meetings

In addition to the series on resilience, Bright Futures organizes events year-round for parents, like the one pictured above held earlier this year at the Ah Haa School for the Arts. (Courtesy photo)

The Telluride Education Foundation and Bright Futures for Early Childhood and Families have teamed up to provide a series of Parent Conversations on the topic of resilience, what it means and how to develop it in Telluride’s kids.

The five-part series kicks off this week with monthly gatherings — one each for the parents of children in grades K-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12 — that continue through March.

Tonight (Wednesday), in the conference room at the Wintercrown Building, will be the first get-togethers for the parents of older kids; both will be led by Mandy Miller, a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Telluride.

The Parent Conversation for the parents of middle schoolers starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by the gathering for the parents of high school students at 6:30 p.m.

The program is free, according to Clea Willow of Bright Futures, who added that Tuesday evening saw the first conversation for parents of children in grades K-5, led by Jen Groves, a life and career coach trained in positive psychology coaching, who is also a former teacher at the Telluride Elementary School.

Groves said of the series, “Parents can come to one or any or all. There will be a progression for those who attend multiple nights, but they can be taken as standalone sessions as well.”

Added Willow, “Slowly we’ll be digging into each layer of what resilience is, what it looks like and how you build resilience within your kids. This first one will look at the ‘why.’ Why does resilience matter?”

She explained that the foundation and Bright Futures decided on resilience in order to tie into what is happening in local classrooms.

“The reason that we chose this is that it is the goal of the Telluride School District for the year to build resiliency within their youth,” Willow said. “Why would we go and try to do something else when the school district has chosen such a great overall theme for the 2019-20 school year? Last week, the foundation brought Jeff Griffin here to speak on the ‘Why Try’ curriculum on resiliency, which is what the students are learning.”

Willow said this new series — described as “focused conversations” for parents — will provide them with tools necessary to promote resilience in their children.

“What we want to do is to help parents learn how to support their kids and build on what the kids are doing in school with resilience,” she said.

Willow said that the structure for the series grew from earlier programming: “We chose this particular format because we did nine parenting workshops last spring. They were very structured with specific topics and toolkits. We had a great response, but afterwards every parent said ‘This is great, but we’d also like to cover maybe one skill and then have an opportunity to just talk to each other.’ That’s why we are trying to open things up, so it’s a little less content heavy and is instead a focused conversation.”

Guiding those conversations are Groves (grades K-5) and Miller (grades 6-8 and 9-12).

In addition to her private practice, Groves has led workshops on resilience both in the community and for school district teachers. She also leads community book clubs on topics relating to well being.

Said Willow, “Jen will tailor the message for those parents of younger children and talk more about how to build that foundation and the building blocks skills” necessary to develop resiliency.

Groves herself explained that each of the sessions for K-5 parents will follow a similar format.

“Each night we will discuss mindsets and overarching themes of resilience and also learn about one key strategy or tool that we can take home and begin to incorporate right away,” she said. “I hope that parents come away from the sessions with an enhanced understanding of the definition of resilience and how to cultivate it in their children and themselves.”

She added, “Traditionally, resilience is thought of as bouncing back, toughing it out or getting through. The bigger definition adds an element of expansion, a sense of how resilience helps us build our capacity and truly thrive. In addition to the bigger picture, we will also learn specific tools and strategies for building resilience in each ‘Let's Talk’ session. Lastly, parents will have the opportunity to connect around this important concept and tap into the support of others on the same journey.”

Miller will lead the parents of older kids, for whom, Willow remarked, “the issues get deeper and there’s a lot more at stake. It can be really scary as a parent.”

For her part, Miller explained she is looking forward to building on events for parents that she led earlier this year.

“We facilitated parenting workshops on a variety of topics earlier this year and received feedback that folks loved the opportunity to connect and learn from one another,” she said. “Parents connect in a variety of ways in Telluride, but don’t always have opportunities to have meaningful conversations about the challenges and successes of parenting. I’m hoping this forum supports creating an opportunity for community and development of tools to support our incredible parents.”

Willow agreed that supporting local parents is a goal of the series.

“We want to give parents the opportunity to talk about these things and to know they are not alone,” she said. “We want to provide this space for people to create community around being a parent, and then to know that there is not only this community, but these amazing tools as well.”

The first in the series of Parent Conversations on resilience for the parents of older children will take place this evening in the Wintercrown Building’s conference room (above High Pie Pizzeria, look for signs), grades 6-8 at 5:30 p.m. and grades 9-12 at 6:30 p.m. Subsequent conversations will be held at the same location and times on Dec. 11, Jan. 8, Feb. 5 and March 4. Refreshments provided.

For the parents of children ages K-5, the next event will be held Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Telluride Elementary School, with the remaining conversations taking place Jan. 7, Feb. 4 and March 3, same location and time. Dinner and child care provided.

For more information, contact Willow at 970-728-5613 or clea@brightfuturesforchildren.org.