MS-level-mother_daughter_MSgameFAST – Middle School level

By the time families participate in FAST® – Middle School level, the parent-child relationship is evolving. While parents continue to be a central influence in their children’s lives, youth ages 11–14 are exploring independence and social relationships outside the family. FAST systematically builds multiple levels of protective factors against school failure, violence, delinquency, and substance abuse, along with a host of several other preventable risks.

In a FAST Cycle, middle school families meet for ten weeks, followed by two years of monthly FASTWORKS® meetings. The weekly sessions follow a prescribed format of activities whose effectiveness have been demonstrated through research. Each session balances family-oriented activities with opportunities for youth to practice leadership, decision-making, and positive communication skills.

Each FAST – Middle School level Session begins with parents and their children participating in activities as a family unit. This builds cohesiveness and provides opportunities for parents to strengthen their role in the family hierarchy. Parents and youth then participate in separate peer activities to build social capital and relationships within their communities. Next, the parent and youth come together to engage in focused one-to-one time in which they practice discussing issues in an open and respectful manner. The evening concludes with activities that reinforce the importance of the family unit, reciprocity, and ritual.

In addition to meeting with peers during the multi-family sessions, youth also participate in a separate youth group that meets during the school day. The goal of The FAST® Youth Group is to nurture positive and supportive relationships among the participants in the school setting, and it meets for four weeks before the multi-family sessions begin. The Youth Group provides additional opportunities for youth to practice decision-making, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and leadership skills.

FAST Sessions are led by a team that continues to empower parents while balancing the perspective of youth. This collaborative team is culturally and ethnically representative of the families participating in the program, and it includes:

  • One Youth Partner, a middle school youth who attends the school in which FAST is being held;
  • One Youth Advocate, a school employee who ensures the youth perspective is heard;
  • One Parent Partner whose child is not currently participating in FAST but attends the school in which FAST is being held;
  • One School Partner, ideally a classroom teacher for the targeted student population; and
  • Two Community Partners who are knowledgeable about local community resources, often with expertise in substance abuse prevention or mental health and emotional wellbeing.

For more information about FAST- Middle School level, please contact us.