Resilience Week in Park City shines light on youth mental health issues | ParkRecord.com

Resilience Week in Park City shines light on youth mental health issues

Film screenings aim to deliver a powerful message to community

Erik Gordon, a science teacher at a high school in Washington, is one of the teachers featured in the documentary "Paper Tigers." The film will be shown during Resilience Week, a series of screenings put on by Connect Summit County, the Park City School District and The Speedy Foundation aimed at educating Summit Countys youth about mental health issues and teen suicide and showing them what it means to be resilient.

When Connect Summit County and the Speedy Foundation, organizations dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues, were thinking of organizing a community film screening, they were excited to discover the Park City School District was planning to show two similar films the same week.

Instead of hosting separate events, the three groups formed a partnership, along with the Park City Library, to form Resilience Week, an upcoming series of free film screenings aimed at uniting the community and showing adolescents the strength they have within themselves to take on whatever life throws at them.

Shauna Wiest, executive director of Connect, said the organization is pleased to be part of a community-wide effort to put on the event.

"We thought, 'Why are we doing all these separate events? Let's get together with our community partners and have a Resilience Week event showing these three films to illuminate the power of hope and resilience,'" she said.

Resilience Week is scheduled to kick off Monday, March 6, with a 5:30 p.m. screening of "Hope Lives: Preventing Teen Suicide" at the Park City High School lecture hall. The film addresses teen suicide through the stories of three Utah teens and aims to provide hope in a state with one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

A student panel discussion will be held after the film, which Wiest said is one of the most important elements of Resilience Week.

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"We really have been trying, at least from Connect's perspective, trying to give the students a voice," she said. "It's so important to hear what they're feeling. What are their perspectives on suicide or resilience? When you have, on average, two Utah teens attempting to commit suicide each day, we want to talk to them and find out why they're feeling that way or what they see in their community."

The following evening, the film "Paper Tigers" will be screened at 6 p.m. in the Jim Santy Auditorium at Park City Library. The film explores how traumatic childhood life events like abuse or neglect make children more likely to develop mental health problems — and how the presence of an adult role model can significantly change the future outcomes for such children. Author Fatima Doman will then speak to the audience about how positive psychology and other character strengths can help children who experience trauma.

"You think about a child who grows up with sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence — how are they ever going to learn to be resilient when they don't have role models themselves?" Wiest said.

Resilience Week ends Wednesday with a screening of "Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope" at 5:30 p.m. at the PCHS lecture hall. The film shows how toxic stress can damage the brains and bodies of children, leading to negative outcomes such as health problems, trouble with the law and early death. Wiest said an expert from the University of Utah will speak after the film.

The organizers of Resilience Week are hoping it delivers a valuable message to the community's youth and their parents about what it means to be resilient.

"Resilience is built through experiencing and adapting to adverse events over time," she said. "It doesn't mean that you don't feel stress or the emotional impact of events, but you're able to bounce back after getting knocked down without becoming depressed, anxious or even worse — suicidal."

For more information about Resilience Week, visit Connect's website, connectsummitcounty.org, or the Park City School District website, pcschools.us.

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