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Marijuana: IQ and Mental Health

DECEMBER 2017

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RESTART AND REFOCUS: GOAL SETTING TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS » The 40 Developmental Assets: Empowerment » A Rested “Computer”

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» Social Media: Looking Forward to Looking Back


Partners for Life... East Helena Public Schools School District No. 9 “Success For All�

Know the Signs

Suicide Warning Signs These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. v Talking about wanting to die or to

v Increasing the use of alcohol

v Looking for a way to kill oneself,

v Acting anxious or agitated;

kill oneself.

such as searching online or buying a gun.

v Talking about feeling hopeless or

having no reason to live.

or drugs.

behaving recklessly.

v Sleeping too little or too much. v Withdrawing or feeling isolated.

v Talking about feeling trapped or in

v Showing rage or talking about

v Talking about being a burden to

v Displaying extreme mood

unbearable pain. others.

seeking revenge. swings.

Stay with them and take them to help (counselor, ER, police, teacher) Tell someone (no secrets) Remove guns and pills immediately


DECEMBER 2017

FEATURES & Refocus: Goal Setting 6 Restart to Achieve Success 40 Developmental Assets: 14 The Empowerment Rested “Computer”: The Single 16 ALargest Factor in Performing Well Media: Looking Forward to 20 Social Looking Back Are My Child’s IQ and 23 Marijuana: Mental Health at Risk if They Use It?

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 and By the Numbers BROUGHT TO YOU BY

PROUD RECIPIENT OF FUNDS FROM

PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH

TO ADVERTISE OR CONTRIBUTE Coleen Smith: (406) 324-1032 coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org COVER PHOTO BY Megan Lane Photography

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ON THE COVER

Kassi Rigsby is a senior at Helena High. She is an officer in HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America). Kassi is also a member of the National Honor Society. She has really enjoyed all of the science and English classes that she has gotten to take at Helena High. Kassi loves the great outdoors and enjoys hunting, fishing, and hiking. She also loves hanging out with family, friends, and her dogs. Kassi is planning to major in pre-med after high school.

ABOUT YOUTH CONNECTIONS Youth Connections is a coalition of over 1100 community members representing parents, educators, churches, youthserving organizations, businesses, and more who want to make Helena a healthy and supportive place for kids and families. Youth Connections recognizes the need to reduce negative behaviors including substance use and violence while also working to increase positive opportunities and mental wellness for all our local kids. So how do we do that? We know there is no silver bullet to making communities great, and so we do LOTS of things that we know make communities better. We support agencies and businesses who offer youth activities because we know kids who are involved in positive activities aren’t involved in negative ones. We support student mentoring relationships because research shows it helps kids stay in school and be successful. We also know that when kids know better, they do better, so we support classroom education in the areas of bullying prevention and substance use prevention. Youth Connections also understands we must support the adults in kids’ lives and therefore we provide training, education, networks, and collaborative opportunities for parents and professionals to connect with others who care about kids. Youth Connections is well known for its quarterly publication, YC Magazine, a resource for parents and the entire community. These are just some of the projects we’re working on to serve our mission of engaging our community to create environments where youth thrive and succeed. For a comprehensive list of activities, services, and ways you can get involved, please visit our website at www.youthconnectionscoalition.org.

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Director FROM THE

inter is an exciting time of year with lots of potential for fun: skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, etc. It can also be a time of angst for our kids. Soon it will be semester break, which means all those plans made at the beginning of the school year to improve grades over last year, study more, get more sleep, or have more family time COLEEN may not have gone as planned. SMITH We have decided to address this by making our feature article on setting goals and regenerating ourselves after the New Year. Oftentimes it feels like if we haven’t achieved what we set out to do, it’s just a waste to start now. Nothing could be further from the truth. I heard someone say to a 40-something regarding going back to school at a late age, “If you don’t, you’ll still be the same age when you would have finished.” Great point – better to accomplish something than let more time slip away. We know that we need the tools to reach those goals and, more times than not, getting central nervous system rest needs to be one of them. John’s article on the importance of that is so crucial – especially these days when our brains are multi-tasking the entire time we’re awake. We wouldn’t expect our car to survive if we drove it 24 hours a day 365 days a year; why would we think our bodies could? Which brings us to maneuvering through social media for your best health. More and more information is coming out saying that social media is detrimental to our kids. Whether it’s cyber-bullying, lack of sleep from FOMO (fear of missing out), or increased depression, we as parents need to discuss the dangers with our kids. I recently saw an article by an expert who recommended only one social media app and no phones in the bedroom at bedtime. Good, but hard, advice. We hope this issue will inspire you and your family to achieve great things in the next few months. Have a safe and happy holiday season! CAN’T GET ENOUGH GREAT RESOURCES? FOLLOW US: Twitter: @Youthconx Facebook (for parents): Youth Connections Facebook (for kids): Find Your Spot Instagram: @Youthconx

COLEEN SMITH, YC DIRECTOR Phone: (406) 324-1032 coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org


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Attention Parents! E-cigarettes are not safe.

• E-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals, heavy metals, and nicotine. • Nicotine harms kids’ developing brains. • 1 in 3 Montana teens uses e-cigarettes.

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Help protect our next generation.

• Be Active • Eat Right • Get Screened • Be Sunwise • Be Tobacco Free •

At Reach Higher Montana, we guide, prepare, and support Montana students with inspiration, information, and resources for college. We offer:  Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion help  Scholarship search and application assistance  Financial education  Support and advice for pursuing your goals for higher education Provided at no cost to Montana families. To find out more, stop in our Helena office at 40 West 6th Ave., call us at (406) 422-1275 x 802 or visit ReachHigherMontana.org.

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CONFESSIONS FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE enior year is hard. Granted, I’ve only been at school for about 15 days as I write this, but I stand by my ruling. I kind of expected the year to be a breeze, but early reports show that will most definitely not be the case. Not only do my classmates and I face the regular challenges of class, homework, and tests, but now there are applications to fill out, letters of recommendation to organize, scholarships to apply for. I mean, what even is a FAFSA and why do I need to finish it so quickly? Any time anyone mentions college or future plans, the room experiences a collective shutdown as students rapidly try to repress the surge of deadlines and uncertainty that rises with the topic. From what I’ve gathered, most of my peers feel this universal sort of panic. So what can you as parents do to help? Answer Questions and Offer Advice Now, that may seem like an obvious one, as I don’t know any parent that would refuse to answer their child’s question, but hear me out. Speaking from personal experience and reflecting the feelings of my peers: we don’t know a whole lot about college. What kind of bachelor’s degree do I get, and how does it correlate with my masters? What’s the difference between an MD and a JD? What if I have no idea what courses I want to study? These questions seem relatively rhetorical in their simplicity, but can not be dismissed. Don’t assume that we know or understand the college process, because chances are, we don’t

– at least, not completely. Having a sit-down talk about the different courses of action once in college can be a big stress reliever; understanding greatly reduces anxiety. In essence, offer suggestions that you would have liked to have known, and make sure your child understands the system he or she is getting in to. Make a Timeline This time of year is arguably one of the busiest of our lives, and it’s easy to forget about deadlines and due dates as others continue to pour in. Now, some schools do provide students with charts that designate when things (such as applications, scholarships, or letters of recommendation) need to be completed, but such charts are very generalized, and don’t include specifics relevant to each student. My solution, and the one that has worked well for my peers, is write out a personalized timeline that includes due dates and when you plan to work on college or scholarship applications. The structure is not only reassuring, but prevents the anxiety of forgetting a deadline, and simultaneously ensures completing work in a timely manner. Instead of rushing to get everything done shortly before it’s due, I break it up and work on it gradually, checking off every day I complete something I planned. For me, this structure allows me to visualize my progress and conceptualize the amount of work I still have left to do, greatly relieving the burden of unknown due dates.

Be There For It All Again, a relatively obvious one, but expressing interest in your child’s schedule and events makes a big difference. There is so much going on, and it can feel like we’re kind of alone in our struggle. A simple question like: “how is your ___ application going,” or “what is your schedule like this week,” really conveys support, while being an offer of your services as well. Just checking up on us every once in a while is very reassuring. Being involved and interested in the process helps with the stress students tend to feel when faced with this mountain of work ahead of them.

So yeah. Senior year definitely is hard. For me and my peers, and our parents as well. Not only do they have to deal with a stressed out teen facing the biggest change of their life so far, but they also are left with the fact that this year is the last year we’ll be dependent on them, living under the same roof. I can only imagine how daunting that prospect is. These few pointers help parents and students alike limit stress and maximize efficiency, allowing families to make the most of their last few months together. As we prepare for the biggest adventure of our life, parents are preparing as well, and being involved in the process can be mutually beneficial in ensuring senior year is a smooth transition into adulthood. ■

YOU CAN SUBMIT YOUR STORY AT: coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org 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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RESTART & REFOC

goal setting to ach By LINDA COLLINS

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CUS

hieve success

With the approach of the halfway mark in the school year and a new year rolling around again, many of us may be feeling the stresses of failing to reach the milestones we set at the beginning of the school or calendar year. his is not the time to throw in the towel nor is it a time to think, “Well, this school year has been a failure, I’ll start over next year” or “I make New Year’s resolutions every year and never follow through, so what’s the point?” Whether it’s been a failure to get that grade in math that was the goal in September, a failure to turn assignments in – either on time or at all – or a failure to make the team, this is the time we can help our kids recharge, refocus, and re-establish goals to help them achieve success. It’s also the time to help them develop the steps that will be needed to reach those goals. We know that children look to us as role models, and they copy what we do. Now is the perfect time to be the good example and also give them the tools to help them achieve their goals. Developing a plan to reach the goals they have set for themselves and the New Year’s resolutions we will set for ourselves is a great motivator and life-skills task that they can use for years to come. There are four steps to take when setting goals: 1) Goals need to be ones that MOTIVATE (the child, not the parent). Sure, we would love to set goals that our children will complete all their homework on time, study uninterrupted until all assignments are complete, get eight hours of sleep every night, practice their musical instrument daily after school, etc. Some students are motivated to do all this, but that is more the exception than the norm. We need to ask the child, “What is your goal for the rest of the year?” If it’s to make the team next year, then what steps will help them achieve that? If it’s to get in to a certain college, what are the requirements – grades, community service, extra-curricular activities, etc. We can never motivate them to achieve the goals we want for them; it has to be their goals. Have them write down why continued on page 9

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Rule No 9

date nights Relax together. Laugh together. And make a Lucca’s date night a priority.

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continued from page 7

If a goal isn’t written down, it’s just a wish. Writing it down is the first step in setting it in motion. that goal is important to them. They can return to that statement when they start to question why they wanted to do this in the first place. 2) Goals need to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time Bound. Specific: “I will study/practice an hour every day after school to increase my skill/ grade.” Saying that they’ll study more isn’t specific enough, just like saying we’ll lose weight in the New Year isn’t specific enough. If the ultimate goal is to get better grades, specific goals might include completing homework on time and turning it in (many teachers state students do their homework, they just don’t turn it in!), going to study sessions once a week, or reviewing material for 30 minutes every night. If the goal is to make the team, specific goals might include practicing skills that they struggle with three to four times a week or asking a teammate, coach, or older sibling to help them. It could also include hitting the weight room in the summer or committing to a healthy lifestyle of nutritious food, proper sleep, and staying substance free. Help them develop specific goals that they want to achieve. Ineffective: Do better in school. Effective: Complete and turn in homework daily. Measurable: If the goal were to practice a musical instrument 30 minutes every day, did they complete the 30 minutes? If it were to get better grades, did they stay after school and get help when needed? In the weight loss example, eating better might include having a healthy breakfast every day and not having fast food for lunch. A chart might be helpful for a young person to keep track of meeting their goals. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment if they can put a check mark by each of their measurable goals. Ineffective: Practice my musical instrument more. Effective: Practice my saxophone 30 minutes a day. Actionable: Have the goal start with an action word – increase, run, finish, quit, and not a “to-be” word – am, be, have.

Students who set a goal to increase their grade rather than be a straight-A student will have a much better chance of reaching the goal. Like our New Year’s resolution to lose weight, quit eating junk food is more attainable than being skinny. It’s much easier to “do” something than to “be” something. Ineffective: Be a better soccer player. Effective: Practice my passing skills. Realistic: A goal to play in the NFL may not be attainable if the child is built more for being a jockey. Too often our goals are ‘pie in the sky,’ which then just makes us frustrated when we can’t reach them. Help students develop goals that are attainable. Instead of stating they’ll get straight As by the next quarter, start with bringing up a grade in a couple of classes. If they bite off more than they can chew, even if they’re making small steps, they’ll give up and likely not want to set goals in the future. Be sure to celebrate those small milestones. Did they get a good grade on an assignment? Did they make a good pass in the game? Did they master a skill on their instrument? This will help build their confidence and encourage them to keep trying. Help them develop realistic goals for what they’re ultimately trying to accomplish. Ineffective: Compete in the Olympics. Effective: Take five seconds off my time. Time Bound: Every goal needs to have a timeline. When will they complete the tasks to achieve the goal? If an athlete wants to play varsity in the fall, then August might be a good timeline to achieve that, if they’re already playing junior varsity. If a student wants to increase their grade, it might be the end of the quarter or the semester. Without a goal, a date is just a dream. Make sure the goal has a “by when” date. Ineffective: Be a starter on the team. Effective: Be a starter by next season. 3) Goals need to be in writing – and placed where they can be seen. On the refrigerator or bathroom mirror are high traffic places. This keeps the goal front and center and a reminder of what is attempting to be accomplished. If a goal isn’t written down, it’s just a wish. Writing

it down is the first step in setting it in motion. Have the child ask themselves every time they see the goal, “What are the next steps I need to take to make sure I reach this goal?” 4) An action plan needs to accompany all goals – what are the specific steps necessary to achieve the goal. Setting goals without developing an action plan is like going on vacation with no plan of where, when, how, and with whom. Would we get in the car and start driving with no plan? Probably not. The same questions need to be answered with a goal to identify the steps required to be successful. In the increase grade example, the action plan could include: complete homework daily, turn it in, study the material for 30 minutes undistracted, get good sleep the night before tests, and attend study sessions. Having a list of things to accomplish, and then being able to cross them off as they are achieved, helps build confidence and enthusiasm by showing kids they are making progress toward the ultimate goal. In the 9th grade, Sam Darnold wrote down a list of goals and taped them to his mirror. They were: 1) Attend the University of Southern California (USC), 2) Be a sportscaster for ESPN, 3) Be a father, 4) Never do drugs or alcohol in my lifetime, 5) Always be known as the ‘nice’ person. Not only is he attending USC, he’s the starting quarterback. My guess is he has never done drugs or alcohol – he is too focused on his goals. When ESPN ran this story, they asked the sportscasters if he was a nice person, and they all agreed that he most definitely was one of the nicest people they had ever met. That story is a testament to how writing down goals, reviewing them, and ensuring that every decision that is made is based on achieving them, helps anyone, even teens, reach their goals. By helping young people set goals that motivate them, using the SMART steps to set goals, writing them down and reviewing them, and then developing an action plan to achieve them, we can give them skills to be successful in life. Psychologists say people who make consistent progress toward meaningful goals live happier, more satisfied lives than those who don’t. What a great gift we can give our children, not only for the rest of this year, but for the rest of their lives. ■

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

Quinn Bright

RADLEY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 5TH GRADE

Quinn is in her second year as a member of the Radley Tiger Robotics Team where she is looked up to as a mentor for younger students. Her ability to work through a problem with determination and persistence is what makes Quinn an incredible role model. She is eager to share her learning. Quinn was absent a day and missed some of the movies on bats. She stayed in at recess to watch the movies and take notes, but she also invited another student (who is afraid of bats) to watch with her. Quinn sees the good in all people and can always bring a smile to someone’s face. Way to go, Quinn!

Kaden Pfister

CR ANDERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL, 6TH GRADE

Kaden has an older brother, Kaleb, and younger sister, Paityn. Kaden dances almost every day, but when he isn’t dancing at Queen City Ballet, he is playing football, basketball or soccer with his friends, playing video games or doing tricks on the trampoline. He enjoys going to football games and cheering on his brother. Kaden is working to become a professional dancer, and has danced with, been taught by, and been recognized by famous dancers all around the world. He has earned over 40 awards and scholarships in three years. From sports to dancing, Kaden is an all-around athlete. His training has taught him to be kind and work hard in everything he does. Good job, Kaden!

Bryana Curry CAPITAL HIGH SCHOOL, 11TH GRADE

Bryana is very busy and involved in groups and activities that make a difference. She plays basketball, competes in track, and bowls in the Junior Bowling League. She is a unified partner for Special Olympics basketball. She is currently the secretary of the junior class for student council. She has been involved in Bruin Pure Performance for two years and this year is the president. She has been amazing at getting peers involved and organizing presentations for elementary schools. She is also a member of the Youth Activation Committee, which is a part of MBI (Montana Behavioral Initiative). Bryana is such a great role model for her peers and younger students. Thanks, Bryana, for all you do!

Jarrod Murgel HELENA MIDDLE SCHOOL, TEACHER

Jarrod is in his fourth year as a special educator at Helena Middle School in the Positive Behavior Supports classroom. Prior to teaching at HMS, Jarrod taught for nine years at Intermountain. Jarrod enjoys coaching wrestling for HMS, participating in the “Friday Breakfast Club,” and teaching his students new activities and skills outside of the traditional classroom, such as fishing and furniture refinishing. In his free time, he can be caught cheering on or coaching his own kids on the softball and baseball fields, wrestling mat, and pool. When he is not training for a Spartan Race or hunting and fishing with his friends and family, he is cheering on his Bobcats and Fighting Irish!

The Sewing Palace

COMMUNITY PARTNER

We are highlighting The Sewing Palace for the work they do to get kids involved in constructive things. They offer kids’ camps during the summer and a Kid Learn to Sew class every month during the year. Students learn the basics, but the class also includes a light dinner and the opportunity to create friendships with other kiddos interested in sewing. They also offer a parent/child workshop, which is open to moms, dads, or grandparents. It’s a great way to learn life skills, make great projects, and do something together. Thank you, Sewing Palace, for providing a place for kids to connect with each other, family members, and caring adults.

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Across Montana, Intermountain helps more than 2,000 kids, teens and their families every year struggling with emotional or mental health issues, or with substance use. • Montana ranks 47th in the nation for overall child health. • Montana ranks in the top 4 in the nation for teen suicide. • 70% of our high school students have already had a least one drink of alcohol. • More than 3,500 Montana children are currently in foster care.

The cost to restore hope for these children and families continues to grow while other resources continue to shrink. Year after year, donors like you fill the gap, providing caring solutions, building stronger families and making our communities healthy and well. Please consider stretching your giving this year to help fill the gap.

3240 Dredge Drive | Helena, MT 59602

www.intermountain.org

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

You Fill the Gap!

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

10 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.

YMCA after-school kiddos spending time with police

EMPOWERMENT

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Levi spending quality time with his family

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 Adults model safe behavior by wearing helmets

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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

4-H members showing their work at McDonald’s

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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 coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.

Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.

31 COMMITMENT TO LEARNING

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

POSITIVE VALUES

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

SOCIAL COMPETENCIES

Pure Performance students learning teamwork at Leadership Summit

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Girls Thrive member exhibiting great self-esteem

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.

Student reading a new book

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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.

Middle School Leadership Camp attendees pledging to be drug-free

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40 THE

DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

EMPOWERMENT By KELLY ACKERMAN, Parent Educator

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YC Magazine highlights 40 Developmental Assets in each issue. These assets are evidence-based to positively contribute to the development of children across their lifespan.

esearch clearly shows that the more assets a young person has, the less likely they are to participate in risk-taking behaviors during adolescence including drug and alcohol use, violence, illicit drug use, and sexual activity. Sadly, the average young person has less than half of these assets according to Search Institute. This article is one in a series to highlight the eight categories of assets in order to more fully engage families, schools, agencies, businesses, and community members in ensuring our children experience as many assets as possible. EMPOWERMENT This developmental asset consists of the following four aspects: 1. COMMUNITY VALUES YOUTH 2. YOUTH AS RESOURCES 3. SERVICE TO OTHERS 4. SAFETY An important developmental need is to feel safe and valued. The empowerment asset focuses on how a community views youth and the opportunities they have to contribute to society in meaningful ways. Adults empower youth when youth feel they have meaningful roles to play in their families, schools, and communities. A teen may feel valued at home or in school, but feel ignored or even treated with hostility by adults in the community. This inconsistency would lessen a youth’s sense of empowerment and even undermine their sense of connection to their community. Ultimately, all adults have a role to play in empowering youth. Adults empower youth by ensuring that youth have a chance to add their voices to decisions that affect them and that they have opportunities to define and act on the priorities in their lives. In other words, youth who are empowered feel they can make a difference.

Research shows that youth who feel valued and useful show many positive outcomes including better mental health, more involvement in the community, and thinking through situations to determine the difference between right and wrong. In addition, empowerment is associated with reduced substance use, violence, and delinquency. Community Values Youth The key to helping youth feel empowered is adults believing in their capacity. However, the majority of youth report not experiencing empowerment. When programs do not enable youth to play meaningful roles, youth may drop out of or avoid those programs when given a choice. To truly empower them, we must give them the opportunity to participate in real decision making about the goals and objectives. If adults simply asked youth their opinions, really listened to them, and acted on those views and ideas, young people would not only view that as a major achievement, but we could obtain a lot of great ideas. Empowerment is built through daily experiences, affirming youth’s value, and simple gestures that communicate a desire for their contributions. Youth as Resources One of the greatest examples of using youth as resources was having 7th graders plan alcohol-free activities for their peers. It was found the young people who helped organize, versus ones who simply attended the events or did not participate, were significantly less likely to report using alcohol. It was also found that youth with lower than C averages in school wanted to volunteer in the community as much as students with better grades, but the community rarely asked those lower GPA students to contribute. People of all ages want to feel that they make a contribution and play a meaningful role in their community, whether at home, at school, or in the neighborhood. Adults can help youth serve as resources simply by asking them to share their opinions, skills, or knowledge, such as how to solve

a community problem or use technology. Other ideas include holding family meetings to develop a chore schedule with everyone’s input on their choices. Involving youth in planning events such as holiday celebrations, trips, menus, and even cooking help them feel their input matters. Service to Others Community service, volunteering, and service learning do more than allow youth to help the community—these activities also provide youth with the positive experiences, relationships, and connections that help them thrive. One reason youth may not serve is they feel their help isn’t welcome. A Gallup poll found that teens were four times more likely to volunteer if they were asked, but only half reported that they had been asked to help. Serving others doesn’t always mean taking on a big commitment—it can be as simple as picking up litter in the park, taking a meal to a sick neighbor, or helping a younger sibling with their homework. Youth benefit the most when they can “do” instead of just observe. Safety Feeling safe at home, at school, and in the community is necessary for young people’s health and wellbeing. There are multiple elements of safety for young people, all of which are important to help children thrive. These elements include safety from accidents and hazards, safety from crime and violence, and safety from bullying and harassment, just to name a few. Helping young people learn to manage their own safety and react in case of emergency will help them develop confidence and independence that empowers them to make the right choices. We must also avoid overstressing safety, which can lead youth to avoid healthy risks that help them grow. When youth have been empowered by families, schools, and communities, they are both the producers and the beneficiaries of community development, which is a winwin for all involved. ■

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A RESTED “COMPUTER” the single largest factor in performing well By JOHN GREIG UNDERWOOD, Director, Human Performance Project

ithout any question the brain and central nervous system (CNS) play the most significant role in all peak mental or physical performance. They are the computer that runs our body. Unfortunately the CNS is either ready or not. The ability to perform at one’s best in the classroom, on stage, in the big game or at work depends on CNS readiness. This means that the brain and nervous system are fueled, rested and ready. Every physical movement comes from brain CNS impulses. For an athlete, dancer, or musician, the CNS controls every part of performance potential including function of skills, exact movements, the firing sequences of muscles, reflexes and reaction, and many connected physiological functions, including the heart, lungs, and muscles. Thinking skills also require CNS readiness for processing, focus, and learning. The most significant factor for the brain and CNS to function at top level is that it is rested. This has been documented throughout decades of studies on reflexes, reaction and many other variables which measure CNS readiness. Recent studies centering on sleep and rest as a factor in optimal mental or physical performance have proved conclusively that sleep is clearly a predictor of performance in anything one does. During the 16 hours a day we are up and awake, the brain’s reserves are used up and energy levels are spent. Late day fatigue reduces mental and physical performance. Speed of mental tasks for speed and accuracy decline from 1:00 PM onward throughout the day. The social-emotional- psychological impact of high level performance fatigue is well documented. The stress and stressors of performing at one’s best weaken and effect CNS reserves. These factors result in decreased performance potential and are greatly increased as a result of loss of quality sleep. When the CNS is fatigued we not only lose our ability to think, but perform physically as well. Most people have experienced pulling an “all-nighter”, which leaves one feeling quite dysfunctional for at least the next 24 hours. Confusion, inability to focus, memory glitches, concentration lapses, decreased motivation, moodiness, irritability and emotional instability are some of the classic signs that develop. At the same time, physical exhaustion, fatigue, increased perception of effort, decreased speed, power and skills ability are often symptoms of lack of sleep. It is clear that the brain and CNS deficits are major factors in these functions failing. When the brain is rested it performs… when it is fatigued it cannot. Fatigue is a state when energy loss exceeds energy availability. Sleep loss clearly increases this. It seems very likely that the muscle processes are also greatly involved. An individual who loses sleep and has no requirements for physical activity/stress, faces much less trauma than an athlete who must train or compete despite the fact they are fatigued. Cheri Mah’s recent research at Stanford University with elite athletes in numerous sports has connected for the first time the

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fact that these energy drains may be the result of not enough sleep. Performance potential can clearly be predicted by sleep. It is clear that the brain builds up energy reserves or shortages over one to three days. To expect top performance by only getting a good night sleep the night before a big event would be risking a huge investment in time, effort and energy that may not pay out in performance. Rest in the last 24 hours prior to a major performance cannot in most cases guarantee top- level performance. For a very important performance on a Saturday CNS readiness would need to start on Wednesday night. Using substances impairs many of the pieces that allow the CNS to reload and repair and build up energy reserves. Depressants like alcohol and marijuana depress nearly every physiological system and delay the build up of reserves. Stimulants cause disturbances and prevent the deep sleep (REM) when most of these reserves accumulate. + Quite simply, performance is at the mercy of CNS energy reserves. + Sleep is the single largest factor in energy reserves or deficits. + Drugs impair all CNS performance functions. HOW TO ENSURE ONE HAS A RESTED BRAIN AND CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM: + Make sleep a critical part of a regular performance routine. + Extend nightly sleep for several nights to reduce sleep debt before performing. + Maintain low sleep debt by getting enough nightly sleep (minimum of eight hours and as much as nine or more hours during high stress or growth). + Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same times every day. + Take brief naps (30 minutes or less) to obtain additional sleep during the day, especially if drowsy. + Don’t use alcohol or marijuana prior to sleep. + Don’t use stimulants to try to overcome the deficits of sleep debt. Whether performing in sport, academics, or the arts, optimal performance is awesome – nothing else is even close. ■


BY THE

NUMBERS

Q. How can I tell if my child is living with emotional distress or using substances?

A.

First, it is important to understand the difference between a stressful day or event and the experience of living with emotional distress. All of us have had stressful days or stressful times. While those are certainly challenging or overwhelming, they typically resolve over a brief time. However, living with emotional distress is experienced as a chronic way of being that impacts our ability to function on a daily basis. Anxiety, depression, traumatic reactions and other conditions can be difficult to detect in some kids. Mental illness and substance use can be something that is difficult to acknowledge and talk about. Keys to recognizing the signs of a problem is being aware of your child’s patterns – their routines, friends, activities and typical mood and how those have changed. A child’s attitudes, behaviors, relationships and concerns may reflect new and unresolved stressors. An increase in risk-taking behaviors, or a shift in how your child communicates with you can signal emotional distress that has become chronic. Just as concerning is a major shift in activities, becoming more withdrawn, sullen, secretive or selective about what they are willing to discuss. Any significant physical change or change in personal hygiene should be evaluated. Lack of sleep, exhaustion, lack of regard for their appearance or concern for themselves always requires further evaluation. Struggling kids and teens can be reluctant to disclose unpleasant feelings or thoughts. A sudden shift in your child’s comfort with discussing life topics can signal that there is a problem. If your child seems to be avoiding activities, friends or places that they used to enjoy, take the opportunity to talk with them about what you are seeing. Many emotionally distressed youth struggle with acknowledging an overwhelming situation and may rely on peers or social media to communicate their struggles. Become familiar with the common language about substance use, learn what substances look and smell like, as well as how they are used and stored. Substance use can be challenging to detect when a youngster is determined to keep it hidden. Be diligent in staying connected and working to assure that your relationship with your youngster is supportive and healthy. If you are concerned in any way about emotional distress or substance use, have your child screened at their doctor’s office, school or counselor’s office.

HAVE A QUESTION?

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

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1665

The number of steps in the Eiffel Tower.

38

The number of days the average person spends brushing their teeth in their lifetime.

2500

The number of left-handed people who die per year using right-handed products.

50 million The number of visitors MySpace still gets each month (as of 2016).

264

The number of straws a person put in their mouth at once to set the world record.

4

The number of noses a slug has.

SOURCE: www.thefactsite.com


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Are you between 16 and 24 and need help finishing school, going to college or getting a job? The year-round youth program provides academic support, life skills and work readiness training, paid work experience, and career & college preparation activities. YouthBuild (YB) Helena is currently recruiting 16-24 year old youth who lack a diploma or high school equivalency certificate for the Jan—Sept 2018 program. YB provides carpentry pre-apprenticeship training, HiSet preparation, career and work readiness activities, and leadership opportunities. To qualify, individuals must meet eligibility requirements. CTI serves Broadwater, Jefferson and Lewis & Clark counties.

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Have questions about your child’s development? The FREE Child Find Screening Clinic is for you!

0 to 36 months

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SOCIAL MEDIA looking forward to looking back

By DANIEL CHAMPER, LCPC, Intermountain Clinical Manager of School Based Services

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When I was a child, I would often wonder what it would be like to be a parent. I long envied my parent’s freedom to stay up past 7:30 pm or their ability to choose to eat ice cream or pizza whenever the mood decided to strike. Of all of the perceived benefits of being a parent, I most wanted the superpower of telling the famed “back in my day” stories.

wanted the ability to astound and shock my own children with the nitty gritty horrors of scraping out an existence in the distant past. What I didn’t anticipate was the content of the stories I would get to tell. Instead of telling tales of hills that only ascend and cold weather that threatens to end all life, my appalling anecdotes will have a radically different flavor. I will shock with tales of the days when writing on people’s walls resulted in a misdemeanor. I will awe with accounts of year books and not face books. And, I will offend with explanations that bathroom mirrors were to be used for completing personal hygiene (and not exclusively for selfies). The world is a very different place, for better or for worse. We now live in an age where the lines between the home and the external world continue to erode. Social media has given us the ability to access the “outside” from inside our living rooms and bedrooms. The term social media is broad and almost impossible to define accurately. Social media can be a wonderful tool for socialization, education, and entertainment. Yet, like any other tool, it comes with risk. The number of apps and networking sites is astronomical and grows every day. As a result, many parents adapt a “stick your head in the sand” mentality. We convince ourselves that the dangers that exist in

the cyber world are easily kept at bay by simply clicking the “safe search” option on Google or by enabling the parental control features on all of our electronic devices. This sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. Relying solely on the built-in safety features of social media site/apps and technological devices is the equivalent of using duct tape to lock a bank vault. Keeping your children and teens safe from the dangers connected with social media begins with active attempts to increase your own personal awareness. Web designers create new apps, sites, and file sharing avenues every day. Most of these developers are intent solely on making a profit and create technological platforms without malice. This is not always the case. Many applications and sites are designed with ambiguous guidelines and features that are intended to disguise identities and cloak darker motives. Even positive social media platforms can be unpredictable and dangerous when people with evil intentions use them to reach their end goal. A parent’s most effective tool in reducing the level of danger to which their child is exposed is to actively research each application and social media site. The utilization of external resources to evaluate and scrutinize is essential. Talk to other parents. Attend public information gatherings. Contact law enforcement with

questions and concerns. Use the internet to gather information using reputable websites and news agencies. Be active. Dig. Then keep digging. Today’s social media will not be tomorrow’s social media. We have a responsibility to pursue the safety of our children. Awareness then leads to education. We must talk openly and honestly with our families about the dangers and risks that accompany social media. Be sure to use language and concepts appropriate to the age of each child. Next, set an expectation of transparency. Explain why it is important for parents to be involved in this aspect of your child’s life. Finding a balance between being domineering and permissive is often the most challenging aspect of this step. Finally, establish firm boundaries around the use of social media. Define clear and appropriate consequences to accompany these boundaries. While we can never guarantee the safety of our children, we can greatly reduce the risks and dangers associated with social media by starting with these steps. In many ways, the world is a very different place than it was “back in our day.” The world seems to be flatter and much more accessible. But, with a little effort and knowledge, we can ensure that our children’s “back in my day” stories come with a happy ending. ■

+ Facebook has a filtering feature that can allow teenagers to hide certain posts from

MORE TIPS

parents or other adults. Use your best judgment to determine if your child might be filtering the posts that you see.

+ Most parents are surprised to learn that their child has social media accounts on sites you probably didn’t even know about. Talk to your child and make sure you know every site they are using and how they are used.

+ Check that privacy settings for the Internet and Facebook are set to the strictest levels.

Depending on your browser, you can adjust the settings directly from the options tab and adjust levels around cookies, third party sites and more. This protects the computer user and the computer from viruses.

Daniel Champer is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who currently serves as the clinical manager of School Based Services for Intermountain in Helena, Montana.

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HELENA ORTHODONTICS Affordable care in a comfortable, fun environment

Special thanks to Youth Connections for all you do for the youth of our community!

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900 N Last Chance Gulch, Ste 101 www.helenaorthodontics.com 442.0288

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MARIJUANA:

Are my child’s IQ and mental health at risk if they use it? By KIMBERLY GARDNER, LCSW, LAC

ith all of the information, legislation and conversation about marijuana these days, it’s challenging to know what is the real deal and how to parent our kids and teens in ways that protect them and build the resilience they need to avoid using it. It’s safe to say that the marijuana being used today is much different in levels of concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), toxicity, psychoactive components and risk of harm than ever before. As we learn more about true medical marijuana (Cannabidiol, or CBD, a type of marijuana that does not have the psychoactive and euphoric effects of THC), and as laws change, parents can be confused or unclear about the use of marijuana in general. While our culture and society continue the conversation, it’s critical for parents to continue to be informed about the potential effects that marijuana use could have on their child or teen’s development. Marijuana use is on the rise across age groups, including teens and children. For teens who use marijuana, the average age, nationally, of first use is age 12. Middle School and high school are years of rapid brain development in which significant changes are occurring. While many youngsters will develop well into adulthood, research

is showing us that there are some who will not fare well if substance use is initiated during those formative years. Mental health and academic achievement can be significantly impacted with early or adolescent marijuana use. Although marijuana is often thought of as “natural” and as such, harmless, there is plenty of research to dispute that perspective. Research is showing that early marijuana use can permanently lower a youngster’s IQ by 8-15 points. Marijuana use, in particular, has also been associated with the development of panic disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and social anxiety. For those youngster’s with a tendency to develop depression and anxiety, the risk is increased when marijuana use is initiated during the developmental of middle and high school years. According to Michael Compton, MD, MPH, “Marijuana doubles the risk of schizophrenia in adolescents who use it but it may be more worrisome in high-risk adolescents.” There are also many online resources to access to stay informed. One of the best is NIDA’s website (www.drugabuse.gov). It provides factual information on all aspects of drug abuse, particularly the effects of drugs on the brain and body. ■ youthconnectionscoalition.org

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STONETREE CLIMBING CENTER Holiday Mini-camp 12/26—12/28 8:30—12n

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WHAT IS ELEVEN? Eleven is the average age our kids first use drugs and/or alcohol. Youth Connections is committed to providing positive activities to keep our kids healthy and substance-free. Would you give a one-time or monthly gift of $11 to give our kids a chance at a successful life? Visit our website for more information and to give. Thank

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you!


It’s the most wonderful time of the year... Unless you’re sick. Welcoming all patients to our Family Medicine, Mental Health, and Dental services.

406.457.0000 | PureViewHealthCenter.org | Helena, MT


Youth Connections 1025 N Rodney Helena, MT 59601

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YC Magazine, Helena - December 2017  

YC Magazine, Helena - December 2017