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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex United and St. Paul’s partner to help families “Thrive”

by Sylene Argent

Being a parent is difficult. And, so is being a teen or young adult. Each generation has its own challenges to face, and concerns can be compounded when the use of social media is thrown into the mix.


Two local parishes, Essex United Church and St. Paul’s Anglican Church, have banded together to create a safe place that will help parents, teens, and school-aged children navigate through challenges they may be facing through the new, “Thrive: A living Manual for Families” program.


The program is administered through the website and is coupled with what will hopefully become monthly dinners.


The program is, “interdenominational and intergenerational,” Reverend Chris Brouillard-Coyle said, who is of St. Paul’s Anglican Church. “It’s exciting.


“Last year, St. Paul’s and Essex United churches started having a conversation on how we could support each others’ ministries,” she explained. At that time, representatives of Essex United noted it would like to do more for area youth, and representatives of St. Paul’s agreed.


Recognizing it is not easy being a teen, or young adult, the parishes also noted it is not easy being a parent, either. This is how the programing for “Thrive” began, and how it was decided it would try to incorporate topics that parents, teens, and school-aged children face.


Its Facebook page, Brouillard-Coyle explained, launched around a month-and-a-half ago, and interest has grown continuously since. Insightful posts are added that have a contemporary theme. For instance, one topic discusses Juuling, which she explained “is the latest cigarette craze.” The post, she added, talks of concerns this is having as it relates to student-use and how it maybe difficult to tell if a teen is using one of these mechanisms as they look similar to USB drives.


“Thrive” is also on Twitter, and soon an Instagram account will be launched to reach students. 

So far, there are people attached to the Facebook page from all over the world, Brouillard-Coyle said. There is also a closed-group for Essex residents.


The first “Thrive” dinner will be held on April 29 at Essex United Church. Pastor Jim Hatt noted Essex United has a large kitchen area that will come in handy for the event as attendees will prepare their own meal, then eat with their families.


“The idea is to make a meal together,” Brouillard-Coyle said. After the pizza has been eaten, attendees will be divided into three groups: parents, teens, and school-aged children, to discuss topics in the special programming. Topics for the older youth and parents could include social media concerns, sexting, and mental health, with an idea of helping individuals navigate through those challenges.  


“It’s about navigating life,” Brouillard-Coyle said. It is hoped the program provides, “a safe place for people to navigate life and thrive.”


Both churches were fortunate to get a grant to launch this program, which will cover the cost of the dinner. It is hoped it will be able to carry forward, and that other groups in different areas will start similar forums.


To further look after youth-orientated concerns, Hatt explained Essex United Church has plans to hire a half-time minister, who would look after youth-orientated matters. The church will put out a call for resumes in the near future and it is hoped someone will be in this position by September.


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