Stanford University’s Dr. Denise Pope Helps Students Find Balance in the South Bay Pressure Cooker
Thursday, April 26, 2018

Dr. Pope closes out the Families Connected spring speaker series at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center 

“It is possible to have balance in today’s fast-paced culture, but it takes daily practice,” said Stanford University’s Dr. Denise Pope at the final Families Connected Speaker Series parent education event of the school year, “Overloaded and Underprepared: Helping Students Find Balance in the South Bay Pressure Cooker.”

More than 2,700 parents, students and community members participated in at least one of the seven parent education workshops throughout the 2017-2018 school year to tackle issues like student stress, social media and substance use.

According to Pope, our society has become so focused on grades, test scores and performance that little time is left to develop the necessary skills to become resilient, ethical and motivated learners. She explained that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of a semester.

Parents participated in an exercise that helped them conceptualize how their child spent their time. In many cases, students had more than 24 hours worth of activities during a typical day. Pope also explained that protecting students’ sleep is critical. Lack of sleep can lead to depression, anxiety and can also affect memory. The mantra PDF (Playtime, Downtime and Family time) was shared as a powerful tactic to help students de-stress.

“We are fortunate to live in a community that is committed to meeting the needs of young people so they can thrive and lead healthy lives,” said Beach Cities Health District CEO Tom Bakaly. “Our team will continue to support partnerships that benefit our school districts and open these tough conversations to all stakeholders.”

Mira Costa and Redondo Union high schools also participate in Pope’s Challenge Success Program, a nonprofit that provides schools and families with tools to create a more balanced and academically fulfilling life for their kids. Pope’s lecture gave hundreds of parents the chance to explore their role in coaching students, and asked them to re-define how they measure success and examine their own actions.

All three Beach Cities superintendents are standing together in support of student mental health and well-being. They are committed to creating school environments that encourage health and balance. This is the first time all thee school districts partnered to offer a parent education series.

Prior to Pope’s lecture, parents visited a resource expo with 25 local providers specializing in substance use prevention, social-emotional learning and mental health.

“Creating a comfortable environment and bringing up topics casually during a shared activity is a great way to talk to teens,” said Heather Longridge, outreach specialist at the Beach Cities Prevention Community Council, who was among the exhibitors.

“It’s never too late to start,” said Pope. “Be the community, parent and student that strives for balance.”

Watch a Facebook Live chat with Denise Pope. You can also view a gallery of photos from the event.

Pope is co-author of “Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids.”

The Families Connected Speaker Series is presented by Beach Cities Health District and South Bay Families Connected, in partnership with Hermosa Beach City School District, Manhattan Beach Unified School District and Redondo Beach Unified School District.