Health and Wellness: Susan Parmelee
Health and Wellness: Susan Parmelee

By Susan Parmelee

I often have parents and teens approach me about helping a child or friend after risky behaviors have already started. What might be more important to talk about is helping our kids to build skills that keep them away from participating in high-risk behaviors. By far one of the biggest deterrents to risky behaviors is that parents lead by example and talk early and often about the possible pitfalls of falling into unhealthy habits.

Keeping kids active and involved in activities that challenge and excite them helps, too, meaning kids who have a passion tend to not engage in risky behaviors.

This can be a challenge. Opportunities for participating in athletics become more competitive and other types of activities can be prohibitively expensive. Many organizations and businesses will offer financial assistance if you ask. Thankfully, our community is beginning to pay closer attention to the need to engage our youth in healthy activities. Here’s a list of ideas for engaging youth in their passions:

City Parks and Recreation activities.

The city offers tennis, stand-up paddleboard, surfing, sailing, art, writing, fitness classes and more for all ages. Encourage your teen to try a new activity or to see what positions might be open to work in a Parks and Recreation program. The city offers scholarships and the new schedule was just released.

Boys & Girls Club of the South Coast Area

The Boys and Girls Club has great teen programs and opportunities for your child to coach, referee and tutor younger kids, which looks great on a college application. It also provides programs designed to help kids reach their college and career goals.

SOS Club at San Clemente High School

This will be the third year of the student-run Support Our Students club and they already plan to repeat some of the great activities from last year, including dodge ball at STANCE, broomball at Shoot2Score hockey and bubble soccer. Students who join the club are asked to help plan events, invite friends and have fun. All events are free and chaperoned by adults.

San Clemente High School clubs

A club rush will take place shortly after school starts. Encourage your child to participate in or start a club.

The Arts

Local galleries and San Clemente Art Supply can all suggest fine art instructors, and they hold their own classes. Several acting, music and dance studios in the area also support our young performers.

Community Outreach Alliance

COA offers free activities for youth, including improv night, yoga and a gaming club. See their website All of their activities are free and they have hosted several fun party nights for our kids.

Volunteer or Intern

The Wellness & Prevention Center would like to help young people connect to volunteer activities or internship opportunities. Email me at if you would like to help your child find a place to volunteer or intern so they can pursue their passion. If you have a business or a non-profit looking for youth to contribute, please contact me.

Susan Parmelee is a social worker who works during the week at San Clemente High School in the Wellness & Prevention Center and at Western Youth Services. To subscribe to Wellness and Prevention Center weekly emails, send an email with the word “subscribe” in the subject line to

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