Helping parents help youth in New West Featured Image

February 17, 2016

From social media to substance misuse, mood disorders to building resiliency, children and youth face an ever-evolving list of realities.

But parents shouldn't be alone in helping kids face these tricky topics.

A coordinated effort from the whole community is the key to informing and connecting families with early intervention support.

That's the belief of Fraserside and its fellow representatives on the Parents' Night Out committee, a group of concerned organizations offering educational events for parents in New Westminister and neighbouring communities.

Parents' Night Out was established in 2011 from a resurrected initiative by New Westminster government, police and Community Schools to support parents around high-risk teen issues.

Today, Parents' Night Out members include New Westminster School District, Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Fraserside Community Services Society, New Westminster Parks and Recreation (Youth Services), Kids New West Table, New Westminster District Parent Advisory Council, New Westminster Police Department, and New Westminster Teachers Union.

The committee hosts 2-5 events a year covering topics on sexual health, drugs and alcohol, behaviour and nutrition, gang and youth violence, bullying, internet safety, understanding the teenage brain, attachment parenting, suicide prevention, and healthy adolescent development.

Sabine Sasakura, a clinical counsellor with Fraserside's Perspectives Youth and Family Outreach program, sits on the Parents' Night Out committee, helping organize and securing funding for events, as well as moderating dialogue and presenting about substance use and anxiety.

"At Perspectives, our most well-known role is to help kids and families struggling with substance use. But another part of our work is to provide prevention and promote health services. Participating in Parents' Night Out is a great way to do this in collaboration with other service organizations."

Fraserside's Perspectives program provides outreach counselling, referral and support services to children, adolescents and their families who are either experiencing substance use difficulties or are affected by a young person's substance use. Fraserside counsellors like Sabine act as a liaison with community agencies to find appropriate community resources for youth and families.

"When our agency and staff are in active relationship with other community services, we are better positioned to help our clients build their own relationships with the community," adds Lynda Edmonds, Fraserside's CEO. "Being in relationship is vital to people feeling a sense of belonging, which is critical to Fraserside's mission."

Over 200 parents attended Parents' Night Out's January 28 event at the Justice Institute that discussed how to keep kids safe online. Speakers included Jesse Miller of Mediated Reality and Carol Todd, mother of a young woman who committed suicide after years of online bullying and sexual exploitation overwhelmed her. The event received positive media coverage from both Global News and CBC.

The next Parents' Night Out event is Wednesday, February 24 at Qayqayt Elementary School, 6:30-8:30 pm. The event is free and will offer guidelines around children's needs for food, screen time, play and sleep based on the Live 5-2-1-0 messages. Read about the event here.

To reserve your tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/parents-night-out-5210-tickets-21041398389