For many years, LEAD has served as a pivotal and constructive organization in the communities of Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, and Knollwood. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the not-for-profit group, which has developed programs, events, and resources to prevent underage drinking, drug use, and other risky behaviors in children and teens. Through their work, LEAD emphasizes the importance of building strong family values and equips parents and their children with the knowledge and skills to make wise life decisions.
LEAD began as a parent’s council in 1986, when originator Margot Martino of Lake Forest saw a need for a community organization that could provide information and resources on risky teen behavior. Though the group eventually took the name LEAD (which stands for Linking Efforts Against Drugs), its focus has always been on a variety of issues facing children and teens, including stress, depression, bullying, and more. LEAD focuses on the problems that children of all ages—from preschool through high school—face in their day-to-day routines.
Overall, LEAD helps parents build a strong foundation with their children, which involves learning to communicate effectively, set boundaries, build trust, and develop strong listening skills. If parents successfully instill core values in their child, LEAD believes this will prepare the child to make smart decisions when he or she is exposed to outside influences. When developing new programming, LEAD works closely with the local schools and parents to determine the most pressing issues that face children, and what types of resources would be helpful in addressing those problems.
This year, LEAD’s programming will focus on a serious issue that children, in today’s society especially, face: the high expectations that are placed on kids, and how those expectations cause anxiety, stress, and depression. Last year, more than 2,000 people came to LEAD’s local presentation of the film Race to Nowhere, which addresses anxiety caused by pressures in a child’s life. Because the film struck a chord with the community, LEAD is emphasizing the academic, athletic, and social pressures that children deal with on a daily basis, and how parents can help ease or alleviate those pressures.
As part of this year’s highlighted topic, LEAD will welcome Dr. Wendy Mogel to speak on November 2 at Lake Forest High School. Dr. Mogel, who appeared in Race to Nowhere, is also The New York Times bestselling author of The Blessing of a B Minus and The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. As a well-known clinical psychologist, Dr. Mogel offers parents practical advice on how to keep their families’ lives in balance, despite external pressures. Through her writing and public speaking, she also emphasizes the importance of allowing children to make mistakes, finding joy in day-to-day tasks, and learning to influence, rather than control, your child’s behavior.
Events such as the one featuring Dr. Mogel offer local parents the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing their children each day. LEAD’s website is also a wealth of information for those seeking helpful resources; it features booklets on various topics, video segments of past speakers, and recommended articles and books. All of these valuable resources promote LEAD’s ultimate goal of empowering and encouraging families to unite against risky youth behaviors which, in turn, fosters a strong, healthy community.
The event featuring keynote speaker Dr. Wendy Mogel will take place on November 2 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lake Forest High School Raymond Moore Auditorium. The evening will also include a community follow-up discussion and age-specific workshops.
To register for the event or for more information on LEAD, visit leadweb.org.