By Cheryl Akpenyi and Catherine Gonzalez

DFY in SCV  will host a virtual event, “Preparing For A New Normal” on Wednesday, April 21. Photo courtesy @DFYinSCV via Instagram

DFY in SCV, which stands for Drug-Free Youth in Santa Clarita Valley, will host a virtual workshop on Wednesday that introduces the community with new strategies to reduce anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mapping out a better future for members of the community, DFY in SCV’s primary goal has always been to promote healthy lifestyles and decision-making among youth throughout the Santa Clarita Valley. Experts typically provide education to parents and caregivers of the community regarding different topics that will better equip them for raising their families through wellbeing.

“The goal of this partnership is to provide awareness and education to Santa Clarita residents about the different topics affecting our community,” said Supervisor of the DFY in SCV programs Yolanda Calderon.

The club is led by volunteer students in junior high and high schools throughout the community and supports youth in their commitment to making good choices and being free of drugs and alcohol. 

“Teaching kids and teens the skills to say no to negative influences and peer pressure,” said DFY of SCV Program Specialist Julia Rodriguez of the club’s goal. “We do this through virtual and on-campus events, workshops, community education, and volunteer opportunities.” 

While creating events within the community, the program decided to start a new journey. The title “Preparing for a New Normal” was chosen to reflect the current times of uncertainty. There has been a lot of fluidity within the last year related to the pandemic and so much of it has left people feeling helpless. But to DFY in SCV, organizing for a new normal in this world is not only restricted to COVID-19. Ultimately, they are preparing for more changes to come.

“Those who join us in the virtual workshop will have the opportunity to learn how they can equip their children for changes to come during the remainder of the pandemic, as well as any other challenges to come with life in general,” said Rodriguez.

This workshop is designed to provide ideas and strategies to support families through a forum where parents can share their concerns, challenges, and successes. They’re hoping that with this new journey, parents and families can learn skills to prepare their children or loved ones to adapt to stressful changes and help them emotionally and mentally.

Through the event, local education advocate Renee Marshall will provide parents with tools and information that will help attendees adapt to changes that they will face in the future, as well as any other challenges to come with life in general.

Educator Renee Marshall, hosting her presentation  “Strategies for Successful Distance Learning” via zoom in Fall 2020. Photo courtesy Renee Marshall

From 2004-2018, Renee worked at College of the Canyons, where she served as a faculty member in the Early Childhood Education/Education Department, the Department Chair of Early Childhood Education and the Director of the TEACH Program. With a Master’s in education, she has dedicated her career to working with children and families for over 25 years.

Program members expect to furthermore spread their knowledge of what we can do now to protect our mental and emotional health in the future.

“According to experts, this year of isolation and distance learning has affected families in ways that will not entirely be understood for a while. Being informed and as prepared as possible can help our community ease their return to their pre-pandemic routines,” said Calderon.

 “As a mother, returning to work provided challenges as well as opportunities. Once my fifth-grade daughter goes back to school full time, I will be able to return to my pre-pandemic routine. To me, that would be my new normal.”

Through this workshop, the community will be able to understand that change and uncertainty are inevitable. Calderon has begun to prepare herself for all of that.

“As a mother, I have prepared my children by having open conversations about the uncertainty of the times and the possibility of another closure,” Calderon explains. “Taking time to prepare has helped me feel more comfortable.”

Despite all the constant changes the pandemic caused, Calderon still sees a silver lining.

“I believe this pandemic has taught us to appreciate the simple things in life,” she said. “I hope we continue to appreciate our families, loved ones and the simple family activities.”

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