As a private practice therapist, Jenny Pascal took her passion for working with adolescents to Teen Line as its training director to help prepare youngsters to answer calls, emails and texts from peers in crisis. Five years ago, she got her sister, Amy, Sony Pictures co-chair, involved.
On May 7, the two will be honored with Teen Line’s Above and Beyond Family Award in luncheon ceremonies at Sony Pictures Studios.
The program trains kids in 13 weeks to handle issues that include bullying to suicide. Jenny calls the experience special.
“It’s such an honor, quite frankly, to be the person somebody is telling something to that is the deepest, darkest thing in their life,” she says.
Sony has supported the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center-affiliated program for 20 years, but Amy got involved because of Jenny — and because she understands how tough it can be to be a teenager. “It’s difficult when the world is your oyster and to be in a situation where people are bullying you,” Amy says. “It’s so exacerbated in those years, and I do feel like if you can help a kid, then that kid has a better chance of being OK.”
The crisis hotline handles nearly 9,000 calls from teens reaching out for help each year, ranging from abuse and sexual issues to depression and drugs.
Jenny says the most rewarding part of the experience is seeing how the calls transform the teens. “It’s incredible watching the metamorphosis,” she explains. “Their lives are impacted in such a positive way by not feeling like they are alone with whatever they are struggling with — because everyone struggles.”