CARS (Caring and Resilient Youth) continues to reach out to families as the summer season kicks in

‘We try to partner with other groups in town as much as we can’

Clearview Public Schools CARS (Caring and Resilient Youth) continues to reach out to local families even as the summer season kicks in.

“We do programming over the summer so that we can maintain connections and make sure that we are still able to refer students out if needed,” said Penny Warford, CARS program manager.

“So we are working on those summer programs, and we try to partner with other groups in town as much as we can. Those partnerships can also extend out to groups in Castor and Coronation as well.

“Speaking of partnering, we just partnered with several groups in town and had a virtual discussion for parents across the Clearview district who wanted to join,” she said.

“We called it Teen Talk – Navigating the Mental Health of our Youth.

“What kind of triggered that is that parents are asking for resources and more information. I know that it is a bit tricky for teens these days so we really did want to reach out and say, ‘Who has questions’ and to provide some resources. We aren’t alone in this – that is for sure.”

Warford said she also shared some statistics showing that most parents these days are expressing some concerns over their teens’ mental health. “So we wanted to reach out and say that one, you aren’t alone and two, we do have a lot of resources available,” she said.

As to the Teen Talk program, Warford said that her team is certainly willing to offer it again should the need arise in the community.

Also, some of those resources mentioned include the Stettler-based Association of Communities Against Abuse, the AHS Addictions and Mental Health department, The Wellness House, The Heartland Youth Centre, FCSS, and Heartland Victim Services.

“It’s about knowing when to reach out for extra support – that’s what I would really highlight,” she said.

“We are also going to try and offer virtual camps as well, and then if we have the opportunity to do some events in-person, we will do that, too,” she said. “The name of the game this past year and a half or so has been flexibility and adaptability,” she added. “We’ve just had to kind of roll with things as we go along,”

Since 2008, CARS has been offering programs focused on mental health promotion and well-being to students in the Clearview area.

“Our programs focus on topics such as social skills, emotional regulation, self-esteem, grief support, coping skills, family transitions, mental health, and more.”

CARS staff work directly with school leadership, teachers, and Family School Liaison (FSL) to emphasize and incorporate the importance of mental health and wellness of youth into the classroom and the community; as well as to provide appropriate referrals and supports for students.

“Further, we aim to provide professional development opportunities and information for school staff, parents, and community members to help increase the capacity of the adults who provide direct support and guidance to children and youth.”

For Warford, who has been in her role with CARS since late 2016, connecting with students provides the most joy and fulfillment.

“It’s about the time spent with the kids – and you value that even more this year with the shifting between the (in-person) and the virtual,” she said, adding that programming is tailored for youth from pre-school all the way up to Grade 12.

“We believe in the power of prevention. I hope the work we have been doing in Clearview Public Schools over the past several years is helping students deal with the stress that they may be experiencing right now.

“I also would want parents to know that we are here for all students – we just want kids to have a really good foundation of strategies. Parents can also always reach out, and if they aren’t sure who to go to, we are more than happy to help direct them. That is part of our role and part of our mandate.”