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By Susan Parmelee
I love seeing the joy on teens’ faces on the last day of school, but this love is tempered by a little bit of fear as our adolescents are set free to roam the beaches, roads and neighborhoods of South Orange County. These carefree days are an important part of a teen’s growth into adulthood. However, it is the supportive adults in the community who help our teens make healthy choices that keep our kids safe.
Healthy teen development is dependent on both internal and external assets. Our teens are lucky to live in a safe community, have opportunities to explore healthy activities, and find supportive adults outside of their homes. I would like to acknowledge a few of these community heroes who support our teens.
In the safety realm, we have our City of San Clemente Lifeguards and Sheriff’s Department. Besides keeping our teens safe, both organizations provide opportunities for our teens to develop leadership and explore careers. The lifeguards start important relationships with our youth in Junior Guards, and then this grows into the youth, who become staff in the Guards program and go on to become lifeguards.
The Orange County Sheriff offers our youth the opportunity to be Sheriff’s Explorers. In my work with youth, I have observed this program change a young person’s life. It allows our teens to both explore the careers with the Sheriff while receiving the added support of positive adult mentors in their lives.
Many of our youth are camp counselors this summer—in surf, arts, sports and church camps. Thank you to all of these organizations that are developing future leaders while allowing their teen wisdom to help their younger peers. The admiration of the campers is an amazing confidence booster to our teens.
I would also like to recognize all of the businesses in town who hire teens to work in their establishments. Employing adolescents comes with some extra challenges and an equal amount of rewards for these kids. Often, this includes being very patient in helping a young person learn from a mistake or a challenging situation. Thank you to all adults who have helped young employees gain skills and grow.
As part of our summer break, the Wellness & Prevention Center is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of the South Coast Area to provide prevention services to youth and families. One of three main strategies of the Wellness & Prevention Center is to provide prevention education and supportive services in whih access is easy for youth and their families. With more than 200 youth attending summer camp at the B&GC, this is a perfect opportunity for two San Clemente nonprofits to support the well-being of our community.
Please keep supporting our teens; even if they do not acknowledge this support, it is very important to their healthy development into adulthood.
Susan Parmelee is a mental health social worker and one of the founders of the Wellness & Prevention Center, San Clemente. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.