YC Magazine - Helena, June 2021

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What is Delta-8 THC?

June 2021

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MOTIVATING KIDS » Five Simple Ideas to Prevent Summer Slide » The Importance of Multi-Generational Relationships

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» When to Seek Help


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INSIDE JUNE 2021

FEATURES

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Motivating Kids

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Five Simple Ideas to Prevent Summer Slide

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The Importance of Multi-Generational Relationships

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When to Seek Help What is Delta-8 THC?

IN EVERY ISSUE

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

PARTNER AGENCY

PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH

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

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ON THE COVER

James is an 8th grader at HMS. His favorite part of school is student council, where’s he’s serving as student body president. Outside of school, James likes sports—mainly football, golf, and ski racing—music, and hanging out with friends. He’s looking forward to drivers ed this spring and to being a Bengal next year at HHS.

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 W FROM THE

ell, we’ve survived another year, albeit a really weird one. The magazine committee has assembled some great articles to hopefully address issues parents may be dealing with this summer. Dr. Lantz has allowed us to republish a great article on motivating kids–and who doesn’t need that during the summer? With parents (maybe) at work COLEEN outside the home, it is important to SMITH keep kids busy with positive activities, even if that activity is cleaning their room. In conjunction with motivating kids over the summer is the issue of summer slide. We need to make sure that, once kids walk out the door from school, they don’t lose everything they’ve learned over the school year. We are thankful to have a teacher and author to share ideas on how to keep kids learning. We are starting a series focusing on risk and protective factors, which are those things that either increase the risk that youth will get involved in drugs and alcohol, or wrap them in a layer of protection to keep them from going down that road. We are starting this issue with the protective factor of a connection to an older adult. This can be especially important during the summer when kids have more time on their hands. A concern of parents may be the ability to get in touch with kiddos during the summer while they’re at work. An equal concern is access to a smartphone for children who are too young to navigate the internet safely. We’ve answered your question of when is it an appropriate age for kids to have a smartphone as well as some protections for parents to set from the get-go. Lastly, we know that kids are still struggling during this time, even if things have opened back up. Nothing is totally normal yet. The isolation has taken a toll on many youth’s mental health. Our resident therapist gives ideas on what to do if a child is struggling. We hope this issue has lots of ideas parents can use for a happy and healthy summer. 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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CONFESSIONS FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE

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re you stressed? I’m stressed. Everyone seems stressed. We could blame it on the pandemic, or the kids, or work, or housekeeping, or relationships, or a combination of all those factors. All these stressors have us freaking out and reaching for the Ben and Jerry’s or binge watching our comfort shows on Netflix. You are not alone. We are all feeling pretty wigged out. So what are we to do? How do we find mental and emotional health in the stress storm without falling into destructive patterns of behavior? In Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, the superpower sister team of Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski share the answer. Their book is an easy and fun read. The research-based selfhelp manuscript is punctuated with clever anecdotes, witty humor, and relatable stories. They pose the idea that, as much as we would love to, we cannot eliminate stress from our lives. There will always be in-laws, homework, and bills. As much as we may want to, we can’t just cancel Christmas, or move any time the house needs repairs. Have you ever tried to avoid any and all hectic or taxing situations? It’s darn near impossible. We still have to show up for work, deal with co-workers, and try and make copies on that ancient machine. No matter how much we aim to simplify and remove the stressors, there is always something going on that makes us want to pull our hair out. Stress is inevitable. If we don’t deal with the stress we crash, also known as Burnout. The revolutionary idea that the Nagoski sisters advocate for is that to prevent Burnout, we must ‘Break the Stress Cycle.’ Breaking the Stress Cycle means dealing with the feeling of stress, not the stressor itself. I love this idea. It takes all the guilt and pressure off trying to always simplify, cancel, and manipulate the have-tos of life. Tackling the aftereffects feels so much more do-able. To tame the beast that is stress, we must take that big ol’ stress monster and show it who is boss. There are several easy strategies suggested by my new best friends, two of which are exercise and

laughter. (There are more in the book, but you have to read it to learn them!) These simple steps help us de-escalate our brain and body and help us return to a state of calm. Another theme in this fascinating read is gender, particularly the distinct differences between how men and women handle stress. The Nagoski sisters discuss the unrealistic beauty standards in the media that girls and women encounter every day. Of course, the unfair criteria women face only amplifies the stress women feel in day-today life. Sound familiar? Maybe you want to learn more, but reality says, “Hello! I’m stressed. I already have too much on my plate. The last thing I have time to do is sit down and read a book!” I totally get that. I hear you. In this case, Nagoski and Nagoski have you covered. At the end of each chapter, you will find a handy-dandy bulleted section titled, ‘TL; DR’, which stands for ‘Too Long; Didn’t Read.’ These are the pages to hit if you are pressed for time but still want to learn something on the main points. I would offer another solution for those under a time crunch. Download the audio book version. Not only is it skillfully read by the authors, but you can absorb the info while you drive the kids to another practice, fold the never-ending laundry, and do the dishes again. As a parent, it is no surprise that my kids often stress me out. When they are suffering from stress, my stress level goes up. Way up. With all the stress and emotions whirling around, a dangerous stress tornado forms. But thanks to this book, Burnout: Unlocking the Secrets of the Stress Cycle, I have learned how to ensure our forecast calls for sunnier skies and only a few minor storm systems. When I see the storm clouds of stress start to gather, I whip out one of the regulating coping methods identified by those Nagoski gals. My kids and I go for a walk or tell jokes until we are rolling on the floor. In doing this, we have completed the stress cycle. When all are calm and our emotions are regulated, life is easier for everyone. This book changed my and my family’s life. Let it change yours, too. ■

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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MOTIVATIN By LEN LANTZ, MD

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IS YELLING AT YOUR CHILD EFFECTIVE? In short, no. Screaming at kids is ineffective and unenjoyable, however, I often hear parents say, “My kids only listen to me when I scream at them.” This yelling often includes: • • • • •

Get ready for school! We’re late! Do your homework! Clean your room! Go to bed!

How do parents get to the point of blaming, shaming, nagging, threatening, and overdoing it with punishment? It often occurs through a common sequence. It starts with kids procrastinating, follows with parents not enforcing consequences, and ends with parents stuffing their frustration until they explode. Some kids provoke their parents to lose their tempers. I’m not talking here about those kids who are power-tripping. If you are dealing with kids who actively provoke or defy you, you might need family therapy to turn things around. When you scream at your children, they might do what you want because you are scaring them or hurting their feelings. They might be afraid of your temporary emotional instability. While there are healthy and appropriate ways of telling them that you are angry, screaming is not one of them. POSITIVE APPROACHES TO MOTIVATING YOUR CHILDREN There are a few basic steps for engaging your kids and getting them started on the activity they need to be doing. 1. Pay attention to your timing. Avoid doing this activity if they are: • Tired, sick or hungry. • In the middle of a sleepover with friends. • Just sitting down to relax after having finished another task. 2. Have them pause what they are doing. 3. “I need you to pause your game.” 4. “I need you to pause your video.” 5. “I’m going to need a little bit of your time.” 6. State, “I have noticed that you have not done ____________ [the activity they are avoiding] and I have time now to help get you to get started.” 7. Say, “Let’s figure out what the first step is.” At this point, do not give them a laundry list of instructions. Instead, help them write out all of the individual steps for the project, putting the easiest step at the top. 8. Say, “I can help you with this first step if you like.” If they want to start it on their own, then that is great. Then state, “Please come find me when you are done with this continued on page 9

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est. 1984

Summer Camps 2021 Spend the summer as a scientist at Montana’s premier science camp for kids, and explore the world around you! Find camp descriptions and registration at montanalearning.org

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continued from page 7

step. I want to make sure this whole thing is done before you go back to __________ [the activity they were doing before you interrupted them]. Once you are done with this step, we’ll move on to the next until we are done.” If your child goes back to their activity rather than getting you, you’ll need to be firm with them and let them know you mean business. 9. After they have finished all of the steps and the project is complete, you can say, “Thanks for working on this and getting the whole thing done.” Then leave them alone for a while. Make sure to only give your child one step at a time. If you like, you can make this a game. You could say, “Let’s see how fast you can get this first step done!” Many kids get overwhelmed when faced with multiple steps. You can help them by breaking down projects into parts and having them come to you after each task is done. If at this point you are thinking, “This is ridiculous! My child should be able to do it all on their own,” then please stop. The reason you are doing this exercise is that they are not doing what they should. Living in the Land of Should will not motivate your child or stop you from yelling at them. A STORY ABOUT MOTIVATING A CHILD “Joe’s” bedroom had been a cesspool for weeks. Every time his mother, Karen, asked him to clean his room, he had an excuse. He had homework to do first. He had to go work his shift at McDonald’s. He had lacrosse practice and promised to do it later. She finally pinned him down in the family room on a Saturday when he was binge-watching Netflix. “Joe,” she said, “Your room.” “I know, I know, Mom. I’ll get it done today.” Karen replied in a firm voice, “I need you to hit pause for a little bit. Let’s go deal with this together right now.” They walked to his room. It was a 16-yearold’s disaster zone. “I need a hazmat suit,” Karen murmured. “What’s that?” Joe said. Karen just smiled and said, “I’ll tell you later. Okay. First step. Dirty clothes off all surfaces and into your hamper. I’ll help. Let’s see how fast we can do this. Let’s go!” Joe and Karen flew into action. Within a couple of minutes, all dirty clothes were in the hamper. Karen then said, “Wait a second! Don’t move from this room!” She darted down the hallway.

the way, Joe said, “Mom, I got the dishwasher going, made my bed and arranged my desk, too.” Karen looked the room over and said, “This room looks much better. You made your bed and cleaned up your desk on your own. That shows initiative! Do you think you can do this on your own next time?” “Yeah, Mom,” he said. “Great!” she replied, “Enjoy your show!”

FOR FURTHER READING, CHECK OUT: ARTICLES “The Creative Parenting Mindset – Having Fun Raising Your Kids” by Len Lantz “Knowing When to Silence Your Inner Helicopter Parent” by Len Lantz

IMAGINE MOTIVATING YOUR KIDS, REDUCING THEIR PROCRASTINATION AND GETTING MORE COOPERATION FROM THEM Joining your kids is a positive way to motivate them and get them working on the things they have been avoiding. You’ll feel better using strategies that help you stay in control of your emotions and don’t leave you or your kids feeling ashamed and hurt. You can teach them how to break down activities into manageable parts so that they can start doing things themselves, preparing for when they eventually move out on their own. Think about how you can creatively join your kids to begin the things they need to do today!

BOOKS Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting by Dr. Gottman Between Parent and Child by Dr. Ginott How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish See Len Lantz’s book reviews here: kungfupsychiatry.com/bookreviews/

Joe didn’t know his mother could move that fast. This whole experience was weird but interesting. His mother made it back his room in 30 seconds and she was a little out of breath. “Okay,” she said, “Let’s put all trash in this trash bag. Everything.” They proceeded to dump food off plates, throw half-empty cans of Red Bull and empty boxes of donuts into the trash. “What should I do with all of the plates and glasses?” Joe asked. His mother replied, “Since the dishwasher is empty, I want you to fill it with all of these plates and glasses and run it. Ugh. This garbage smells rancid. You take care of the dishes, and I’ll take this bag to the dumpster. Come find me when you’re done with that. Do not go back to your movie until I give you the all-clear.” Joe proceeded to fill the dishwasher and started it. He wanted to get back to his movie, but he stopped by his room again and noticed it looked a lot better already. He made his bed and arranged his desk and then found his mom. Karen went to inspect his room. On

WHAT IF THERE IS A LOOMING DEADLINE? Most of the time, your child’s looming deadlines are neither your fault nor your responsibility. Occasionally teachers give unfair deadlines. More often, kids are stressed about deadlines due to their procrastination. When your child asks you for help about a deadline, your best approach is to help them assess their situation, not lecture them on time management. Most people – kids and adults – procrastinate things that are new, complex or long. The first question to help your child answer is: Is it possible to complete this project before the deadline? If the answer is yes, then break down the project to its component tasks. If the answer is no, help them deal with the disappointment that they are unlikely to get full credit for the work. Then help them get the project completed and turned in for partial credit as soon as it is reasonable for them to do so. They don’t need to hear, “I told you so” from you. Let them learn from their mistakes and disappointments without your blaming and shaming. Consider reading my article, “Knowing When to Silence Your Inner Helicopter Parent” for more information on this issue. ■

Joining your kids is a positive way to motivate them and get them working on the things they have been avoiding. You’ll feel better using strategies that help you stay in control of your emotions and don’t leave you or your kids feeling ashamed and hurt. youthconnectionscoalition.org

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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.

Emma Johnson

WARREN ELEMENTARY, 2ND GRADE

Emma has determination, perseverance, and a wonderful sense of humor. Last fall, Emma was struggling with reading and not being very engaged. After digging deeper, I was able to pinpoint areas to work on. With the help of her family, I met with Emma online to give additional support. Emma never complained and always showed up with a smile on her face. Now that we are in school five days week, Emma is staying an extra 30 minutes after school to continue working on reading skills. Emma is a joy to work with and makes this job fun and easy. I’m so proud of her and the hard work she has put in. (Emma was nominated by her teacher.)

Turner Hankins

CRA MIDDLE SCHOOL, 6TH GRADE

Turner is a 6th grade DLI student at CRA Middle School. Turner also participates in PEAK through Helena School District. His favorite subject is math. He also loves learning about history and cares deeply about social justice. He is consistently kind and thoughtful and works hard to be an exemplary big brother to his little sister. He is highly creative and excels at storytelling and drawing. Turner adores reading and powers through books, but graphic novels are his reading of choice. Turner also enjoys horseback riding, building, and inventing. He is a loyal and true friend who always strives to treat people the way he wants to be treated.

Ethan Nelson

HELENA HIGH SCHOOL, SENIOR

Ethan is dedicated and driven in and out of the classroom. He is also kind, compassionate, and caring. Ethan has participated in cross country at Helena High School, as well as track for four years. He has earned three varsity letters in cross country. He is also a member of National Honor Society. Ethan earned a 4.0 in his first semester of senior year, taking classes such as honors pre-calculus and physics. Recently, Ethan was awarded the Montana Tech Gold Access Scholarship. He plans to study civil engineering. Outside of school, Ethan enjoys spending time with his family, as well as mountain biking. Ethan is always polite and considerate of others and offers assistance whenever and wherever needed.

Dr. Maren Haynes Marchesini

COMMUNITY MEMBER

As an ethnomusicologist, Maren wears many hats. A mother of two, she teaches at Carroll College and plays cello with an instrumental fold duo, Hemispheres. In addition, Maren serves as Director of Worship and Music at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, works on communications, maintaining a consistent digital presence, running audio/visual systems, and contributing to the artistic side of design and branding. Maren is instrumental in helping run the Iron Horse Music Consortium for Young Musicians and the Camerata Orchestra. She loves how music provides connection to a broader world and opens doors for young people.

Helena Symphony Orchestra

COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION

We would like to highlight the Helena Symphony Orchestra. During this past year, they have continued to provide fantastic concerts to the community, free of charge, and streamed into people’s homes. In this tumultuous year, they committed to bring world-class artists to Helena, knowing the importance of music to calm one’s soul. They also provided their annual Youth Concert virtually for thousands of grade school students across the state. In addition, they continued to provide their Symphony Kids series, also live streamed. We are fortunate to have an organization dedicated to our community’s mental health and well-being. Thanks to the Helena Symphony and all the sponsors and musicians who made it possible.

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savor it all

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

Rule No 8

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

8 SUPPORT

Students making announcements at school

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.

EMPOWERMENT

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

BOUNDARIES & EXPECTATIONS Abby is active in 4-H, with her dog Hazel Learning an engineering project from caring adult

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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

Mustang Cheer Squad celebrates first place win

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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.

28 COMMITMENT TO LEARNING

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

POSITIVE VALUES

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

SOCIAL COMPETENCIES

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

CHS students who won Science Innovator Scholarships

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Rossiter youth celebrate superhero day at school Aaron selected as candidate for Presidential Scholar

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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.

Friends enjoying YMCA soccer together

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five simple ideas to prevent

SUMMER SLIDE By EMILY C.T. HANKINS

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h… summer break. A time for kids to relax, recharge, and unwind. However, as caregivers, and stewards of our children’s learning, we must be mindful to find a balance in the summer months. We must guard our wards against Summer Slide. What is Summer Slide? Summer Slide is a loss of academic skills over summer break. On average, students lose two months of learning over the course of the summer. Students spend the first six weeks of school each fall re-learning those lost skills. Studies show that to prevent Summer Slide, children and adolescents should spend at least two hours a week on academics during their summer vacation. But what does academic support look like during the summer? How do we support our children with their summertime enrichment? Convincing our kids to buckle down and do some work is a hard sell. Plus, unless you happen to be a teacher, you might not know how to help them or what to do to support their academic needs. Here are five simple ways to make summertime learning easy and fun: READ Ask any educator how to beat Summer Slide, and likely the first thing they will tell you to do is to supplement your child’s education over the summer with reading– and for good reason. Research shows that by the time a student reaches middle school, those that did not read during the summer months were two grade levels behind their peers that read every summer. Parents and caregivers need to encourage their children to read every summer throughout elementary, middle, and high school. As kids grow older, they are even less likely to read during their summer break. Providing your child with a wide variety of book choices is key. But you don’t have to break the bank to make this happen. Reach out to your child’s teacher or the school librarian about summer reading programs. Ask about and advocate for your school library to offer summer hours. The local public library also makes it free and easy to get your hands on good books.

On average, students lose two months of learning over the course of the summer. Students spend the first six weeks of school each fall re-learning those lost skills. In addition, they have programing that will fit the bill. Many communities have a book mobile, which is another fun way to borrow books. Keep your eye out for Free Little Libraries–they are everywhere these days. Take a book, leave a book. And if you can, support your local, independently run bookstore. If your child is a hesitant reader, try some graphic novels (AKA comic books). Audiobooks are also a great option for reluctant or struggling readers. PLAY GAMES Just a simple deck of cards is one of my favorite tools for practicing math at home. Learn some classic games using nothing but a deck of cards. It’s cheap, easy, and fun. The trifecta! Plus, games allow the whole family to enjoy time together no matter the age of your kids. New games or rules for game play can easily be found online. Break out the board games. Board games and other popular games bring the family together, but also help kids build logic skills and develop strategic thinking. It is an easy and fun way to keep everyone in the family thinking critically. TRIPS AND TRAVEL Visiting new places and meeting new

people provides amazing learning opportunities. Whether you go near or far, there are fun sights to be seen. When traveling to a new place, be sure to research the local history. Learn traditions practiced in the area. Practice the language or dialect particular to the state, region, or country. It is social studies and history in their truest form. Can’t go too far afield? No worries. Take a field trip. Try visiting a family-run farm or get a behind-the-scenes tour of a local candy shop. You can also “travel” from the comforts of home…study a different country and plan a meal of that ethnicity. CAMPS Summer camps offer summer socialization and enrichment. There are so many to choose from! Whatever your child’s interests, you can usually find a camp that matches their favorite pursuits. My favorite to look for are STEAM-based camps (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). There are great options for younger kids, like Lego building, as well as opportunities for high school-age students, like robotics. If money is tight, there are often scholarships available. Another option to consider is to create your own camp experience. Work with your kids to create a schedule that fills the mornings with learning activities, like reading. In the afternoons, design exciting events for each day of the week, such as Take a Trip Tuesday or Water Play Wednesday. Make it a group act and collaborate with other families. Each family can design one day of learning activities for all the kids. STAY ACTIVE–GO OUTDOORS One of the best things about being on summer break is that schedules and weather allow us to hang out in the great outdoors. Keeping the body active helps keep the brain active. There is ample evidence that spending time in the outdoors leads to improved educational engagement, classroom behavior, and overall academic success. What a great way to prepare your student for the fall! ■

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the importance of MULTI-GENERATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS By BRIAN JOHNSON, Director of Faith Formation

This article starts a series of understanding risk and protective factors as it relates to reducing the risks of youth engaging in risky behaviors. In prevention, research shows if we can surround kids with protective factors and reduce their risk factors, we can give them their best opportunity at a successful life.

M

arissa always brings her stuffed cat on Sunday mornings, and usually has four adults in tow: mom, dad, grandpa, and grandma. Three generations cope with, and heal from, addiction together. Dad graduates from drug treatment court soon. Mom celebrates recovery and sobriety every day. Grandpa provides. Grandma seems to hold the whole thing together with prayer. Marissa and I share a similar story. My parents walked their recovery road in my early childhood years. So, Grandma Teresa cooked me breakfast, read me stories, and said bedtime prayers. One long prayer happened every night: “Bless mommy and dad and grandma and….” trailing off to include every aunt, uncle, cousin, teacher, school friend, and most of my stuffed animals. Grandma Teresa was no saint; she was just doing her part. She believed a close relationship with her grandson was going to count. How much difference do multigenerational relationships like these make in the lives of children like me and Marissa? ASSETS, ACES, & RESILIENCE Youth Connections publicizes “40 Developmental Assets,” a kind of playbook for communities raising healthy children. Developed by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute it is rooted in extensive research. Some quick mental math reveals that seven of the 40 Developmental Assets require multi-generational relationships, and the existence of committed multigenerational relationships is implied in almost all of them. Why does this particular kind of relationship count for so much? The answer is: resilience. Resilience is a trait that helps children come away from setbacks with something positive. Dr. Vincent Felitti’s Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study sets the stage. ACEs, as they are called, accrue to children

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like me and Marissa before the age of 18. They reliably indicate lifelong negative health impacts. Living with someone struggling with drug and alcohol addiction is one ACE. Abuse, incarceration, mental illness, and divorce are others. It is worth a moment of your time to take the short quiz and know your ACE score. Some people have one or two ACEs. I know Marissa well and suspect she scores in the 4-5 range. The negative impacts start stacking up fast at 4-6 or more ACEs. I score in the 8-9 range. The good news is, when we name these tough realities for our children, the community can do something about it. What does that look like? Strong, healthy, multi-generational relationships help children build resilience. MAKING CONNECTIONS In my work, I design parish programs. When creating content, the value of multigenerational relationships is always top of mind. Preparation for the “big moments” in our tradition requires families, children, and high school age youth to choose, and spend quality time with, a mentor. Parents who are bringing infants for Baptism will select godparents for their child. Adults preparing for Baptism choose a sponsor. In second grade, formation for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion is a “with-yourchild”, not a “drop-your-child-off ” program. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other special grownups regularly take a turn. High school youth seeking Confirmation always ask: “Can my brother/sister/mom/ dad be my sponsor?” My gentle answer is always: “No.” I invite them to find a faithful person they admire, age 21 or older, and not in their immediate family. If that is hard for them, I have a bench of safe, trained, loving adults ready to serve. My religious tradition teaches that everyone has gifts, and those gifts are taken, blessed, broken, and given away to others in the community. Perhaps

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nowhere is that theology more evident than in multi-generational relationships of support and care. Maybe you don’t do religion. That’s ok. (Though consider this: involvement with a religious community is number 19 on the list of developmental assets.) High quality community-based programs help connect children and families across generations. Here are two of my favorites: • The Foster Grandparent Program, supported nationally by AmeriCorps, offers men and women, 55 years and older, the opportunity to mentor and assist children by sharing expertise, knowledge, and care on a volunteer basis. • Big Brothers Big Sisters creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. They are a national model, too. One of my most valuable multi-generational relationships in my early career was with Colleen Brady, a former longtime Executive Director of a local chapter, now deceased. Her memory still inspires me, and so the good work continues. You might not even need a program. Are there any senior citizens in your neighborhood who need a hand with some spring cleaning or summer projects? Service to others is number 9 on the list of developmental assets, and bonus points if you are fostering a multi-generational relationship at the same time! All these strategies for multi-generational relationships foster resilience in children and youth. Depending on who you ask, I turned out ok. I think Marissa will too, but it is not an accident for either of us. When we intentionally mix generations in our close relationships, we guarantee exposure to people who a) know that bad stuff happens and b) have wisdom to share about how to get through it. That is resilience. ■


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NUMBERS

When should my child get a smartphone? Smartphones are distracting and potentially dangerous for children yet are widespread in elementary and middle school because of unrealistic social pressure and expectations to have one. Kids are missing out on playing outside, hanging out with friends, and spending time with family because of increased hours spent on SnapChat, Instagram, and YouTube– all while potentially seeing media and graphics parents may not want them subjected to at a young age. There is a growing mountain of clinical research that correlates screen time with disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression, and even psychosis. Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor of Psychology at San Diego State University states there is a growing body of evidence that suggests extensive smartphone use among teens is driving today’s youngest generation to “the brink of a mental health crisis.” Eighth graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk for suicide. With these startling statistics, many parents are choosing to wait until 8th grade to get their child a smartphone. New research shows dependence on a smartphone may produce some of the same addictive brain responses similar to alcohol, drug, and gambling addictions. Many parents feel they need to be able to reach their child within minutes. All major carriers make phones that just allow calls and text without a data plan, still allowing parents instant access. When kids receive a smartphone, consider these guidelines: • Parents know the password. • Let the child know parents have the right to take it away at any point if there is a reason. • Set limits on the time spent on the phone. • Set finance rules in stone–who pays for the phone, data, and overages. • Who will pay to replace if broken, stolen, or lost. • Determine off-limit times, i.e. dinner, bedtime, homework time. • Explain parents have the right to monitor everything– including text messages and social media. • Set parental controls, available through all carriers. • Consider signing a contract with the child – many available templates online. It’s important to weigh all pros and cons before committing to smartphones for youth. Get additional info at: waituntil8th.org.

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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40

The number of minutes sloths can hold their breath.

7

The number of hours one would have to walk to burn off a super-sized Coke, fry, and Big Mac.

2740

The years it would take to go broke spending $1000 every day if one had a billion dollars.

100

The weight in pounds of chocolate that Americans eat every second.

200

The number of babies born every minute worldwide.

2,500,000 The number of rivets in the Eiffel Tower.


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SHE’S INTERESTED IN LEARNING NEW THINGS. Talking with her often about marijuana and other drugs builds an open, trusting relationship. Get into the habit of chatting with your child every day. It will make it easier to have serious conversations about things like marijuana and other drugs, and will make your child more comfortable coming to you for advice. For tips on how—and when—to begin the conversation, visit:

www.underagedrinking.samhsa.gov

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Empowering Youth & Families For a Brighter Tomorrow

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when to SEEK HELP By KELLY ACKERMAN, LCPC

E

motional struggles throughout life are normal no matter what age a person is. There are times when these emotional struggles are magnified or even more prevalent, often taking parents by surprise such as entering and navigating adolescence, major changes in life are occurring, or experiencing the struggles of important people around them. The pandemic, naturally, has heightened emotional struggles with increased necessity for isolation, adaptation to new routines, changing schedules and expectations, and the quick and continued fluctuations within schools and parental work demands. This has created increased need for support for young people both from their parents and from mental health systems. Throughout these changes, much can be done within the home to support the mental and emotional needs of kids. The key to providing that support is increased patience and compassion which, for parents who are facing the same kinds of challenges, can be very difficult. However, the safety of home and the parental relationship is a primary source of emotional organization and stability for children and teens. Making the struggle normal and listening with compassion are key components, no matter what the phase of life or the struggle. Additionally, recognizing and verbally affirming all the moments a child is doing well supports their motivation and their overall resilience to overcome challenges. Shifting the focus to when a child is successful at completing a homework assignment, getting up on time and to school even when it was clear there was no enthusiasm, and talking out their feelings supports their progress and their motivation to continue doing exactly what is expected of them. However, it is still vital that children have structure and limits that are supportive for their development. For example, it remains a reasonable expectation for kids to complete homework, contribute to the family with chores, and respect limits for screen use. It can be even harder to uphold these limits. Yet, when a parent can calmly,

Parents’ engagement in their own needs for self-care, taking a deep breath and self-compassion are often the foundation for being available to the kids whose development and emotional stability require safe, compassionate parental support. firmly and compassionately uphold rules and expectations, a child’s sense of safety is enhanced knowing that someone is still caring for them. Finally, parents’ engagement in their own needs for self-care, taking a deep breath and self-compassion are often the foundation for being available to the kids whose development and emotional stability require safe, compassionate parental support. Still, there are times when it is important to seek additional help for children and teens when providing consistent parental care doesn’t seem to be enough. Asking for help can be difficult and humbling while often providing the support needed to move from surviving to thriving. Some things to watch for that are outside of the normal emotional turmoil of growing up include: • Challenges across multiple areas of their life including relationships at

home, academic performance, activities, friendships, work, etc. • Consistent irritability and/or intolerance toward others that lasts for more than a two-week period. • Less satisfaction or interest in previously enjoyable activities. Withdrawal from friends, activities, school, work, etc. • Physical anxious expressions such as twirling or pulling hair, picking at skin, fidgeting or restlessness in hands, arms, legs. • Statements of hopelessness. • Makes self-destructive statements, loses confidence or motivation. • Significant change in sleeping, eating or general activity. • Behavior issues such as explosiveness, aggression, yelling, or refusal. • Talks about or evidences any kind of self-harm. Examples include unexplained scars, bruises or scratches; wearing long sleeves or more conservative clothing to cover marks; weak or unlikely excuses for injuries. • Makes comments like “Nobody would really miss me if I were gone,” “I just want my life to end,” or “I wish I weren’t here anymore.” • Makes specific suicidal statements or comments. Trust your gut as a parent. You are an expert at knowing what is “normal” for your child. If that changes or is out of line with what you see and expect a child to do at that age, seek assistance and guidance. Reach out to the school counselor, your pediatrician, or mental health professional. And, if you find yourself experiencing these types of indicators, give yourself permission to seek the help you need. The challenging times we currently face magnify our emotional experiences and tax our bodies and brains. Talking to someone who can help is the first step on the journey to healing. ■

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Marijuana is changing what it means to go to high school. Marijuana Use Among 7th-12th Graders in 2018

13-15 years

1 in 5

9th-12th grade students reported using marijuana within the past 30 days.

The age that most students tried marijuana for the first time.

1/6

Students were offered drugs on school property. Students who used marijuana within the past 30 days, by race American Indian/ Alaskan Native

1 in 4 9th-12th students did not believe there is any harm in using marijuana weekly.

24 %

other

17 %

white

12 %

0%

11 x

10 %

Use of marijuana by youth doubled from 7th grade to 9th grade and tripled from 7th grade to 12th grade.

20 %

8x

Students who used marijuana were 11 x more likely to report using alcohol within the past 30 days.

Students who used marijuana were 8 x more likely to report using other drugs within the past 30 days.

D's and F's

20%

9th-12th grade students who used marijuana made up 45% of students with poor grades, as opposed to 14% of students with mostly A's.*

20% of students indicated they intend to use marijuana as an adult. If they had previously used marijuana this increased to 56%.

Sources: Prevention Needs Assessment (2018);

Updated: Sept. 11, 2019

*Alcohol and Other Drug Related Behaviors and Academic Achievement Report (2019), Montana Office of Public Instruction


what is DELTA-8 THC By YOUTH CONNECTIONS STAFF

D

elta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is slightly less potent than the common Delta-9 THC (what everyone is familiar with), but its psychological and physiological effects are similar, albeit to a lesser degree. It is commonly known as “weed light.” It has become popular because of its similarity to THC, the main compound in marijuana that gets users high. While it is supposedly “milder” than Delta-9, that refers to the mind-altering effects, not the safety of the substance. While it is thought to be less potent, it doesn’t make it a safer or less addictive alternative to other marijuana products. WILL DELTA-8 GET USERS HIGH? Yes, but not as high as common Delta-9 THC. Delta- 9 THC can cause negative effects for some, including paranoia or anxiety, so a less potent drug may be desirable. Side effects may be similar to those of Delta-9. It is important to note that Delta-8 has not been studied enough to determine all the effects – short and long-term – it has on the body and brain. Many extractors are ramping up Delta-8 production to meet the new demand and then shipping it all over the country. One just needs to research the internet to find all sorts of products available with

Delta-8, none of which are regulated for safety or their claims of health benefits tested. IS DELTA-8 LEGAL? The legality of Delta-8 is fuzzy. It can be extracted from either cannabis or hemp, but more commonly from hemp, which is why it is sold in many states where marijuana is illegal. And because hemp can be legally grown and used for extractions all over the United States, this makes Delta-8 legal in states where Delta-9 is illegal…sometimes. It is hard to tell if it was created from hemp or by modifying cannabidiol (CBD), which would make the substance illegal. IS IT SAFE FOR YOUTH? No. No amount of THC is safe for youth, even if the potency is roughly half of what is in the marijuana on the market. The risk of addiction and abuse remain the same as marijuana. It is essentially marijuana in another form. Consequences for using Delta-8 can include possible arrests due to unknown legality, lower grades or poor school performance, and failed drug screens. There is still too much unknown about Delta-8, including its legality, potency and long-term effects. ■ youthconnectionscoalition.org

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ParentingMontana.org provides

easy-to-use tools to support your child’s success from birth through the teen years.

TOOLS FOR YOUR CHILD’S SUCCESS Brought to you by the Offices of Child Care, SAMHSA, and Montana DPHHS. The views and opinions contained in the publication do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and should not be construed as such.


HEALTHY STRESS BUSTERS BALANCED NUTRITION

MINDFULNESS PRACTICES

General rule of thumb includes 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day and foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids, including fish, nuts and fiber.

Practice mindfulness, such as meditation, yoga, or prayer for 20 minutes, two times a day. Apps like Headspace and Calm are easy, accessible ways to get started.

QUALITY SLEEP Get sufficient, highquality sleep. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, turn off electronics at least a half hour before bed, drink some warm water or hot tea and read a book after you climb into bed.

SUPPORTIVE RELATIONSHIPS Connect with friends or family members daily. Inperson is best, but it can be done virtually. Listen earnestly. Be genuinely interested in what they're sharing.

MENTAL HEALTH CARE Schedule video or phone sessions for psychotherapy, psychiatric care and substance use disorder treatment when possible. Minimize consumption of news or other media content that feels upsetting.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY Engage in 60 minutes of physical activity every day. It doesn’t have to be all at one time. Dance party in your bedroom, 35 jumping jacks here and there, or 20 minute hula hooping contest.


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