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Old-school manners and etiquette never get old.

But they do get a little rusty in this modern, fast-paced world, said Pam Huckle Wood, a certified life coach who has devised a special social skills program for children.

She'll be bringing the program to the South Collier YMCA (the Marco Y) early September and will present it separately to K to 2nd Grade students, 3rd to 5th Graders and also to 6th to 8th grade students.

"It's about respect and dignity," said Huckle Wood, whose 8-week program incorporates how to greet people, saying please and thank you (tact), accepting the word "No," protocol at social gatherings like parties, communication, table manners and technology (with its sinister off-shoot of bullying).

Table etiquette, said Huckle Wood, is significant in the overall program because families these days tend to sit down less together.

"It's understandable," she says of this hard fact, "but something needs to change. This (right down to setting tables correctly) will help to enhance skills and communication."

To make her classes interesting, Huckle Wood favors props, such as in the "sharing" (including gift giving) segment.

"I bring in a wrapped gift, ask somebody to read the card, somebody to open the box," she says. "I usually put Rice Krispy treats inside, and have the children share them."

The actions, Huckle Wood says, have the deeper significance of making children process the logic of what they're doing.

Huckle Wood, a mom and grand mom, doesn't profess to know exactly how today's younger generation ticks, but says she gained insight by interviewing dozens of people from all walks of life.

A former Boston-based corporate executive, Huckle Wood became bored after retiring and moving here, so she decided to become a certified life coach.

The notion of focusing on youth came after a parent asked her if she had any programs for children.

"The parent said she wanted to enhance her children's social skills," Huckle Wood says.

After another similar query, Huckle Wood devised the program, which she also describes as "a gift that will last them a lifetime," adding that her goal is to  "end up with kinder, happier and more caring world."

For information on the upcoming program (groups are limited to 12 per age group), call the Y at 394-3144.

For more on the Y's wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit marcoymca.org or call 394-YMCA (9622). Follow on Twitter at ymcamarco; on Facebook @marcoymca, and Instagram at ymcamarco.

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