Raising Positive Children: a Success Among Parents

Isabella Cely-Garcia, Staff Writer

Several years ago, Vice Mayor Iris A. Siple and Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School principal Michael Castellano found themselves at the forefront of a growing issue. Troubling issues among teens such as suicide, depression, and anxiety had been on the rise for some time now, and parents were at a loss as to how to help their children. In order to confront the concerns, the Education Roundtable was formed, a collective for school and city officials. The Vice Mayor and Principal led the discussions held at those meetings, leading to the conception of the award winning series of open forums that our city now knows as the Raising Positive Children presentation series. 

   Last Thursday night, another installment of the program was held at the City Center. This year the event was headlined by Florida licensed psychologist Dr. Steve Arcidiacono, who was recommended for the panel back in February, and has been involved ever since: “I like to be involved in my community and have given several talks on screen time, video games, and other important topics in youth mental health so it was a great match!” The event began with a showing of the documentary Screenagers: Next Chapter, a film covering the struggles of depression, anxiety, stress, and how social media can amplify the issue in the modern age. This was followed by Dr. Steve’s presentation, highlighting the movie’s key points. 

   Dr. Steve, the name he prefers to go by, as he has found that his last name can be a mouthful for most, assures that he believes a real difference is being made due to the efforts contributed in putting together the presentation series. This belief is only corroborated by the positive response received from parents who attended. “There was a survey conducted and much of the feedback that we received was that it was a much needed conversation to be had,” says Ms. Cindhia Velez, who helped direct and organize the presentation last week. “The success of it last night, was just the conversations. Parents needed to hear from someone else that they do have a problem at home.” Junior Morgan Taylor commented on how much her parents learned from the presentation, saying, “My parents went to the event and really enjoyed it. A lot of the topics seemed really informative and they loved the [documentary]: [they] would not stop talking about it.”

     While the event was a success on all fronts, Dr. Steve assures that the work is not done. “I have no doubt that these events can make a long-term difference. That said, simply attending an event probably isn’t enough. My hope is that it lights a spark for people to have difficult conversations, change their behavior, and seek the help they need. For someone contemplating suicide, for example, it could be literally lifesaving.” Ms. Velez agrees that there’s more left to do. She explained that many parents eagerly suggested follow up workshops and forums after the presentation.

   “Parenting is not easy. We don’t get a handbook on how to parent,” Ms. Velez admits– it’s important to remember that many parents are students themselves, also learning new things about parenting. Because of this, many parents are grateful for professional help like Dr. Steve’s. He shares his hope that his presentations have been able to educate and normalize the discussion around mental health in teens, and perhaps even getting help to those that need it most.