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The key to overcoming many problems--or preventing them-- lies in strengthening families, according to Utah First Lady Colleen Bangerter. To accomplish that goal, she has joined forces with the Governor's Advisory Committee on Strengthening the Family to plan a conference she hopes will attract thousands of Utahns.

The conference, Strengthening the Family, will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 17 in Cottonwood High School."While there are a number of important conferences each year dealing with specific problems affecting our children or youth, I wanted this conference to emphasize the prevention of all types of problems-- by strengthening families," Mrs. Bangerter said during a news conference Tuesday.

The conference will focus on five areas, she said: family relationships, family communication, helping children do well in school, family health and family economics. They expect to run multiple sessions so participants will have a variety of options throughout the day.

"We especially want the public to know that there will be specific workshops for fathers and for grandparents, and the conference is being held on a Saturday so that baby-sitting will be more readily available," she said.

More than 25 organizations are co-sponsoring the conference. Those sponsors and leaders from the community who work with children, young people or families are all actively planning the event.

A poster contest for children ages 5 to 12 will kick off preparation for the conference.

Children are asked to illustrate their favorite family activities for the "What I Love to Do With My Family" poster contest. First prize will be $100, and the winning poster may be the program cover for the conference. Other selected winners' works will be displayed at the conference.

Public libraries throughout the state will serve as drop-off points for the posters, which must be submitted on 14-by-22 inch paper and may be done in any medium, from pencil or crayon to collage. The artist's name, address, age and local library should be printed on the back of the poster, which is not returnable. Entry deadline is July 21, and entry information will be available at the libraries beginning June 1.