From drugs to stress, learn how to help your kids

Free Firelands event open to all in Lorain, Erie counties

By Jason Hawk -

Many trials and tribulations face today’s kids — drugs, peer pressure, abuse, stress — but they don’t have to face those fears alone.

Drawing from what guidance counselors say are common worries among students, the Firelands Schools will hold a special event Thursday called “Raising the 21st Century Child.”

District spokesperson Jennifer Butchko said educators kept hearing the same themes over and over from children in grades K-12.

“Obviously, Ohio is dealing with substance abuse. But when we broke it down further, we found that social media is something that needs to be talked about,” she said.

The list didn’t stop there. From worries about job options to bullying, Butchko said Firelands leaders found a range of ills that need to be talked about openly.

Adults from all communities in Lorain and Erie counties are invited to the free event, which will run from 5-9 p.m. at South Amherst Middle School.

Breakout sessions will start at 5:15 p.m. and each last 20 to 40 minutes, with time after each for questions and answers. There will be about 10 speakers hosting information sessions at any given time (schedules will be available at the door).

Some examples include:

• Todd Walts of Campus Impact USA will speak on bullying and other frictions kids experience. He already works with Firelands kids in grades six through eight but Butchko said his message needs to be heard by parents, too.

• Let’s Get Real, a recovery center based in Vermilion, will present the views of three people battling addiction.

• Project Dawn will give information on why naloxone (Narcan) has been made available and highlight where Lorain County is in the fight against opioid addiction.

• The Lorain County General Health District will have nalaxone kits available.

• Penny Morgan, a licensed professional clinical counselor from Firelands Counseling and Recovery, will speak on anxiety facing elementary school students and how to recognize the early warning signs. “Hopefully you can save that child frustration by catching it early,” said Butchko.

• Genesis House will present on healthy relationships and teen dating, specifically on how parents can spot signs of domestic violence among young people.

• There will be information sessions on the College Credit Plus and College Now programs, which help gifted students.

More sessions will be provided by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, the Nord Center, the SOS Program on teen suicide, and more. Topics range from human trafficking to Internet crimes against children, using mediation in the home, and transitioning from middle to high school.

A “Hall of Information” will be available to share resources for parents and guardians about healthy living choices. It will include representatives from 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Lorain County JVS, the health district, and others.

Butchko said she hopes parents leave knowing that if they’re facing a problem, they’re not facing it alone.

“There is a lot of shame when people realize and accept that there’s an issue, and we want to remove some of that stigma,” she said. “This is everywhere, and we’re just hoping to provide some of those pieces of information that help in any way we can. We see it every single day. And if we see it every single day, we know other people are too.”

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Free Firelands event open to all in Lorain, Erie counties

By Jason Hawk