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Ethan Nelson is an 8th grader at East Valley Middle School. He is an avid runner and has broken some school records in the mile, 800, and 4 x 100 relay. When he’s not running, he enjoys hanging with his friends. He loves animals, especially his black lab, Abbie. His teachers say he is a hard worker who always has a smile on his face. His favorite classes are math and shop (tech ed). EVMS staff say he is an all-around great kid!

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


March 2017




Director FROM THE

know I say this every time, but the magazine committee has assembled a great slate of articles once again. We know that this time of year kids, and adults, get tired of being inside, are bored with school, and just want a change. Kelly has addressed this issue with some great ideas to keep kiddos’ heads in the game and finish strong. Don’t underestimate the power of COLEEN surprise to shake things up. A stop for SMITH ice cream after school or an impromptu game night when behavior needs to be rewarded will go a long way to keeping kids engaged. We are fortunate to have authors who know their stuff, and Art has given us effective tools to build relationships with our kids to keep them drug- and alcohol-free. We know that substance use disorder is a chronic neurologic disorder, so it’s incredibly important to keep kids away from drugs and alcohol while their brains are still developing. In January I shared a compelling video on our Facebook page, Youth Connections, that talks about addiction. It stated that people seek out other vices when they are missing a connection with a person in their life. Just like a tree that does not have enough water and its roots search it out, people who don’t have a connection to a person seek out something to replace it. Unfortunately it ends up being drugs, alcohol, gambling, really any kind of addiction. This is so important, especially for our kiddos, but really everyone. Never miss an opportunity to connect with a child. Lastly, with 20% of our youth stating they’ve made a plan to commit suicide in the past year, we need to be vigilant in recognizing signs and getting kids help when they need it. The school district offers behavioral health screening FREE for high school students. To date only 3% of families have taken advantage of this. There is no deadline. Hearing and vision are screened, why not mental health?! Contact Jon Jackson at (406) 324-2023 to arrange a screening. Here’s to a fun and engaged spring! 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

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YC Helena - March 2017  

YC Helena - March 2017