In the Open
by Stephanie Pericich
I may not be the first person who comes to mind when thinking of a healthy community coalition member. I am a parent, but not of a teenager (yet). Our immediate family has not been touched directly by tragedy associated with drugs, alcohol, or mental illness. My husband and I have never smoked or used recreational drugs, and we are somewhere between non-drinkers and light drinkers.
So why would I seek out a coalition such as Alliance for Healthy Communities (AHC)? To put it simply: Because it’s out there. Underage drinking/smoking/vaping, drug overdoses, teen suicides– it’s all out there, and it’s in our neighborhoods and schools. Although I am hopeful that my son will never do these things, I am not naïve or complacent, because no one is immune to any of this.
It is true that these issues can be uncomfortable to discuss. But AHC recognizes the importance of bringing uncomfortable topics into the open by hosting meaningful discussions, forming effective partnerships, and providing education /resources to teens, parents, and the community at large.
I fully admit to an inherent avoidance of uncomfortable topics. (I even select books and movies based on the likelihood that they will have happy endings.) But I have decided to lean into these difficult conversations instead of turning away from them, because it is only by bringing these issues into the open that we may begin to make changes to help today’s youth. I hope that you will consider joining me on this parenting journey.
Stephanie Pericich is a Parkway area wife, mother and an independent author of non-fiction and poetry. Ms. Pericich has volunteered to share her experiences and perspectives as a mother navigating the challenges of parenting for the purpose of encouraging community conversations about keeping kids safe and healthy.