Events highlight healthy teen relationships



by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs


2/3/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Since dating can be a new and complex experience for youth, the Maxwell family advocacy office has organized events to help them navigate this terrain.

"It can be hard to determine where your relationship falls, especially if you haven't dated much," said April Jones, the Family Advocacy Program's outreach manager. "Therefore, the important message we want to send to the youth is how to recognize healthy friendships and healthy relationships."

Jones and her committee will offer programs throughout February, which is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Events include:

· Information table - Parents can learn more about National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in the clinic atrium.

· Cyber-safety lunch and learn - Parents can bring their own lunch and learn more about cyber safety during presentations from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Maxwell Airman and Family Readiness Center and Feb. 16 at the Falcon's Nest at Gunter.

· Video dance party challenge - Youth ages 11-13 can enjoy a Zumba demonstration and learn about healthy relationships from 1-2 p.m. Feb. 14 at the fitness center annex at Maxwell. Parents also are invited.

· Relationship smarts workshop - Parents develop their skills during this workshop from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Falcon's Nest at Gunter.

The committee is excited about the video dance party challenge. Event organizer Dr. Neysa Etienne, a clinical psychologist with the Maxwell clinic, said she hopes this social activity will build peer relations and a positive self-image.

"My hope is that many of the students will discover a new, positive outlet they can use to interact socially in a fun and healthy way," she said. "Regardless of present skill level, dancing is a positive activity that can relieve stress, build resiliency, stimulate the mind and keep the body fit."

She said she hopes the children will enjoy the event and make exercise a habit.

"There is research to support the relationship between music and the release of endorphins in the brain," she said. "These endorphins are feel-good chemicals of the brain that foster a positive association between the behavior and how that behavior makes you feel."

Helping children recognize positive relationships now will help them develop affirmative relationships as adults.

"I hope that youth and parents learn the importance of healthy friendships and healthy relationships," Jones said. "What a youth learns now determines future relationships, whether healthy or unhealthy."

Supporting parents and children is part of family advocacy's yearlong mission.

"Everyone deserves to be in a healthy relationship free from violence, the Family Advocacy Program hopes that parents and youth will learn the keys to healthy relationships free of violence through our prevention education activities this month."

For information about these programs, contact the Maxwell Family Advocacy Program at 953-5430.