Innovative programs draw parents and teens.doc

-A A +A
By Carol A. Clark

Healthy families seeking reinforcement, those beginning to experience issues and others already in deep-struggle mode have several unique options available through Family Strengths Network.

The funfilled, fast-paced, results oriented programs include Family Solutions: for Teens and Parents Together, Girls Circle, Envision Your Future for boys and a workshop called, Hurdling Homework Hassles: Help for 7th, 8th, and 9th graders.

Beginning Tuesday from 3:30-5:30 p.m., young women between 14- and 19-years-of-age can join others weekly and use discussion and arts to explore issues that affect their lives.

“I really looked forward to coming every week,” said one participant. “The activities that we did made us relax and talk...and it helped us express ourselves.”

Another young woman said, “I loved Girls Circle. The food, the topics, the time and artwork really taught me something and I had lots of fun all at the same time.”

The eight-week program is guided by instructor Jennifer Bartram and costs simply five hours of community service.

“Young women learn how to express themselves, make empowering decisions, break out of their mold and think independently,” Bartram said. “We give them the skills to help them avoid giving in to stereotypes.”

Plenty of snacks are provided to class members every week, Bartram said, adding that students don't have to attend the first class to join.

The program, Family Solutions: for Teens and Parents Together, begins from 6:30-8 p.m. on Sept. 16 and runs weekly through Oct. 21. Bartram and Diane Toups guide this action-packed program designed to enhance the relationships between teenagers and parents.

“I learned I need to listen more,” said one parent. A teen who completed the program expressed having realized through the program that his parents aren't trying to nag him.

Family Strengths Network Executive Director Susan Mack explained that the program assists those who want information, not judgment, and those who want to understand why their teen or parent behaves in seemingly inexplicable ways.

“This is for parents who want answers about their kids and other Los Alamos kids and not just general statistics,” Mack said. “You want communication tools you can use today, not just broad theories. You want to be able to talk with your teen or parent and you want them to talk honestly with you and this program helps make that happen.”

Instructor Scott Johnson guides Envision Your Future, geared for young men ages 14 to 19. Classes run 3:45-5:15 p.m., weekly from Sept. 17 through Oct. 22. Loads of pizza, submarine sandwiches and other refreshments are provided during each 90-minute class. Participants learn to set goals, build strengths and map their own routes to success.

“I set some new goals for my future, thanks to you,” said a former participant. Another young man described being proud to have learned organization and dream building skills.

Johnson teaches at Barranca Elementary School and is 2008 Los Alamos Teacher of the Year. He speaks on gender differences at many educator workshops and is a Restorative Justice facilitator.

The Hurdling Homework Hassles workshop runs from 6:30-8 p.m., beginning Sept. 18. Students participate in a fun, interactive, practical workshop that helps them organize their study time and space. They learn tips for staying focused and overcoming homework hurdles. Pizza and door prizes are a part of the class.

The workshop is led by Jean Lyman. Lyman and her husband have five children and 12 grandchildren. The Lyman's were honored as New Mexico Parents of the Year in 1997.

“Jean's classes earn rave reviews,” Mack said.

She said Girls Circle, Family Solutions: for Teens and Parents Together and Envision Your Future are funded by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.

FSN is a member agency of United Way of Northern New Mexico, serving Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties.

FSN is located at 1990 Diamond Drive in the Pueblo Complex. For information and to enroll, call 662-4515.