The Caron Foundation helps SLHS students with their day-to-day stressors

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers

Ms. Velez-Curry from Caron comes to Southern Lehigh to help students with their day to day struggles.

Christiana Lycette, News Editor

The Caron Foundation is pairing with Southern Lehigh High School to help aid students with their struggles. The foundation originally served as a support program for those struggling with alcohol use. Now, the organization has expanded its programs to educate students, especially at the high school level. The Caron Foundation offers focus groups dedicated to anger management, stress management, teen issues, resiliency help, vaping, alcohol, and cannabis use. 

“The groups allow students to work through life stressors that may infringe on their life in mental, social, and academic ways,” Caron Foundation associate Ms. Evelyn Velez-Curry said.

At Southern Lehigh, Ms. Velez-Curry comes every Tuesday to host various groups in a small classroom within the library. These groups are available to all students who need support. To help struggling students, Ms. Velez-Curry uses videos, casual presentations, and games to engage them as they learn ways to alleviate their stressors, practice healthy coping mechanisms, and stay motivated to finish high school and realize they can succeed. 

“I play a game called ‘Get Six’ in many of my support groups,” Ms. Velez-Curry said. “The game shows why positive stress is good to help one achieve their goals; therefore, one has to assess if the negative stressors are truly negative, or if we are making them appear negative.”

The Caron Foundation does not only provide services for the students inside school walls; their resources also extend outside the classroom for students and their families to prevent resorting to substance abuse and instead turn to positive outlets. The foundation allows students to improve their negative situations through the power of a supportive environment rather than therapy. The organization’s objective is to support the students not solely by learning how to control and cope with their own situations but learning how to overcome their challenges through connecting with peers who are experiencing similar hardships. 

“I was extremely hesitant about joining a support group, especially one in a school environment because I did not want others to know about my struggles,” an anonymous student participant said. “After attending one meeting, I realized many of my peers have experienced similar situations, [so it] is comforting to know [that] I am not alone.” 

Outreach is a critical part of the Caron Foundation’s methods. Unlike other programs Southern Lehigh has previously partnered with, the foundation actively tries to get students to test out the groups  instead of locking them in once they sign up or become recommended to attend. This strategy allows students to assess if the group support atmosphere is something that could genuinely help with their struggles. In fact, this “trial” approach has increased the number of students involved as students receive a chance to utilize these group sessions as one tool to understand they are not alone. 

“One of the biggest problems was getting kids to agree to join the groups, but with the method we are starting to use, we’ ve seen students becoming more open to giving the groups a chance,” Southern Lehigh High School guidance counselor Mrs. Tamme Westbrooks said.  “I took a student who had reservations about the group down yesterday and turns out the group was a pleasant surprise for her.” 

An important message that the organization stresses is not pressuring students to talk if they are afraid to join due to their fear of projecting their problems in front of others. The foundation created these groups so students know they are not alone, causing many students to understand the power of a group setting. So far, Ms. Velez-Curry and guidance counselors have noted that most students who initially came to the groups afraid to talk, are now engaging voluntarily in the group discussions. 

The Caron Foundation cannot stop the poor situations causing difficulties in a student’s life. However, Ms. Velez-Curry is one of many people at Southern Lehigh who care about the well-being of the students and only hope to see them succeed. 

“We are here to help them learn new ways to cope and control their stressful situations and know that they cannot control anything,” Ms. Velez-Curry said, “but that is okay because together, we can find healthy solutions to our barriers.”