The Muncie Community Schools (MCS) board meeting Tuesday was replaced by Muncie Action Plan’s (MAP) community meeting and presentation by guest speaker Derek Peterson.

Peterson, founder of the Institute for Community and Adolescent Resiliency, spoke to the audience about implementing the “Web of Support Initiative” in Muncie.

MAP’s website states the plan is a guide expressing the values and aspirations of the community and creating an agenda for the community’s future.

According to the event description, Muncie community members identified developing a mentoring program as a priority in every iteration of the Muncie Action Plan.

According to Peterson’s presentation, a Web of Support is a support system of adult mentorship that keeps children and adolescents from “falling through the cracks” by enforcing certain color-coded factors adolescents can rely on to develop into healthy adults. 

For example, he said red strands in a person’s web represent intangible factors like happiness and mental health, while orange strands represent tangible factors like housing and health.

Peterson based the Web of Support on a concept he came up with that requires all children to have five supportive adult figures in their lives. He said those five adults do not necessarily have to be that child’s family.

“Our data says [the five supports] can also be a single dad, two teachers, someone from the church, synagogue, temple or mosque and a youth employer,” Peterson said.

MCS and MAP will begin implementing this Web of Support as an initiative for 100 adults and youth this week, according to MAP President Jenni Marsh.

“People want the kids to be safe, to grow up and be good contributing citizens, and sometimes people want mentors for themselves too,” Marsh said during her introduction.

Peterson said the initiative can impact a community in multiple ways on a personal, familial and social level. He said people who are more “thickly webbed” — people with more support in their Web of Support — will see more benefits than others.

“You should see more civil behavior among your kids, you should see higher graduation rates, you should see maybe young people … starting new businesses and figuring out how to create a niche,” he said.

Peterson will host another presentation on the Web of Support from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Muncie Central High School.

Contact John Lynch with comments at jplynch@bsu.edu or on Twitter @WritesLynch.