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Expo Tuesday at North Forsyth to address parenting obstacles

NORTH FORSYTH — Raising a child has always come with challenges, so those with school-aged children are invited to get together Tuesday night to discuss what those obstacles are in the 21st century.

The North Forsyth High counseling department is holding its first free parenting expo from 6 to 8 p.m. in the school cafeteria. Attendees can listen to a keynote speaker start off the night before visiting breakout sessions and workshops on topics such as substance abuse, social media and mental health.

Tim Elmore will talk about what makes this generation different than others of the past few years. He founded a nonprofit called Growing Leaders that teaches young people leadership “under the philosophy that each child is born with leadership qualities.”

Topics of the breakout sessions fall under three subjects: mental health, including suicide and self-harm awareness and prevention; drugs and alcohol, including awareness, warning signs and rehabilitation options; and technology, including how much is too much information for kids and how to manage their inevitable sources of it.

“One session says how we know how information-rich our kids are, but they’re not experience-rich as far as life experiences,” said Dawn Phipps, an assistant principal at North.

Phipps took the lead organizing the event after recent drug summits in the county and several instances of suicide and drug overdoses by former and current students in Forsyth schools.

“We want to bring awareness to these issues that are unique to this generation,” she said.

The first 250 to 275 guests will be served dinner, and child care will be provided for younger siblings up to fourth grade.

“We’re trying to get rid of any barriers parents may have to being able to come,” Phipps siad.

While the event is being held at North, 3635 Coal Mountain Drive, the invitation is not exclusive to the school’s parents.

“These issues aren’t unique to Coal Mountain, or Forsyth County, or around the nation,” she said. “Anyone can show up.”

There is no charge to attend, and parents are encouraged to bring children in fifth grade through high school for the workshops.

Some tables will be set up from organizations and county resources. The sheriff’s office and other groups involved in awareness of these topics will be leading sessions.