In the 1960s, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's "Power of Positive Thinking" changed the way many Americans approached problems. He carried his positive-principle position forward in several other publications and now is applying it to the problem of poor self-image in children.
The venerable New York clergyman, now in his 90s, will be in Utah next month to discuss his Power of Positive Students program with Utah Rotary leaders, who would like to see it implemented in every Utah school.His visit will correlate with the Utah District Rotary convention May 4-7 in the Little American Hotel, 500 S. Main St. Peale will not speak publicly, but will meet with Rotary and education officials May 5 for a short time, said Dr. Ralph Montgomery, Murray dentist and governor of Rotary District 542 (Utah).
Montgomery began a drive to prevent child abuse and to overcome its negative effects when he became district governor-elect two years ago.
"We encouraged every Rotary club in the district (34 of them) to undertake a project either for prevention or treatment of child abuse," Montgomery said.
Most of the clubs responded with individual programs that met their particular community needs. The Salt Lake club, for instance, has begun working toward a treatment center. The Murray group is working through its Boys and Girls Club to help abused children; Midvale has joined efforts with a local crisis center to address the problem. Ogden Rotarians "adopted" youths in an alternative school and are helping them get counseling as needed. The club has developed a latch key program that has elderly individuals interacting with children.
The Rotary has developed relationships with state social services agencies in the various locations and Rotarians help social workers identify local problems, Montgomery said. In each community, a specific social worker has been assigned to work with the Rotary program.
"We found out as we spent a lot of time working with abused children that self-esteem was at the very core of the problem," Montgomery said. Peale's Power of Positive Students (POPS), which centers on building self-esteem, may be a way to break the tragic cycle of abused-becoming-abuser, he said.
The program includes films and other materials that can be shown in schools.
Superintendent Ron Stephens of Murray School District, who also is chairman of the Rotary project, has been working with a national organization to promote the use of the films in Utah. He had his own district psychologists and some principals review the materials, he said. Other districts in the area have expressed interest in the program.
During a meeting of the Utah School Superintendents Association in St. George recently, superintendents were given preview tapes. The Rotary leaders also have met with members of the Utah School Boards Association to solicit their support for statewide emphasis on child abuse prevention.
"The Rotary will be a catalyst to bring people together," Montgomery said. "We'd like Utah to be the first state with the program in every elementary school."
He also would like Rotary International to take on child abuse as an area for attention everywhere the club has units.
After the May conference, the club will work with the Positive Thinking Foundation and other groups to generate fund-raising. Each POPS kit costs $425 and putting one into each Utah school will be costly, he said.