Most parents could probably determine whether their teen had been consuming alcohol or smoking marijuana, but how many would know if their kid was using fentanyl?
How many would know what to look for?
Susan Carr wants to give parents in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows a wake-up call. The Maple Ridge school board trustee is working for the Maple Ridge Resilience Initiative, which was founded to take on the issue of homelessness. Her role is “the education piece for parents,” and she is leading the Strong Kids Team.
“We want to get parents to be more aware of some of the things their kids might be facing,” said Carr.
“They’re exposed to so much more nowadays,” she said. “If your teen is acting differently, you can’t just put it down to ‘it’s the teenage years,’ because it might be something else.”
Carr wants to create better awareness of challenges that parents can face, and the limitations in the services available in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Family doctors are not experts in addiction treatment, she said, and parents could face a six-month waiting list to see a specialist.
“If you need to detox a kid, and you need to do it now, there’s no place in town to do it,” said Carr.
Parents dealing with serious, potentially life-changing issues in the families can feel completely isolated, said Carr.
She is working with youth services coordinator Tony Controneo and Coun. Kiersten Duncan, and their focus right now is education.
On March 7, 2016, there will be a free information night for parents at the ACT, founded by the task force. They will have as many as eight speakers, “touching on subjects that we all need to be aware of if we have children/youth/emerging adults in our lives.”
Carr said her vision for the new Strong Kids Team is to raise awareness and start conversations among parents and caregivers about how to support kids, including emerging adults, aged 19-24.
The Strong Kids Team survey can be found at http://fluidsurveys.com/s/Strongkidssurvey/.
It has been kept intentionally brief, with just five questions, and the answers will inform the selection of speakers for the March 7 event.
The survey is intended for parents, teachers, community leaders and service providers to offer through their lens what is needed to support youth in building resilience. This survey is available now and will close on December 30, 2015.
“We all know the signs of someone having a stroke, but do we know what to look for in our kids if they are stressed, suffering from mental health issues, self medicating or struggling with challenges,” asks Carr. “My goal is to fill the ACT with parents like you and me – especially if you think that none of these topic could ever happen in your family.”
She’s a supporter of city hall’s Resilience Initiative.
“If nothing else, it shows the people in the shelter that people here want to help them,” said Carr.
“What council has done is a great start, but we need to concentrate on the youth of our community, so we’re not feeding the Cliff Avenues of the future.”