San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Working on social wellness

By Omar García

On March 24, the La Paz Community School held, for the first time, a social wellness forum, openly discussing the positives and negatives of being a teenager in our community. Both parents and students attended this event and agreed that our community isn’t as safe and secure as it may seem to some people.

At the beginning of the forum, parents were separated from the students, but each group focused their open dialogue on the same question: What are the positives and negatives of being a teen in our local community? There was a teacher and a certified family counselor present with each discussion group.

At the end of the two discussions, both parents and students got together and compared their ideas. Some of the pluses that were thought of by both parents and students were: we all know each other and can look out for each other since our community is small; there are healthy lifestyle choices because of the beach and outdoor activities; and people are not judgmental so we are free to be ourselves. On the other hand, some of the negative aspects we have in our community are: the availability of drugs to underage teens; and a lack of places for teenagers to hang out.

Parents even came up with some solutions: parents can lead by example and lifestyle choices; safe spaces can be created within the community for our youth to hang out in; parents can encourage teens to make good choices by knowing who their teens are hanging out with, accompanying their teens when possible, supervising teens in some way, and openly communicating with their teens and other parents; parents can set clear limits for their teens, including establishing consequences for actions with consistent, reasonable responses; and parents can set their teen on a positive course that leads toward independence.

This is just the first step in making our community better!

Omar García is an eighth-grade Costa Rican student at La Paz Community School in Flamingo, on the northern Pacific coast. He wrote this article with the help of his teacher, Miss Kerry McClennen.

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