400 pack parents' symposium

Parents and grandparents, educators, youth workers and law enforcement officers packed Douglas High School on Wednesday for a parents' symposium sponsored by the school district and Partnership of Community Resources.

Officials estimated 400 people attended to listen and learn from professionals about suicide, drug use, Internet safety and healthy relationships.

"There's nothing more beautiful in my world than to see this many parents show up on behalf of our children," said school Superintendent Carol Lark.

Partnership Executive Director Cheryl Bricker told participants Douglas County had one of the worst suicide rates in the United States, a fact that hit close to home for Mickey Garcia.

Garcia, who lost her 23-year-old son Vincent to suicide 21⁄2 years ago, was a presenter at the session on suicide prevention and awareness. She also attended the symposium as the mother of a 16-year-old daughter.

Garcia was pleased with the turnout at the suicide prevention sessions.

"There were lots of questions," she said.

Talking about her son stirs lots of emotions, she said.

"In the beginning, I am really nervous. I tried to prepare a speech, but it's easier to speak from the heart," she said. "I just say it like it is and share his story."

Cindy Neisess, the mother of two teenagers, attended sessions on Internet safety and healthy relationships.

"I don't think I communicate as well as I would like to," she said. "And I know I don't know enough about Internet activities."

Neisess summed up what a lot of parents were thinking.

"I just want to become a better parent," she said.

Even though their three children are 11, 9 and 5, Tom and Manya Brooks said it wasn't too early to raise their family's awareness about the symposium issues.

"The rate of suicide is a huge concern," Tom Brooks said. "I've seen the devastation to families."

The Brookses said they would attend more parenting sessions.

"Kids need to hear about these things and not be afraid to talk with their parents," Manya Brooks said. "This is just the beginning of the conversation."

Organizer Kris Robison, a counselor at Douglas High School, said parent surveys would be reviewed to determine when to hold the next symposium.

"So many great things are happening tonight," she said. "I hope you leave tonight with more information than you came in with. The key for prevention is awareness and education."

Bricker sent participants off with a homework assignment.

"Share, share, share," she said. "You are required by a week from tonight to share what you learned with five people in the community."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment