Summer’s Coming! Tips & Tricks for Parents of Children and Teens

Kids collage

Here it is – the way to keep boredom at bay this summer! See the list of 2014 Summer Activities for Children and Teens produced for our community, compliments of the Community Support Network of Nevada County. Feel free to pass this on to friends, family and whoever needs help planning an awesome summer. It’s organized by date. Be sure to check back often for updates to this list. Now go out and have fun in our beautiful Nevada County this summer!

Summertime can be a risky time for teens

Teens tend to have more free time in the summer and there is a strong correlation between free time and risk-taking among teens. This could mean rock and bridge jumping in rivers or lakes, extreme watersports, or off-road activities out at Greenhorn. It could also mean the temptation to experiment with alcohol, marijuana or sexual activity. Short of locking them up, there is no silver bullet to prevent any of the above. Parents of teens know that the chances of something going awry are pretty good. It does not however, have to be as a result of a lack of planning.

If you are a parent or have teens in your life consider this reducing risks plan for summer:

1Plan 1 – Do a home inventory:  With school out for summer, it’s likely that your home could turn into a hang out spot for your teen and their friends. Inventory what you have around the house that could potentially pose a risk or be a temptation for experimentation. It could be alcohol, tobacco, prescription medications, or even medical marijuana. Now is a good time to think about how you can limit access to these substances. It may be time to consider a locking cabinet, or another secure location that you can monitor. Also, did you know that you can safely dispose of expired or unwanted prescription medications for free?  Visit DrugFreeNevadaCounty.org for safe disposal locations.

2Plan 2 – Prepare for boredom:  With the routine of daily school activities suspended for the summer months, before you know it you your likely to get a call on the phone while you’re at work asking to go to place A, with friend B, whom you’ve actually never met, but is a friend of friend C, whom you know quite well. And oh by the way, they’ll be home before you get home, and they’ll keep their cell phone on. Most teens are inherently honest and able to resist potential negative influences of peers and wild ideas— However, they can still sense weakness and, if they can get their otherwise logical parent who normally would insist on all facts and details with 24-hour notice to budge in this one moment, the door is open for compromise. Work with your teen to make plans in advance and stick with the 24-hour notice rule for activity outside of the home. If friend B is really that important to your teen, they’ll make plans within your guidelines. While most Nevada County teens say they don’t need alcohol or drugs to have fun, peer influence, boredom, hot summer days, and hormones can be a recipe for mischief.

3Plan 3 – Have A Plan for FUN and Down Time – Endless surveys of teens show that they are often more worried, more stressed and more over-extended than any other teen generation that has come before them. Sleeping a few days away is not going to be the end of your bright-eyed sassy teenager. Spending time with an approved list of friends hanging aimlessly at the river or lakes may be just what they need to decompress and refocus. Plan in advance for ways that you and your teenager can do just that – relax. Don’t forget to keep them informed of appropriate behavioral expectations before turning them loose by having a conversation with them before they go out with friends and check in to see how their day went. Teens want their voices to be heard and it’s a nice reminder to them that you care what they’re doing and who they’re associating with by asking them if they had fun and what they did.

Have a safe, well-planned summer.

See the list of 2014 Summer Activities for Children and Teens produced for our community, compliments of the Community Support Network of Nevada County.

Coalition and partners, NCSO and NEO collaborate to prevent underage drinking

The Coalition, the Sheriff’s Department, and NEO are collaborating in a series of interactive school presentations about underage drinking consequences, reasons to choose a drug and alcohol free lifestyle and local fun events and activities. With the help of ABC funding, the Sheriff’s Department is focusing on education, prevention and compliance enforcement to reduce youth access to alcohol and underage drinking. The funding also allows them a unique opportunity to collaborate with the Coalition in outreach and education presentations for local students.

NEO Youth, Hayley Pritchard displays her musical talents for the audience
NEO Youth, Hayley Pritchard displays her musical talents for the audience

The April 4th presentation at Seven Hills Middle School, opened with a powerful song performed by local NEO musical artist and Youth Coordinator, Hayley Pritchard. Hayley’s remarkable vocal talent has been on display to support NEO and the plans for a youth center for the last three years since she first discovered the powerful duo, Lynn Skrukrud and Halli Ellis, who founded NEO. Hayley and Lynn shared the plans for a youth center in Grass Valley and their hope of promoting a location where youth feel safe, engaged, supported, and essential to community development.

From Left: Corporal Brandon Corchero and Deputy Micah Arbaugh
From Left: Corporal Brandon Corchero and Deputy Micah Arbaugh

Hayley introduced Nevada County Sheriff Corporal Brandon Corchero and Deputy Micah Arbaugh for an informative presentation about the risks of alcohol use among youth and the potentially very serious consequences for adults purchasing or furnishing alcohol to anyone under 21 years old. With t-shirts as incentive to ask and answer questions, the 5th through 8th graders remained hands in the air and eager to participate.

Students learned that law enforcement officers often go undercover at places where alcohol is sold. They also learn that if they have an incident with alcohol as a minor they jeopardize something very important to them; their ability to have a driver license.  The middle schoolers learned about arrests being made for adults purchasing or providing alcohol to a minor and that merchants face fines and can lose their liquor license for selling alcohol to someone under the age of 21.

Shasta Spencer, Youth Prevention Intern
Shasta Spencer, Youth Prevention Intern demonstrates “Balloon Juggle”

Shasta Spencer, Youth Prevention Intern for the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County engaged the youthful audience by selecting one male and one female attendee to participate in a “Balloon Juggle” activity. The concept, Shasta explained, is that we have responsibilities in many areas of our lives. We have to balance school, chores, friends, family, hobbies, sports, and other interests into 24-hour days. These responsibilities, even for young children can add up quickly leading to a very involved schedule that may seem stressful and unreasonable to the person experiencing all of these tasks.

Shasta demonstrated this experience using balloons. At first, the two balloons full of tasks and day-to-day commitments appeared manageable for the two participants. Once the balloon, identified as alcohol and drug use was added to the equation, the students realized that they could no longer juggle the tasks they needed to perform and responsibilities while keeping the alcohol and drugs balloon in the air.

The assembly concluded with an interactive Q & A session designed to highlight the positive choices teens make and dispel misperceptions of use. Arming students with the truth: Most youth don’t use drugs and alcohol and sharing the Good News: 94% of 7th graders say the DO NOT drink alcohol and 96% report they DO NOT smoke marijuana.

The hope following these presentations delivered at the middle school level is that youth will be better armed with the truth during these critical years where peer influence and disproportionate reporting can influence their decisions and lead them to think that alcohol and drug use is much more acceptable and prevalent than it is. This collaborative partnership between ABC, Nevada County Sheriff’s and the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County is reaching out to provide education, awareness, and a better sense of the healthy alternatives available to the youth of our community so that the next generation of adults can be positive role models and share the message of a healthier community…today, tomorrow, forever.

Is it a problem? Take a self-assessment quiz and Get Help.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. To learn more about keeping our young people safe and healthy, check out our website www.drugfreenevadacounty.org or Click HERE to visit our Underage Drinking page.

To submit your opinion in our Community Voices section:
1.       Submit up to 250 words
2.      Please include your name, email address, and phone number for follow up contact
3.      Email submissions to mkelley@corr.us

 

 

NEO Teen Center – Searching for a Home

A message from NEO…

Every young person has a name, a story… and a future.

You did. We did. And they do. NEO wants to know the names, hear the stories, and unlock the potential of those compelling futures. NEO is a grassroots youth movement, starting 5 years ago at Thursday Night Markets, hosting events anywhere and everywhere, and now embracing new vision of a Teen Center focused on hosting year-round alcohol and drug-free activities and events. Over these last five years, NEO has remained completely focused and dedicated on Nevada County youth: these are our kids. This is their time. This is their place.

This is our vision for the future.

One of the local conditions in Western Nevada County is the lack of youth-oriented activities. There is no YMCA, no centrally located  place where teens can go to participate in recreational activities, skill building, and fun activities in a safe environment with positive caring adults. While the volunteers from The HangOut and Overtime have successfully provided alternatives for after school and Friday nights, our youth need something to accommodate everyday needs. Teens need a safe place to pop into where they can build relationships with caring adults and other teens experiencing the full potential for life without alcohol and drugs. The vision for the future is clear…our youth need to feel supported, have a voice, and believe that they are the future of our community.

What is NEO offering…?

NEO is offering a safe haven where youth can be themselves, and learn to be the leaders of the future. They can have responsible fun without running around the business district of Downtown Grass Valley and Nevada City. The ability to offer such a great alternative is in the hands of the community. Joining efforts with community members, businesses, and organizations that support the future of Western Nevada County and want to help in this mission is the key to successful development of a Teen Center. 

After School…

Homework help, computer lab, chill time with friends, video games, snacks and cool workshops like CPR, Nutrition & Cooking, Youth Commission, Zumba, Books into Movies, Art, Teen Finance, Anti-Bullying and violence awareness… something for everyone!  

On the Weekends…

Teens favorite music, sometimes performed by our own talented local youth bands, dancing, pool tournaments, video games, nachos, pizza, birthday celebrations, swim parties, open gym and sports nights, prizes, prizes and more prizes!

How YOU can help

Anyone can become a part of the solution. Volunteer at events. Donate funds if you are able. Help us find a home. Right now, the vision of the NEO Teen Center is resting on the hope of a location and the community can certainly help make this vision a reality.

NEO Teen Center Needs:

·        A facility that is centrally located in Grass Valley or Nevada City, with easy access for youth via walking or bus lines.

·        1500+ square feet, but we are flexible.

·        Preferably 1 large room able to accommodate pool tables, couches, ping pong and concerts or dances with at least 2 smaller rooms for workshops, offices and storage space.

·        Preferably has outdoor space on site or a park nearby.

·        Handicap accessible.

·        Kitchen is a plus.

We are hoping to find someone who is willing to donate their space for 6-12 months so that we can become established before finding a permanent location. 

The July 20th, 2013 NEO Fest event marks our fifth anniversary and celebrates five years of providing New Events and Opportunities for youth. Over the last five years resources through the Coalition’s Drug-Free Communities grant have supported NEO’s activities and enabled us to expand our outreach. Not only are we celebrating the 5th anniversary of NEO, but we also celebrate a milestone of obtaining our non profit status which will help us in our efforts to open a  teen center and sustain our outreach beyond the grant funding.

What is NEO…?

NEO empowers youth to make healthy lifestyle choices by providing New Events and Opportunities in a safe environment that encourages youth success and contributes to a healthier community.

The word NEO is prefix defined as new. NEO is a new way of thinking around making the choice to live a healthy lifestyle with an emphasis on healthy alternatives. These events and opportunities create a safe environment which helps young people develop a sense of purpose, boost self-esteem, build skills for success, and be empowered to make the choice to live a healthy lifestyle.

NEO hosts and average of 70 events per year with approximately 7000 people attending.  We’ve seen great success with our events, we’ve decided it’s time to build on this and work towards finding a permanent home, so instead of supporting young people just a few times a month we can be providing activities everyday of the week.