No man is an island. More than ever, the entire world is understanding the importance of human connections, especially during the time that was lost during the pandemic. Individuals are actively building relationships which benefit mental health and community connections.
Hidalgo Independent School District does everything in its power to not only ensure the safety of the students but also their overall well-being. It begins with Amando Gonzales, LPC District Licensed Professional Counselor.
Gonzalez and the Hidalgo ISD Counseling team’s goal is to support the students’ wellness and wellbeing by promoting a safe and positive school environment where they will flourish in their social, emotional, and educational habitat by incorporating ‘Community Platicas,’ part of the “Soy Yo / It’s Me” Support Program.
As a result of COVID, isolation, mental health needs, and the rise of parents’ concerns, “Las Platicas were initiated to reach out the community, especially to those parents that are not able to attend school activities/meetings during the day,” Gonzalez explained. “The goal is to come together in an effort to better understand the connections between home, school, and their children’s health and the education of our students.”
Hidalgo ISD fosters a sense of community and connection in parents and students’ lives. Unlike social media, community connections are not about external likes, shares, and friend quantity. Like most important things, it is about quality.
The Platicas have provided a platform supporting parents’ wellness and mental health by incorporating the family unit. Providing improved parenting skills in trying to engage the parents by being mindful and more communicative with their children, and understanding what mental health is.
Outreach is part of what these meetings hope to accomplish. If the families can’t attend the meetings, the meetings will be taken to them. “Reaching those families who may not have the transportation to come to us, or the working parent that can’t be present at the meetings, we bring the meetings to them” added Gonzalez. “We also invite the community agencies to come and provide information and make connections with the parents and explain to them how to access services and support from the agencies.”
Meetings take place in the community, four times a year, (September, November, February, and April) three meetings at different community areas at one time. Each campus in the district schedules their own Community Platicas, reaching out to parents and including their neighborhood families. The meetings are held at community centers in different locations; from Hidalgo, Las Milpas and Granjeno, Adult Day Cares, at church buildings, parent’s homes, and the park, among other locations.
“I try to attend all the meetings because they are very informative and at the same time, they educate us parents about topics that our children may be facing at school or with their peers,” said Sonia Perea, mother of two. “It helps us understand our children better and how to help them and ourselves.”
The quality of a student’s relationship with parents, peers and teachers is fundamental for the development of academic achievement and engagement. Creating authentic relationships with and between students takes time, commitment, and purpose. One way to initiate these relationships is through community connections. Additionally, it also builds a sense of belonging, which leads to improved self-esteem, confidence, and support.