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MU Extension Program Builds Stronger Families in Missouri and Beyond

April 7th, 2010

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— In today’s Internet-consumed society, many families are looking for ways to reconnect with each other. A University of Missouri Extension program, “Building Strong Families,” has been helping families create tighter bonds in Missouri for the past 12 years in many of Missouri’s counties. Now, Lucy Schrader, University of Missouri Extension associate state specialist in the College of Human Environmental Sciences and program coordinator for “Building Strong Families,” says the program is expanding beyond Missouri’s borders.

Schrader recently returned from Louisiana, where she helped train workers to run their own “Building Strong Families” programs. Schrader says the program is expanding into many states, including Utah, Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Louisiana. Schrader believes the program is a great way for families to improve their relationships.

“The program is designed to help families find and build on their strengths,” Schrader said. “It helps build family relationships and increase positive communication. It just gives everyone a chance to learn different ideas about what it means to be a family.”

“Building Strong Families” is a multiple session program designed for one or more families to participate in fun, hands-on activities designed to improve and build intra-family relationships. There are 13 different sessions that families can choose to attend, including examining childhood self-esteem, learning positive discipline, and understanding how money matters. Schrader says the program finds ways to include all the members of a family.

“The program engages everyone so they remember things better,” Schrader said. “Each session includes hands-on, experiential activities. We have been able to stay away from a lecture-based approach so that all ages can absorb the lessons.”

Schrader believes the “Building Strong Families” program can help make a big difference in the lives of all family members.

“By looking at the positives and using a strength-based approach, this program allows people to see their families in positive ways,” Schrader said.  “It shows people that small things do matter. Just a few little changes can make a big difference for a family.”

The “Building Strong Families” program can be found in many counties throughout Missouri. Families can learn more about registering for the program by visiting their local MU Extension office. To find the nearest Extension office, visit