By Hilary Mahan, MBEF Board Member
No matter what parenting philosophies or personal experiences guide us, we all have a common goal when it comes to our children — for them to lead healthy, fulfilled lives. Most parents know firsthand that this journey to adulthood can be challenging, especially with the vast array of distractions that can get in the way. Social media, stress, depression, peer pressure, and yes, also drugs and alcohol, all challenge us as parents in our pursuit of this goal. But we are not alone, and neither are our children.
The mission of South Bay Families Connected is to provide the South Bay community with a much-needed, centralized location for teen drug and alcohol prevention resources and education. In doing so, the program also aims to foster communication, support and connectedness as the community works together in the shared goal of helping kids reach their full potential.
The need for a program like Families Connected was first identified by the MCHS drug and alcohol task force, a group comprised of parents, administrators and community leaders. Initiated as a pilot program in 2015 at Mira Costa High School, Families Connected was introduced to the local community through the MCHS PTSA and MBUSD Superintendent, Mike Matthews. According to Dr. Matthews, he supports the program “because it intends to bring parents together – and that’s what it takes to raise our children successfully.” Parent collaboration is key to the success of the program, which now has expanded as the South Bay Families Connected (SBFC).
There are three main components of SBFC: 1) a website to provide prevention tools for teens and parents; 2) parent education and events through a connected network; and 3) teen focused resources, activities and events, such as the current #PassOnIt blog campaign to encourage teens to share why they pass on using drugs and alcohol.
To gather more data, parents are encouraged to partake in a brief online survey. Preliminary findings indicate that the majority of parents are experiencing a high level of concern over teen drug and alcohol use. A significant piece of the program relies on providing a sense of community among parents and teens. Ellen Rosenberg, MBUSD School Board Member and MCHS parent, believes that “together we can create a network of families and a shift in our community to support the health and safety of our kids as they navigate their path to maturity. “
Families Connected is hosting their first group discussion on teen drug and alcohol use on November 18th at 7pm in the Mira Costa High School Small Theater. “The Highs, Lows, and Challenges of Parenting Teens” will be moderated by Dr. Greg Allen, an expert in substance abuse prevention and intervention. He has directed the Thelma McMillen Center at Torrance Memorial Medical Center and the UCLA/Matrix Institute Integrated Substance Abuse Adult and Adolescent Programs. During the workshop, parents will have the opportunity to take advantage of a supportive setting to share their personal stories and strategies for coping with parenting teens.
For a look at this workshop and more upcoming Families Connected events, visit www.mchsfamiliesconnected.org. Take the time to explore the extensive teen alcohol and drug prevention resources available. It is a community of support for parents just like you.