Jeffco parent Alicia Smith left the recent Helping Kids Thrive Conference armed with a few more tools to meet the daily challenges of good parenting and buoyed by the knowledge she’s not alone.
“This is something I look forward to every year …
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The conference started in 1990 by a coalition of community organizations concerned about the high incidence of youth suicide in Jefferson County and the prevalence of other destructive behaviors such as drug/alcohol use and youth violence. Led by Jefferson Center for Mental Health, the program includes representatives from Jeffco Public Schools, the Jeffco District Attorney’s Office, Jeffco PTA, JCAA, the Second Wind Fund and more.
“We said we have to do something about this,” said Jeanne Oliver, vice president of marketing and development with the Jefferson Center for Mental Health. “We thought, what if we talked to adults — the parents, coaches and teachers — and try to provide them with some ‘Aha moments,’ because the kids needs us.”
The program expanded beyond suicide awareness, but volunteer Marta Murray said topics like cyber-bullying are still top priorities.
“This is something I look forward to every year — I appreciated the information,” Smith said. “The candid conversations with other parents about topics relevant to my family was refreshing, and I enjoyed finding new ways to communicate with and support my child.”
For the past 25 years, Jefferson Center for Mental Health has hosted the Helping Kids Thrive Conference to provide parents free resources and classes for parenting children of all ages. During that time, the conference has served more than 4,500 parents and adults.
This year’s conference, hosted at Creighton Middle School in Lakewood on Oct. 8, provided more than 200 parents with information on a variety of organizations, from Colorado Access, The Colorado Trust, Jeffco PTA and the Jefferson County Education Association.
It’s not easy after a long day to come spend an evening in classes with us,” said Jeanne Oliver, vice president of marketing and development with the center. “Parents can come here and feel a little stronger, a little more hopeful, that raising healthy kidsmaybe isn’t so hard.”
The nearly 20 classes included perennial favorites like The Early Years (ages 3-5): Creating a Blueprint for Success and The Teen Years (ages 12-19): Framing Boundaries and Expectations to new offerings like Marijuana and the Developing Brain and Parenting After Trauma.
One of the most popular classes was Lori Hoffner’s Empowering Successful Kids: Raising Confident, Caring Young People. In the class, she discussed topics like positive asset-building and the importance of children’s perception.
“Any way we can give parents opportunities to be great parents, we’ll do that,” said Marta Murray, a long-time volunteer with the center. “We try to vary our offerings, adding a couple topical classes every year. When parents are thinking they’re in this all by themselves, they’re looking for something to help them out. We provide that.”
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