delicate breeze. The scent of coconut oil and cocoa butter waifs through the air intermingled with the heady aroma of meat sizzling on a barbecue grill.

Now, open your eyes. You may have envisioned a vacation destination hundreds of miles from home but to your surprise, you are in your own neighborhood, close to home at a vital recreational retreat in your community: The London city pool.

As a crowd of more than 230 people ambled through the doors of the London city pool, volunteers were scurrying about putting the finishing touches in place for the PAX family pool party hosted on June 13, 2014. The facility itself, under the leadership of Linda Granger (pool manager) and Steve Hume (safety-services director), has never looked better and is painstakingly being restored to its original glory thanks to volunteer sweat equity, monetary donations and regard for the community.

As children and families were warmly welcomed at the door, volunteers were strategically stationed to oversee family-friendly games and playful water competitions. Awards for each event were given out and a grand prize of a free family pool pass was awarded to one very lucky family. Listening to the giggles and splashes, watching families communicating, forging new friendships, and seeing the happy grins on everyone’s faces was observable proof that indeed everyone was having an enjoyable experience. Volunteers and the London pool staff (who incidentally received PAX training) were on hand to converse and inform families about PAX and how it promotes pro-social behaviors in children and adults. For those who have not heard, PAX teaches children self-regulation, self-control, and self-management in the framework of interrelating with others to create peace, productivity, health and happiness.

Many families took the time to “Tootle” their children, some for the very first time. Tootling (only one facet of the PAX strategy) is recognizing something positive in another’s behavior and then writing a note of appreciation or gratitude for that specific behavior or action (which can then be retained forever). The principle behind this notion (backed by empirical study) is this: When we take the time to truly observe, notice and then act upon the positive undertakings of others, replication of those behaviors generate exponentially over time and are then modeled by others. When people (young and old) feel valued they tend to also notice and appreciate the worth of others around them. This is an extremely effective strategy for children and adults to increase resiliency and self-esteem and is particularly successful when used by families.

It is easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to relationships in families. Negative patterns of behavior calcify over the years; when we fail to respect and cherish one another, family stability and happiness are tragically jeopardized. Unfortunately there are way too many children (who later become adults and parents themselves) who are stuck with ugly labels such as: stupid, lazy or worse. Children, in particular, will perform according to the negative descriptions parents assign them, eroding their self-confidence, putting them on a trajectory of failure, and potentially sealing their fates. PAX, though, can be a very influential instrument to help turn the tide for children and families by actively practicing new interactive skills thus; creating constructive and supportive patterns of behavior that put the whole family on a healthier path toward achieving greater happiness and fulfillment.

The PAX team here in Madison County hopes to continue to inform and inspire others through events like the pool party. We welcome you to join us in creating a gold standard rating for Madison County as a superb place to live, work and play.

For more information about PAX you may contact Lori Thomas: (740) 852-5345.

PAX pool party volunteers included: Julie Harris, event planner; Lori Thomas, Family and Children First; Sheri Thomas, Girl Scouts; Lynn Wagner, United Way; Lexi Comer and Susie Hyden, Madison County-London City Health District; , Madison County-London City Health District; Greta Meyer, Mental Health Recovery Board; Marci Darlington, Tootle Team member; Stacy Jordan, Children Services; Jodie Pickens, Department of Jobs and Family Services; Diana Padruit, Mental Health Services; Laura Eldridge, Action for Children; Steve Hume, city safety-service director; Linda Ganger, pool manager; Emma Wells, photography; The Vineyard Church, food service; Dr. Jason Fruth, Wright State University.

Laura Eldridge is with Action for Children, a source for early learning and child aare in Madison County. She can be reached at (740) 852-7983 or email leldridge@actionforchilren.org

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