Daily Archives: November 29, 2020

Conference on ‘Achieving Better Parenting for our Children’

Conference on 'Achieving Better Parenting for our Children'

Parenting towards Resilience’ was the main theme discussed during a conference held recently, organised by Agenzija Sedqa in collaboration with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Ms. Sina Bugeja, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Social Welfare Services during her opening address explained that Parenting towards Resilience, was the main theme chosen by the Foundation to celebrate this year’s Children’s Day. Moreover, Ms. Bugeja mentioned the recent launch of the National Children’s Policy that safeguards children’s rights and ensures space for their opinions before decisions are taken. She mentioned that parents need to be kept abreast with changing parenting styles as well as with different influences which might affect children’s development.

Ms Helen D’Amato, Commissioner for Children, said that the inherent vulnerability of children requires not only a strong legal and institutional framework of protection but also the consolidated ability on the part primarily of parents to nurture their children in such a way as to instil in them the inner strength and will to overcome the challenges that come their way during their childhood. This is important, she said, as there is a limit to how far the legal and institutional framework can go to actually protect children in the context of an increasingly complex and challenging social and cultural environment, and also because the development of such inner strength and will is an integral part of children’s gradual maturity into strong, independent and responsible adults. The development of this inner strength or resilience should be seen as a main goal of the child’s upbringing. Ms D’Amato thus urged all parents to continue helping their children develop these inner qualities.

During his closing address, Mr. Jesmond Schembri, Operations Director, Agenzija Sedqa said that since its inception Sedqa has always been at the forefront of imparting skills to parents to improve their communication with their children. Although the Agency is best known for its work with persons experiencing drug, alcohol or gambling-related problems, it nevertheless invests a lot of resources in prevention.

The main presentation of this conference was entitled Inrawmu ‘l Uliedna biex Jilhqu l-Isfidi, delivered Ms. Clarissa Sammut Scerri, Registered Counselling Psychologist and Family Therapist. She is also a full time member of staff within the Department of Psychology at the University of Malta. Her presentation focused on a clear description of what is resilience in children, highlighting the kind of parenting that makes a difference in enhancing resilience in children. She stressed the importance of a warm, parent-child relationship that is attuned to the child’s needs according to his or her unique development. This relationship greatly affects/influences every aspect of children’s learning and development, especially the growth of their inner security, self-worth and ability to build relationships with others. Ms. Sammut Scerri also spoke about how harmony in the family, consistent guidance especially in adolescence, and adequate role models also help to promote resilience in children. She also cited from her research on families with domestic violence highlighting the resilience (and challenges) of these family members.

This conference was attended by parents, carers, and various professionals in touch with children of all ages. The workshops delivered were: Families of Children with Disability by Ann Marie Callus and Marchita Mangiafico; Education & Parenting by Juan Camilleri; Role Models by Carmen Delicata; Building Resilience in Adoptive Children by Cher Engerer; The Mindful Parent – Parenting against Substance Use Risk by Anthony Gatt; Building Attachment by Elaine Grech; Parenting Towards Resilience with the Media by John Mallia; Playful Parents, Playful Children, Playful Therapists by Dott Roberta Attard & Daniel Mercieca; Looking After Traumatised Children in Foster Care by John Role’; and Power Struggle between Parents and Young People by Carmen Sammut.



Spring Hill United Church of Christ to offer support group for people with HIV/AIDS

By Gail Hollenbeck, Times Correspondent
In Print: Saturday, November 26, 2020


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SPRING HILL — In 2009, Spring Hill United Church of Christ followed the lead of the denomination’s 24th General Synod of 2003 and adopted a statement of inclusiveness: The church body would welcome and affirm all people, including people of every sexual identity.

One way the church has decided to live up to that statement is by offering an educational and support group for those with HIV/AIDS, as well as people affected by it, beginning this month. The group will meet from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at the church.

“For the past two years, our church has declared itself open to all people, regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, health or disabilities, economic status or family structure,” said the Rev. Carlan Helgeson. “As part of that inclusiveness of all people in our congregation, we are excited to be able to reach out to those who may lack the support and affirmation that comes from being HIV positive or having AIDS.”

The ministry, called Red Project, will be led by church member and ministerial student Ray Gomez. “I chose the name Red Project because red is a stand-out, shout-out kind of color,” Gomez said.

Red is also the color of the AIDS ribbon used to represent the illness, he said.

“Red denotes danger and is an angry color, representing the worst in human behavior and ignorance, along with hatred shown to the people with the illness in the early years,” Gomez said, “and the stigma surrounding HIV, even today.”

Gomez is HIV positive and has more than 25 years of experience teaching and advocating on HIV/AIDS. He holds degrees in education and multicultural education and is working on a second master’s degree in pastoral counseling. He is an ordained minister through the Missionary Church International and is a student in ministry with the United Church of Christ.

Gomez, who is gay, said he attends the church in Spring Hill because it is open and affirming.

“A lot of churches do not want to service or go out of their way to reach the HIV population,” he said. “It’s unfortunate because a lot of people with HIV live in this community. There’s so much stigma still attached to HIV, so (for that reason) many people don’t want anything to do with church.”

Gomez said that several years ago he personally felt rejection by many churches. Subsequently, he turned to alcohol, crack cocaine and promiscuous living.

“I discovered quite quickly that the world’s solutions make great promises but can never deliver,” he said. “It was all just an illusion of the intimacy I was seeking, and I was left more broken, more hopeless and experienced deeper despair.”

Over the past 11 years, Gomez said, he returned to the faith of his youth and began ministering to those who were hurting and broken. Now, as an advocate and peer in the field, he is a certified prevention specialist, HIV test counselor and peer educator.

“I have recovered from crack addiction and alcohol abuse,” he said. “I have discovered the Metropolitan Community Church and the United Church of Christ, two denominations that allow me to be fully myself and fully Christian, and which give me the opportunity to minister to a hurting and broken community.”

Reconciliation for hurting people is his goal. “My purpose, and Pastor Carlan’s purpose, is to reconcile gay men, lesbians and bisexual people that have been hurt by other Christians and that don’t attend church anymore, and welcome them back into a family of faith.”

Topics at the monthly classes will include “I Just Tested Positive: Now What?” “Talking with My Health Care Provider: The Stuff You Need to Discuss,” “Medication Adherence: What’s Important and Why?” and “Crystal Meth and HIV: A Non-judgmental Educational Experience.”

According to a press release, the purpose of Red Project is to offer emotional, physical and spiritual support, and guidance to those newly diagnosed with HIV and to those who have been positive for some time.

“I believe a good support group needs four things,” Gomez said. Physical support, emotional support, education and spiritual support.”

There is no cost to attend, but donations will be sought to help with refreshments and educational materials.

Carlan said those attending need not participate in the church. “There are no strings attached,” he said. “All we want to do is to help those who have a need and to affirm those who may feel alienated and disenfranchised by society at large. My biggest hope is that people find inner healing and form bonds of friendship from participating in Red Project.”

According to Nina Mattei, public information officer for the Hernando County Health Department, the county does not offer a support group for those with HIV/AIDS.

“The Health Department reaches out with HIV/AIDS education, presentations, literature, testing and prevention,” said Mattei. “The Health Department clinics offer testing, education, comprehensive care and referrals.

“HIV and AIDS is a concern across Florida,” she said, “and we are fortunate to have resources available in Hernando County that support people who are living with HIV and AIDS.”

Health Board


German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger has developed an approach to dealing with relationship problems, financial distress, addictions and career troubles that is based on the idea that self-limiting beliefs can be inherited from previous generations.

Julie Williams will lead a workshop in this approach on Saturday from 10.30am-5pm in Greystones Holistic Centre, Church Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow. Cost €90. Booking on 087-2588385 or e-mail [email protected]

- The Sudden Cardiac Death ( in the young ) Support Group is holding its Christmas memorial service in Monkstown Church of Ireland Parish Church, Co Dublin, on Sunday, December 4th at 1pm. Queries to 086-2043932.

- A new medical shoe shop, Footsense, has just opened on Exchequer Street, Dublin 2, next door to Fallon Byrne, (George’s Street end). A podiatrist will assess the customer’s feet and give advice on all aspects of foot health free of charge. See footsense.ie or e-mail [email protected] or tel: 01-4406688.

- The Irish Analytical Psychology Association is holding a lecture – Jung’s Psychological Types . . . or Stereotypes? – given by Jungian analyst Orla Crowley in the Arts Block, Trinity College Dublin on Friday, December 9th at 8pm. For more information, tel: 087-2492625.

Psychoanalysis Today is the theme of a conference on December 10th in the Health Sciences Building at University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4.

It is organised by the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Mental Health Research at St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, with the UCD School of Medicine. Cost €60/€30. More details from [email protected]