By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Parents know the metaphor about raising children — the goal is to give them the wings to fly. But doing that is not so simple. In today’s Kidcast, KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen talk with Samantha Utley, Dean of Students at Duquesne Schools, for advice on how parents and caregivers can empower children to be their best. Here’s their edited conversation.

Kristine Sorensen: Samantha, you work with so many children. What do you think we can do to empower kids?

Samantha Utley: One of the biggest things parents can do is finding their children’s passions. Parents can help figure out what their children are interested in and then locate the platform, personnel or resource to help further that passion or resource.

Kristine Sorensen: How can a parent turn an interest from something passive into something educational?

Samantha Utley: YouTube tutorials are the perfect example. To us, it just seems like the kids spend mindless hours on YouTube, but in actuality, that could be used for broadcasting; that could be used for educational purposes. The sky’s the limit.

Kristine Sorensen: There are so many things that can spark a child’s interest. You never know what that might be.

Samantha Utley: That’s true. I have two cousins who really had a passion for Japanese anime, and my aunt and my uncle helped them pursue that interest. They took them to festivals; they took them to different stores where they could locate different items from the Japanese culture, and that grew into them actually learning the language, learning how to cook Japanese food and then going over to Japan where they are currently teaching.

Kristine Sorensen: That’s amazing. So how can parents find those resources to help their own kids?

Samantha Utley: I would check your local schools, libraries, Boys and Girls Clubs and local colleges and universities.

Kristine Sorensen: As a parent, I know it’s easy to stay close to home, but there is so much to offer across the Pittsburgh region.

Samantha Utley: There really is. Sometimes we find safety in our bubble, but also, there’s complacency in our bubble, so go out and explore all Pittsburgh has to offer.

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Kristine Sorensen