By Jessica Cerda, WestCare Texas
The WestCare Texas team in Laredo recently helped facilitate a major gathering of school counselors to better prepare them for the large challenges that they’ll face with local substance abuse, narcotics, human trafficking, and mental health issues that have been elevated by the proximity to the U.S./Mexico border between Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
Working with United Independent School District (UISD) Director of Counseling and Guidance, Melissa Ramirez, our team gave opening remarks and invited local substance and mental health providers that presented up-to-date information and resources during the August 3 counselors workshop with UISD, Drug Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, and Family Assistance & Community Empowerment (FACE) at the Alexander High School cafeteria.
“Ms. Ramirez wanted to discuss some topics on how to avoid what happened at Robb Elementary School. In addition, address our challenges in the 78046 zip code, the area from Zapata Highway 83 South and colonias [neighborhoods] El Cenizo and Rio Bravo less than half a block from the Rio Grande covering much of the UISD School Districts,” said DFC and FACE Coalition Chairman, Jaime Arizpe. “We have three major cartels with ‘pods’ in those neighborhoods recruiting and using children as mules to carry drugs onto campuses. It is important to arm the school counselors with as much information as possible to provide a higher level of service for the students who encounter these obstacles.”
Approximately 60 UISD Counselors were in attendance including Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors, Guidance Counselors and Career Counselors. WestCare Texas Laredo provides substance abuse and mental health workshops to school staff and youth for the greater Laredo area throughout the year via its DFC Support Program.