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ALSO

The Benefits of Music

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the gift of resiliency

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

» Know the Consequences of Underage Drinking » Teaching Financial Responsibility » From Heartbreak to Heart-Strong: Overcoming Adversity


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> > > > > > > a

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what you can do tO save a lIFe

> If you see the signs, ask the person, “are you suicidal?” > Offer hope, don’t leave them alone, and tell others the person to the nearest eR, call the police, take them to > take a health care professional or > Call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

www.prc.mt.gov/suicideprevention


March 2016

FEATURES

6 The Gift of Resiliency 14 Know the Consequences of Underage Drinking 16 Teaching Financial Responsibility Heartbreak to Heart-Strong: 20 From Overcoming Adversity 23 The Benefits of Music 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 MEMBER OF

PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH

TO ADVERTISE OR CONTRIBUTE

Coleen Smith: (406) 324-1032 coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org

COVER PHOTO BY Jill Amsk Photography

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ON THE COVER

Luke Kailey is a 6th grader at CRA Middle School. He enjoys playing Small Fry football and HYSA soccer, and currently plays basketball for the Helena Explosion travel team. Luke likes hanging out with his friends. He enjoys family game nights, camping, hunting, and tubing at the lake when the water is warm.

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

coleen smith

have seen many articles and research papers lately on the disservice we’re doing our kids by sugar-coating everything, covering up their mistakes, and rushing in to make everything okay. I read one today on how a high school in Michigan won’t allow teachers to give a zero to a student – the lowest grade they can post is a 35. How will they grow up if we don’t allow them to learn from their mistakes and make them accountable? The article on The Gift of Resiliency

really addresses this. Keeping in line with that is our Teaching Financial Responsibility article. It’s a little late for me to benefit from this article, but there are some great tips in here. As a huge music lover, I tried to instill that love with my girls. There are so many benefits of music from learning patience, having a skill you can use the rest of your life, to a tool that helps you study or calm frazzled nerves. Teenagers oftentimes say it’s their escape from the world. And wouldn’t we rather have them doing that than experimenting with drugs? Lastly, our data is showing that an increasing number of teens say they are getting alcohol from parents. We hope the article on the legal, academic, and athletic consequences of drinking will cause adults to stop and think before hosting parties or providing alcohol to teens. It’s never safe – no matter where kids are – to provide alcohol to them. Putting drugs or alcohol on the developing brain can cause a host of problems. In addition, the majority of parents will say they don’t want other adults giving their kids alcohol. Kids will live up – or down – to the expectations we set for them. We need to set the expectation that they won’t drink. Heading into spring and summer, which means proms and graduation parties, we need to commit to keeping our teens healthy and safe. This means not giving them alcohol or a place to party.

Can’t get enough great resources? Follow us: Twitter: @Youthconx Facebook (for parents): Youth Connections Facebook (for kids): Find Your Spot

Coleen Smith, YC Director Phone: (406) 324-1032 coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org


Helena Christian School “Shaping hearts & minds to impact the world for Christ” Serving The Helena Community over 30 years

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STONETREE CLIMBING CENTER IS NOW OPEN!

Don’t let it slow you down.

asthma Asthma triggers such as animal dander, smoke, and pollen, are different for different people. Therefore, it’s important to know your triggers and your medications. See your doctor regularly and have an updated asthma action plan.

Come check out Helena's only indoor climbing space and awesome kids’ play area! 1222 Bozeman Avenue 406-534-0325

dphhs.mt.gov/asthma

www.stonetreeclimbing.com

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HEALTHY KIDS DAY APRIL 30TH, 10am-2pm

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DAYCAMP & RESIDENT CAMP Registration Opens April 25 on HEALTHY KIDS DAY HELENA FAMILY YMCA • 1200 N LAST CHANCE GULCH • 406.442.9622 • HELENAYMCA.ORG FOR MORE INFO: helenaymca.org or call 406.442.9622

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confessions from The kitchen table iving with a family member who struggles to be mentally well can be challenging — not only for the family around them, but for the child who is having to deal with it as well. We asked a parent and a teen for their perspectives on life surrounding this issue. (They are not related.) a parent’s perspective: Without question, mental illness is hard on everyone it touches — especially when it affects a child. As a parent whose son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (and a myriad of other emotional issues) when he was only six years old, I can tell you it’s hard to imagine anything scarier. At first, you realize the child isn’t responding to situations as you would expect. If a Lego piece doesn’t fit into place, he flies into a rage, scattering the toys to the far reaches of the room. Then, the calls start coming from his kindergarten teacher — daily. He can’t get along with his classmates. He’s disruptive and defiant. And he can’t attend after-school care because his rages often become physical. Love and stability are all a child like this needs, right? Not exactly. It’s terrifying to realize that the cure-alls for most children’s ailments will take a mentally ill child only so far. While it’s no easy task, the first action any parent in this situation needs to take is

to acknowledge there is a problem. Also, it’s not all about you! You feel like you’re a bad parent, and your genetics are flawed. Instead of feeling you may have been part of creating the problem on some level, your job going forward is to be part of the solution. Next, you need to get help. Find a counselor that is the right fit for your child and your family — you may need to try a few different therapists to find one who meets your needs. Too many parents settle on therapists whose sole focus is the child in crisis. That is important, but it’s also necessary to help the child and family establish a healthy relationship that keeps everyone feeling stable. When I say the selection of a counselor is crucial, I mean it. Often, this person assists parents in advocating for the child in numerous areas of his or her life. From linking the family with resources like psychiatrists and medical specialists, to serving as a liaison with teachers and school district administration, the counselor does it all. And for your family’s sake, you need one who does this well. Finally, parents need to take care of themselves. It’s true that someone who is run ragged and emotionally raw can’t help anyone. Love your child enough to love yourself. Then, the family can begin to heal. A teen’s perspective: I wish more than anything that my teachers would see beyond my defiance to authority

and not necessarily see a bad kid, but a troubled soul. I have been blessed with loving and accepting parents for the most part, but even in close relationships there is still a struggle in understanding from an adult perspective why a youth is acting differently from their siblings or other peers. The absolute most important thing is to stop asking, “What the heck is wrong with this kid?” and it is incredibly important to instead ask, “What can I do to help this kid? What made them this way?” I love going to school, and studying. If I could be paid to read and write for the rest of my life, I would be so unbelievably content; my teachers at the home high schools wouldn’t know this because all they saw was a kid who fought with teachers and never showed up to class. We need to stop only learning about Suicide Prevention Training and we need to start looking at some of the less favorable symptoms. Ask the kid why he is acting out in class, maybe he doesn’t have a place to sleep tonight. Ask the girl why she never shows up to school, maybe she has some trauma blocking her path. Prevent suicide and further behavior by lending a helping hand to kids who are struggling in ANY way. There is no such thing as such a bad kid, and this isn’t rocket science but it needs to be said, every ‘ bad kid’ out there has stories behind the actions that are just begging to be understood if somebody would just ask and not assume. ■

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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the gift of

resilie

By Kelly Ackerman, Circle of Security Trainer

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ency

Ensuring happiness and success is a common goal for most American parents when it comes to what they want for their children. After all, seeing our children struggle with achievement and emotion may be one of the most difficult roles a parent faces. owever, when parents embrace the concept that happiness and success are gifts to be discovered and not given, children reap the benefits of gaining resilience. Resilient children are able to overcome adversity, experience increased self-confidence, establish meaningful relationships with peers and teachers, and choose happiness and success for themselves. It is within the framework of a family where children have at least one warm, loving relationship with a caregiver that resilience can spring forth within a child. Circle of SecurityŽ, a parenting class that calls parents to “always be bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind,� is one which encompasses the essence of building resiliency through the relationship between parents and children. Within this relationship, when children are allowed to experience and express their emotions, where high expectations are set and maintained, and where children are provided tools to problem solve, resilience can begin to take root. Allowing children and adolescents to express emotions may seem like a recipe for disaster. As parents we are well aware that those emotions can run from hot to cold within the span of a two minute conversation. Parents are left spinning in circles wondering what to do with this display of emotions. Some parents choose to just turn away desiring to avoid feeding into all the drama their children seem to create. continued on page 9

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KICK BUTTS high school students has or will be in an abusive relationship

LEARN THE WARNING SIGNS Drop in grades Sudden personality/mood changes Unexplained bruises or injuries Loss of interest in activities or friends

the friendship center

ALWAYS FREE & CONFIDENTIAL

Kick Butts Day is March 16: The perfect time to kick tobacco out of your life!

Working to End domEstic and sExual ViolEncE

(406) 442-6800 24 hours 1430 Sanders, Helena

thefriendshipcenter.org

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

Creating a stronger Community for loCal kids. 8

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continued from page 7

Phrases such as, “just get over it,” or “it’s really not that big of a deal,” enter the space between the parent and the child. Other parents take on the emotion of the child. This leaves the parent uncomfortable, wanting to do everything within their power to overcome the negative emotion with some sort of distraction or removal of the painful situation. However, both of these situations rob the child of the opportunity to overcome the adverse experience on their own. In the Disney movie Inside Out, the emotions of a young girl are personified with their own personalities living inside her head. Anytime Sadness touches a memory or tries to take control of the brain, Joy comes racing in to the scene to remedy the situation. At the same time, her parents are working externally to engage Joy in her life regardless of the circumstances around her. However, this cycle has detrimental effects as the young girl begins to lose hope as a result of not being allowed to experience her real, true emotions. Though this movie is animated, it portrays a truth that exists in the world of human emotion. Children need to connect and feel safe in expressing their array of emotions: joy, anger, fear, curiosity, sadness, and shame. When parents allow for those emotions to be expressed by simply being present to listen empathetically, our children learn to regulate those emotions independently. When we push a child to feel differently or dismiss the emotions all together, children learn to feel uncomfortable about those feelings without having a safe haven in which to gain the individual skills of sorting through what is being experienced. Independence and self-confidence are stolen from the child in these situations.

Whether children have lost at a game, been rejected by friends, received a poor grade, moved away from close friends or experienced the death of a loved one, experiencing the emotions in the context of a loving relationship builds their abilities to overcome the inevitable adversity they will continue to face throughout their lives. Independent regulation of emotions is the seed of resiliency.

know that when things get tough, their parents can handle it. When parents give up and give in to the whims of the children, especially when a boundary has been set and then is removed, the children lose confidence in the strength and wisdom of the parent. The parent is seen as weak and the child further acts out of control. When rules are established and lovingly maintained, children grow in confidence, maturity,

When rules are established, children grow in confidence, maturity, and self-control, which all add to their long-term resiliency when things don’t go their way. Of course, expressing emotions without having a home where high expectations are set and maintained may lead to turmoil and chaos. Parents who can allow children to express themselves while setting and enforcing limits also enhance their relationship while aiding in their children’s preparation for making good choices in the future. Much research reveals that when boundaries are established and maintained in warm, loving contexts, children and adolescents are able to maintain relationships and are more successful in life. When parents set limits only to give in because the distress of the child is upsetting to them, or they begin to feel rejected, the relationship between the child and parent is at jeopardy. Children and adolescents need to

and self-control which all add to their long-term resiliency when things don’t go their way. Through the safety of loving limits, resiliency is watered, fed and nurtured. Finally, as children grow, teaching them to problem solve is a key to their life-long individual success. There are countless ways problems can arise in the life of a child. We may all be able to relate to a child who comes home complaining about the way a friend treated them that day. Our Mama Bear or Papa Bear may want to arise right then and there to protect our little ones from the big, bad threats of those mean kids! Yet, if we can remember to step back from the situation, realize that we are only hearing one side, and gain the perspective that navigating

relationships is a life-long skill, we can calm the beast inside us and allow our children to solve the problem on their own. Many of the problems our children face are not meant for parents to solve. When we do, the message we send our children is that they are not capable. As well, when we give them advice and the situation gets worse or doesn’t get resolved, the child is back to feeling helpless and we find ourselves in a never-ending cycle of trying to rescue them. As coaches in their lives, asking guiding questions to allow them to problem solve, parents aid in the process by which children learn they have control of their lives and that their actions and decisions play a role in the outcomes of their choices. Of course, parents should brace themselves as children gain the capabilities of resolving problems. There will inevitably come a day when the resolution results in further consequence. Out pops our ability to embrace the emotions of this failure and when the time is right, long after the emotion has been experienced, the encouragement to try to solve the problem in a new way. Resilience is now able to bloom and grow as children take control of their individual lives with the loving guidance of a parent. Keeping in mind that the job of a parent is only for a time, that one day our kids will fly from the comfortable nests of our homes, one of the greatest gifts we can give is resiliency. By planting the seeds where emotions can be safely expressed, nurturing respect and independence through setting and maintaining loving limits, and allowing our children to bloom through independent problem solving, we give our children the attainable future where success and happiness are choices they make every day. ■

Kelly owns Compass Consulting. She is a Love and Logic and Circle of Security trainer. More information: www.circleofsecurity.net

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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.

Caroline Irvine

FACES IN THE CROWD

Hawthorne Elementary School, 4th grade

The true face of a friend, Caroline is a loyal, caring, and outgoing young lady with a zest for life. She is quick to offer a smile and a hug to those she meets. Caroline loves to spend her time with her friends and family. Eager to help, she is often found offering to lend a hand. Caroline is a great student, an active gymnast, and a student at Grandstreet Theatre school. Her family is her greatest foundation, which she fully treasures. While growing up as a girl can be difficult, Caroline looks for the positive while offering authentic friendship to those who are looking. Her face radiates the warmth and welcome she longs to offer this world.

Abby Marcille

EAST VALLEY MIDDLE SCHOOl, 8th grade

Abby’s hard work and determination are obvious on a daily basis, and her positive attitude is recognized by teachers, students, coaches, and teammates alike. She is involved in a number of activities while maintaining excellent grades. Abby currently plays basketball and will compete on a traveling team. She will compete in track and barrel racing this spring and summer and plans on attending basketball camps at UM and Carroll College. She will play volleyball this fall at HHS. Abby is an 8th grade mentor in the East Valley Step Up and Roar program which connects older students to incoming 6th graders to make the transition to middle school easier. Thank you, Abby, for all you do!

Elijah Beckstrom

CAPITAL High school, 11th grade

Elijah is the team leader of a local robotics team – Fusion. He is the lead computer designer for the robot. Last year their robot won at the Montana State tournament and the overall competition in Idaho. The team volunteers and provides outreach for students on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Elijah also plays the string bass in the school orchestra and has taken piano lessons for eight years. He has been honored with several scholarships to attend music camps and festivals. He recently performed at the Helena’s Got Talent competition. Elijah is on the library’s Teen Advisory Group, where he helps develop programming and events for Helena teens.

Dr. Tim Ballweber

COMMUNITY Volunteer

Dr. Tim Ballweber is in contact with Helena youth every day. However, his contact far exceeds his service to them as an orthodontist. By walking into his office, you can see personal thank you cards, graduation photos and plaques of his community contributions. The conversations he has with kids includes genuine care for who they are and encouragement for who they hope to someday be. Tim models a healthy lifestyle as a biker, hiker and active community member. The smiles he creates are not simply a matter of mechanics, they are a matter of connection as a fabulous role model.

The Parrot Confectionery

local business

The Parrot Confectionery is a Helena icon. They started game night the first Friday of each month so that local families could share quality time with each other, unplugged from technology. They have also helped local non-profits, namely by donating their famous chili for The Friendship Center’s Empty Bowls fundraiser. Many children have had the joy of seeing how the candies are made by visiting the backroom on field trips. We highlight The Parrot as a Helena landmark, and by providing area families a step back in time as well as a fun place to go on a Friday night.

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Tennis!

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40 developmental assets

Playgrounds!

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

Turn the page to learn more! youthconnectionscoalition.org

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assets in action

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

8 Students with their teacher and trainers after learning suicide prevention

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.

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 Climbing coach helping students learn to maneuver climbing wall

Kessler staff compete against 4th and 5th graders

Special Olympians and volunteers huddle up before the game

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

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

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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.

21 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.

Feeling confident about their choices for the future

Positive Values

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

Social Competencies

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

CHS winners of annual weld-off competition

Bryant after-school students playing well together with their new friend

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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.

HMS students prep meals to help Florence Crittenton teen moms

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KNOW THE LEGAL ACADEMIC ATHLETIC

CONSEQUENCES OF underage drinking By Judge Michael Swingley / Professor Kelly Parsley / Coach Maureen Boyle

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legal Consequences Judge Michael Swingley: The issue of adults providing alcohol to minors is one the courts deal with routinely. The affects of underage drinking and the costs to the individual, families, and society are varied and range from simple fines, to imprisonment in the county jail or, depending on the circumstances, prison sentences and fines. In many states it is a crime to place children under the age of 18 in a situation where they could be harmed. Laws specifically list providing intoxicating substances, such as alcohol, as being a violation. Many adults and parents host parties at their homes, allow underage drinking, and even provide the alcohol. As a judge, the excuse I often hear from adults who commit this crime is that “they will do it anyway, it might as well be done at home, where it is safer.” However, the criminal violations and risks associated with this crime are serious and remain on the defendant’s record permanently. Secondly, the risk of an intoxicated juvenile becoming seriously injured, ill from alcohol poisoning, sexually assaulted, or dying is great. Many times these parties result in tragedies that may haunt the host for the rest of their lives, including felony charges and civil suits in the millions of dollars, not to mention the emotional impact on families. The clear choice is to just say ”no” to underage drinking. Alcohol is reserved for those 21 years or older. It is that simple.

auto crashes, and high risk sexual behavior (that may lead to STIs and/ or pregnancy) often happen in connection to drinking. I have watched so many students who must address these problems (and the legal ramifications of them) suffer because dealing with it takes time and focus away from the work needed to be a successful student. To better support students in avoiding academic failure due to alcohol, parents can talk regularly with their children about expectations with regard to drinking.

While alcohol may function as an indicator of both maturity and fun for teens, many underage users are discovering that the effects of alcohol are just the opposite.

ACADEMIC Consequences Professor Kelly Parsley According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “By the time they reach the eighth grade, nearly 50 percent of adolescents have had at least one drink, and over 20 percent report having been “drunk.” These grim facts suggest that students regularly turn to alcohol to enhance their social lives to the detriment of their health and academic success. While alcohol may function as an indicator of both maturity and fun for teens, many underage users are discovering that the effects of alcohol are just the opposite. Alcohol has the ability to harm the health of people under 21 and to inhibit performance on several academic fronts. About a quarter of college students report academic problems such as skipping classes, forgetting to complete and turn in assignments, and getting lower scores on the assignments that they did turn in. Students report that missed sleep due to partying, and the fact that many students are still buzzed or hung over well into the next day, can also affect their ability to perform well in class. Dehydration, queasiness, and headaches associated with “the day after,” also influence the ability to remain focused on homework and class projects. Poor academic performance limits a student’s ability to earn a high GPA, graduate, and get accepted into a graduate school. AND many students have learned the hard way that an alcohol violation on a police record means that agencies requiring background checks will see the violation which can then alter a person’s ability to get hired, join volunteer organizations like the Peace Corps, and/or go to graduate school. To compound matters, alcohol affects safety, which in turn, can affect academic performance. Vandalism, violence, sexual assaults,

ATHLETIC Consequences Coach Maureen Boyle To be a great athlete, students must have goals in mind and be willing to make sacrifices. Great high school athletes excel because they choose to make the sacrifices necessary to better themselvesboth on the field and in the classroom. It’s important they surround themselves with those who support them and their goals, from parents and teachers to coaches and teammates. It cannot be done alone. Parents can be a source of strongest support, and they also sacrifice to help athletes get to that next level. They are there to hold their children accountable to boundaries set because they know what is in their best interest. It is with the support of parents that athletes can gain a tremendous amount of security in their decision to pursue their dreams. Many high school athletes have the goal of moving on to play at the college level. Along with the many sacrifices that have to be made, student athletes must choose to avoid the party scene. To make it as a college athlete there are countless hours of training, practice and school work ahead. An athlete’s social life will be limited and bad habits developed in high school will be difficult to discard. Those not willing to make this small sacrifice will not be ready to make the large sacrifices needed to become great at the college level. Another issue is physical health. Participating in unhealthy activities, especially during season, hurts an athlete’s ability to compete. It is important to keep priorities in order, and that means not putting one’s wants ahead of the TEAM. What happens in many cases is that athletes are then left to live with the regret of what and who they might have become, not to mention what the team might have accomplished. ■

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teaching

financial responsibility By Kelly Ackerman, Parenting with Love and Logic Trainer/Owner of Compass Consulting

want a golden goose, daddy…I want it now!” We can all mock Veruca Salt’s demand of anything and everything she wants in her role in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Yet, we live in a culture where immediate gratification is more of a demand than a wish. In addition, even those who are very financially responsible tend to use a little plastic card that looks a lot like a credit card to pay for dinner, entertainment, items at the store, and bills. If children learn exponentially more from parents by watching than by listening, do we ever stop to wonder what they see? In an almost cashless society, it may be internalized as “anytime I want or need something, I will need to have a little plastic card and then I can have it.” Or, “I can have whatever I want because my parents have those little plastic cards.” Furthermore, parents have become ATMs for their children. We pay for toys, meals, movies, bowling, the latest technology, etc. for them. As children grow into their preteen and teen years, they may have heard about the differences between wants and needs, the need for a job to have enough money to pay for things, or that the little plastic card is linked to a bank account. However, what they see is still the same message. In a world where immediate gratification is the rule not the exception and where credit card debt is skyrocketing, how will kids learn the incredibly important lesson of handling money?

Experience rather than lecture is the best teacher for many things, especially for handling money. Since this is the case, it is important for children to be able to handle money and learn how to spend and save. Parenting with Love and Logic™ encourages parents to give their children “practice money.” Some families may call this allowance, and it may or may not be tied to household contributions. Nonetheless, the amount does not need to be excessive, just enough. This money is now the responsibility of the child, not the parent. I know from experience the pain that is felt when yet another stuffed animal is purchased. Yet, I also know that when it comes time to go to a movie because a friend called to extend the invitation, the lesson learned from not having enough money will be one of great value. It takes restraint on my part not to fill in the gaps because I am tempted to jump right in with a loan so my child remains happy and content. Yet, I can extend an empathetic hug while I explain that allowance will be given again next Friday, and perhaps another opportunity will come along. (This is where my mom’s old adage, “It hurts me more than it hurts you” truly makes sense to me as a parent!). However, in the adult world, unless we are willing to go into debt to go to the movies ourselves, we are not able to go when there is not money left in our wallets or bank accounts. For older teens, these lessons get a little

bigger and a little more expensive. For instance, Parenting with Love and Logic™ would advocate for a moment of deep thought before turning over a car and a set of keys to a newly licensed teen for many reasons. In light of money, it may be wise to allow your teen to earn the driving privilege when the amount of the deductible has been deposited in the bank. This makes sense from the standpoint that if an accident does happen, as an adult the money needs to be available or the car will not be. However, it also makes sense from the standpoint that when children have a little investment in the situation, they tend to think through their decisions a little more carefully. In the unfortunate event of an accident, you can respond with a statement like, “I’m so glad you are not hurt. I’m also glad there is money to cover this. We will get the car fixed quickly and you can resume driving when you have replaced the deductible in the bank. I’m sure it won’t be long before you are driving safely again.” No need for lecture or criticism because the lesson of financial planning has already been learned! You are a great parent with lots of aspirations for your children! Use your wisdom and expertise to allow your children to make mistakes with money now before they leave the house. Blowing through your life savings at the ages of 12 through 16 is much less expensive than blowing through your life savings at 30. ■

Experience rather than lecture is the best teacher for many things, especially for handling money.

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BY THE

NUMBERS

Q. What do you do if you think a child is suicidal? A. As a Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) instructor, this is

25

one topic discussed during training. The first step when helping a youth going through a mental health crisis is to look for signs of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Some warning signs include:

» Threatening to hurt or kill oneself » Seeking access with means to hurt or kill oneself » Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide » Feeling hopeless or trapped, saying things like, “What’s the point of going on?”

» Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities » Increased use of alcohol or drugs » Withdrawing from family, friends, or society » Appearing agitated or angry » Having a dramatic change in mood » Giving away prized possessions If you notice one of these warning signs you need to talk with the child. All thoughts of suicide must be taken seriously and we should never dismiss a youth’s thoughts about suicide as unimportant or unreal. While it is difficult to start a conversation about suicide, it is often a relief for a youth to be able to talk to someone without being judged. Start by discussing your observations and appear confident, even if you are scared; this can be reassuring to the youth. YMHFA stresses that it is very important to be direct and ask the question:

The percentage of your body’s bones located in your feet. www.funfactz.com/random-facts

4

The number of gallons per day a hard-working adult sweats. www.strangefacts.com/facts3.html

2200

The number of people who can die from the poison found in one poison-arrow frog. www.strangefacts.com/facts3.html

» Are you thinking of suicide? – Or – Are you thinking about killing yourself?

If the answer is yes, you should follow with questions to determine if the youth has a specific plan in place. A higher level of planning means a higher risk. A lower level of planning does not mean there is no risk; this is especially true for youth, as they tend to be more impulsive. After you have gathered all the information you are able, you need to take actions to keep the young person safe:

» Do not leave him/her alone » Ensure he/she has a safety contact at all times » Seek professional help right away, including 911 if needed Crisis help lines can be very helpful for the person talking to the child as well as the child themselves. Here are some resources for help:

» National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Live Chat Feature: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org » Crisis Text Link: Text “Go” to 741-741 Kristin Thompson, Youth Dynamics, YMHFA Coordinator for Montana SOARS

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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20 million

The weight in tons of an average iceberg. www.strangefacts.com/facts3.html

13,092

The number of knives, forks and spoons in the White House. www.strangefacts.com/facts2.html

35,000

The number of cookies an average person eats in a lifetime. www.strangefacts.com/facts2.html


Play it safe in the sun ... all year long! Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat!

Big Brothers Big Sisters invites you to our annual Mentor Appreciation Breakfast ALL past and present Bigs, Littles, Volunteers, Board Members & Supporters are welcome! Hannaford Street Bible Church April 13th 7:30 a.m. Call 442-7479

Why? Because melanoma is the 2nd most common type of cancer among young Montanans. Lewis & Clark City-County

Health Department Be Active • Eat Smart • Get Screened • Be Sunwise • Be Tobacco Free

TEENAGERS WILL STRUGGLE WITH A HEALTH CHALLENGE YOU CAN’T SEE. Helena School District and Intermountain have teamed up to offer FREE mental health screenings to any high school student in the district. Screenings are completely voluntary and results remain confidential. For more information or to request a screening, please contact Jonathan Jackson at Helena Public Schools, at (406) 324-2023 jjackson@helenaschools.org or contact your school counseling department

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from heartbreak to Heart-strong Overcoming Adversity

By Carolynn Bright

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chylar Canfield-Baber knows all about adversity, but you wouldn’t know that to look at him. When Canfield-Baber enters a room, he does so with purpose — usually with a wide grin on his face, his hand out, ready to greet anyone he meets. As an outreach manager for nonprofit Student Assistance Foundation (SAF), and advocate for the rights of foster youth across the nation, this aura of confidence and determination has served him well. It’s safe to say that’s not how he appeared at the age of six when he was removed from his abusive family and placed in the foster care system. That little boy was afraid, but set a course to overcome the challenges placed before him. Through 11 foster homes, two group homes, and two residential treatment placements, Canfield-Baber developed his own methods for moving toward a productive and fulfilling future — tactics that can be used by anyone faced with adversity. He believes accepting change and adapting is crucial to forward motion. “With each new foster home, school, and community, I had to reinvent myself and figure out how to fit in,” he said, adding that didn’t always work out the way he wanted. “Sometimes I was bullied or picked on as the new kid in town, or the awkward kid that didn’t know how to fit in.” He explains that the times he was most successful were the times he involved himself in the community through extracurricular activities like clubs, sports, and the theater. It was there that he met the role models and mentors that helped him find a positive path and recognize his full potential. “Throughout my life I have been called a failure by people,” he explained. “But I was also influenced directly by amazing people like my sixth grade music teacher, academic community, and peers.” Canfield-Baber encourages students to expand their network to meet new, possibly influential people and develop skills by getting a part-time job. “Having a job was important to financial stability, but it was more than that,” Canfield-Baber said. “It was another community in which I learned how to deal with people, provide customer service, handle cash, and clean. These are all important starts in gaining skills.” He wasn’t completely comfortable in that environment, but it helped him to develop as a person. “I hated learning new things, especially some of the hard lessons,” he said. “But

Schylar Canfield-Baber

eventually I worked my way up from a bus boy, to a host, to a server, to a team lead.” Of course, in foster care, putting down roots had its drawbacks. “The more roots a student puts down, the harder they are to pull up,” he said. “This is why moving from a location where I was successful hurt the most. I felt like I had more to lose.” Many of his peers in foster care fought against change, hating and even fearing it. “Because of the number of placements I had, if I fought against adapting I would have had a tough time,” he said. “I learned that many things were out of my control from the school I went to, the church I attended, the clothing I wore, and the rules I had to follow.” As a result, he learned to focus his energy on what he could control — education, community, and athletics. “Education has been the single most powerful influence in my life,” said Canfield-Baber, who has a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical communication, and a master’s degree in public administration. “Every time I have turned to education, it has opened doors.” He adds that the more he knows, the more empowered he feels, and emphasizes the importance of setting goals to provide direction when life gets complicated. “I live a life that requires goals,” he said. “I used goals to focus my drive and my resilience. I set small goals that got bigger over time. For example, I wanted out of foster care, then a job, an education, another job,

then more education, then a more dynamic job. Now I’m considering more education.” Canfield-Baber cautions that overcoming adversity is a never-ending process. Often, just as one challenge is overcome, another presents itself. In those situations, he says he reminds himself to trust in his instincts, and not to fear failure. “I’ve been told we can’t succeed without experiencing failure,” he said. Today, Canfield-Baber coaches students to acquire the tools they need to attain, and succeed at, postsecondary education. He explains he meets many youth who are facing challenges, and encourages them to use the resources around, and strength within them to reach their goals. He extends that wisdom and inspiration to foster youth across the nation through his work with the Montana Court Appointed Special Advocates, FosterClub, the ChildWise Institute, and other organizations. Canfield-Baber is the first to agree that adversity has been his constant companion, but overcoming it has helped shape him into the person he is today. Mary Howard, Canfield-Baber’s supervisor, agrees. She knew him as a child in the foster care system and feels fortunate every day to see how he has developed as a professional and as an individual. “Schylar has experienced the worst life has to offer, and he has turned that adversity into a strength of character that puts the needs of others first,” said Howard. “His story is heartbreaking, but where and what he comes from has made him heart-strong.”. ■

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Friday, May 6 7:00 p.m. Capital High Gymnasium

Number of teams Limited!

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The Benefits of music By Linda Collins

usic may seem like a frivolous class, major, or curriculum, but don’t tell that to the students who use it to reduce stress, perform better in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) classes, and improve their health. Music touches almost every aspect of our lives. We use it to pump us up when running or exercising, to calming us down when our nerves are frazzled. When asking high school students why they like music, responses include, “Music is a way to release pain and anger in your soul and music gives you a comfortable place to retreat to” and “Music is my medicine. Music brings hope and faith back into my days.” Music is an extremely important part of teens’ lives. It can provide the escape they need to deal with the struggles of relationships, work, parents, and school. In addition to listening to music to calm down, playing a musical instrument can switch off the stress response, thereby improving one’s physical and emotional health. When our senses detect a potential threat, the body experiences a chain reaction where genes

within each cell switch on, telling the cells to produce chemicals linked with a stress response. Playing an instrument causes an opposite chain reaction that switches the genes off. This may explain why we see a teen retreat to their room with their guitar. Many students use music to help them study, sometimes to the irritation of their parents. The key is to keep it at a low decibel. Music with lyrics is more of a problem with writing or reading, but less of a problem if studying math because it does not involve the language parts of the brain. It’s best not to listen to music that’s too relaxing or too agitating when studying. Music has the ability to help students learn fractions better and make it easier to learn a new language. It can help with speech comprehension and memory. Most importantly, it helps teens deal with life. One said, “Music is like an escape from all the troubles of life. It is like a land where nothing can go wrong.” Next time we hear our teens blaring their music, we should keep this in mind and be thankful they have found a way to escape, even for an hour. ■

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Home and community based intervention services for children with developmental delays or disabilities birth through age 18.

• Hurting themselves • Suicide – thinking or talking about it. • Drugs, alcohol, or misusing prescription drugs. • Unsafe sexually or at risk of sexual assault/abuse • Aggressive or violent behavior • Breaking the law • Rules or directions - not following • Intense conflict or disruption in the family/home • Abuse or neglect – showing signs of • Running away • Isolating or withdrawing from friends, family, or normal interests • Panicky or overly fearful behavior

Supporting families to promote development in their young children with special needs. 24-hour response line (406) 461-2382 (calls will be returned within 24 hours) Caution: If you are experiencing a true emergency (immediate danger of harm to self or others),

call 911.

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You & a friend can join Lucy Davis, artist, to create a Canvas masterpiece. Simply click on the website CALENDAR and reserve a spot today! Follow & Like us on Paint n Party Shop, Facebook & Instagram for upcoming Scenes. All Ages & Abilities! The Shop is located at 1053 North Rodney Street & Helena Ave., near H.M.S. Lucy Davis: PaintnPartyMT@yahoo.com Register at:

www.PaintnPartyMT.com

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1212 Helena Avenue • Helena, MT 59601 406 443 7370 • familyoutreach.org


Youth Connections 1025 N Rodney Helena, MT 59601

WE NEED TO TALK Think your kid is too young to even want to try alcohol?

It starts with you. Research shows parents are the NUMBER ONE

29.4% of 8th graders report getting

Join us for a Town Hall meeting at Helena College on Monday, April 11th at 5:30pm. We’ll present information on underage drinking and the effects alcohol has on the brain as well as support services available to parents with underage children.

30.3% of 10th graders report

A member of local law enforcement will give input on parents hosting parties that include alcohol with underage teens. Remember, parents who host lose the most.

alcohol from their parents with permission.

getting alcohol from home without parents’ permission.

Approximately 50% of 12th graders, 35% of 10th graders, and over 15% of 8th graders report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.

reason young people decide not to drink. Start the conversation with your teen about the consequences of alcohol use — and keep talking.

Every year, 5,000 people younger than 21 die from alcohol-related accidents, including alcohol poisoning.

Town Hall Meeting Monday, April 11th, 5:30pm Helena College Lecture Hall 1115 N. Roberts St.

33.2% of 12th graders, 20.4% of 10th graders, and 8.1% of 8th graders report binge drinking in the past 30 days (5 or more drinks in one sitting for boys, 4 for girls). statistics from the Lewis & Clark County data of the 2014 Montana Prevention Needs Assessment

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Youth Connections - Helena - March 2016  

Youth Connections - Helena - March 2016