Program aims to connect parents, teens

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(File photo by CAROLINE LOBSINGER) For its first in-school initiative, the nonprofit Walk for HOPE is funding Big Mouth Presentations to come into the local schools for assemblies next week, as well as a parent night, to which the public is encouraged to attend, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Sandpoint High School auditorium.

SANDPOINT — When Walk for HOPE began in 2016, and one of the main goals founder Jennifer Wyman had in mind was to bring inspiring and motivating speakers in to connect with and guide the local youth.

As its first in-school initiative, the local nonprofit invited Big Mouth Presentations to schools next week to reach out to students through assemblies, as well as families during a parent night presentation.

"I am very excited," said Wyman, who founded Walk for HOPE through the Underground Kindness organization after losing her 14-year-old daughter, Madi Wyman, to suicide in November 2015.

Assemblies will be held district-wide for students in grades 7-12, which includes Lake Pend Oreille High School, Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School, Sandpoint Middle School and Sandpoint High School. The parent night is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 2. and is open to the public.

According to bigmouthpresentations.com, during the workshop, parents are inspired to partner with their school in developing character and leadership in their homes. They are encouraged to evaluate how they are parenting their children, to get a sense of urgency and to come up with a game plan for success. They are also given tools to develop their own family mission statement.

"I think it is really cool that they are willing to reach out to parents, too," said Jeralyn Mire, SHS counselor, who is helping to organize the presentations.

The schools get a choice between two presentations for the students, so some of the students in the district will hear, "Me and My Big Mouth," in which presenters show students how important words are, inspiring them to use their words to build up others, rather than tear them down. Through videos, motivational speaking, inspirational stories and crowd interaction, the group will show students how character is displayed through words and just how powerful those words are.

The other presentation is "Leaving a Legacy," which Wyman said will be aimed at the older students, juniors and seniors. As the presentation is designed to challenge students to consider what legacy they will leave behind, what people will say about them when they are gone, Wyman said it will be important for the older students who are getting ready to leave the schools.

"I think it will be a good eye-opener and hopefully help them navigate their remaining years that they have left here in our schools," Wyman said.

The assemblies and parent night will take place over the course of two days, Nov. 1-2, and Wyman said she would like to get a third day next year to add other area schools, such as Bonners Ferry and Priest River.

Parent night, however, is not specific to schools in the Lake Pend Oreille School District, and all are welcome to attend. Parents of younger students are also encouraged to attend, Wyman said.

"It's going to provide tools for anybody who has a teenager or is going to have a teenager soon," Wyman said.

And there will be "awesome" prizes, Wyman said. While she is still in the process of collecting prizes to give away, they will all be family-oriented, such as five movie tickets courtesy of Bonner Mall Cinemas.

Big Mouth Presentations is brought to the community through funds raised by Walk for HOPE and its first two events across the Long Bridge, which were held in September 2016 and 2017, as September is Suicide Awareness Month. The walk was created to promote suicide awareness, hope and healing throughout the community — HOPE an acronym for "Hold On Pain Ends."

The one-hour parent workshop will begin at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 2, in the SHS auditorium.

Visit facebook.com/WalkForHopeSandpoint for event information.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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