Teens address tough questions during teen panel discussion

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Traci Williams leads a teen panel discussion, “Courage to Have the Hard Conversations,” in Temecula Saturday, Sept. 14. Jeff Pack photo

Traci Williams of A Loving Way to Parent, an advocacy group for children and families in Temecula, hosted a teen panel discussion called “Courage to Have the Hard Conversations” for a gathering of about two dozen teens and parents Saturday, Sept. 14.

Hosted at Professional Golfers Career College in Temecula, the four-hour afternoon event featured the panel discussion featuring students ranging in ages from 13-19, tackling topics that included bullying, drugs, suicide, depression, anxiety, peer pressure, social media, video games, school struggles, home and more.

The panel also handled topics that would help teenagers heading into high school, addressing subjects like developing time management skills.

“Start practicing when you’re in middle school,” Vista Murrieta High School senior Timmy Pourkazemi said to the audience. “When you don’t have the high pressure that you have in high school, you can learn how much time it takes to do this and what your priorities are. Whether you love drama or sports, when you get to high school, it’s an easy transition.”

Skylar Han told the audience that she thinks parents need to understand how different it is for teens today.

“What parents need to know about growing up today is that it changed a lot,” Han said. “I know parents say ‘Oh yeah, we know it’s changed a lot,’ but I still think that they underestimate it. They should always be prepared – like it can even come down to the way that kids learn math.”

“Growing up nowadays is a lot different with social media, with these crazy things in our pockets, we can look up anything in the world right here,” Pourkazemi said. “Because of social media, we are very susceptible to what other people think about us, and parents should know that kids always need someone to always be there and support them.”

The group even talked about suicide.

“It seems like every couple of years we get one kid, and we say we’re going to do so much better,” panelist Kasey Czech said. “We’re really starting to take that step to educate. Project 99 is something that’s important to me, and we go to these high schools to talk to these kids and tell them what to look out for and that they are not alone. There is help.”

During the lunch break, Gillian Larson ran games and team-building exercises dressed as a pirate and that was followed by a breakout sessions and open question and answer sessions.

The evening concluded with an open sharing session.

For more information on A Loving Way to Parent, visit www.alovingway.com.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.