Keeping Faith with Our Youth

According to their self-report, youth in Fairfax County are living with a crushing load of stress. Consider some of this data, from Fairfax County Youth Surveys from 2011 and 2012:

  • In 2011, 16 per cent of students  in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades had considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months. (That is about 1 out of every 6.)
  • In 2012, nearly one-third (31.3%) of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students reported symptoms of depression.
  • LGBT youth are at even higher risk of depression:over 50% of LGBT youth reported significant symptoms of depression in the previous year.

These realities have been painfully validated in the occurrence of high school student suicides in some of our most affluent Fairfax communities in the past two years. These data, these events, and our own knowledge of families whose children struggle with depression, leave us with an aching heart and a desire to gather our own youth in, to protect them from the stress of life in Northern Virginia.

We can't make stress disappear; but it is possible to equip families, and youth themselves, with the tools to deal with stress in a healthy way. With the support of the Leadership Council and Commissions, a planning group has been working since January to develop a workshop at RBC, open to the community, to address this need. The result is an event to be held on Sunday, November 16. Titled Surviving Teen Stress in Northern Virginia: Workshops for Parents and Teens, the focus will be on strategies for building resilience in teens. Simply defined, resilience is the ability to handle stress well. There will be one session for parents, led by Fairfax County School Psychologist Dr. Douglas Lipp; and a concurrent session for teens, led by Julia Burgos, a Prevention Specialist from the Community Services Board. Both are credentialed, experienced professionals who bring a wealth of knowledge and resources to youth and parents.

We will be sharing more information about the workshop in coming weeks. For now, you can view the registration flier here. There will be copies available on the workroom table every Sunday for you to take and share with friends, family, neighbors, and community groups where you live, work, and play. If you want more information or have questions, please contact any member of the planning group which includes Ercell Binns, Ann Hatcher, Brian Hall, Julio Hernandez, Rene Manley, Sandi Pope, April Schroeder, Kay Tarazi, and Cathy Baskin. As November 16 approaches, we will be enlisting more help with logistics and other kinds of support. After months of planning, we can offer our congregation the opportunity to reach out to the youth and families of our church, and our local community, in a loving, hopeful way.

- Cathy