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Parents are invited to a free session on how to keep teenagers safe and healthy

Parents have a lot to think about these days. There's daycare schedules. Sports schedules. Homework help. Juggling everyone's day-to-day activity. The list goes on and on.

Kids, too, have a lot going on. Sometimes they fall in with the wrong group of kids, and sometimes the stress can be a little overwhelming. Then there's the whole growing up thing.

In the past, Farmington has offered sessions on drug and alcohol use and how to recognize it, but those are just a couple of things that can play into a kid's development.

"Something else that's becoming more prevalent is mental health," said Farmington High School chemical health counselor Lisa Lippold. "It seems to be something parents are not sure about. A lot of people are not aware of some of the mental health things that are going on."

Lippold and Lakeville community prevention specialist Judy Johnson aim to change that. Rather than having another session about drugs and alcohol, they decided to offer a free education night just for parents. The subject will be mental health and safety.

Three speakers have been invited. Jeff Hansen, a psychotherapist, will talk about adolescent development, signs and symptoms of mental health issues and different treatment approaches.

Karina Berzins, a training and education coordinator with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, will talk about Internet safety concerns and how to protect teenagers from online predators. Berzins will also talk about how law enforcement is working to protect kids on the internet.

Finally, Rob Rodriguez of the Anthony Lewis Center in Burnsville will talk about chemical use and its signs.

Each speaker will talk for about 20 minutes, then parents will be able to ask questions by submitting the questions on a white card.

A number of resource guides for related services provided in Dakota County will also be available.

"We want to encourage anybody to come," Lippold said. "If they have a fourth or fifth grader, maybe they're seeing some unusual signs. They're welcome to come as well."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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