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Local program uses story telling to help students become successful

Gino Geruntino
Ralph Singh, with the Wisdom Thinkers Network, kicked off the "Inspire 14" event in Oswego.

Community leaders, business representatives and educators met in Oswego recently to discuss ways to reduce bullying in schools and provide students with the tools to become successful citizens. The "Inspire 14" program was hosted by the non-profit organization Wisdom Thinkers Network, and attempts to prepare children for the future through story telling.

Ralph Singh, chairman of the Wisdom Thinkers Network, says the program fosters collaboration between students and their communities.

"By being able to share stories from different traditions, both sacred and secular, kids can automatically begin to reflect that we have the same values, that everybody is valued, we honor diversity," Singh said. "And so the stories become a core piece of that, in terms of setting school culture."

Singh also says "Inspire 14" will attempt to create an environment in schools that discourages bullying and promotes growth, while addressing two major concerns.

"Why aren't our kids prepared for the tests of life and why aren't our children prepared to work?" Singh explained. "What are we missing? And so that's what the initiative is about. This is just the kickoff event for what I hope is a life-long, a multi-year focus, a life-long focus on our children's success."

The program has a special focus on 14 year-olds, who are considered "working learners" because they're still students, but are old enough to get a job.

Five Oswego County schools participated in the day-long event, including Central Square, Oswego and Fulton.