A gorgeous spring morning greeted me as I drove to meet Milton residents Nita Harvey and Leonard Hyman to discuss their vital work helping area teens. I recalled my own teen years decades ago and cringed at some painful memories. I hoped the pair had better ways of helping kids through the anguish of adolescence.
I reached Hyman a few months earlier when the City of Milton announced an open house with Harvey and Hyman’s non-profit agency, Teen Advocacy Group – or TAG -- which works in schools and communities from Atlanta to North Fulton. I found it interesting Milton would support a group that helps teens with problems like peer pressure, body image, bullying, abuse, pregnancy, drug use and disease. Most North Fulton parents I know consider these “other people’s problems”.
In reality, most every teen will face some sort of challenge, and many will make at least one mistake. To ignore this truth is ignorant, if not dangerous. Many parents – even the more affluent -- have their own financial, marital and health challenges. For kids facing teenage stresses along with familial issues, maintaining a healthy life is a struggle. Many act out by turning to drugs or exhibiting anti-social behaviors.
Helping kids make good decisions is one of the main missions of TAG, according to Harvey, who founded TAG after counseling HIV patients, and Hyman, a retired real estate official with an equal passion to help. “TAG works to provide comprehensive education, prevention and intervention programs to empower pre-teens and teens of all races, religions, cultures and economic status,” they say.
Yes, I know the concept of “it takes a village to raise a child” is uncomfortable to those of us attentive to the psychological health of our own kids. Yet while many lessons are learned at home, having them reinforced by professionals within the social setting of school seems wise.
As a result we put a large burden on our teachers and counselors to help our at-risk kids who don’t have the parental support they need. Should we really expect teachers to manage the mental health of troubled kids? Harvey and Hyman believe TAG would greatly supplement the assistance kids find in area schools.
“TAG has a professional team of medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors and a dedicated and professional staff,” explains Harvey and Hyman, “and because we also bring in young people doing their graduate work in psychology from colleges like Georgia State, Agnes Scott and Kennesaw State to present to the teens, we find that kids relate very well to these younger adults.”
Harvey and Hyman feel their tailored, specialized programs are cost-efficient and would benefit more teens than are currently served. Since improved mental and behavioral health would likely lead to greater student academic success, it seems smart to investigate an investment in TAG.
For information, visit the TAG web site at www.go4tag.org.
Veronica Buckman has lived in Milton for nine years. Reach her at email@example.com.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.