For Hometown News
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- Most teens would admit that they worry about being popular, but for today's teens the pressure to fit in is just the tip of the iceberg. Issues like drugs, violence, alcohol and being sexually active all play a part in the pressures teens face.
Unfortunately, most parents would admit that they are fearful about discussing those topics with their teenagers. Often what teens need most to battle those pressures is honest, open communication with their parents. That's where Parent Teen Community Connection can help.
"The Parent Teen Community Connection program forces parents to address serious issues that are affecting teens today. For many families and cultures, its taboo to talk about sex," said Jose Tabar, a father of four whose two teenage daughters are enrolled in the program. "It's better for parents to be open and talk about the issues their kids are facing. There is just too much misinformation and mixed messages in the world for kids to sort through on their own to make smart decisions."
Parent Teen Community Connection is a healthy decision making and teen pregnancy prevention program providing education to teens and their parents. The program also provides community service learning projects through youth leadership and community partnerships.
"Research tells us that teens want their primary educators regarding healthy decision making to be their parents," says Sean Boyle, Executive Director of the Children's Services Council. "We saw the need for a program like this, and have been encouraged with the results this program is having on our local families."
Parent Teen Community Connection Program Facilitator Hector Ramirez first spoke to Mr. Tabar and his wife, Lila about the program in November 2012. Soon after, Karina and Sara signed up. "Some of the topics were a little worrisome," said Lila. "But these workshops don't just focus on sex and pregnancy. The group also talks about college, scholarships and volunteering."
"This is a great program for teens that are struggling to deal with a variety of issues in their lives," said Karina. "You can come to Parent Teen Community Connection, talk to people about what is going on in your life and get the help you need. The program also teaches valuable skills, and you get to meet new people."
"It's good for kids to have other people to talk to besides their parents," expressed Lila. "Not all kids have parents they can talk to about anything, and it's important to have an adult you can speak to freely. Some topics can be uncomfortable to talk about, but they are important, and Parent Teen Community Connection is a safe, positive place to do this."
Many kids enter the program with little to no self-esteem, often whispering when they talk. As they continue to participate in workshops, these quiet kids blossom into confident teens learning valuable leadership and communication skills.