One on Campus to host experts’ panel at Newport Beach Civic Center

One on Campus held an Annual Accidental Overdose Awareness Event.
One on Campus held an annual Accidental Overdose Awareness Event at the Newport Beach Civic Center in October. This was one of five different events the organization has held for residents in the city.
(Courtesy of One On Campus)

Have a burning question to ask about how social media is affecting your teenagers? How about substance use? Anxiety? The public will be given a chance to seek information on such topics from a panel of experts during a free 6:30 p.m. event Monday at the Newport Beach Civic Center.

One on Campus is an on-campus program in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District affiliated with One Recovery, which focuses on restorative justice. The program takes in students that may be suspended and grants them the option of attending eight meetings along with their parents. Some are referred, though others attend voluntarily. The program was piloted at Corona del Mar High School in 2015.

Program founder Lynne Pedersen said the program is still going strong and now sees around 21 groups weekly at middle and high schools in the district.

Pedersen said the Newport Beach Civic Center already had some connections with the schools and that the program was recently given the opportunity to expand its influence to the community at-large outside of school campuses.

“It was really an opportunity from the Civic Center to be able to offer educational and awareness events to everyone. It’s professionals, families, faculty, even the teenagers. It’s an opportunity to reach more people because really it affects the entire community,” Pedersen said.

One on Campus has held five events since, each presentation focused on a new topic. Most recently, presentations were given discussing accidental overdoses, vaping and bullying. The event Monday differs, however, in that it isn’t a presentation so much as it is planned to be exclusively a Q&A session.

“What we saw was there’s not a lot of time for people to ask the question they have. We were presenting. This night was created for the community, for the kids to ask questions,” Pedersen said. “Social medias to substances, anxiety, ideation, what would you like to ask if you had the opportunity to ask an expert?”

Attendees will be able to ask questions anonymously through cards available at the event, but they can also send in questions by email to Experts will come from mental health and substance abuse treatment backgrounds in addition to school resource officers at Newport-Mesa campuses.

The panel was prompted by the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2021 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, the data of which suggests that poor mental health and suicidal ideation is increasing for nearly all age groups studied by the survey. Data also indicate risky sexual behaviors are decreasing along with substance abuse, though the latter continues to remain considerably high.

Experiencing violence, including sexual violence, is remaining consistent, though in some cases increasing, according to the CDC.

“Even though the findings are alarming, I want to create a space so that kids aren’t scared and parents don’t feel paralyzed,” Pedersen said. “In doing that, what I want to remind people also is that adolescence is a stage of development. It is not a diagnosis. Every kid who yells back at a parent or ditches school for a day or feels sad about a breakup, it doesn’t mean that they’re mentally ill. This is when kids are supposed to develop internal coping mechanisms.

“I want to be able to provide the info from experts and also give parents a chance to exhale and for kids to feel normal.”

Pedersen said this isn’t to say that depression, anxiety and other mental health issues aren’t real, but she wants to “right-size” them so people can access the resources they need feel they are not alone.

The Civic Center is located at 100 Civic Center Drive, Newport Beach.

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