A group of Palo Alto alumni working to spur conversation around youth mental health in Palo Alto is hosting a community event focused on family dynamics and cultural identity on Sunday, July 17.
The Alumni Dialogue Initiative is part of the Wellbeing and Openness in the Palo Alto Community (WOPAC) group, which several alumni created in the wake of the community's most recent youth suicide cluster.
The group, which has about nine active volunteer-members, has held several community "dialogue" events in order to "open up, broaden and sustain conversation about mental health, wellbeing, and success," the group's Facebook page reads.
Gunn High School alumni also visited their alma mater over the course of the last school year to connect with and support current students during casual "tea time" talks organized through the alumni group. (The group hopes to launch the same effort at Palo Alto High School this coming school year.)
This weekend's event will focus on family and culture, exploring questions like "How does your family's cultural background shape your experiences in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities?" and "How can we acknowledge and respect cultural diversity within and outside our families?," according to an event description on Facebook.
Organizer Peying Lee, who graduated from Gunn in 2011, said the Alumni Dialogue Initiative is hoping to draw more voices into the conversation with this event, specifically from "minority communities, whether it be ethnicity or sexuality (or) religion."
The group has been purposeful in reaching out to groups and people who represent these communities and will have alumni, parents, and community members talk on a panel about "how their cultural identities have shaped their experiences within and outside of their families," according to the event description. The panelists include two Gunn High School alumni, one father-daughter duo from Palo Alto High School and Stanford Medicine psychiatrist Rona Hu, who is also the mother of an incoming Paly student.
The event will also explore family dynamics and communication between parents and teens, issues that have frequently come up in previous dialogue events, Lee said.
The panel will be followed by small-group conversations about these topics.
The organizers are currently looking for panelists and facilitators; anyone interested in either of those roles can fill out an application form.
The event will be held Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m., at the Mitchell Park Community Center's El Palo Alto Room, 3700 Middlefield Road. Translations of the event description are available on Facebook in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and French.
All are welcome to attend, even those who are not directly affiliated with Palo Alto. Refreshments will be provided. To RSVP, go to this form.