Communication is a two-way street

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Dave Mathieson
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Kids and parents often have a hard time speaking to one another but Sarah Rushton (left) and Ruthie Patriquin hope that will change for the people who attend Can We Talk, a program designed to open up lines of communication. 

AMHERST – Human's have a tendency not to listen to one another, and this is especially true of parents and their children.

"Sometimes parents say my child or my teen won't listen to me but young kids will say the same thing about their parents, so that's one of the reasons we're doing this," said Ruthie Patriquin,

What they're doing is providing a forum for parents and children to open up to one another.

The program is called, ‘Can We Talk' and is attended by parents or caregivers and their youth between 11 and 14-years-old.

"Ages 11 to 14 is the age when young people are starting to become independent. They want to be independent from their parents and they don't want their parents to know everything," said Patriquin. "But they depend on their parents for direction and guidance even though they might not want to admit it sometimes."

The four-day program runs every Wednesday from Nov. 6 to 27, from 6-8 p.m.

The first Wednesday topic is called Breaking Down Barriers to Communication.

"There's a lot of pressure on young people, especially if they're not talking to their parents, so this can give them the space to start talking about that," said Sarah Rushton, a councilor/navigator at Maggie's Place, who will help mediate the first night's topic.

The second Wednesday is called Healthy, Safe Dating - Laying the Groundwork and will be headed by Patriquin.

"Some people might look at that and say, ‘my children aren't dating,' and they might not be, but it's important to start talking about this," said Patriquin. "They might be dating and their parents might not know about it. There's a good chance they will be at some point and it's better to talk about it in advance."

Const. Tom Wood of the Amherst Police Department will head the third Wednesday. He will talk about Bullying and the Cyber Safety Act.

"There are new laws about what parents are responsible for in terms of their youth, so it's nice to have him come in and talk about that," said Patriquin

The last week is an opportunity to cover everything that was talked about during the previous three weeks.

"We're do something called a fish bowl," said Rushton. "Throughout the whole process we have a question box that youth and parents can put a question into and we will answer the questions.

"It provides them space to have those questions answered in a safe environment," she added. "The questions can be answered honestly and openly."

Also, to help encourage people to attend each Wednesday, people get a ballot and get a chance to win a $50 gift card.

Childcare is available on site for younger siblings.

This is the third year the course has been made available.

"We've had a good response and they've come not just from Amherst but also from throughout the county," said Patriquin.

For more information or to register call 667-7250

Organizations: Amherst Police Department

Geographic location: AMHERST

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