Commentary: Education begins at Parent University

Megan Albanese, STEPS Coalition outreach manager

Southington Youth Services, the STEPS Coalition, Lisa, Inc. and the Southington Drug Task Force will partner to offer Parent University on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., at DePaolo Middle School.

Parent University is a unique opportunity for parents and caregivers to learn more about current trends in substance use, including vaping and nicotine products, prevention strategies, the dangers of the “online world” and mental health. Parent University will be offered in a workshop format, allowing parents to register online for the topics that most interest them, whether it be one workshop or all three.

Workshops will be led by experts in the field and provide attendees with an overview of the chosen topic.

Please note that this event is only for adults. Substance abuse prevention starts with parents learning how to talk with their children about difficult topics. Parent University offers ideas and tools that adults can use to be the first line of defense for the young people in their lives.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit our website: southingtonsteps/ or contact Southington Youth Services director Christina Simms at (860) 276-6284. This event is made possible through funding from the Bradley Henry Barnes and Leila Upson Barnes Memorial Trust at the Main Street Community Foundation.


Workshops will include:

  • Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention. Presented by Jen and Marc Nevue (Workshop 2).
  • The Hidden Truth of Vaping. Presented by Megan Albanese, STEPS (Workshops 1, 2, 3).
  • MADD—Power of Parents in Reducing Underage Drinking. Presented by Brooke Maxfield, MADD (Workshops 1, 2, 3).
  • Internet Safety: What All Parents MUST Know. Presented by Sgt. Brian Leppard and Officer Ryan Lair, Southington Police Department (Workshops 1, 2, 3).
  • Current Drug Trends and Signs of Impairment. Presented by Officer Justin Simard, SPD (Workshops 1, 2, 3).
  • YOU Are an Asset Builder! Presented by Steve Nyerick and Christina Mckirrhyer, Southington Board of Education (Workshops 1, 2, 3).
  • Mindfulness: How to be present in your everyday life. Presented by Krista Stiebel and Haley Davis, BOE (Workshops 1, 2, 3).
  • Parents: How to Effectively Talk to Your Kids. Presented by Patti Feeney (Workshops 2, 3).
  • An Overview of Emotional Intelligence. Presented by Meg Walsh, BOE director of pupil services (Workshops 1, 2, 3).

For full workshop descriptions, please visit our website or give us a call.

Megan Albanese is the Southington STEPS Coalition outreach coordinator. She can be reached at (860) 276-6281 or