Youth Connections Magazine - December 2011

Page 1




Generation iY


inside Prevent Obesity The Invisible Epidemic Military Family Support

Live Life Smiling with Invisalign Teen T h e c l e a r a lT e r n aT I v e T o b r a c e s

Perfect for parents, too! 442-1899 • 301 saddle Dr, s t e a


2 From the Director 9 Faces in the Crowd 7 Youth in Service to America 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Assets in Action 16 Media Literacy: Reading Media 18 Q&A 18 By the Numbers


4 6 14 20

Just Who Are They?

Generation iY Our Mission:

Prevent Obesity Prescription Drug Abuse

The Invisible Epidemic Operation:

Military Family Support




COVER PHOTO BY Wandering Albatross Photography


TO ADVERTISE (406) 285-1274 TO CONTRIBUTE (406) 324-1083





from the

director outh Connections has experienced considerable growth in the last few years. With the addition of Safe Schools Healthy Students funding, we have expanded our efforts to include violence prevention and mental

drenda niemann

health supports for students. As Youth Connections continues to grow, we are dedicated to learning

and adapting in order to improve the quality of supports and services we offer. Youth Connections uses a variety of feedback channels, including data and community input, to drive changes to our efforts. As a result, we have made an important change to our


Youth Connections Magazine that we are proud to share


Aiden Reed is a top notch student who has a passion for learning. His energy inside the classroom inspires his peers to love learning as well. Aiden is also a very well rounded student. When he is not taking private violin lessons or playing in the Helena Youth Orchestra, he is participating in a wide variety of sports including swimming, cross country, and track and is a part of the Helena Dynamos Bike Club. He is also the student body secretary at Helena Middle School and participates in the Science Olympiad. Aiden was chosen to be on the cover of YC Magazine because he is active in such a variety of activities and positively role models the balance between school and extra-curricular activities.





with you. Since the last publication of Youth Connections Magazine, we have instituted an editorial board to ensure the content and stories we deliver each edition are the stories and information you as the consumers value. The editorial board is comprised of Sue Sweeney, principal at Broadwater Elementary School; Pad McCracken, Teen Services librarian for Lewis and Clark Library; and Heidi Palmquist-Scanlon a licensed clinical professional counselor at Family Psychological Center. Youth Connections wants to take this opportunity to publicly thank Sue, Pad and Heidi for committing to help us in the development and editing of our quarterly publication. These community volunteers will enhance the quality and richness of our product to help us provide you with the most effective tools. It is our sincere hope you find the content in each magazine relevant, as well as learn about new ideas, programs, and opportunities available to help our community create environments where youth are healthy and feel hopeful about their future. Please enjoy this issue and I encourage you to continue providing feedback to the Youth Connections office. â–

DRENDA NIEMANN, Director email: phone: (406) 324-1032 Helena Middle School, Room 210


save dates 01 • 03 • 12

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander (Breaking the Cycle of Violence)

Presented by: Barbara Coloroso - International bestselling author and speaker, featured on Oprah, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and NPR

Helena Middle School auditorium // 6:30–8:30PM

04 • 18 • 12

Is It Common Adolescent Behavior or Something More? Presented by: Janice Gabe (LGSW, MAC) - New Perspectives of Indiana Janice will explain the developmental process of growing up through early, middle and late adolescence. The goal is to provide parents with tools to differentiate between healthy adolescent behaviors and behaviors that may indicate that something more is going on. This workshop will also provide updated information about adolescent brain development.

ST. PETER’S HOSPITAL education center // 6:30–8:30PM MORE INFO: 324-1083


just Who are they?








- By Adam Huschka, Pastor at Narrate Church



the concept of adolescence was first developed by G. Stanley Hall, it was used to describe the brief transition from being a kid to being an adult; what adolescence has become is far beyond what he had in mind. (Today the National Academy of Science defines adolescence as “from the onset of puberty to 30 years old.”) While it may be tempting to hassle adolescents by insisting they grow-up faster, what if the adult world bears much of the responsibility for what has become known as suspended adolescence? Are adults responsible? What if suspended adolescence has as much to do with adults not accepting adolescents into the adult scene as it does adolescents not wanting to accept adulthood and its accompanying responsibilities? Could it be that adults are responsible for saying, “You’re not a kid, but you’re also not an adult. So, go hang together and stay out of our adult word”? How can we use this research to our advantage? How can we embrace it, learn from it and ultimately allow it to inform our parenting? Two ideas.


iY-ers need leaders (parents, coaches, teachers, etc.) in their lives whose love effectively balances responsiveness with being demanding. Responsiveness refers to being emotionally present, to taking an active interest. Demanding refers to holding them to high standards. They say iY-ers need a healthy balance of both. Too much responsiveness combined with a lack of being demanding creates permissiveness. Too demanding with not enough responsiveness creates a bossy and authoritative adult. Too little of each creates indifference. But a healthy balance of both leads to healthy adulthood.


iY-ers need leaders (parents, coaches, teachers, etc.) in their lives whose love effectively balances autonomy with accountability. Autonomy is about the ability to make decisions; accountability is about responsibility. Perhaps the bottom line is that kids and students are desperate for adults to enter their lives and prepare them for the world. ■





Those born before the year 2000 actually remember life without the internet; iY-ers have no such memories because the internet is and always has been a staple in their world.

hat makes your kids different than kids 20 years ago; not worse, not better, just different? What’s different for them? What is different about parenting? What if you could understand those differences? How would it help you help them? How might it help them better navigate the strengths and weaknesses of their world? Recent research suggests that one cultural dynamic in particular has forever changed what it looks like to grow up, and thus what it looks like to parent Tim Elmore, the founder of Growing Leaders, introduces readers to what he dubs ‘Generation iY’ in his book by that same title. iY refers to a subcategory of the generation commonly referred to as Generation Y. Generation Y consists of those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. The need for a subcategory comes from the fact that something catalytic happened around 1990 that made younger Y-ers (iY) dramatically different than their older counterparts. Herein lies many unique challenges and opportunities for iY-ers or the parents and leaders of iY-ers. What happened? In a word: the internet. Chances are, if you were born before 1990, you have memories of life without the internet. Even if you graduated high school in the late 1990’s it is likely that your exposure to the internet was minimal (at best) prior to graduation. Those born before the year 2000 actually remember life without the internet; iY-ers have no such memories because the internet has always been a staple in their world. Why is this significant? The implications are numerous. First, research says Generation iY spends more time with peers and less with adults than previous generations. The internet makes time with friends possible in ways that it wasn’t for those born before 1990. For those born before 1990 growing up and spending time with friends required a physical presence. (Sure there were landline telephones, but unless you were among the few who had a “second line” your parents were on you to stay off the phone so people could get through.) The internet as well as cell phones changed this reality. Now parents and kids alike are constantly connected, which means kids have almost non-stop interaction with their peers, for better and for worse. Going to your room used to be synonymous with being alone, but for kids and students today it means entering their command center. All the above is thought to compound another challenge: adolescence has ceased to be a brief season that enables a child to explore their adult identity and has instead become a long-term destination; adolescence used to be a doorway passed through by necessity, but today it’s a space one occupies for up to 20 years. When


our mission:

Prevent Obesity here's how - By Dorothy Bradshaw, Community Health Division Administrator, County Health Department

During the past four decades, obesity rates have soared among all age groups, increasing more than four-fold among children ages 6 to 11. Today, nearly a third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. That’s more than 23 million kids and teenagers. That’s one in every three kids who are strong candidates for chronic health problems like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. wealthiest areas. Communities with high levels of poverty are also significantly less likely to have places where children can be physically active, such as parks, green spaces, and bike paths and lanes If we don’t act to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, we’re in danger of raising the first generation of American children who may live sicker and die younger than the generation before them. Preventing obesity during childhood is critical because habits that last into adulthood frequently form during youth. Research shows that an obese older teenager has up to an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.

larmingly, the obesity problem is starting at an even earlier age, with researchers estimating that 21.2 percent of children ages two to five are already obese or overweight, a percentage that has more than doubled during the past three decades. Some populations are more likely to be obese or live in unhealthy environments than others. Lower-income individuals, Blacks, Latinos, American Indians and those living in the southern part of the United States, are among those affected more by obesity than their peers. Many of these communities have access to half as many supermarkets as the

Overweight and obese children are at higher risk than their healthy-weight peers for a host of serious illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, asthma and certain types of cancer. Already, obese children are being diagnosed with health problems previously considered to be “adult” illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Obesity also poses a tremendous financial threat to our economy and our health care system. It’s estimated that the obesity epidemic costs our nation $117 billion per year in direct medical expenses and indirect costs, including lost productivity. Childhood obesity alone carries a huge price tag — up to $14 billion (continued on pg 23)







The websites below provide information about childhood obesity and give ideas for what we can do about it—from the personal to the community level.

what's being done in our community? Helena Action For Healthy Kids (HAFHK) HAFHK is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of our children in schools and communities through nutrition and physical activity where children learn, participate in, and enjoy healthy lifestyle behaviors. HAFHK is currently working to promote healthy fundraising campaigns in our local schools to combat obesity. HAFHK is focusing on and encouraging schools to change their fundraising activities to encourage healthy behaviors. Many schools choose non-healthy food items to sell to raise money for their school activities. There are numerous fundraising alternatives that promote healthy lifestyles and successfully raise needed funds for schools at the same time. When children and teens are well-nourished and physically active, they have fewer school absences, fewer behavior problems, and more ability to focus on classroom tasks. Active fundraisers can accomplish several goals at once. They raise money for needed school programs, provide opportunities for physical activity, and show students and their families that being active can be fun! The HAFHK is a group of interested community members and school district staff who meet at least every other month. For more information about the group and meeting dates please contact Ginny Furshong (444-6888).

keep your kids active

this winter Consider the following fun, low-cost activities for children by dressing for the weather and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. The list is just limited by your imagination!

outside Make snow angels by lying in the snow and moving your arms up and down and legs side to side. At the same time look for shapes of objects in the clouds. Climb a “snow” mountain where the snow has been piled by the plow. Make a snowman family.

Action Communities For Health, Innovation And Environmental Change (ACHIEVE)

In 2011, the City of Helena Parks and Recreation Department partnered with the Lewis and Clark City-County Health Department to apply to be an ACHIEVE Community. Helena was one of 10 communities nation-wide selected by the National Recreation and Parks Association to receive this three-year planning grant. ACHIEVE (Action Communities for Health, Innovation and Environmental Change) is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Healthy Communities Program. The program seeks to empower local communities to promote policies, systems, and environmental (PSE) change strategies – focusing on issues such as physical fitness and obesity, nutrition, and tobacco cessation – to advance the nation’s efforts to prevent chronic diseases and related risk factors. For more information, go to What is ACHIEVE doing in Helena? The grant required the main partners form a governing team that represents the community, called the CHART team. Through assessments the following areas were identified by the CHART team: 1) The need for safe, convenient transportation routes for all modes of travel, including bike and pedestrian travel. This came up in terms of access to our trails and parks and other recreational opportunities, especially for kids; 2) The need for centralized information regarding opportunities for physical activity in the Helena area; 3) The need for tobacco-free parks; 4) The need for healthier food choices for kids, both in school settings and in community programs. The CHART team has drafted goals and an action plan to address these needs as identified through our community assessment and will be working to realize these goals over the next two years. If you are interested in getting involved, let us know! Contact Amy Teegarden (447-8462) or Dorothy Bradshaw (457-8958).

Take a nature hike and look for animal tracks in the snow. Borrow a book from your local library to help you identify the tracks. Try having a race in the snow from one end of the yard or park. Go sledding on cardboard or build a snow fort.

inside Turn off the television and dance to music. Play “follow the leader” and incorporate simple stretching and strengthening exercises. Use common household items such as canned vegetables or soups as weights. Play games that involve movement.

Source: Kids Staying Active in Winter, Ann Hamilton,

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Check out who’s standing out in our community. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO NOMINATE? Please email and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.

Casey Hammond



The Mount Helena Gymnastics team has become a home to many boys. Between athletes who were looking to enhance their strengths and others who were struggling to create their identity, all have developed discipline, self-control and amazing skills. Casey is an outstanding role model who not only encourages athletes of all ages to become their best, but challenges them to move beyond their comfort zone. His high energy and excitement is contagious, lighting up the gym and allowing athletes to discover new heights. He goes out of his way to encourage all boys to set realistic goals, and helps them modify them once they’ve made them.

Tanner Courtney


Tanner is taking the school’s theme of “In School, On Time, Every Day” seriously. Last school year, Tanner missed 54 days of school and had 87 tardies. Last spring, Tanner set his own goals to miss zero days of school and to have only two tardies. His efforts have not gone unnoticed by his peers or by staff. Tanner has not missed a day of school yet this year! Tanner says, “I wanted to pass fourth grade and there’s lots to learn, so I’m going to school.” Tanner knows that it’s important to graduate from high school, and making it to school will help!

Alex Ramirez


Holding true to his values and upbringing, Alex is easily recognized as someone who is committed to helping others. Alex currently serves as lieutenant governor for the Montana District Key Club. He helps with a variety of service projects that benefit youth, including anti-bullying and suicide prevention, leadership development, food drives, and backpacks for kids in crisis. Additionally, Alex serves on the Catholic Youth Coalition board. He helps organize activities for junior and senior high students, plans statewide conventions, as well as rallies. He prepares and serves Thanksgiving dinner to senior citizens and volunteers his time at God’s Love and Food Share. Alex is also active in student council, German Club, speech and debate, theatre, choir, and tennis.

Kyra Dawes


Her family describes her as super and great. Teachers say she’s smart and talented. Peers say she is nice and awesome. If you have ever met Kyra Dawes, you would know first-hand that she is all these things plus so much more. While maintaining her honor roll status at CR Anderson, Kyra is also involved in basketball and volleyball. And if she is not volunteering her time in the community, she is a participating in school-wide activities such as Builder’s Club, yearbook, and dance committee. She is not only a positive role model with her peers, but also with younger on-lookers. Her fun and friendly manner makes her a standout in the Helena community.

Vanessa Walsh

Jefferson Elementary, 5TH GRADE

Vanessa is the uniquely wonderful student every teacher dreams of teaching ... a student who truly stands out in a crowd! Her constant, sweet smile is infectious. Academically, she humbly achieves excellence. Socially, she is a warm, caring friend to all; she leads without self-promotion and genuinely supports her peers. She has a keen awareness of needs around her and quickly rises to meet these needs in a quiet, unassuming way. She exemplifies all that is kind and good. She is a priceless asset to Jefferson Elementary School.







in service to

- By Sonny Mazzullo, AmeriCorps VISTA

n the summer of 2009, President Barack Obama launched the United We Serve initiative, calling on Americans to make volunteerism and community service a part of our daily lives. President Obama insisted that service is a civic duty and that without the help of all Americans, our nation would be slow to recover from economic recession. Throughout our nation’s history, presidents have called on the American people to fulfill civic duties. Adults are asked to serve in the military, vote and pay their taxes. What makes President Obama’s call to service unique, however, is who is responsible for answering it. America’s youth is no longer exempt. As parents, teachers and concerned citizens, we need to encourage youth to get involved in their communities by connecting them with service opportunities and making service learning a part of our school and youth organizations’ curriculum. Engaging our children and students in service opportunities offers too many benefits to ignore. On the surface, there are the obvious impacts that direct service has on a community. Take for example a group of middle school students in Helena, Montana, who decided

they wanted to help stray and abandoned pets. In the end, these students from the You Got Served program hosted a car wash to benefit the local humane society and help further their mission to provide safe and humane living conditions for unwanted pets. Now consider the process behind the project, and how it impacts the students involved. First the students had to collaborate and investigate a community need they wanted to address. After coming to a consensus to help the humane society, students then had to plan a way to assist this organization. This process involved communicating with the humane society, brainstorming ways to address the organization’s needs, and finally planning all the details of the carwash itself: where to host it, how to market it, what supplies were needed, and which students would be responsible for which tasks. One car wash later, this group of middle school students had raised $280, landed a spot on the local evening news and won the respect of their community. Students nurtured their sense of self-worth, had positive interactions with their peers and community members, and developed their communication, teamwork and problem solving skills.

As special as this group of students proved to be, they are not alone. All across the country, youth are stepping up, serving America, and strengthening their communities. Perhaps most importantly, youth are strengthening themselves. Research shows that students who engage in their communities through service activities have raised their odds of graduating high school and succeeding in college (Davila & Mora, 2007). These students are also performing at higher levels in subjects such as science and language arts (Billig, 2004). In addition, when our nation’s “at-risk” youth participate in service learning, it’s been shown to increase attendance rates and improve their attitudes about school and themselves (Kraft & Wheeler, 2003). Youth service benefits our communities today and tomorrow. It engages an underutilized segment of our population to address the daily issues affecting our communities while strengthening our students’ skills and improving their chances for longterm success. But students need our support and motivation. It is up to the parents and teachers to promote service and set the example for our youth to follow. ■

This article uses facts and references provided by the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse. For more information, visit their website at

helena resources 10



Step-Up Helena Volunteer Coalition: Reach Out Helena Office of Helena Public Schools: Build Montana: Strengthening Communities Through Nonprofit Connections:



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40 developmental assets

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40 Developmental Assets are essential qualities of life that help young people thrive, do well in school, and avoid risky behavior. Youth Connections utilizes the 40 Developmental Assets Framework to guide the work we do in promoting positive youth development. The 40 Assets model was developed by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute based on extensive research. Just as we are coached to diversify our financial assets so that all our eggs are not in one basket, the strength that the 40 Assets model can build in our youth comes through diversity. In a nutshell, the more of the 40 Assets youth possess, the more likely they are to exhibit positive behaviors and attitudes (such as good health and school success) and the less likely they are to exhibit risky behaviors (such as drug use and promiscuity). It’s that simple: if we want to empower and protect our children, building the 40 Assets in our youth is a great way to start. Look over the list of Assets on the following page and think about what Assets may be lacking in our community and what Assets you can help build in our young people. Do what you can do with the knowledge that even through helping build one asset in one child, you are increasing the chances that child will grow up safe and successful. Through our combined efforts Helena will continue to be a place where Great Kids Make Great Communities.

turn the page to learn more!

All services are free and confidential.

1205 Butte Ave, #2, Helena • 406.422.1011 •







assets in action 9


external assets Support

1. Family support: Family life provides high levels of love and support. 2. Positive family communication: Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parent(s). 3. Other adult relationships: Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults. 4. Caring neighborhood: Young person experiences caring neighbors. 5. Caring school climate: School provides a caring, encouraging environment. 6. Parent involvement in school: Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.


7. Community values youth: Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth. 8. Youth as resources: Young people are given useful roles in the community. 9. Service to others: Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week. 10. Safety: Young person feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.


Boundaries & Expectations


11. Family boundaries: Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts. 12. School boundaries: School provides clear rules and consequences. 13. Neighborhood boundaries: Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior. 14. Adult role models: Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior. 15. Positive peer influence: Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior. 16. High expectations: Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.

Constructive Use of Time

10 12





17. Creative activities: Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts. 18. Youth programs: Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in the community. 19. Religious community: Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution. 20. Time at home: Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.

If you or your child would like to submit a picture that represents one of the 40 Developmental Assets, please email with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.

Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.


internal assets Commitment to Learning

21. Achievement motivation: Young person is motivated to do well in school. 22. School engagement: Young person is actively engaged in learning. 23. Homework: Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day. 24. Bonding to school: Young person cares about her or his school. 25. Reading for pleasure: Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.

Positive Values

26. Caring: Young person places high value on helping other people. 27. Equality and social justice: Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty. 28. Integrity: Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs. 29. Honesty: Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.” 30. Responsibility: Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility. 31. Restraint: Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.


Social Competencies

32. Planning and decision making: Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices. 33. Interpersonal competence: Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills. 34. Cultural competence: Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds. 35. Resistance skills: Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations. 36. Peaceful conflict resolution: Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.


Positive Identity

37. Personal power: Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.” 38. Self-esteem: Young person reports having a high self-esteem. 39. Sense of purpose: Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.” 40. Positive view of personal future: Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.








E L B I INVIS emic epid

prescription Drug abuse

- By Steve Bullock, Montana Attorney General

s long as there have been medicines and substances to cure what ails us, people have been abusing those drugs: in the early 1900s, cocaine and heroin were prescribed and used as overthe-counter treatments and, during prohibition, doctors wrote special prescriptions for whiskey and wine. So, while prescription drug abuse isn’t a new problem, it has grown to epidemic levels in the last few years. These are critically important drugs that ease the pain of millions of patients every day. But unfortunately, seven million Americans now abuse prescription opiates, stimulants and central nervous system depressants, making prescription drugs the second most commonly abused drug, trailing only marijuana. Prescription drug abuse isn’t a matter of recreational use:  Substance abuse treatment for prescription drug abusers has risen 400 percent since 1998.  Prescription drug related visits to emergency departments doubled between 2004 and 2009.  And prescription drug-related deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in 16 states, including Montana. The trends in kids’ and teen use are especially disturbing. Prescription drugs are the drugs of choice for 12- and 13-year olds, because they are easily accessible and

perceived as “safer” than other illicit drugs. By the time they are seniors in high school, about one of every four Montana teens has abused prescription drugs. These statistics are unacceptable. So, too, is the crime associated with abuse and diversion. It’s hard to pick up a newspaper without reading about pharmacy break-ins, home burglaries, and even healthcare workers pilfering pills from medical facilities. Across the state and the nation, we hear stories of families that have been shattered by addiction or abuse. It affects individuals from every walk of life, including a 24-year-old Billings woman who intentionally caused car accidents and “doctor shopped” in seven different communities to get prescription pain killers, and a respected Billings physician whose addiction began by taking just half of a hydrocodone, but escalated into a 40-pill-aday habit. Prescription drug abuse is a public health and a public safety problem, and it requires that all of the stakeholders work together. While we need to make sure that these medications remain available to the many people who are fighting severe medical conditions and legitimately need them, we also need to ensure that they are not diverted. Over 70 percent of non-medical users get their drugs from friends or family, so we must be sure that prescription medications are secured in our homes and properly disposed of when

we no longer need them. The best way to get rid of controlled substances is through a local drug take-back program. These take-back programs may be one-time events, regular drop-offs, or permanent secure boxes at a local law enforcement office. The DEA has instituted biannual nationwide take-back events in the Fall and Spring, and many other law enforcement agencies have established permanent drop sites in their communities. Residents may dispose of unused medicines at any take-back site. Cutting off the potential supply of prescription drugs diverted to illegal uses is the primary goal of prescription drug takebacks, but these events also allow us to raise awareness among the public about why it is so important to safely store and dispose of prescription medications. Many of those who abuse prescription medications have misconceptions about the safety and legality of not following a physician’s directions for use, so greater awareness and education are essential in our efforts to reduce abuse and prevent unnecessary deaths. We also need to enact policies at the local, state and national levels that discourage abuse and misuse. Join us in spreading the word about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs and encourage your community leaders and policymakers to take actions that will help curb this epidemic. Because prescription drugs should save lives, not end them. ■

what’s being done locally? P

rescription drugs are a problem in the State of Montana. Law enforcement agencies in Lewis and Clark County are joining together to help stop this abuse. Often times those legal prescription medications, which are meant to help people, fall into the wrong hands and are illegally sold and abused. One of the bigger problems people face is what to do with those drugs when they are no longer needed. The question is often asked, “How do I properly dispose of these medications safely so that they do not fall into the wrong hands and do not contaminate ground samples or water sources?” It is for this reason that the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office has

partnered with the City of Helena Police Department and the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration to help people properly dispose of those unwanted medications. Local law enforcement officials have installed a bright green drop box where residents can drop off unwanted prescription drugs. Located in the lobby of the Law Enforcement Center at 221 Breckenridge, the box is secure, accessible, free and anonymous. Please use this local drop box and do not flush your prescription drugs down your toilet. Each person can do their part by turning in unwanted medications drugs and make sure they are properly destroyed.

Montana rx Drug Facts Montana has the 3rd highest rate in the nation for teen abuse of prescription pain relievers, with 10% reporting abuse in the past month. (SAMHSA) 1 in 4 teens have abused prescription drugs by the time they are seniors in high school. (YRBS) Prescription drugs are a contributing factor in around 300 Montana deaths each year. (Montana Dept. of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation) Law enforcement agencies across Montana have collected more than 2,500 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs during prescription drug take-back events and now 10 Montana communities (including Helena) have set up permanent prescription drug drop locations with grants from the Attorney General’s Office. The first location, open at the Montana Highway Patrol office in Great Falls, has collected over 800 pounds of prescription drugs since opening in May 2011.

media literacy

reading media - By Jesse Franzen, 8th Grade English Teacher

The holiday advertising apocalypse is quickly approaching! Now that the shock has passed, it is time to prepare. There are ways to fight back against the powerful goliath of advertising manipulation. s long as you’re a person who buys stuff (and we all buy stuff), you’re affected. No, you can’t block out all the commercials, billboards, t-shirt logos, or stuff shot out of the gun at a sporting event, but you can prepare yourself and your child on how to read the ads. Read them? Yes, there is a way to actually read and think about ads that is deeper than a blur on a side of the road or a fast flip of a page. And, pssst, it's pretty easy to do, even in today’s complex world with the average person viewing between 300 and 3,000 ads per day. No big deal, right? Then why is advertising a $620 billion industry? If advertising didn’t work, which if you’re like me, and say, “I’m smarter than that,” then why does the industry even exist? Of course, the answer is that advertising works. Then again, who cares that it works? Honestly, it’s not a big deal. What is a big deal is knowing how ads work so we can arm our minds against the daily barrage. Advertisers don’t hide how or what they are doing, but how often do we take time to stop and think about what and how they are marketing products towards us? When we see at least 300 ads per day, no one can think about all of them. If we sit back and think about some of the advertising techniques and the stuff cluttering every corner of our homes, then we as individuals can make decisions based on what we value, and not our blindemotional draw to own new and fancy stuff.


Children’s sense of smell is better than adults’.




What is media literacy? Media is anything that sends a message, and literacy is being able to read, write, and speak. In other words, it is the ability for a person to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate information in a variety of forms, including print and nonprint messages, according to the National Association of Media Literacy Education ( Now it is time to equip ourselves for the advertising apocalypse because, let’s face it, the minimum number of ads we see is only going to grow from 300. There are four identification tools used to rip apart an ad, which is called deconstruction: sender, receiver, message, and technique. I think of it as a puzzle. Let’s start with something difficult: product placement. For example, let’s say you’re watching the neo-classic holiday movie “Home Alone.” You come to the pizza party scene, where Fuller gulps his soda, which we know will make him wet the bed. We hear the classic line, “Fuller, go easy on the Pepsi.” At the time, and still for some, this was a classic line for teasing a sibling. This seems discouraging and difficult, but let’s break it down. Who is sending us this message? Easy one – Pepsi. Who is the intended audience for this message? More difficult, I suppose. The answer would be anyone who has ever seen the movie or the sibling of someone who has seen it. What is




the message? Is it that if we drink Pepsi, we all will wet the bed? Nah. I wouldn’t want to buy Pepsi if that was the case, nor is that really what I’m feeling. The real answer is that Pepsi is so delicious, that I can’t and don’t want to stop myself from drinking it, even if I know something bad could happen to me, like a midnight changing of the bedding. That’s right, there is something that delicious, and we are to believe it’s Pepsi. That’s it, and if you notice, Pepsi (among many other advertisers as well) has kept up that same message for generations. Otherwise, I suppose we’d all just drink tap water. What is the technique? Product placement. There are the cans, the kids, and they are all having a great time. It’s a simple message and a pretty simple technique. It could have been any soda company in that classic line, but it wasn’t. Forever, it will be Pepsi that loosened the bladder of Fuller. Homework time (and remember to do this, because the advertising apocalypse is now, and it’s only getting worse). Go about your daily life, and when you’re with your child and you both stumble upon an ad, use your new mind-weapons (sender, receiver, message, technique) to deconstruct the ad. You’ll always be right and, seriously, it is fun. You get to interact with your child, play a sort of game, and make a deeper, more meaningful relationship while teaching your child to be an informed, active consumer. ■

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.

reading a media item SENDER: (Production and intention)

MEDIUM: (Genre/form and process)

OWNERSHIP: Who made this? Why?

TECHNIQUE: How did they put it together?

Program content form

message: (Images/sounds and ideas/values)

Receiver: (Literacy and critical values)

SUBJECT: What is it about?

AUDIENCE: How do we respond? 17





Q A How do you get your kids to eat healthy?  I make one dinner for the whole family.  I plan my meals out for the week, it not only saves money but




Approximate percent (and roughly 12.5 million) of children and adolescents nationwide, aged 2–19 years, who are obese. (


being organized allows me to plan ahead and help me not be lazy in providing my family with a home cooked meal, rather than scrambling and feeding my kids fast food.

Glasses of milk a cow produces in her lifetime.

 I let my kids snack all they want before dinner as long as it is fruits and vegetables.

 I hide healthy foods in casseroles and other dishes I make  I think that the best thing I can do for my children is eat healthy myself and provide a good example to them.

 My kids are involved in sports, and I have seen a big difference in how they have been encouraged by coaches and the positive influence the other athletes have had on my daughter to eat healthy.

 I don’t buy junk food, so it’s not available for them to eat in our home.


9 10 out of

Approximate number of American children who visit a McDonald’s restaurant each month. (


Seconds it takes for food to get from your mouth to your stomach. (

 I try my best to explain why some foods are healthy and


others are not, so they have a better understanding of why it’s so important to take care of our bodies at such a young age, but I also am very aware to not make it a big deal so I don’t cause unhealthy behavior by obsessing over it.

Kids in Montana who have one or more parents in the military. (

 We allow there to be one day a week where fast food is an option, but surprisingly enough more times than not, they don’t want fast food when it’s offered.

 I try my best to make home cooked meals as much as possible. It’s so easy to get so busy that fast foods become the only option, but when I’m prepared, I know the kids are getting a balanced meal.

??? 18



Average number of texts sent monthly by teens ages 13–17. (

If you would like to submit a question to Youth Connections to be answered by someone on our panel, please email the question to Not all questions are guaranteed to make the magazine, but we will do our best to answer your question via email. |



SHD IR Youth Connections 0211


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operation: military FAMILY SUPPORT - By Caroline Dettle, Operation Military Kids Director in Montana

military child lives a life of uncertainty, never knowing if their family will be forced to move or if a family member will be called to deploy. A child experiences many emotions that are difficult to comprehend and cope with during the deployment process. It is a child’s ability to deal with these emotions in their own way that makes them a hero. During the emotional cycle of deployment, children’s lives are literally turned upside down. The cycle of deployment may be viewed in five stags:

Stage 1: Pre-Deployment This stage begins with the ‘warning order’ to service member for deployment from home through their actual deployment. During this stage military families may be experiencing anticipation of loss and/or denial. Their service member may be spending long hours away from home training. The family may be getting their affairs in order, and tension may be building while everyone is mentally preparing for the upcoming physical separation. Stage 2: Deployment This is the period immediately following the service member’s departure from home through the first month of deployment. The family may be feeling mixed emotions including relief, disorientation and may be overwhelmed. They may be feeling numb, sad and alone. They might experience sleep difficulties along with security and safety issues. Stage 3: sustainment This stage lasts from the first month through the end of deployment. Families begin to

establish new routines and new sources of support. They may feel more in control of their day to day life. A sense of independence may be fostering a new family confidence.

Stage 4: re-Deployment This time is defined as the

month before the service member is scheduled to return home. Families are anticipating the homecoming of their loved one. They may feel excitement, apprehension and difficulty making decisions. They may have bursts of “nesting” energy.

Stage 5: post-Deployment This stage begins with the arrival of the service member back home and typically lasts 3-6 months (or more) after their return. As the service member reintegrates into the family, there may be a ‘honeymoon’ period. The independence the family developed during the sustainment stage may be redefined, and routines may need to be renegotiated. The family members may feel the need for their ‘own’ space. If families and children move through this cycle with support, they inevitably gain strengths as a result of deployment. Deployment fosters maturity, emotional growth and insight. Deployment encourages families to be independent, flexible, and able to adapt to change. The experience builds skills needed for adjusting to separations, and losses faced later in life. Deployment can strengthen family bonds. It can also promote awareness and an understanding of the importance of civic duty. They are so proud of their service member.

(continued on pg 23

Resources are available for communities who want to reach out and support their local military youth – their ‘Local Heroes’.









With deployment numbers in Montana larger than any we have witnessed in the past, teachers need to be aware of the needs of military children in their classrooms. What can teachers do to reach out to these children and their families? Support the family by having a meeting with them to talk about changes happening in the household. Will the daily routine change? Offer ways to support on the school’s end. Check in with the student in the morning and at the end of the day to make sure they understand their routine. Write letters to the deployed soldier. Have the child bring in a picture of their deployed relative and write a letters of support. Allow the child to talk about how important this relative is to them. Include a wall of heroes in your classroom bulletin boards. Allow the child to have emotions. Support them in the classroom or seek help from school counselors. Local military facilities can also aide the school with support for emotional issues. Be sure to connect children and their families to school counselor and community resources if you see a persistent need going unmet.

When a family is surviving a deployment, there are many simple things community members can do. Military families who are left behind generally pride themselves in being independent which can make it hard for people to help them. Countless people casually say, “Let me know if you need anything.” It is harder than you might think to ask for help. However, with a little persistence, once that help is accepted it is a win-win situation for everyone. Stress is lifted from the family and the person offering help feels a sense of pride. After three overseas deployments, I discovered the convenience of carpooling! Finding reliable, trustworthy adults that shared common activities was a life saver. There were countless maintenance things … faulty Christmas lights, cars, water heater, furnace, flat tire, broken down mower, etc. Assistance from people in the community with those talents was invaluable. Invitations to dinner or girls’ night out, going to a movie, a phone call on your anniversary or birthday were greatly appreciated. One dear friend made a commitment for several months to stop by each Wednesday and babysit so I could take one child out at a time. We were so blessed to be surrounded by supportive people. Don’t be afraid to ask kids if they have someone deployed. Ask the parents directly what they need. Remember, it might take more than one or two offers to help a family before they feel comfortable (or desperate) enough to accept the help.

I believe it all comes down to acts of random kindness; taking a little time and effort is the biggest way to support anyone who is struggling with something in life. Sometimes it takes a neighbor actively looking for these opportunities and pursuing them (rather than telling a family to “call if they need help”). For some family members, they feel as if they are failing if they have to ask for help with normal tasks during a deployment. However in reality, these normal tasks can be a stressful burden when one member of the household is gone. During my last deployment, my mother, who watched my three children, said she came out several times to shovel snow off the sidewalk and found it already shoveled. This happened with our lawn being mowed, as well. She also had a neighbor who would regularly stop during her walk, smile and offer a few minutes of conversation and words of encouragement. I heard of another family who had a neighbor randomly bring them surprise meals – all precooked, wrapped up meals for six (the size of their family) that could be frozen and reheated later or just eaten that night. These small gifts of time and effort meant the world to families dealing with a deployment.

– By Heather Higgins

– By Melissa Mixan

a daughter’s perspective A

t first when I was asked for things that my neighbors, community and teachers could do for kids that have a deployed parent, I didn’t have anything to say. I mean, this last year seemed like it was mostly just me against the world without my mom here. There were a lot of times when it just seemed like no one cared. So I guess, when asked the question “what can neighbors, teachers and community do to help,” it would come down to the little things that helped that feeling go away sometimes. When it comes down to caring, though, actions speak a lot louder than a few words to a kid – like the old Nike saying “just do it.” One thing that helped was people who did nice things without asking me if I wanted them or anything. I had an Aunti Carla that just picked us up one day, and

we did a bunch of Christmas crafts for us to send to my mom. There were a lot of times that people asked me if they could help or if I needed help with anything – and I would tell them, “No.” But, really, sometimes this extra stuff really did make me feel happy – it was just hard to go around asking for the kindness of others. There were other times that people just came over and helped, and that seemed way better than asking if we needed anything. Really, I mean, I’m a teenager and it’s hard enough just to talk to adults let alone ask for help. When you ask for help – sometimes it feels like you’re failing, and I didn’t really feel like I was THAT bad. I never really “failed” but I sure had some bad days and lots of stress. I think teachers have way more impact than anyone else as far as being able to

– By Barb Conner

– by Samantha Martin, age 14

help kids with deployed parents out. I saw teachers almost every day, but talk to my neighbors only once in a while! I think one of the biggest things is helping kids communicate better and keep their lives and homework organized. My mom used to help out with homework at home; she was the one to enroll me in sports, call in when I was sick, or help if I was struggling in a class. With her gone, I just did my homework in my room – and lots of times got distracted with other stuff. Plus, we didn’t always have dinners together and regular evening routines when she was gone. There were times when I got really sad with my mom gone – missing her or worried about her. All that change made it sort of hard to focus sometimes, and I know teachers just got frustrated with me or I’d get

zeros on homework I forgot. I don’t think teachers need to automatically help out with grades, but maybe if they understood how much a kid’s life changes when their parent is gone would help. I suppose in some ways it’s like a kid who loses their parent and goes to live with someone new – they don’t always do so great that year. In general, though, I think it was those little acts of kindness that got me through this past year; sometimes from one of my best friends, sometimes a teacher, sometimes family and sometimes a neighbor. I don’t think neighbors have to form an organization or throw money at us – just have a helpful heart, a hug and a hand to help us up when we stumble. People that really cared and took the effort to show it made the real difference in my life.






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Prevent Obesity (Continued from page 6)

Military Families (Continued from page 20)

per year in direct health care costs. Childhood obesity also presents a unique national security risk. Today, more than a quarter of Americans ages 17 to 24 are unqualified for military service because they are too heavy to serve. By reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity, we will make our nation healthier, save countless lives, increase economic productivity for the next generation of American workers and ease the tremendous financial strain on our health care system caused by obesity-related illnesses.

Operation: Military Kids (OMK) focuses on those young people whose parents are active duty, National Guard and Reserve. These families may not live on military installations, but rather are dispersed throughout the United States in rural areas, small towns, suburbs and cities. Therefore, they may be isolated from other families and other youth who are experiencing similar deployments and separations. OMK strives to educate communities on the impact of the deployment cycle and military culture, and then works with communities to form networks of resources to support these young people before during and after deployment. OMK has four Core Components for outreach: Hero Packs are backpacks filled with mementos and items designed to help youth stay connected to their loved one. Hero Packs serve as an expression of support and “Thank You” to military youth for their sacrifice. Speak Out for Military Kids is a teenled, adult-supported project to generate community awareness of issues faced by military youth. Young people reach out to their community and express themselves through presentations, PSAs and creative videos. Mobile Technology Labs are computer labs used to facilitate connections between deployed parents and their children. They are loaded with software and program materials for youth to create a variety of messages, photo albums and videos. Ready, Set Go! Workshops are community trainings designed to offer insight into military culture and the deployment cycle, and suggest ways to provide support by bringing local resources together. The National Guard has Child and Youth programs in every state. These programs are designed and implemented in each state by a State Youth Coordinator. Programs are specifically to help Guard children with the separation and issues resulting from a loved one’s deployment or absence due to their military service. National Guard children are geographically dispersed and many times not near an installation or other military youth for support. The National Guard Child and Youth Program then steps in to ensure that Guard kids, families, and Service Members have the resources available to help them. This is also made possible by working with schools, private organizations, and other partners to assist these youth when and where they need it. ■

What Causes Childhood Obesity? In the simplest terms, childhood obesity results from energy imbalance — children consuming more calories than they burn through physical activity and normal growth. The latest research shows that the environments we live in and the public policies our leaders enact directly impact the foods our children eat and how much activity they get. When schools have healthy foods and beverages in their cafeterias and vending machines, students eat better. When communities have parks and bike trails in their neighborhoods and vigorous physical education programs in their schools, children are more active. When neighborhoods have supermarkets and farmers’ markets that sell affordable healthy foods, families eat more nutritiously. But when communities are dominated by fast food and few places to play, our children eat worse, are less active and their health suffers. And we all pay a price —in higher health care costs and lost economic productivity. What Can Be Done? As parents, we can model healthy behaviors — being active and eating healthy foods — and participate in these activities with our children. And while personal and family behaviors are necessary for good health, the fact is that we live in a society where it can take effort to NOT be overweight. This is why policy, systems and environmental changes in our communities are so important in reversing the trend of childhood obesity. You can make a difference — citizens and parents can champion strategies to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our kids. Communities can increase opportunities for physical activity by building new sidewalks, bike paths, parks and playgrounds or by improving those that already exist. To encourage families to use these resources and facilities, they also can implement traffic-safety measures and crime-prevention strategies, so children are safe when walking, biking or playing outside. Communities can also ensure that all foods and beverages served and sold in schools meet or exceed the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Junk food has no place in our schools, whether it’s served in cafeterias; sold in vending machines, school stores or through fundraisers; or given away as classroom treats or rewards. We can increase the time, intensity and duration of physical activity during the school day and out-of-school programs. Schools can increase students’ physical activity by requiring active participation in daily physical education classes and by finding ways to add physical activity throughout the day. After-school programs located in schools, parks and recreational centers also can find innovative ways to help children be active. We can also reduce youths’ exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods through regulation, policy and effective industry self-regulation. Unhealthy products are heavily marketed to children, and research shows that exposure to food marketing messages increases children’s obesity risk. Some studies suggest that marketing restrictions are among the most powerful and cost-effective interventions available. ■



Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was invented for a US firm’s Christmas promotion in 1938.

The filming of the movie ‘Titanic’ cost more than the Titanic itself!

The can opener was invented 48 years after the can.






funny bone

how much this graph reminds me of

Mr.T Reminds me of Mr. T Still kind of reminds me of Mr. T

and i quote

whether you think

you can

or whether you think

you can’t,

you’re right



RemembeR, montana Schools are Proudly No Tobacco

Welcome to our Tobacco Free Campus!

School policy and state law prohibit tobacco use on all school property.

Everywhere ~ By everyone ~ At all times

The Montana Tobacco Free Schools Act prohibits the use of ANY tobacco product on school property including:



Tobacco Free!

for all your holiday


all year long

Playgrounds • Parking Lots Administration buildings • Athletic Facilities

this law applies to everyone at all times!

The mission of the Lewis and Clark Tobacco Use Prevention Program is to address the public health crisis caused by the use of all forms of tobacco. To learn more about Tobacco Prevention in our community, visit:








714 Chestnut • Helena

g n i n r wa

s n g i s

e id ic u s f o k is r t a e b y a m o h of someone w ➽ Abrupt change in personality

➽ Decline in personal hygiene

➽ Giving away prized possessions

➽ Sleep disturbance, either too much or too little

➽ Previous suicide attempts

➽ Overall sense of sadness and hopelessness

➽ Increase in drug or alcohol use

➽ Eating disturbance, either weight gain or loss

➽ Flat affect or depressed mood

➽ Unusually long grief reaction (varies with different youth)

➽ Inability to tolerate frustration

➽ Overall sense of sadness and hopelessness

➽ Withdrawal and rebelliousness

➽ Decrease in academic performance

➽ Difficulty concentrating

➽ Isolating and choosing to spend time alone

➽ Increase in hostility

➽ Recent family or relational disruption

what you can do to save a life > If you see the signs, ask the person, “Are you suicidal?” > Offer hope, don’t leave them alone, and tell others the person to the nearest ER, call the police, > Take take them to a health care professional or > Call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-talK (8255)


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