To create a safe space for parents and educators to discuss current topics affecting families, especially those with teenagers, last summer the San Diego Jewish Teen Initiative (SDJTI) launched its first Health and Wellness Book Club. Our local Jewish community was invited to join the 50-member group and receive two free books per month.
The books included compelling and relevant topics such as:
- helping teens manage school stress
- learning better family communication skills
- overcoming loss
- identifying different forms of grief
- mental health awareness
- exploring the benefits of mindfulness
In subsequent months, members were encouraged to attend book club sessions to explore the themes and apply them to their lives, personally and professionally.
While parents and educators discussed themes with a professional facilitator/field expert/author, SDJTI partnered with teens, grades 6th-12th, in parallel sessions called Teen View Crew. During the sessions, teens watched documentary films on similar topics creating an important parallel and synergy between the groups. Following the film, they engaged in guided discussions with a professional facilitator. By providing open and safe forums to communicate, as well as follow-up resources, parents, educators, and teens had a launch point for meaningful at-home dialogue.
At the end of the year, parents and educators provided their own perspective on what the experience meant to them. Many parents appreciated the diversity of topics, in particular, learning about mindfulness, a helpful tool needed in our current turbulent climate. Parents reevaluated their interactions and expressed a strong desire to change their current communication style.
Educator, Julie Potiker, shared, “It was a joy to present a workshop on Mindfulness, Self Compassion and Resilience to parents who had already read my book! Having the teens join for a meditation at the end was fun, they were so articulate and engaged. I was honored that SDJTI chose my book, and it’s my hope that the practices will continue to help the parents live with less suffering and more ease, making the entire family happier and healthier.”
SDJTI is exploring future opportunities to further the conversation and engage more experts. Watch for future updates and learn more about SDJTI here.
In partnership with the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, SDJTI is our community-wide approach to elevating teen connections to Jewish life. Together, we have identified more than 4,000 Jewish teens in San Diego; built 30 community partnerships with local organizations, synagogues, and day schools; provided professional development for 30+ teen educators; and offered unique grant opportunities to allow for innovation, activities, scholarships, internships, and more.