LEWISBORO, N.Y. South Salem clinical psychologist Dr. Gary Altheim wants to talk and he wants the residents of Lewisboro to talk back as he hosts a community conversation.
This has been a difficult year for Lewisboro, Altheim said, a year blackened by the Friedlander murder-suicide tragedy as well as several other suicides and tragic deaths. The community can better cope and perhaps prevent further heartbreak by opening a dialogue between community leaders and residents, he said.
Altheim has scheduled a community leadership meeting at the Cyrus Russell House at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to address the towns concerns.
Altheim is founder and executive director of Growth and Development Services, which provides holistic programs to equip individuals, families and communities with the tools they need to better cope with lifes challenges.
Lewisboro and neighboring communities are faced with challenging times affecting our youth and families, he said. According to conversations I have had with community members, these concerns are very difficult to talk about.
At Thursday nights meeting, Altheim hopes to bring together teachers, administrators, parents, kids ages 12 to 18, coaches, police, firefighters, clergy and town officials and encourage them to open up.
Parents are telling me there is no place in town for teens to go" for recreation, he said. These kids face things like family discord, academic pressure and divorce. Everyone knows we are all hurting, but we are scared to talk about it. We need to let go of the ego and speak up.
The community leadership meeting will serve as a needs-assessment and information-gathering forum that will enable Altheim to determine the next step, he said.
Part of the next step will be a series of Strengthening Our Community Playshops at the South Salem Presbyterian beginning Nov. 14. The goal is create a fun, congenial atmosphere that will allow participants to express themselves.
Its part of what we call the Reach Your Potential Model, Altheim said. We want to develop a youth council that will tell us what [teens] need.
Volunteers will be needed for these projects, and Altheim said he hopes many people from the community will attend the leadership meeting Thursday night. Call 914-533-7268 for more information.
Its a moral imperative that we begin to be leaders in our community, he said.
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