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Vaping: What Parents Need to Know

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CULTIVATING TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS » Legal Does Not Mean Okay » Want to Support Your Adolescent’s Health? Be an Askable Adult » Tips to Stay Mentally Well BROUGHT TO YOU BY


EXCELSIOR SPRINGS SCHOOL DISTRICT EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER

Half & Full Day Preschool Opportunities

Therapy services.

CALL CHELSEA LANE FOR PROGRAM QUESTIONS AND APPLICATION INFORMATION AT 630-1484 **Full day program requires specific federal eligibility requirements and a separate application process. Head Start provides transportation, breakfast/lunch and a snack.

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WINTER/SPRING 2020

FEATURES

6

Cultivating Trusting Relationships

14 16

Legal Does Not Mean Okay

20 23

Tips to Stay Mentally Well

Want to Support Your Adolescent’s Health? Be an Askable Adult

Vaping: What Parents Need to Know

IN EVERY ISSUE

2 From the Director 5 The Kitchen Table 10 Faces in the Crowd 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Assets in Action 18 Q&A / By the Numbers PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH BROUGHT TO YOU BY

TO ADVERTISE OR CONTRIBUTE Julia Mees: safedfc@gmail.com

COVER PHOTO BY Wandering Albatross Photography excelsiorspringssafe.com

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Director FROM THE

ABOUT EXCELSIOR SPRINGS SAFE (Substance Abuse-Free Environments) Excelsior Springs SAFE (Substance AbuseFree Environments) is a community coalition made up of people who live in or work in Excelsior Springs. We are one of the many coalitions throughout the Northland working to prevent youth substance use. We do this through education, advocacy, media campaigns, and environmental change. Our Mission: Through community involvement, leadership, and the sharing of resources, Excelsior Springs SAFE works to reduce underage drinking, nicotine and other drug use, violence and other negative behaviors and improve the lives of all Excelsior Springs citizens. If you would like to join us in our mission, please reach out to Julia Mees, Program Director, at safedfc@gmail.com.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SAFE Website: www.excelsiorspringssafe.com Facebook: facebook.com/ESSAFE

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hank you, Excelsior, for the amazing feedback about our first issue of Youth Connections! We distributed the first issue this summer, and you are now holding the second issue of YC. We’re excited to be able to bring this resource to our community! This issue is all about relationships. Did you know that research points JULIA to the presence of a caring adult as MEES the most important factor in a child’s development? Especially in children who experience trauma, the presence of a supportive adult can help buffer this adversity and make them more resilient. We all know that positive relationships with caring adults are vital to youth, but sometimes it feels difficult to know how to establish those strong bonds. This issue provides features on creating trusting relationships with children and teens (p. 6) and addresses how to be an “askable adult” (p. 16). There are also articles on helping youth navigate friendships (p. 5) and dating relationships (p. 18). In every issue of Youth Connections, Faces in the Crowd (p. 10) and Assets in Action (p. 11) feature local Excelsior Springs kids doing amazing things! We’d love for you to submit a photo of your own child displaying one of these 40 Developmental Assets by emailing it to safedfc@gmail.com. Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the 40 Developmental Assets and think about what you can do to build these assets in kids throughout our community. If you know of a local adult who is a positive force in the lives of kids, take a minute to nominate them for our new SAFE Community Champion Award, which recognizes adults who encourage the 40 Developmental Assets in Excelsior youth. You can nominate someone on our website, excelsiorspringssafe.com. There are incredible things happening each day in this community! What role can you play in the success of kids around you? Thanks for taking the time to pick up this copy of YC! We believe that by working together, we can help all young people meet their potential.

JULIA MEES, PROGRAM DIRECTOR safedfc@gmail.com


clay county public health center learn more about our services at clayhealth.com.

STD Testing

Immunizations

WIC Services

food handler Classes

ClayHealth.com | 816-595-4200 800 Haines Drive, Liberty, Missouri Mon.–Fri.: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

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CONFESSIONS FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE WHAT TO DO ABOUT FRIENDS! FRIENDSHIP FROM A MOTHER’S POINT OF VIEW I remember going through the trials and errors of having friends. My mom would just say that stinks and move on with her day. I grew up on an Air Force Base, which lead to a constant change in friends. But as I grew older I learned the importance of developing relationships/friendships. Fast forward to the future. I remember my daughter coming home in the 3rd grade crying about friends and the issues with all the girls picking best friends. I remember the mama bear in me coming out and wanting to protect my child from the hurt. As I pondered what to do, I thought if I jump in and call the other child’s parent, what am I teaching my child? I listened to the whole story and decided to help my daughter come to her own conclusion which gave her ownership of her decision. Just recently my son was dealing with a similar situation with two of his friends. Everyday he would come home with his spirit crushed. I sat him down and talked about healthy relationships/friendships. I explained to him that sometimes relationships/ friendships can become unhealthy. We talked about how people will come in and out of our lives, just like we come in and out of other people’s lives. We each have a choice, whether to create a positive story in that person’s life or a negative story. Many times some of

us want to help people out by investing in relationships/friendships that are not healthy. Of course there are those times when we as parents see our child’s friends being, well to be honest, little monsters. It’s so hard not to jump in and fix it. It’s gotten worse in this age of technology where people, not just kids, can say whatever they want because they’re hiding behind a screen. I try to help them through the hurt without fixing it for them. It is one of the harder things I have to do as a parent. Ultimately, I understand my role as a parent is to prepare my child to be independent, so I try to help them develop and work on their own relationships/ friendships. As they grow up, issues become more complicated and can cause bigger issues. I help my children to take a step back and look at their relationship/friendship from the other person’s point of view. This helps them sometimes see why people do what they do and gives them perspective on how to handle the situation. They then have to decide if this relationship/friendship is worth continuing to work on. If it is then they need to figure out what to do to work on it, this is when I offer advice. Sometimes they take it and other times they don’t. When I offer advice I usually offer options and let them pick the options they want. Then I say, ‘I know you’ll make the best decision and let me know how it turns out.’

Nine times out of ten they work through the issues or make a decision to let the relationship/friendship go. FRIENDSHIP FROM A TEENAGER’S POINT OF VIEW There is no set definition on friendship. Sure there’s a dictionary definition, but that does no justice in the grand scheme of life. Friendship is about finding people who make your journey through life a little more enjoyable. Just like life, friendships are crazy little adventures. Not every adventure is going to go well, but the greatest adventures are the ones that will always stick in your memory. On the path to long term friendships are bumps, pot-holes, and huge boulders. Talking is important during these times, but space always plays a major role. Through many friendships, I have learned that people change. They will never be the same as who they were before, so either you accept it or move on. Holding on or letting go of friendships is one of the hardest things you have to decide throughout your life. Sometimes people deserve second chances and sometimes second chances just won’t do the trick. When you have friends that don’t associate themselves in your victories and, most importantly, your losses, that will eventually lead to you letting go of them. ■

YOU CAN SUBMIT YOUR STORY AT: safedfc@gmail.com For many of us the kitchen table represents the typical family experience. We have laughed while having family game night. We have cried over our children’s choices. We have blown out the candles on many cakes. We have argued our way out of doing the dishes. We have struggled through those “three more bites.” We have learned hard lessons and celebrated many deserved successes. One thing is for sure though—if our kitchen tables could talk, there would be plenty of stories! So often it is in relating to others’ stories that we realize there isn’t always one answer, or even a right answer. Parenting is hard work! If you have a story of lessons learned, we invite you to share it with our readers. Sometimes, knowing we aren’t the only ones struggling to find the answer is all the help we need.

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cultivating trus RELATION By JENNIFER MILLER, M.ED.

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sting NSHIPS

“It’s sad our girls aren’t talking. How are they going to work anything out that way?” said Tara, the mother of Janie’s teenage daughter’s best and oldest friend. “I didn’t know they were fighting,” replied Janie as she walked away wondering why she hadn’t heard first hand about her daughter’s friendship woes. When she returned home, Janie asked her daughter about it. “Oh, it’s nothing,” was her daughter’s response. he recalled just last evening noticing the light on under her door late into the evening and could see her daughter’s tired, worn expression. “I can see you’re upset. And Mrs. Anderson mentioned that you and Cara aren’t talking. Won’t you tell me what’s going on?” As Janie wondered why her daughter chose to struggle in silence, she thought about their conversations about Cara over the past months. Janie didn’t approve of how Cara pressured her daughter to take risks she might not otherwise take and had made that wellknown to her daughter. Had her comments about Cara created a barrier between her and her daughter? Was she now not safe to confide in? Her frustration mounted as she tried to figure out what she might do or say to get her daughter talking again. How does an adult become “ask-able” - the kind of adult with whom children and teens are comfortable coming to and confiding in? Parents and educators need to be able to help with smaller, everyday issues like when children and teens face simple friendship problems and the big upsets that accompany them. These little confidences between adult and child or teen prepare them for larger issues like dealing with peer pressure, navigating failing grades, or dealing with a bullying peer. The question raised is critically important since, according to a recent review of five years of bullying trends by Limber and colleagues, the majority of U.S. youth say they would not tell a parent or teacher if they were being bullied. Why? Some may fear adults blaming them for the incident. But others may fear that adults will take action toward continued on page 9

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Most kids get access to alcohol from family & friends that are over 21. Help reduce underage drinking in our community by refusing to provide alcohol to minors.

FEWER KIDS USE WHEN ADULTS REFUSE ExcelsiorSpringsSAFE.com

Northland Students Committed to Making A Difference in Their Community

BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION

Meet students from over 45 different schools Raise awareness on public health issues and mental wellness Advocate with state legislators Fight teen drug and alcohol use Scholarship opportunities For more information contact Sherri Miller sherrim@tri-countymhs.org

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continued from page 7

the bully, punishing the action and leaving the accusing child vulnerable to further attacks. So what’s a caring teacher, parent, after school program staff person, or other who works with children or teens to do? Ultimately, it comes down to trust. Does the child or teen trust you enough to sensitively, carefully listen, and respond to their story with empathy for all involved? Will you help them strengthen their friendships? Will you think through the potential consequences and ensure that further harm does not result from your intervention? In fact, the site that launched in January of this year entitled ParentingMontana.org, a model for parents around the country, teaches precisely those specific ways of responding that can promote trusting, caring relationships, ones in which adults learn how to become the “ask-able” or approachable adult. Fundamental to getting along in school, in the workplace, and at home are relationship skills - one of the five core competencies named in research as vital to children’s success. Current research is also finding that not only are these social and emotional skills essential for children and teens, they are also essential to hone in teachers, parents, and all those who work with children to ensure their success. Relationship skills involve the ability to listen for understanding, to assert needs, communicate effectively, seek help when needed, and negotiate conflict constructively. These skills are best learned through interactive modeling or enacting the skill and reflecting on what the child noticed while it was being performed. And, the good news is that when we become intentional about modeling these skills, we enjoy multiple benefits. Our skills increase alongside our increasing child’s skills while deepening our trusting relationship. The following are simple, practical ideas for becoming intentional about cultivating trusting relationships so that you become an “ask-able” adult. Each practice will be followed by questions so that you can reflect on how small changes might improve how you relate to the children you care about. CREATE A DAILY LISTENING RITUAL Children and teens of all ages have big and small questions about the world. Daily, they are hard at work trying to figure out their emotions, friendships, and other mysteries of the universe! Create a time in your day when you really listen to your child (or teen). Put your phone away. Find out what’s really going on in their mind. If you are a teacher or program staff person, gather in a circle daily and offer each

child/teen the chance to share. Reflect on a key question like “how do you most like to spend your free time?” or “what does being a good friend mean to you?” It doesn’t have to require a lot of your time. For parents, bedtime can become a magical opportunity for connection when you can reflect on the worries, cares, and happy thoughts of the day. Be sure that when you are listening, you keep an open mind and reserve judgment. If they fear your critique, they’ll be less likely to speak up. Key Reflections: How frequently do you put your phone away, ensure distractions are minimized, and fully focus on listening to the child or teen in front of you? How could you manage to build time into your day to make this caring connection? Added Bonus: This strategy is used frequently by parents and teachers to achieve several additional goals. It can significantly improve behavior if a child is tempted to engage in attention-seeking misbehaviors. Your daily ritual can take care of the child’s need for your focused attention. This simple strategy can also ensure safety so that adults can become aware of upset feelings and problems through these discussions and address them before they escalate into a crisis. PRACTICE ASSERTING NEEDS AND ASKING FOR HELP As advocates for young people, we may frequently speak up for them when they are not well articulating their needs. This may unintentionally take away valuable practice. So how can we encourage their assertive communication rehearsals? Look for and offer plenty of small chances for children to speak up. Encourage your child or teen to order dinner themselves at a restaurant. Offer helpful sample language to a teen who is unsure how to assert her needs to a friend. Teachers can conduct occasional student-teacher one-onones where they check in on how they are feeling about their work, share strengths, and ask about areas of concern. Provide plenty of wait time and if your child or teen stumbles or is thinking silently, allow them time to figure it out. While running errands with your child, point out who might be best to seek help from if they got lost or needed help while in the store. You might ask, by ”can you identify a store clerk?” or “can you find a caring Mom?” Or talk through safety plans with your teen. “What if your car breaks down while out with friends?” In any circumstance in which a child or teen is in trouble, any caring Mom may just be the most likely candidate to step up and help.

Key Reflections: Is your child or teen able to tell you or a teacher when they have a need whether it’s a headache or they’ve been emotionally hurt? How can you look for small chances in your every day time with children to help them practice asserting their needs or asking for help? FOCUS ON LEARNING ABOUT AND USING LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES NOT PUNISHMENTS Most parents admit that knowing what to do about discipline issues is challenging. And teachers and other providers share that challenge. But it’s a problem worth tackling if punitive strategies only work to create distrust among and between children and adults. How could a teacher respond to friends who are arguing and clearly upset? Listening with an open mind is a proven strategy. Key Reflections: How can we help deal with children’s or teen’s feelings by first helping them calm down? How can we plan ahead for dealing with our own big feelings of anger or frustration when children or teens act out so that we calm down instead of raising our volume? Then, how can we help children reflect on and repair the harm they’ve caused whether it involves hurt feelings or damaged property? Because every situation is different, the solutions will be different too. If detention or suspension is the same consequence for every mis-step, how will children or teens learn authentic consequences and how to take steps to fix what they’ve broken? Perhaps in the case of the two friends giving each other the silent treatment after an argument, after calming down and listening for understanding, a teacher might ask the individuals involved what their role in the problem was, what harm they caused, and how they could repair the emotional damage? This involves our children or teens in thinking through the situation, taking responsibility, and finding their own way to make amends. These lessons promote continued trust between adults and students if we only take the time and care to follow through. And, these steps can be taken in family life too. If we want our children and teens to discover how to navigate relationships - the cornerstone of their sense of wellbeing - then we need to invest in our continued focus on building trust and safety. We need to find opportunities that naturally arise in everyday life for our children and teens to become thoughtful and active participants in growing healthy relationships. ■

About The Author: Jennifer Miller, M.Ed., author of the popular site, Confident Parents, Confident Kids, has twenty years of experience helping adults become more effective with the children they love through social and emotional learning. Among other roles, she serves as lead writer for Parenting Montana: Tools for Your Child’s Success, a statewide media campaign to educate parents on social and emotional learning excelsiorspringssafe.com

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

Brett Jones

FACES IN THE CROWD

LEWIS ELEMENTARY, 5TH GRADE

Brett Jones follows all expectations and is a role model for his peers! He treats others with kindness. Brett has high expectations for himself and works hard to accomplish them. He is the student council president for Lewis Elementary and is the voice of Lewis, as he does the morning announcements daily. Brett is always striving to do his best work within his classroom setting and he serves as a role model amongst his peers. Brett volunteers to assist others when needed and maintains a consistent positive attitude. Brett is the Lewis example for what Tiger pride looks like! Thank you, Brett!

Josie Casler

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS MIDDLE SCHOOL, 6TH GRADE

Josie Casler is a kind, encouraging member of our team. She never complains and always has a positive outlook on everything we do. Josie is helpful and supports everyone in her classes. Josie makes sure she has good grades and attendance, but she is also very involved in things other than academics as well. She has a wide variety of interests; she is a very dedicated softball player, and she is a vital member of the Yearbook Staff as well. We love having Josie on our Middle School team, and believe she is a positive role model for everyone! Thank you, Josie!

Dalton Goodwine

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL, 12TH GRADE

Dalton Goodwine is a model student at Excelsior Springs High School. Dalton is a member of the National Technical Honor Society, he excels in Auto-Tech at the Career Center, and he has been a member of the Honor Roll and Principal’s Honor Roll since he moved here his sophomore year. While academics are very important to Dalton, he also excels outside of the classroom. Dalton is also involved with football and wrestling at the high school and is a valued teammate of both teams. Thank you, Dalton, for being a positive role model in our school!

Excelsior Springs 4-H

YOUTH-FOCUSED ORGANIZATION

4-H is one organization that offers so many opportunities to youth! The local 4-H chapter is called 4-H2O and serves youth ages 5-18. 4-H empowers young people to lead for a lifetime. Through hands-on learning, kids build not only confidence, creativity and curiosity, but also life skills such as leadership and resiliency to help them thrive today and tomorrow. Find 4-H20 on Facebook or email mmcdade3@outlook.com for more information.

Hillary Mullin

COMMUNITY LEADER

Hillary is a much-loved employee at ES Middle School. She was surprised in the lunchroom recently by being awarded the Excelsior Springs SAFE Community Champion Award. She received the award for being a wonderful example of a positive adult role model for kids. Lindsey Hall, who nominated Hillary, writes, “Hillary loves her town and everyone in it. She will help with anything she can. She is selfless and will give her time to others who can use her. She always uplifts the children of Excelsior Springs and recognizes all the great things they do.” Thank you, Hillary, for all you do for Excelsior kids! If you would like to learn more about the Community Champion Award, go to excelsiorspringssafe.com/community-champion.

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40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS 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, we will continue to be a place where Great Kids Make Great Communities.

Turn the page to learn more! The 40 Developmental Assets® may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial uses only. Copyright © 1997 Search Institute®, 615 First Avenue NE, Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828; www.search-institute.org. All rights reserved.

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assets in action

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

1 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.

Sutton, her dad, and grandpa enjoy T-ball together

EMPOWERMENT

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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 Local theater gives kids a chance to be creative Local scouts work on a highway clean-up project

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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

School is a caring environment for these little friends

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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 safedfc@gmail.com with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.

Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.

18 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.

4-H helps kids become active in their community

POSITIVE VALUES

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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.

Signing on to an internship and planning for the future! Listening to a story at the Excelsior Community Center

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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.

Good friends support and encourage each other

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LEGAL

does not mean okay By LINDA COLLINS, Prevention Specialist

here have been a lot of changes recently across the country regarding the legalization of marijuana. Alcohol is legal for adults over the age of 21. Prescription pills are legal if prescribed by a physician. No matter how we as adults feel about substance use and misuse of medications, research has proven that the use of any substance is harmful for youth and the developing brain. Just because a substance has been legalized for recreational or medicinal use by adults, does not make it okay for youth use. The following is information taken from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. MARIJUANA Of the more than 500 chemicals in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, is responsible for many of the drug’s mind-altering effects. Marijuana disrupts the brain’s normal functioning and can lead to problems studying, learning new things, and recalling recent events. These skills are obviously needed to be successful in school. In fact, youth who use marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school. THC affects the areas of the brain that control balance and coordination, as well as helps control movement. These influence performance in sports, driving, and even video gaming. It interferes with alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. (This comes in handy if a baseball is coming at our face at 60 mph). High school seniors who smoke marijuana are twice as likely to receive a traffic ticket and 65% more likely to get into a car crash than those who don’t smoke. THC affects areas of the brain involved in decision making. Using marijuana can make youth more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as unprotected sex or getting in a car with someone who’s impaired. Research suggests that people who use marijuana regularly for a long time are less

satisfied with their lives and have more problems with friends and family compared to people who do not use marijuana. Being a teenager these days is hard enough to maneuver without adding the burden of additional problems with friends and family. Whether we want to believe it or not, marijuana can be addicting. Approximately 10 percent of users will develop marijuana use disorder. Youth who begin using before the age of 18 are 4–7 times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder. ALCOHOL Alcohol is the mostly widely used substance of abuse by America’s youth. When teens drink alcohol, it affects their brain in the short-term, but repeated use can impact long-term brain development. It can affect both function and structure. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to meet the criteria of alcohol dependence at some point in their life. Drinking can lead to poor decisions by youth about engaging in risky behavior, like drinking and driving, sexual activity (such as unprotected sex), and aggressive or violent behavior. In fact, underage youth who drink are more likely to carry out or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault after drinking than others their age who do not drink. PRESCRIPTION AND OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATIONS When taken as prescribed, prescription and over the counter medications can be effective ways to treat pain or cold/flu. If taken without symptoms or in higher quantities, it can affect the brain in similar ways illegal drugs can, and can lead to addiction. Given all these statistics and the research, it’s important that we as parents relay the facts to youth so misinformation does not lead them to make poor decisions. Our conversation needs to include the dangers of drugs on the developing brain

and why just because it’s legal for adults, it’s not okay for kids. Here are some pointers from, “Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change,” William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnicon, on how to have that conversation: + Keep an open mind. When a child feels judged or condemned, she is less likely to be receptive to the message. + We need to put ourselves in their shoes. Consider how we would like to be spoken to about a difficult subject. Try to think back what it was like when we were teens. Ask if it’s okay talking about this and if it’s okay if we give some advice. + Be clear about our goals. Try writing them down and review them later to make sure we got our points across. + Be calm. If we start when we’re angry or anxious, it will be harder to achieve our goal. + Be positive. Approaching the subject with anger, scare tactics or disappointment will be counterproductive. Pay attention and be respectful and understanding. Telling them that we appreciate their honesty will go a long way. + Don’t lecture. (It didn’t work when our parents did it!) Just telling them ‘they shouldn’t use because we’re the parent and we said so’ will not work. Offer empathy and compassion, showing them that we get what they’re saying. + Ask open-ended questions, for example, “tell me more about…” Then sum up and ask questions. It’s important with all the messaging on marijuana and the messages we send youth about alcohol and even medications, they understand just because it’s legal, does not make it okay for them to use. Their brains are still developing, and for their health and safety, and for them to reach their full potential, they must stay substance-free. ■

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WANT TO SUPPORT YOUR ADOLESCENT’S HEALTH?

be an askable adult By JENNI LANE, MA and LAUREN RANALLI, MPH, Adolescent Health Initiative

Mom/Dad, kids at school were talking about [fill in the blank with: suicide; racism; vaping; bullying; pornography or any hot button celebrity scandal] and I was just wondering… is what they said true?” Deep breath. As the saying goes, raising tweens and teens is not for the faint of heart. When we’re on the spot with a tough question, it can be tempting to respond with a quick cliché or to change the subject. Some of us grew up hearing from our own parents that these topics were “adult” and off-limits for household discussion. At these moments, we as parents and guardians have an opportunity to establish ourselves as a trustworthy, go-to source for accurate information and sound guidance. Being “askable” doesn’t mean that our kids will always come to us when they have questions or problems – and when they do come to us, it doesn’t mean we won’t be uncomfortable or mad. But it does mean that our kids know we are willing to talk to them about difficult things and with accurate information, without shaming them. We can start establishing ourselves as askable adults when our kids are young. Being askable to a seven year-old when they have questions about a slang term sets up trust and sends a message that it’s okay to be curious. Catherine M. Wallace writes, “If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” When we validate the concerns of our kids, whether they’re four or fourteen, we build trust. Being askable can also serve as a protective factor, helping create a shield

against health risks as our children get older and encounter more occasions to make unhealthy decisions. If teens come to us when they need guidance or information about things like alcohol and other drugs, mental health, relationships, or STD prevention, we have an opportunity to share accurate information that they might not get from the school bus or social media. We don’t have to have all of the answers. Often, just being open to the question and finding the answer together from a reputable source can illustrate that we care about their health, and it reinforces that we’re safe to come to. In many cases, these conversations can also provide an opportunity for us to share our values around these issues. It’s not easy, and we will make mistakes! We don’t always hide our initial reactions of shock or judgment, we lose our cool, we say things that we regret. And sometimes, teens will just not feel comfortable coming to us with questions or concerns. And that’s okay. Helping our kids connect with other trusted adults can be a great way to ensure that they’re going to get accurate information and healthy support and advice. This can be an aunt, grandfather, family friend, or any other adult who you trust in this role. At the Adolescent Health Initiative, we focus on connecting teens with youth-friendly health care providers. Health care providers can be a valuable resource, and many providers who work with teens consider it an important part of their job to be askable. It is important to find the right fit for your family, and it’s essential for your child to receive care at a health center that values

providing adolescent-centered services. Some things for you and your child to consider when selecting a health center may include: Is the physical space welcoming to teens and affirming of LGBTQ youth? Do the waiting and exam rooms offer a sense of privacy? Does the health center provide confidential risk screening? What else will make your child feel comfortable in this setting? Whether you are transitioning to a new provider or continuing care with an existing one, make a point to talk to them about ways to empower your child to better manage their own care. For example, the teen years are a great time for young people to learn their family health history, schedule their own appointments, and understand their insurance coverage. Additionally, make space for your child to spend time alone with their provider starting around age 13. This gives young people the opportunity to ask questions and share their own view of their health. Confidentiality and minor consent laws vary in each state, but you and your child should be aware of which mental health and sexual health services are available to adolescents. The most common health problems among adolescents are a result of risky behaviors, so it’s especially important for teens to feel like they can talk to their provider honestly. Finding a provider your teen considers an askable, trustworthy adult, in a health center where they feel welcome and valued, can have a lifetime of positive effects on their health. If we see the provider as a partner, we can work together to help our teens make their way through adolescence as resilient, healthy adults. ■

LOOKING FOR MORE RESOURCES? The Adolescent Health Initiative can help! We work with providers and health care professionals from around the country to improve adolescent-centered care. Visit www.adolescenthealthinitiative.org for videos, handouts, and resources for parents, teens, and providers self-advocacy and empowerment.

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NUMBERS I need dating tips for teens.

42

How many times recently have we heard about #Metoo in the news? With one in four girls and one of six boys being victimized by sexual violence before they turn 18, it’s time for us to talk about it with our kids, especially as they begin to step into the dating world. + Share with your child regularly your wisdom around dating and your expectations of them in the dating world. Share what your dating and intimacy expectations are for them, and encourage them to share these expectations with their dating partner. + Meet their dating partners and get to know them. Learn what your child likes about them. Help them to understand the boundaries you expect. For example, no calls or texts after 9 pm or setting reasonable curfews. + Discuss with your child the importance of avoiding being alone with a dating partner until they know each other better. + Highlight how drugs and alcohol can skew perceptions and can be used against someone to make them more vulnerable to harm. + Teach your child to “trust their gut.” If things feel weird or wrong, then they should trust that feeling and get out of the situation. + Help your child to create a safety plan for removing themselves from an uncomfortable situation. Maybe give them access to your Lyft or Uber account, or offer to pick them up whenever/ wherever they need it; no questions asked. + Work to instill in your child that they are always to be treated with respect. If anyone, especially a dating partner, belittles them or tries to take advantage of them, help your child know that this behavior is never going to be OK! + Take the Rating Game Challenge together: YOUR DATING PARTNER (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)  Has an explosive temper  Is jealous of your time, friends, and family  Constantly criticizes you, your looks, your ideas  Pinches, slaps, grabs, or pushes you  Forces or intimidates you into sexual activity  Blames you for their anger  Makes you feel afraid

The number of teeth a bear has.

6000

The number of times the Earth is struck by lightning in a minute.

3995

The length of The Great Wall of China, in miles.

70 million The number of sheep in New Zealand.

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If you checked even one box, your partner rates a zero. Talk to your child and help find solutions that work for him/her.

The distance, in miles, a dolphin can hear underwater.

Kelly Parsley, M.A. M.P.H. has been a victim advocate for sexual violence survivors for 21 years. She currently serves on the board of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

HAVE A QUESTION? safedfc@gmail.com

We cannot guarantee all questions will be published; however, we will do our best to respond to all questions submitted.

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The number of years an average person will spend asleep.


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tips to stay

MENTALLY WELL By KIMBERLY GARDNER, LCSW, LAC

here are things we can do to stay mentally well or “mend” ourselves after stressful events. Just like if we were to overdo it in the yard on a hot summer day, our body may “break down.” We know that rest, lots of water, and staying out of the sun can help with our gardening episode. There are things we can do for our mental health before and during stressful periods of our lives to help us cope and avoid “breaking down.” Just like with our physical health, our mental health needs to be taken care of as well. We know that if we eat healthy foods, get good sleep, and exercise, our chances of becoming ill are reduced. The same is true of our mental health. Unfortunately we often forget to nurture the activities that help us stay mentally well, especially when we need it most, like during a crisis. When we neglect our mental health, our physical health can suffer too. It’s important to make sure we do this, but also help youth make healthy choices, for both their physical and mental health. To prevent every day crises turning into full blown emergencies, everyone should develop a plan to stay mentally healthy. It is especially important to help youth identify activities that help them deal with the trials of everyday life. TIPS FOR KIDS AND ADULTS + Engage in a physical activity that is enjoyable (swim, walk, hike, bike, dance, skate) + Get adequate sleep + Smile and laugh + Un-plug from technology (it’s amazing how freeing it can be!) + Talk with a friend or loved-one (face-to-face) + Make time to do things that are enjoyable – take some “me” time

+ Get some sunshine (but remember sunscreen) + Eat foods that boost mood such as omega 3, nuts, avocados, beans, leafy greens, blueberries + Find relaxation and coping strategies – color, cuddle with a pet, take a warm bath, draw or write + Practice mindfulness – live in the moment There are also ways to live our lives differently to help our mental health. Looking on the bright side of things increases our ability to experience happiness in our everyday lives. It can take some practice, but it really can help us cope better with stress. Having hope allows us to see the light at the end of the tunnel and helps us push through challenging times. Being optimistic helps us know that light isn’t an oncoming train. It’s extremely important to stay connected with face-to-face relationships. Research is showing that kids are increasingly sad because they have no human contact, just messages through a screen. Friends and family can help us feel loved, needed, accepted, and meet our emotional needs. Being grateful is an integral part to finding happiness. Those of us who are thankful for what we have are more able to cope with stress and have more positive emotions. Start a gratitude journal and write down three things every day that we can be thankful for – they don’t have to be big. Even on our seemingly worst days, we can be thankful for the sun/rain, a hot cup of coffee, or a hug from our kids. We can help kids find what they’re thankful for as well – no homework, their favorite meal, or a kiss from the dog. We know that sometimes, even with our best efforts, kids struggle. Unfortunately, kids aren’t always forthcoming with what’s

happening in their lives and can have troubles letting us know they are suffering until there is a crisis. What might look like typical teenage angst and acting out might be a sign of overwhelming stress, despair over a relationship conflict or a sense of impending disaster. Unlike most adults in crisis, teens in crisis often are experiencing more symptoms of intense anxiety than signs of depression. Because their brains are not fully developed yet, they’re not always able to understand the context of some situations or have hope that it will end well. In this case it may be time to seek out a mental health professional for an assessment. WARNING SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS: + Loss of interest or feeling low + Emotional numbing + Taking dangerous risks + Using alcohol or drugs to escape + Changes in sleeping or eating + Forgetfulness + Exaggerated startle response + Impaired concentration + Social withdrawal + Chronic fatigue + Insomnia + Loss of sense of spirituality + Hyper-vigilance + Doing ordinary things gets harder If a child exhibits any of these signs, it’s best to ask the child’s physician or school for help in obtaining an assessment. Just like physical health, it’s important for all of us to take steps to have good mental health. We know that even if we do everything right, sometimes things happen and we need to reach out for help, and that’s okay. As much as we’d like, none of us have 100% control over our physical OR mental health. ■

To prevent every day crises turning into full blown emergencies, everyone should develop a plan to stay mentally healthy. It is especially important to help youth identify activities that help them deal with the trials of everyday life. excelsiorspringssafe.com

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Looking for Low Income Housing Assistance?

Excelsior Springs Housing Authority 320 West Excelsior Street Excelsior Springs, MO 64024 Phone: (816) 630-7361 APPLICATION HOURS: TUESDAYS & THURSDAYS

9:00 a.m.—11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.—3:30 p.m.

No appointment necessary All adults (18 + years) should be present and bring: -Driver’s License or State ID AND Social Security Card

Filley Place Apartments

-Birth Certificate AND Social Security Card Winter/Spring 2020

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Saratoga Towers

The Excelsior Springs Housing Authority is currently accepting applications for our Public Housing (shown above) and Housing Choice Vouchers. Both are rental assistance programs for qualified individuals and families.

For each child, you must bring:

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Inquire Today!


WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

vaping By BRANDEE TYREE, Prevention Specialist

he Center on Addiction states that vaping is “the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease.” It can be noted that vaping in general, yet specifically marijuana, means there is not the typical odor that comes from smoking tobacco or marijuana, which means vaping can be hard for a parent to detect. The newest and most popular vaping product is the JUUL. It’s a small, sleek device that resembles a computer USB flash drive which makes it easy to conceal. Every JUUL product contains a high dose of nicotine and/or can contain marijuana. One pod or flavor cartridge contains about the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. These devices can heat cannabis, often through cannabis-infused oils, to a temperature at which the mind-altering compounds in the plant are released as a vapor that the user inhales. One study

suggests that at least for first-timers or others who don’t use cannabis regularly, vaping delivers greater amounts of THC, which increases the likelihood of adverse reactions. A concerning fact from a national survey of teens found that about 6 percent of those who had ever vaped reported vaping marijuana. In addition to delivering a higher dose of the drug, vaping produces an aerosol of ultrafine particles that are sent to the lungs and then the brain. These particles are really small, a 50th to 100th the size of a hair. They can go right through the lungs and into the blood and from there into the cells of the body. So what is helpful for parents to know? + Juul and vape pens can be small and easy to conceal, which make it hard for parents to detect. + Vaping THC does not produce the telltale smell that emerges when smoking marijuana through a joint, blunt or pipe. This allows teens and young adults to use marijuana without being detected. + When people vape rather than smoke marijuana, they tend to consume even higher concentrations of THC, which means greater exposure to the drug’s mind altering and addictive ingredient. ■

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GOODCENTER SAMARITAN CENTER MARITAN A place where you can go when2019you need somewhere to go

when you need somewhere to go

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items, assistance with utilities rent,budgeting GED classes, utilities and rent, GEDand classes, assistance, an on-site therapist and more! budgeting assistance, anproblem.” on-site therapist and more! We’re always in need of protein item for our pantry!

- Sara Noblet E.D.

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problem.”

- Sara Noblet E.D.

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Volunteer in Broadway Bargains

Volunteer in our food pantry

Canned protein Items needed

are always in need of protein items for/ goodsamaritancenter.com our pantry! 108 We S. Thompson, Excelsior Springs / 816.630.2718  Community Service

items for our pantry!

Center you receive a hand-up, not a hand-out. Serving others is the greatest act you can do. “At the Good Samaritan Center you receive a Hope is on the horizon hand-up not a hand-out. I’mis the glad that the Servingand others greatest can do. GSCactisyou going to be part Hope is on the horizon of the solution and not and I’m glad that the Good Samaritan the Center problem.”

• Volunteer at How can I help Broadway Bargains GSC ? 

in Broad•Volunteer Volunteer in our way Bargains food pantry Volunteer in our food pantry

• Canned protein Canned protein items needed Items needed Service •Community Community Service


Interested in tuition-free training? Apply to Excelsior Springs Job Corps Today! • Building Construction Technology • Carpentry • Cement Masonry • Certified Nurse Assistant • Clinical Medical Assistant

• Culinary Arts • Homeland Security • Medical Administrative Assistant • Painting • Welding

For more information, please visit recruiting.jobcorps.gov or call (800) 733–JOBS.


Excelsior Springs SAFE P.O. Box 518 Excelsior Springs, MO 64024

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Profile for Deanna Johnson

YC Magazine, Excelsior Springs - Winter/Spring 2020  

YC Magazine, Excelsior Springs - Winter/Spring 2020