Lexington Parent Academy 3.0 Saturday, March 25, 2017
By Elena Murphy
Think the scariest thing you could find in your teenager’s bedroom is moldy food under a pile of laundry? See what clues to a teen’s life you can spot in the exhibit “Hidden in Plain Sight,” a model of a typical teenager bedroom that will be featured at the Lexington Community Center this Saturday, March 25th.
“We want to challenge parents to look for unhealthy, risky behavior,” says Eamonn Sheehan, Coordinator of Physical Education and Wellness for Lexington Public Schools, of this new exhibit.
Designed to show signs of substance use that parents often miss, this display accompanies Parent Academy 3.0, a series of free workshops on raising adolescents that will be held at the Lexington Community Center on Saturday, March 25th from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm.
Organizers consult a number of sources as they develop the workshops each year, including parent feedback from the previous session. In addition, “We use the Youth Risk Behavior Survey,” says Jodi Ronci, Assistant Coordinator for Physical Education and Wellness for the Lexington Public Schools. The YRBS is conducted nationally from anonymous surveys of students in 7th-12th grade. Ronci says much of the specific Lexington “data is great, but there are some red flags, such as stress management and suicidal ideation” that the Parent Academy will address.
To address anxiety and decision-making, organizers invited a national non-profit Minding Your Mind, to present a new workshop: “A Thousand Tiny Choices: Depression, Anxiety, Addiction.” There is also, “They’re Not Crazy; They’re Adolescents. Understanding the Teenage Brain from the Inside Out,” given by Julie Fenn, LICSW and Sion Kim Harris, Ph.D.
Parent Academy sponsors are local, and include the Lexington Public Schools Health Advisory Council (SHAC), PTA/O President’s Council, several departments in the Town of Lexington such as Human Services, Recreation and Community Programs, Fire and Police, and Youth & Family Services. Community sponsors are the Lexington Chamber of Commerce, Chinese American Association of Lexington (CAAL), Indian Americans of Lexington (IAL), Koreans of Lexington (KOLex).
There’s a focus on communication in “Interpersonal Effectiveness: Techniques for Maintaining & Improving Relationships, and “I See You and Hear You, But I Don’t Understand You: Improving Parent-Teen Communication and Relationships.” Sheehan notes Lexington benefits from having national experts on many of these subjects nearby who are willing to share their knowledge with parents.
Reflecting Lexington’s diversity, there’s a workshop on Education & Expectations: Building Understanding Between Cultures,” with Cynthia Tang, LHS Counselor.
To understand how the body and mind work together, presenters will cover “Sleep in Middle & High School Youngsters: How Parents Can Help.”
Some workshops are returning, such as the “Inside Scoop: How Kids Are Helping Each Other & What You Can Do,” and another on cyber safety.