By Aila Boyd

The Student Assistance Program of Botetourt County Public Schools is set to launch its first-ever Conversations Series, a series of conversations for parents and the community that are targeted at addressing topics that impact the lives of county students.

The first event, “What do you know about anxiety?” is scheduled to take place at Tizzone in Daleville on Thursday, September 19 at 6:30 p.m. The presentation will provide information for parents, guardians, and those who work with children and teenagers about anxiety, the signs to look for, and how to help someone with anxiety.

Brennan McIntosh, a Student Assistance Program counselor with the school division and one of the organizers of the series, said that the topic of the first event was selected because the schools are seeing an increase in student anxiety.

“A lot of times parents just don’t know the resources that are out there to help their students, so we’re hoping that by having presentations we will help them become more knowledgeable about the options that are out there to help their students be successful in school,” McIntosh said.

Outside speakers will be brought in for each event. The first speaker will be a counselor from an outside agency whose areas of expertise include teenagers and dealing with anxiety.

“We wanted to get parents involved in prevention,” McIntosh said about why the series is being started. She explained that individual schools coordinated their own parent events in years past. Due to low turnout at the individual events, the idea to centralize the series was hatched.

Additionally, in an effort to increase turnout, the conversations will be held at “more appealing” locations than high school auditoriums.

“We want the community to be aware of the strategies and resources that we have in the schools,” McIntosh said, cautioning that the events aren’t just for parents.

Although the details for further events are still being planned, the Student Assistance Program said that events are currently slated for October 21, November 19, January 22, February 17, March 17, and April 22. All of the events will take place at 6:30 p.m.

Topics that are being considered for future dates include drug cultures and trends, vaping, family connectedness, social media safety, trauma and resiliency, transitions, and communicating with teenagers.