New Parents with a Purpose support group forming | SteamboatToday.com

New Parents with a Purpose support group forming

A group of Steamboat Springs High School students walk towards the school on the first day of class in 2012. A new group called Parents with a Purpose will bring together the parents of middle and high school students to talk about substance use and other issues related to parenting teenagers.

— A spinoff group of the community Rx Task Force is aiming to bring together parents of high school and middle school students to talk about substance abuse and mental health.

Parents with a Purpose, led by task force members Beth Wendler and Gina Toothaker along with Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Associate Executive Director Sarah Floyd and parent Heidi Berend, is planning its first meeting for noon May 11 at Olympian Hall. Future meetings are planned for the second Wednesday of the month through summer.

Wendler, a parent of three, said the group would listen to other parents and guide future discussions based on what the parents want to learn and talk about.

"We're committed to increasing awareness and compassionately supporting parents of middle schoolers and high schoolers," Wendler said. "We want to be really supporting parents who are struggling with teenage kids today."

She said the group likely would bring in speakers and discuss ideas and best practices for talking to children about substance use.

"It will be very much a parent-led thing," said Wendler, who first got involved in the Rx Task Force to learn more about opioid use and mental health.

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"Now I'm really starting to understand what effect substance abuse can have, and the way our kids are experimenting with drugs post-legalization concerns me," Wendler said.

She said Parents with a Purpose will go beyond discussing opioid use and heroin, the primary focus of the Rx Task Force presentations, and will cover other substances and issues related to teens.

She's hopeful parents will see the benefits of talking about these issues together rather than keeping them private for fear of judgment.

"We will really be addressing the shame piece a lot," she said. "I think families really deal with this in isolation a lot."

Wendler encouraged both parents who are struggling with their teens and those who simply want to learn more to attend the events.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow