Coffee with the Community: A look at our children and teenagers

 

By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

 

Para leer en Español

Most of Doral residents are parents. For this reason, in the latest version of “Coffee with the Community”, the focus was around the challenges this city faces regarding children and adolescents who despite having many opportunities to develop properly, still need the intervention and active role of adults to help them with some issues.

This was the conclusion reached by our guests, that included residents, representatives of the Doral Police and of the local government, who discussed mainly about the use of illegal substances, the lack of a pool for the city’s swim team, and the need to create road safety educational programs for the youth.

Regarding the use of illegal substances, everyone agreed that, contrary to popular belief, this is a common issue in both public and private schools.

So how do you tackle such a widespread problem? The answer was sound and clear: parental involvement. This translates into constantly talking with children about the dangers of using drugs, knowing their social circle, and reporting any incident to schools and authorities, even if it doesn’t affect us directly.

“We have to know who our children’s friends are. If we get to know them and their parents, the problem will be much easier to control,” says Lieutenant Martinez of the Doral Police.

For Sergeant Correa, most teenagers face at least one moment in their lives when they are offered drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol and the only thing that can prevent them from succumbing to them is the education they have received at home. In most cases, if the parents have done a good job, they are more likely to make the right choice. 

In addition, it is important to keep them busy with extracurricular activities, check their cell phones, and have discipline and structure at home without using work as an excuse for not exercising active parenting.

“We have to support each other as a community. So if you see something, say something. Neither the police nor the schools can help if they don’t know what’s going on,” says councilwoman Claudia Mariaca, who is the mother of two children and was president of a school’s PTA in Doral.

 

Helping our swimmers

In addition to the use of illegal substances, the attendees of ‘Coffee with the Community’ talked about the need of a local Olympic pool for the city’s swim team that currently trains six times a week in a Tamiami pool.

“Children who are part of it are in love with this sport but commuting out of Doral takes a lot of time because they also have to fulfill their school duties. For this reason, we need the city to provide us with a solution,” says Maribel Flaviá, a Doral resident for 11 years and who has a son on the team.

Beliza Perozo, a Doral resident for 18 years, states that travel times are problematic because children practice this sport three hours a day and very early in the morning during two days.

“They swim sometimes from 4:30 to 6:15 a.m. and then they have to go to school. They are good students and talented but live exhausted and don’t perform in the way they would if they swam here,” says Flaviá.

About this request, Claudia Mariaca explained that a park with an Olympic pool should have been built 10 years ago. “The reality is that the previous councils spent too long talking about this without moving forward. We called several places with a swimming pool to see if we could negotiate something but all were at full capacity.”

Although other attendees suggested closer parks with a pool as an alternative to the one in Tamiami, the group concluded that none are close enough to improve the quality of life for swimmers.

 

Road safety education

Lastly, our guests discussed how uninformed children are regarding how to cross the street. “Here in the United States everything is widely controlled, so sometimes this fact makes children think that nothing bad can happen and they end up crossing the street without looking to both sides. It’s very stressful for drivers,” says Ksenia Koryarina, a mother of three and a Doral resident for five years.

In this regard, Sergeant De la Paz reported that last year principals of Doral schools were asked to convene a meeting with parents to educate them on traffic laws, but there was no response.

“We live in a world where nobody cares about something unless it affects them directly. On this issue, parents must be educated first since oftentimes they are the ones who cross their children in the middle of the street and not through the crosswalk,” he says.

To solve this problem, the participants proposed to disseminate a video on traffic regulations among the schools and create a chat and/or organize an event aimed at the school’s PTAs. “We all work for the well-being of children so we can accomplish more if we come together,” says Koryarina, who is president of a PTA.

 

 

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