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Grand Futures: Prevention through connection: Forward Together

Sarah Valentino
For Craig Press

In a world filled with a seemingly endless number of troubling headlines, it can be harder than ever to live in the here and now with our families.

Amid the 2020 global pandemic, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado Department of Human Services launched the Forward Together campaign. This project, which has resources for both youth and their adults, was created with the goal of helping adults and youth feel more connected and strengthen relationships with each other.

The website, ForwardTogetherCO.com, redirects depending on the audience. Each features stories, articles, quizzes, tips and tools for connecting with the people who matter to you. Below is an excerpt from a parent-facing article titled “Here’s what to ask your kids to get them talking.”



“To stay connected with your kids, it’s important to keep talking. If you’ve ever had trouble getting your teen to talk to you, you’re not alone. We compiled a list of questions to help get those conversations started. You’ll find many basic questions that can help break the ice, get the conversation started and even lead to deeper talks. Just pick one or two questions to start with.

Below are just a few of the many icebreaker questions suggested:



• Who do you admire the most?

• What do you think most parents have forgotten or don’t get about being a teenager?

• What are three things you have that are most important to you?

• If you could do anything you wanted for 24 hours, regardless of money or resources, what would you do?

• If you could be invisible for one day, what would you do?

• What are the most important things for living a good life?

• When was a time you laughed so hard you cried?

• If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?“

The article also includes tips from youth about the best ways for parents and other adults to start meaningful conversations:

• “Don’t only talk with us about serious things. Start with small conversations to build trust. Positive interactions will help us be more receptive to tougher conversations later.”

• “Don’t give up if we aren’t ready to talk at a certain moment. Just let us know that you will be ready to listen when we are ready.”

• “Respect us. Don’t criticize or dismiss our opinions, if you want us to keep talking. Just listen. Don’t try to solve all our problems for us unless we ask for help.”

On the youth-facing side, content is created in collaboration with Colorado youth. Young people can explore topics like “If You’re Stressed, Start Here,” and “If You Don’t Get Your Parents.”

Projects that take this type of two-generation approach understand that youth behavior problems, like substance abuse and delinquency, are influenced by social connections; as the major part of young people’s social development, parents have the power to positively affect outcomes, whether they know it or not.

To get more tips and icebreaker ideas like the ones above, visit ForwardTogether.com. To learn more about what we are doing to support youth voices in community prevention, reach out to us at info@grandfutures.org.


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