Maria Escobar joined the staff at Weyburn Comprehensive School as the Mental Health Capacity Building Coordinator in September of last year. Since then, she has utilized her degree in Social Education to address some common obstacles that students face and provide solutions that lead to healthier and happier children in our community. Escobar has notably led a body of students in their formation of a local JACK Chapter, which empowers teens to promote mental health awareness within the school and even remove the barriers that their peers face with maintaining a healthy mind. 

Now, Escobar is offering valuable opportunities for parents to gather and learn about some of the most common challenges that teens face during their formative years. She most recently organized a workshop for parents to learn the facts about ADHD and share their successes and difficulties with helping their own child manage the symptoms. Her free workshops, led by local experts in their fields, have received excellent feedback from attendees.

"It's professionals in the field that have worked for years and years and years. I can say some of them more than 20 years," raved Escobar. "So, it's a good opportunity to connect with those professionals and ask questions about anything that the parents are finding difficulty with."

Her next workshop will bring expert guidance from Envision Counselling to tackle the common challenge of connecting and communicating with teen children. Parents often struggle to maintain relationships with their teens, at no fault of their own, and it can be a daunting challenge to overcome without prior experience or guidance. Escobar said that this stage of raising children is tough, but understanding where the struggle comes from can make a huge difference.

"It's a hard age and it's hard to understand what they're thinking," said Escobar. "They are also starting to look for more independence, and that can be scary as a parent. You might feel that they are not ready to do some things on their own and that can create friction. I think some parents can have difficulty finding the right balance between autonomy and support, which is important for growth."

The workshops aim to share information in a way that allows parents to identify what could be most effective in their own homes, rather than assuming that blanket solutions will suit every situation. Maria firmly believes that many parents already possess the knowledge, but that it is beneficial to review in a group setting and discuss how to apply it in every day life.

"It could even just be a good refresher for them," she said. "We might teach a few new skills, but a lot of the time parents will realize it was already in the back of their mind, they just don't know how to use it. We could discuss how to bring it up with your teen, and which situations they might need your help."

The communication and connection workshop in partnership with Envision Counselling will take place at the Weyburn Public Library from 6:00-7:00 p.m. on February 7th. The next session, "Anxiety and the Teen's Brain", is scheduled for February 28th at the Library as well. There is no cost or fee to attend, and all parents are encouraged to register by contacting Maria Escobar directly:

Parents seeking information for specific challenges that they are facing can also submit their suggestions to Escobar for future workshops.