Operation PAR holds Focus on Father’s Summit June 8 at SPC Seminole

The keynote speaker is RV Brown, author, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Chaplain and founder and president of Outreach to America’s Youth, Inc.

BY J.A. JONES, Staff Writer

SEMINOLE — On Saturday, June 8, Operation PAR, along with the JWB Fathers Initiative, will bring together family and health service providers and vendors from around the county as it holds its Focus on Father’s Summit 2019.

Operation PAR has provided addiction and mental health services in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee, Sarasota and Lee counties since 1970.

Administrator of Prevention Services Daphne Lampley, who has been with the organization since 1991, has worn a variety of hats at Operation PAR.  She started as a prevention specialist, became the director of a five-year research project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse before becoming Administrator of the Prevention Department.

Lampley oversees a variety of programs as well as the LiveFree! Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Pinellas County, which addresses underage drinking, prescription and marijuana use and among Pinellas County youth, young adults, and adults.

“There are a lot of services for our community and a lot of time people don’t realize it,” noted Lampley. “The need is there to provide support to parents and families as they’re raising their children,” explaining how Operation PAR offers parents information and resources they can use as they talk to their children about substance abuse and why they should avoid it.

Supporting over 3,000 students and their families countywide annually, Operation PAR offers free workshops, presentations, and activities for children from kindergarten to high school at health fairs, school programs, PTA events, classroom, after-school programs, and recreation centers.

Operation PAR work is mostly about primary prevention — getting to parents and students before the children are using drugs. “The sooner people get information, the better it is as far as children making a decision not to use and sticking to that as they grow up,” stated Lampley.

Operation PAR’s national campaign, “Talk, They Hear You” discusses the part parents and caregivers can play.

“We encourage parents and adult mentors to talk with kids as early as age nine or younger old – particularly about alcohol, which continues to be the drug that a large number of young people abuse,” Lampley acknowledged.

“We go to different centers and offer evidence-based materials that we use to facilitate our trainings,” added Wanda Stuart, one of Operation PAR’s program directors.

Operation PAR will offer anywhere between one to 10 free sessions on topics including bullying, communication skills, peer pressure, self-control, and conflict resolution to help thwart bad behavior during the school year; life-skill classes are also taught.

In some sessions, students learn about the biochemical effects of drugs and alcohol in kid-friendly ways, and information on the developing brain and the impact of alcohol on their bodies.

“We really try to keep up on the world and drugs,” said Stuart, mentioning the 300 percent increase in youth who are “juuling” – using a form of vaping that incorporates inhaling flavored chemicals through “cool” looking e-cigarettes. “We talk to students about the impact on their health and how it influences their job prospects,” she added.

Workshops are held at a variety of locations including the YMCA/YWCA, Gulfport Recreation and St. Pete Parks and Recs. But, Stuart said, because the programs are underwritten by different corporations, any agency, camp, or school program can call to schedule free workshop presentations.

“Summer months are usually the time that kids want to play; we try to make the activities interactive, so the children are not just sitting there listening being bored,” said Stuart, who mentioned role-playing, skits, and bookstore visits.

Operation PAR is holding its first Focus on Father’s Summit 2019 on June 8.

“We’re excited because it’s the first time we’ve facilitated such a summit in the community. We’ve been part of the nurturing parents and nurturing father’s training. It will be a one-of-its-kind summit,” stated Stuart.

The keynote speaker is RV Brown, author, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Chaplain and founder and president of Outreach to America’s Youth, Inc.

Free food, activities and giveaways will be offered. Click here to pre-register or text 727-744-1387.

Vendors included will be St. Petersburg College, St. Pete SIGMAS, Sunshine Health, Suncoast Mental Health, Family Network on Disabilities, Healthy Families Pinellas Father Services, Gulfcoast Legal Services, Family Resources, and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority PSTA.

To reach J.A. Jones, email jjones@theweeklychallenger.com

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