YC Magazine, GCPC - Issue #9

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Inhalants: What Parents Need to Know ALSO » The Benefits and Dangers of Boredom » The Benefits of Fine Arts for Mental Health » The Harms of Self-Medicating » Helping Kids Find Healthy Coping Skills Issue #9 | www.thegcpc.org BROUGHT TO YOU BY
3 Issue #9 | YC MAGAZINE | thegcpc.org Empowering change. Connecting to hope. Local prevention and support services in specific categories for youth, adults, and families. Connect to prevention and support services at: PreventionPortal.org theGCPC.org | 810.285.9047 | G4428 Fenton Rd., Flint, MI 48507
thegcpc.org | YC MAGAZINE | Issue #9 1 INSIDE ISSUE #9 2 From the Director 5 Confessions from the Kitchen Table 10 Faces in the Crowd 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Assets in Action 18 Q&A / By the Numbers 6 The Benefits and Dangers of Boredom 14 The Benefits of Fine Arts for Mental Health 16 The Harms of Self-Medicating 20 Helping Kids Find Healthy Coping Skills 23 Inhalants: What Parents Need to Know FEATURES IN EVERY ISSUE TO ADVERTISE OR CONTRIBUTE Andrea Keller (810) 285-9047 akeller@thegcpc.org COVER PHOTO Courtney Simpson Owner/Photographer, Pop Mod Photo BROUGHT TO YOU BY PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH


The Genesee County Prevention Coalition (GCPC) was established in 2007 and serves all of Genesee County, Michigan. The goals of the coalition are to maintain and strengthen community collaboration in support of local efforts to prevent youth substance use and promote positive community norms. The GCPC utilizes the Strategic Prevention Framework to build capacity and collaboration with all sectors of the community. This is accomplished through recruiting, engaging, and training community members, especially youth, in the work of the coalition. These and other community-based and environmental prevention strategies are supported by local, state and federal grants as well as donations and in-kind support from our community partners.


Genesee County Prevention Coalition executes innovative strategies and unites communities in preventing substance misuse and promoting mental wellness throughout Genesee County.


Genesee County Prevention Coalition envisions a healthy and thriving community.


As a trusted steward of the community, Genesee County Prevention Coalition champions:

+ Stewardship

+ Respect

+ Optimism

+ Leadership

+ Collaboration


FACEBOOK facebook.com/theGCPC

INSTAGRAM instagram.com/theGCPC

TWITTER twitter.com/the_GCPC


The Genesee County Prevention Coalition is pleased to provide you with another edition of the Youth Connections Magazine. In this issue our feature article is a compilation of the pros/cons of boredom and ideas for tweens over the summer. That’s a hard age because they’re usually too old for camps, but not old enough to get a job. This creates lots of free and often unsupervised time for youth and can set them up for failure. It is important to help guide and direct youth towards opportunities for belonging and making personal connections. Our featured Outstanding Youth Award recipient Makenzie Lawson provides a good example of how young people can make a positive impact in our community.

Too often youth who may be struggling with mental health issues may seek solutions that only provide temporary relief. The articles on the harms of selfmedicating and helping kids develop healthy coping skills are so important for parents to understand so they can be prepared to act and prevent a crisis situation. If we can give youth the tools to help themselves deal with disappointment and adversity, then they will be less likely to turn to substances as a way to cope with life stressors. Adults can also use this information to develop healthy coping skills and model this behavior for their children. If you are in need of mental health or other support services, we encourage you to go to PreventionPortal.org to locate resources in Genesee County.

Lastly, be sure to check out the Assets in Action and Faces in the Crowd sections featuring local events and youth-serving professionals who are creating positive changes in our community. We call them our Prevention Champions and acknowledge their commitment and dedication to supporting healthy youth development. Additionally, we are grateful for our community partner’s sponsored advertisements that further support our vision of a healthy and thriving community.

2 Issue #9 | YC MAGAZINE | thegcpc.org
linkedin.com/company/genesee-county-prevention-coalition/ Director FROM THE LISA FOCKLER, E XECUTIVE DIRECTOR Genesee County Prevention Coalition lfockler@thegcpc.org (810) 285-9047

Dedicated to health equity and opportunity

Whether we’re working in part to improve maternity outcomes, refer members to community resources, or provide a Wellness & Opportunity Center in Detroit, we’re committed to helping our members live their healthiest lives.

Learn more at mibluecrosscomplete.com.

Burton City Police Department 4090 Manor Drive, Burton Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm

Clio City Police Department 505 West Vienna Street, Clio Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:00pm

Fenton City Police Department 311 South Leroy Street, Fenton Available 24 hours

Flint Township Police Department 5200 Norko Drive, Flint Available 24 hours

Flushing City Police Department 725 East Main Street, Flushing Mon-Fri 9:00am-4:30pm

Genesee County Sheriff Substation Vienna Township Building 3400 West Vienna Road, Clio Mon-Thur 8:00am-5:00pm

Grand Blanc Township Police Department 5405 South Saginaw Road, Flint Available 24 hours

Metro Police Authority 5420 Hill 23 Drive, Flint Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:00pm

Mott Community College Public Safety 1401 East Court Street, Flint In front of Public Safety Building Available 24 hours

thegcpc.org | YC MAGAZINE | Issue #9 3 Prescription Drug Collection Boxes in Genesee County PROPERLY
Turn in your unused, unwanted or expired medication (pills only) for safe disposal! NO LIQUIDS, PATCHES, NEEDLES, ETC. ACCEPTED
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Supporting a Trans Child

She’s so lucky to have parents like you.

It’s baffling to hear that statement as a parent. As the mom of a transgender daughter, I know what well-intended friends are trying to say, but it’s an odd way to say it.

Is this statement applicable to everyone, or is it only meant for parents of children who deviate from societal norms? Would they say the same thing to parents of a child with neurological differences? A child who misbehaves? Struggles socially? Would they say it to the parent of a child fighting cancer? Would they say it to a child who is considered, for all intents and purposes, ‘normal’?”

More than anything, when people say, “She’s so lucky to have parents like you,” I want to turn my head to the side, show my confusion, and ask, “What’s the alternative?”

They mean, “She’s so lucky to have affirming parents.” I know this. But what I hear is, “She’s so lucky to have parents who love her even though she is trans.”

Again, what’s the alternative? Is parental love somehow... conditional?

As parents of a transgender child, we acknowledge the significant growth we have experienced in both our learning and unlearning. Like all parents, we have made colossal mistakes, but as parents of a trans child, we feel we’ve made many more. For years, it felt like we asked our child to write with their non-dominant hand. Despite being much more informed than we were ten years ago, breaking free from societal norms of gender is not a simple task. Asking society to break free with us feels hopeless at times. Lonely, almost always.

We’re not experts, but after almost a decade of parenting our transgender daughter, I wish I could go back in time to offer myself some advice. Here are five things I would say.


If your kid is exploring gender, let them. If they play with a truck instead of a Barbie, let them. If they want to be a princess instead of a superhero for Halloween, let them. Don’t let your insecurity rob your kid of joy. Trust me on this – it steals joy from you, too.


Speaking of your insecurities, get over it. My child noticed something as subtle as raised eyebrows when she twirled through our living room in a princess dress. If I questioned something as innocent as that, how could I ever expect her to confide in me about something even more significant? The root cause of insecurity is fear. Process that fear out of sight from your child. It’s up to you to be brave so your child can be a kid.


If your child tells you their gender is different from what they were assigned at birth, believe them. Ask questions. Be curious. You may not understand everything, but it is crucial to believe their experience. Parents often think their child is just “going through a phase.” Even if that is the case, love and affirm them through it until they tell you otherwise.


And I hate to say it, but it’s not you. Start conversations about your child’s gender expression with a trusted and affirming professional as soon as possible. Center trans voices in your learning. If you are unsure if an expert is affirming, ask.


Brushing transness off as a phase means you lose valuable time to be proactive about their safety. Assume it’s not a phase and assess your child’s ability to be safe and affirmed in their school, doctor’s office, church, friend group, community, and state.

If I could wave a magic wand and remove gender as a barrier to my daughter’s existence, I would, but I would never change her. Eventually, society will know what we, as parents, now know. Until then, we’ll become forged by the fire of misunderstanding and use all we’ve learned to become better versions of ourselves. This is the ultimate gift my daughter gave us just by being herself.

We’re so lucky to have a child like her. ■

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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YOU CAN SUBMIT YOUR STORY AT: akeller@thegcpc.org

BOREDOM the benefits & dangers

BOREDOM dangers of T

his is the time of year where parents start to fret over what to do with their children over the summer. If they’re young enough, summer camps may be the answer. If they’re old enough, specialized camps and jobs are probably the ticket. The question then comes up, “What’s too much or not enough to commit them to?” And what if your child is a tween – too old for camps, but not old enough to go get a job? There are several things to consider.

While boredom is often perceived as a negative experience, it can actually have several benefits for children:

CREATIVITY AND IMAGINATION: Boredom can stimulate creativity as it encourages children to explore their surroundings and come up with new ways to entertain themselves. When children are not provided with constant stimulation, they may tap into their imagination to create games, stories, or activities.

PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS: Boredom can prompt children to seek solutions to alleviate their boredom. This process of finding ways to engage themselves fosters problem-solving skills and encourages independent thinking.

SELF-DISCOVERY: When children are left to their own devices during moments of boredom, they have the opportunity to discover their interests and preferences. It allows them to reflect on what activities truly engage and fulfill them.

EMOTIONAL REGULATION: Boredom can help children learn to manage their emotions. They may experience mild frustration or restlessness initially, but over time, they can develop coping mechanisms and emotional regulation skills.

PATIENCE AND DELAYED GRATIFICATION: In a world filled with instant gratification, experiencing boredom teaches children patience and the ability to delay gratification. This can be a valuable skill in various aspects of life, including academic pursuits and relationships.

APPRECIATION FOR FREE TIME: Constant stimulation can lead to a lack of appreciation for free time. Boredom allows children to recognize and value unstructured time, which is essential for relaxation, reflection, and personal growth.

INDEPENDENCE: Boredom encourages children to be more independent in finding ways to entertain themselves. This independence is an important aspect of personal development and can contribute to self-reliance later in life.

REDUCED STRESS AND ANXIETY: Having scheduled and structured activities all the time

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One Choice Prevention

Did You Know?

Substances Have a Unique Impact on

the Developing Brain

• The brain is not fully developed until about age 25.1

• 9 in 10 (90%) of all adults with substance use disorder (addiction) started drinking, smoking, or using other substances before age 18.2

• All substance use puts teens at increased risk for a variety of adverse health outcomes.

For Teens, All Substance Use is Connected

• Using any one substance (alcohol, nicotine, marijuana) dramatically increases the likelihood of using others.3

• For example, teens aged 12-17 who used marijuana (THC) in the past month were:

• 6X more likely to use alcohol

• 8X more likely to binge drink

• 15X more likely to report heavy alcohol use

• 9X more likely to use cigarettes

• 10X more likely to use other illicit drugs …than their peers who did not use any marijuana in the past month.3

Make One Choice For Your health

• No use of any alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs before age 21.

• Making One Choice is analogous to other health standards like using seat belts, wearing bicycle helmets, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep –all of which impact your health and wellness.

A Growing Number of Teens Are Making One Choice of all high school seniors have not used ANY alcohol, nicotine,

64% 36%

or other drugs in the past month.4 of all high school seniors have not used ANY substances in their lifetime.4

References 1 Gogtay, et al. (2014). Dynamic mapping of human cortical development during childhood through early adulthood. PNAS,101(21), 81748179. 2 National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. (2011). AdolescentSubstanceUse:America’s#1Public HealthProblem . New York, NY: Author. 3 DuPont, R. L., Han, B., Shea, C. L., & Madras, B. K. (2018). Drug use among youth: national survey data support a common liability of all drug use. PreventiveMedicine,113 , 68-73. 4 Monitoring the Future data; Levy, S., Campbell, M. C., Shea, C. L., DuPont, C. M., & DuPont, R. L. (2020). Trends in substance nonuse by high school seniors: 1975–2018. Pediatrics,e2020007187.
Brain images adapted from Gogtay, et al., 2014. Only the purple areas of the brain are fully developed.

can contribute to stress and anxiety in children. Boredom provides a break from the hustle and bustle, allowing them to relax and recharge.


Constant exposure to stimuli, such as screens and structured activities, can contribute to a shortened attention span. Boredom provides an opportunity for children to practice sustained attention and focus.

While these benefits highlight the positive aspects of boredom, it’s important to note that excessive boredom or chronic lack of stimulation can have negative effects. Striking a balance between structured activities and unstructured downtime is key to fostering a healthy and well-rounded development in children.

Here are some potential dangers associated with prolonged boredom in kids:

NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR: Boredom can lead to negative behaviors as children may seek excitement or stimulation in inappropriate ways. This could include engaging in risky activities, breaking rules, or seeking attention through disruptive behavior.

INCREASED SCREEN TIME: When left unattended, bored children might turn to screens (TV, video games, etc.) as a quick and easy source of entertainment. Excessive screen time can have adverse effects on physical health, mental well-being, and academic performance.

LACK OF MOTIVATION: Prolonged boredom may lead to a lack of motivation, hindering a child’s willingness to engage in learning or other constructive activities. This can impact academic performance and personal development.

SOCIAL WITHDRAWAL: Boredom may contribute to social withdrawal, as children may find it easier to isolate themselves rather than seek out social interactions. This can impact their social skills and emotional development.

RISK OF DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY: Persistent boredom can contribute to feelings of sadness, frustration, and anxiety in children. Lack of stimulation and engagement may lead to a sense of purposelessness, which can affect mental health.

UNHEALTHY HABITS: Boredom can be a contributing factor to the development of unhealthy habits, such as overeating or engaging in substance abuse, as children may turn to these activities to fill the void of boredom.

Encouraging a variety of activities, maintaining a routine that includes both structured and unstructured time, and fostering open communication with children can help mitigate the dangers associated with excessive boredom.

STUNTED DEVELOPMENT: Chronic boredom may hinder a child’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. Lack of stimulation and varied experiences during critical developmental stages can have longterm consequences.

It’s important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the signs of chronic boredom in children and to actively engage in providing a balanced and stimulating environment. Encouraging a variety of activities, maintaining a routine that includes both structured and unstructured time, and fostering open communication with children can help mitigate the dangers associated with excessive boredom. It’s all about finding a healthy balance between structured activities and allowing for unstructured, creative, and imaginative play

With summer around the corner, it’s important for parents to weigh the pros and cons. Here are some ideas to try to help keep teens, who are too old for camps but not old enough for a job, busy and productive over the summer.

PLAN A MEAL: Have each child (if there’s more than one in the family) decide on a dinner and then prepare it for the family once a week. This will take some planning as it will probably require a trip to the store. If they haven’t cooked before, it will be a good learning experience and life skill to have as well.

PLAN A FAMILY ACTIVITY: Have each child plan a family activity. This can

be a family outing or just an activity to do at home. This will help them use their creativity but also possibly share their passion for an activity that maybe the rest of the family doesn’t know about or doesn’t share their passion.

PLAN A CULTURAL ACTIVITY: Take the making a meal or planning a family activity one step further and have one or all children research about a location they’d love to travel to or a culture they’re interested in, come up with a meal from there and include an activity that families or children do as well.

VOLUNTEER: Youth can volunteer as junior counselors or helpers at camps that cater to younger children. If they’re an athlete, they can help out at soccer, football, cheer, basketball, etc. camps. If they enjoy the arts, they can help at music or art camps. This gives them additional life skills such as responsibility, conflict resolution, and being a role model.

ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITIES: Check with local churches or the library for summer activities they have planned. There may be volunteer opportunities there as well.

OUTSCHOOL: Check out Outschool.com. It’s a website with a ton of classes covering a variety of topics. It could provide some additional learning over the summer to get a head start on next year, or topics that are just of interest. There is a cost, but it’s fairly reasonable, and transportation isn’t an issue. It could be rewards for making good choices over the summer. There are also online clubs in a safe space for kids to collaborate on Minecraft, art, activities, etc.

CHORES: Summer is a great time to increase chores for kids since they most likely don’t have homework. If both parents work, leaving a list for them to choose from works well. These can include cleaning, yard work, laundry, taking the garbage out, walking the dog, etc.

JOB: While those under 15-16 usually can’t get a paid job, they can use their entrepreneurial spirit and provide services (to families they already know) such as babysitting or entertaining younger children while their parents work at home; yard work; dog poop clean up; or even volunteering to help out elderly neighbors or single moms.

For additional information on routines, which are important in the summer, visit https://www.preventionnetwork.org/pam/. It has resources based on the child’s age for not only addressing routines, but chores, responsibility, and many other behaviors ■

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Please email akeller@thegcpc.org and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.


Makenzie is a childhood cancer survivor who ran a Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign in Fenton Schools. During September 2023 she promoted childhood cancer month throughout the district and community, sharing statistics and promoting awareness, and raising funds for childhood cancer research by selling t-shirts and bracelets she designed and created. This campaign raised $2,580 for the Cure Search Organization. She is attending Genesee Career Institute and Mott Early Middle College, volunteers with Child and Family Services at Hurley, and plans to be a nurse so she can continue to help others. Makenzie is the 2024 Robert & Vickie Weiss Outstanding Youth Award Winner!


Jordan has been committed to supporting youth in academic and community settings for over a decade. Her passion lies in paving a healthier, more conscious path for the youth of Genesee County. She believes in providing opportunities for youth to make healthy choices and to advocate for their wholistic wellness. Jordan conducts Teen Mental Health First Aid training, equipping teens with the skills to support friends facing mental health challenges. She’s also building the GCPC Youth Action Council, providing a space for youth to educate their peers on the importance of substance use prevention & mental health wellness. If you are interested in learning more about Teen Mental Health First Aid or the Youth Action Council, please contact Jordan at info@thegcpc.org.


Sheila’s work is focused on the Prevent Prescription Drug/Opioid Overdose-Related Deaths (PDO) program. She is also a Community Health Care Worker who is passionate about helping people who suffer from addiction. As a Train the Trainer in Narcan administration, she is educating individuals about the opioid epidemic to prevent senseless deaths. With her MS degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Sheila is changing behaviors that are not acceptable to socially acceptable behaviors. She has 30 years in recovery, and recently became trained to facilitate SMART Recovery for Friends and Family. Sheila is helping as much as she can in the world of addiction in Genesee County.


Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in public health education. She serves as the manager of School Based Clinics & Community Outreach at Mott Children’s Health Center. There she is working to create full medical and behavioral health clinics in two schools in Genesee County. The hope is to work with youth to target the social determinants of health to prevent risk factors associated with trauma. She also worked at Hurley Medical Center’s Trauma Recovery Center providing social work services to victims of violent crimes such as human trafficking, sexual assault, and gun violence. This provided an understanding on the long-term effects of trauma and how trauma breeds trauma. Jennifer recently joined the GCPC Board of Directors.


Chrelle serves as a Parent Advocate, Enhanced Women’s Specialty Recovery Coach, and Prevention Specialist with the Flint Odyssey House. She provides services to pregnant and postpartum women, as well as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs services to families. She is a Certified Peer Recovery Coach, Certified Prevention Specialist, and will soon complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan-Flint. She has always been ambitious about learning new things and making a better life for her three children. She loves helping the community and empowering others to see their full potential. Chrelle recently joined the GCPC Board of Directors.

10 Issue #9 | YC MAGAZINE | thegcpc.org
Check out who’s standing out in our


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!

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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.

assets in action 40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS


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.


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.


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.

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Students face painting at Bentley Community Resource Fair
Flint Genesee Job Corps Center carpentry students Girl Scouts hosting church coffee hour GCPC 2023 Partner in Prevention Award Winner

If you or your child would like to submit a picture that represents one of the 40 Developmental Assets, please email akeller@thegcpc.org with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents. Not


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.


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.


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.


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.

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Girl Scouts planting Child Abuse Awareness pinwheels Bentley High School Robotics Team members Girl Scouts volunteering on MLK Day Voices for Children 2024 Outstanding Youth Award Winner
all pictures are guaranteed publication.


Stress levels are rising. It is difficult to find ways to deal with it all. For our children, this can manifest as tantrums, fights, and misbehavior. For teens and adults, pent up stress can lead to destructive behaviors or harmful choices like substance use. What can we do to help our children and ourselves manage emotions and find a positive outlet? The answer lies in The Arts.

The American Psychiatric Association explains that art holds the power to “reduce conflicts and distress, improve cognitive functions, foster self-esteem, and build emotional resilience and social skills. It engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal communication.” It often feels scary or taboo to talk about conflicts, issues, or feelings. However, being able to scribble when angry, create a puppet show, or identify with a dance performance can be a safer outlet.

The therapeutic benefits of art do not necessarily have to come from a licensed art therapist or be in a formal setting. You do not need to attend a fancy gallery opening or be able to paint like Rembrandt or Van Gogh. The arts should not be for the select few, but for everyone. Young and old, rich and poor, experienced and unexperienced. By participating to the best of your ability, you and your children can benefit from Art.

So many of us (myself included) tend to limit our thinking to only including the visual arts. We go straight to thinking of pastel waterlilies hanging in gilded gold frames. However, “The Arts” includes so much more. The National Content Standards for the Arts used by schools nationwide, group the arts into five main categories: Visual Arts, Media Arts, Theater Arts, Music, and Dance. Within these five categories there really is something for everyone. If going to a gallery and seeing the oil paintings of the great masters is your thing, go ahead and enjoy the Visual Arts. Media Arts can include anything from film making to collaging, so pick your own art adventure. Perhaps you love nothing more than singing along to Hamilton. If so, then the Theater Arts might be for you. If

The American Psychiatric Association explains that art holds the power to “reduce conflicts and distress, improve cognitive functions, foster self-esteem, and build emotional resilience and social skills. It engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal communication.”

music is your jam, the more power to you. And if Dance sets your soul on fire, then dance, baby, dance. Maybe you enjoy a combination, and that is great too. The Arts play well together.

Once you know what kind of Art (or Arts) holds the most meaning to you or your child, you can work to set up experiences that are meaningful. The National Content Standards for the Arts provides four main ways to experience art: Creating, Performing/ Presenting, Responding, and Connecting. Creating is the default when we think of engaging in art. We often believe we must pick up a pencil and draw or choreograph a dance with scarves. While Creating holds value and benefits mental health, others do too. You can gain therapeutic benefits of Art by Presenting or sharing a creative work with others - it doesn’t even have to be your own. Responding and Connecting give us the chance to reflect on a work and examine our feelings about it. Pay attention to which of these feels the most meaningful to you or to your child.

When you are new to exploring the

therapeutic benefits of The Arts, it is important to cast your net wide and try a variety of Art practices and ways to experience them. Advocate for all kinds of art to be accessible in schools. Reach out to your community theatre and ask about show times, acting, set design, music, or costumes. Your nearest art museum will usually have classes in a wide variety of Art mediums for you or your child to explore. Volunteering as a tour guide or museum docent is a fabulous way to practice Presenting, Responding, and Connecting. Check with music stores in your area to see what classes or lessons they offer or what recitals are coming up. Public libraries also offer rich opportunities that often span a wide range of Art practices. Once you get started, do NOT fall into the trap of judgement. Nothing shuts down creativity and it’s healing effects quicker than believing your Art is ‘not good enough’. The best artists know that it is about the process and how your Art makes you feel, not about how it looks.

And remember, with Art practices being so wide-ranging, Art can be found almost everywhere. Don’t overlook the opportunity to engage with Art in unexpected places. When channel surfing you might happen across ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ Take a moment to Respond and Connect as a family. What do you notice about the music, the costumes, and the dancers’ form? How does the combination of these things make you feel?

If you are looking for something even deeper, keep your eye out for more targeted options. Art programs that use words like ‘discover’, ‘connect’, or phrases like ‘selfcare’ usually strive to offer a healing element to their Art. Resources like the Expressive Art Institute, Adventures in Cardboard, or SoulCollage offer workshops and programs aimed specifically at healing through Art. Ask your current mental health provider(s) about incorporating Art into sessions or ask around about art therapists in your area. By engaging in the Arts you can improve the mental well-being of yourself and your family. ■

thegcpc.org | YC MAGAZINE | Issue #9 15

THE HARMS OF self-medicating

Self-medication isn’t a new concept, but it’s getting a lot of attention lately. Recently released reports show a frightful number of adolescents have turned to self-medicating in an attempt to avoid depressive symptoms, numb their own pain, and escape feelings of hopelessness. With the accessibility of substances through social media, self-medication is on the radar of everyone concerned with adolescent health and wellbeing.

On some level, everyone self-medicates. Whether it’s turning to social media when feeling lonely, grabbing a box of cookies when feeling sad, or staying an extra hour to study or work when feeling anxious about your lack of achievement, we avoid our real feelings and their source and attempt to numb ourselves. Those solutions aren’t inherently harmful, perhaps they’re benign or even positive. The danger is when someone turns to substances like alcohol, marijuana, over-the-counter or prescription drugs, or worse to numb their big feelings.

Imagine a kid who’s feeling overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and turns to take over-the-counter painkillers to take away a bit of their pain. Or think about a student who struggles with ADHD and discovers that drinking alcohol helps them slow down and turn down the noise in their heads.

Did you know, one out of every six teenagers has used a prescription drug to get high or to change their mood? In the past year, two out of three teens who misused painkillers got them from a friend or family member. They weren’t out on street corners or searching on social media, they were within arm’s reach. That’s why parents need to be exceptionally vigilant around their home. Lock medications up and dispose of unused medications appropriately. Many communities have drop boxes to safely discard medications anonymously. Ask at the pharmacy.

One of the most dangerous realities of teen self-medication is the relatively recent risk of substances containing highly addictive and shockingly deadly fentanyl.

Did you know, one out of every six teenagers has used a prescription drug to get high or to change their mood? In the past year, two out of three teens who misused painkillers got them from a friend or family member.

Accidental fentanyl poisoning is killing kids in every community across the country. It’s “accidental fentanyl poisoning” because most are unaware fentanyl has been added to the substance they’re taking. It’s tasteless, odorless, and even consuming a tiny amount can be deadly. Shockingly, six out of 10 pills are laced with lethal amounts of fentanyl. And, unfortunately, 73% of teens have never heard of fake prescription pills being made with fentanyl, which is a problem that must be solved through education and awareness. We need to educate our kids right now.

Preparation is key to having a successful conversation with your kids.

Natural High has assembled a resource for parents titled Natural High’s Fentanyl Toolkit. It can be accessed at https://www.naturalhigh.org/fentanyl/. It contains a short documentary on the dangers of fentanyl.

Watching the film is an important Public Service Announcement (PSA) on its own, and research has shown that kids who also have opportunities to discuss the harms

of drug use with caring adults fare much better.

It’s recommended to watch the film and have a discussion. There are three easy steps:

1. Watch a six-minute life-saving PSA for youth on fentanyl.

2. Discuss the film using the discussion guide.

3. Share the film with everyone you know.

Self-medication is a short-term solution that unfortunately creates long-term and more serious problems.

We need to give our kids broader and more relevant support by modeling emotional health when we’re feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, making conscious, good choices to address your feelings, and working through them in productive ways. It includes you having intentional, ongoing conversations with your kids about their own mental health, inquiring about their internal state, and reminding them of their options to work through whatever might be ailing them.

Kids need more than just warnings and education. They need caring adults engaging with them, opening up their personal lives, and sharing their struggles. They need access to resources that will help them navigate the complexities of teenage life and tangible support as they go through the adolescent years. They need to be taught the core foundations of emotional intelligence, become more self-aware and effective at managing their emotions, build positive relationships, and develop a variety of coping strategies for their big feelings. We’re in it for the long-haul as a parent, so we need to start with giving our child(ren) the facts about the risks of fentanyl poisoning.

See another article in the magazine about helping kids find healthy coping strategies that will guide them to healthy options to get them through emotional and physical challenges. A quick fix of using substances to deal with life’s ups and downs is not a long-term solution – for kids or adults. ■

16 Issue #9 | YC MAGAZINE | thegcpc.org

How do I set an appropriate curfew?

As kids move into their teenage years it’s important to give them enough freedom to learn how to make their own choices which helps them lead independent lives. Setting reasonable boundaries on their activities and time out with friends can help them make responsible decisions and develop healthy habits; curfews are part of striking that balance.

There’s no one right answer for setting a time, but there are strategies for setting realistic curfews.

HOW MUCH STRUCTURE DOES YOUR CHILD NEED? If they struggle to make responsible choices without firm boundaries in place, a consistent time might work the best for them.

WHAT’S THEIR SLEEP SCHEDULE? If they have an early morning, an earlier curfew may benefit their health and productivity. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teenagers need about eight to 10 hours of sleep per day. Getting enough sleep is important for their mental and physical health, as well as helping them excel in school and other activities.

WHAT ARE THE PLANS? If they want to attend a special event that goes past their usual curfew, it may be reasonable to adjust their curfew.

Try getting their input on what they feel is a reasonable curfew based on the circumstances. If they feel they had a say they may be more willing to follow the curfew. If their proposed time seems unreasonable, let them know why and clearly state when they are expected home.

Whatever curfew is set it’s important to communicate clearly what the expectation is, what to do if they’re running late, and then hold them accountable. An example of a consequence may be cutting their usual curfew back by 30 minutes which they can earn back after proving they can stick to the new time.

If they do break curfew, it’s important to let them know that you’re happy that they arrived home safely, but that you were worried. As sometimes happens, worry comes across as mad. At that point it’s best to tell them you’ll talk about the consequences in the morning when you’re feeling calmer.

Just as in adulthood, circumstances happen that are beyond their control and they may have to break curfew, for example poor weather conditions that make it dangerous for them to drive. Setting the expectation to call before missing curfew rather than making excuses afterward prevents worry and confusion.

HAVE A QUESTION? akeller@thegcpc.org

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


The length in inches of a giraffe’s tongue (so it can lick its ears)


The number of years a person spends on the toilet


The acres of pizza average Americans eat every day


The number of fan letters Mickey Mouse received in 1933


The number of dreams an average person has each year

20 million

The weight in tons of an average iceberg

18 Issue #9 | YC MAGAZINE | thegcpc.org

TeenQuest helped mold me into the person I am today. It taught me to take responsibility in my own personal growth.

TeenQuest is a FREE, Pre-Employment Leadership program designed with teens in mind and focuses on providing a basic understanding of skills that will prepare you to STAND OUT and give you an edge professionally and personally. If you are between the ages of 14-19, and currently in grades 9-12, you do not want to miss this opportunity.

As an added benefit, TeenQuest graduates are invited to the Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) Job Fair filled with employers looking to hire TeenQuest students!

Scan the QR code or visit EducateFlintandGenesee.org/TeenQuest to sign up for TeenQuest and discover how change starts with you!

Pre-Employment Leadership

S HELPING KIDS FIND healthy coping skills

tress happens. It’s a part of life. A healthy one, in fact. Psychologists are quick to remind us that stress is neutral, if not a positive experience. Stressful situations cause us to be stretched and grow.

Kids experience stress — a lot. Try to remember or imagine what a typical teenager goes through on any given day. Pressure from friends, parents, teachers, and coaches. The constant threat of peer rejection. The feeling like they’re always behind. Those scenarios trigger big feelings which can be overwhelming to a kid who’s still figuring out life.

Stress is actually a response we have to things called stressors. Stressors are situations, interactions, or events that trigger a threat response in us. Stressors can be external events happening towards us or around us, or they can be internal feelings. They can also be non-events (think about when your paycheck doesn’t get deposited — that non-event has become a stressful situation!). We all respond differently to stressors. For one person they feel threatened when they feel like someone doesn’t like them. Another person might not give it a second thought.

There are two dynamics that everyone can learn to manage stress effectively:

1. Diagnosis: the ability to understand how you’ve been triggered, recognize what’s happening to you on the inside, and be able to identify the source of the stress.

2. Prescription: the ability to respond positively and productively to your own stress response. In other words, we’re talking about self-awareness and selfmanagement.

These are the critical skills one needs to be able to handle the complexities of life, especially when things are difficult. This is where coping skills come into play. We can intentionally teach our kids effective coping skills so they can handle difficult situations or difficult feelings. There has been great research to help us understand what happens internally when we feel triggered by a stress response: in a split second the chemical epinephrine gets

pumped into our brain, so our heart rate and blood pressure increases, muscles tense, and we start breathing quickly. Our entire biological system gets primed to GO — go fight, go run, or freeze. Key systems inside our bodies turn off, like critical thinking and reasoning, learning, creativity, and empathy. When we’re in a stress response we can’t:

+ Think clearly

+ Handle complexity

+ Connect differing ideas or viewpoints

+ Recall our personal values or ambitions

+ Connect with others

+ Learn new concepts

Read through that list again, and consider what we go through, and what our kids go through, when experiencing stress. They can’t learn or make wise choices until they work through their stress cycle.

What if we learned to be more vigilant about our stress and learned how to respond with simple, quick actions? What if we modeled and taught these things to kids? From the book Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle, authors Emily and Amelia Nagoski share seven simple coping strategies anyone can try when feeling stressed or overwhelmed:

1. Physical activity (30 min a day of exercise would be excellent, but even clenching every muscle in your body for a count of 10 will do wonders)

2. Deep, concentrated breathing for a couple of minutes

3. Have a positive social interaction with someone you enjoy

4. Laughter

5. Hug (for at least 20 seconds)

6. A good cry

7. Create something

Imagine if more teachers were equipped with this simple understanding as they designed their curriculum and lesson plans. Think about parents who learned to implement these simple tactics with their kids at home.

Dream with us about kids learning this about themselves and being guided consistently over time to pay attention to their stress response, taught simple strategies to manage it better, and praised when they took the initiative.

So, this week:

+ Carve out ten minutes to walk through coping strategies with your kid(s)

+ Show them the list above

+ Talk about what healthy, productive coping strategies work for you when you’re feeling stressed or struggling with big feelings

If you catch them practicing any of the strategies, give them specific praise and encouragement, and ask them how they felt before and after.

Coping skills help kids work through challenging emotions, feelings, or situations. “Natural High” is another word for coping skills, so if your kid already has one, great, and if they’re not sure, help them find one. A natural high is any activity they love to do that makes them feel good and does not involve drugs or alcohol. They don’t have to be an Olympic champion or a professional musician to engage in an activity meaningfully. Finding their natural high can be as simple as thinking about what they enjoy and making an effort to spend some time doing it.

Take these steps with your child. Have them:

1. List three activities they enjoy.

2. List three activities they would like to try for the first time.

3. Of the activities listed in 1 and 2, what is one that they can commit more time and energy toward?

4. Decide on a day and time to take their first step toward commitment. What is that day and time and what is the action item to get more involved?

Having a passion that makes them come alive is an incredibly effective coping strategy that pulls the rest of their life along towards flourishing. ■

thegcpc.org | YC MAGAZINE | Issue #9 21

INHALANTS: what parents need to know

Inhalants, also known as volatile substances, are chemicals that produce mind-altering effects when inhaled. These substances typically include household products or industrial solvents, such as glues, paint thinners, aerosol sprays, gasoline, and cleaning fluids. Common terms for inhalants include whippets, poppers, huffing, sniffing, or bagging.

When inhalants are inhaled, the chemicals are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs and quickly reach the brain, resulting in an immediate, short-lived high. Inhalants act as depressants, slowing down brain activity and producing a range of effects depending on the substance and dose. These effects can include euphoria, dizziness, hallucinations, impaired coordination, slurred speech, and loss of consciousness.

Inhalant abuse is a form of substance abuse that predominantly affects adolescents and young adults. Inhalants are relatively inexpensive and easy to access. According to Monitoring the Future, a nationwide survey done of 8th, 10th and 12th graders, 8th graders have reported the highest use of the three grades dating back to 1990. In fact, the percentage of use has consistently been double that of students in the 10th or 12th grades.

Inhalant abuse carries serious risks and can lead to numerous physical and psychological problems. Short-term effects of inhalant abuse may include nausea, vomiting, headaches, disorientation, and impaired judgment. In some cases, the toxic chemicals in inhalants can cause serious health consequences, such as damage to the brain, liver, kidneys, or bone marrow.

Inhalant use can also result in sudden death due to cardiac arrest, asphyxiation, or accidents caused by impaired judgment and coordination.

Long-term inhalant abuse can lead to substance use disorder. Chronic inhalant use can also cause cognitive impairment, memory loss, and personality changes. Additionally, inhalants can have harmful effects on various bodily systems, including the respiratory system, as repeated inhalation can damage the lungs, leading to chronic respiratory issues.

Inhalant abuse is a dangerous practice and can have severe consequences on physical and mental health. It is important to recognize the signs of inhalant abuse, such as a strong chemical smell on breath or clothing, chemical-soaked rags or clothing, slurred speech, confusion, or changes in behavior. ■

thegcpc.org | YC MAGAZINE | Issue #9 23
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