The ACTION Parent/Teen Support Program has been helping families in the Santa Clarita Valley for nearly 10 years. Unfortunately, for ACTION President Cary Quashen (photo right), they weren’t reaching everyone who needed help.
“Lately we’ve been getting so many Spanish speaking individuals that I saw a real need for them to have their own group,” said Quashen.
Two weeks ago they had their first Spanish language session of the ACTION Parent/Teen Support Program and already had 17 families participate.
For those unfamiliar with ACTION, the group helps empower parents and create positive support systems for kids to make better choices.
“They’re great kids but sometimes they make bad choices,” said Quashen.
The issues ACTION counselors deal with include substance abuse, self-esteem, school problems, family problems or even gang issues.
Quashen say he has counselors who are especially qualified to deal with the unique needs of Spanish speakers.
“There’s always a little bit of culture differences when it comes to different countries. Of course that’s why the counselors that we have running the teen groups right now are Spanish so they can understand better the culture,” Quashen said.
On the other hand, there are more similarities among teenagers despite their backgrounds.
“When it comes to kids it’s the same if you’re white, black, Hispanic, green or yellow, if our kids are out there doing things we don’t want them to do,” said Quashen.
One of those universal problems in Quashen’s mind is allowing teenagers too much freedom.
“What we’re trying to do is empower parents to take back some of that (time) and be more present in their kid’s lives,” Quashen said.
On average, Quashen says parents spend only two to 10 minutes with their child a day.
“How was your day? It was good. How was school? It was cool. Any homework? Naw, I already done it. Are you hungry? I ate. They’re with their friends all day at school and when they come home even if mom and dad are living together, they’re at work. So they’re back with their buddies,” said Quashen.
The answer in Quashen’s mind is finding out what a child likes, becoming involved and structuring their time.
“I’m a firm believer in that when our kids are young the more activities we get them involved in that are positive, the better shot we have of them making good decisions,” Quashen said.
Which means knowing where your kids are and what they are doing.
“If kids hang out at the mall or 7-Eleven or the park, that’s a recipe for trouble,” said Quashen.
That’s true in any language.
For more information on the non-profit ACTION Parent/Teen Support Program, click here.