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ALSO

Inhalants: Toxins, Not Drugs

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MOVIN’ ON UP: DEALING WITH TRANSITIONS » The 40 Developmental Assets: Support » Sexting: Game or Crime?

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

Know the Signs

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

v Increasing the use of alcohol

v Looking for a way to kill oneself,

v Acting anxious or agitated;

kill oneself.

such as searching online or buying a gun.

v Talking about feeling hopeless or

having no reason to live.

or drugs.

behaving recklessly.

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

v Talking about feeling trapped or in

v Showing rage or talking about

v Talking about being a burden to

v Displaying extreme mood

unbearable pain. others.

seeking revenge. swings.

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


SEPTEMBER 2017

FEATURES

6 Movin’ On Up: Dealing with Transitions 14 The 40 Developmental Assets: Support 16 Sexting: Game or Crime? 20 Teens and Sleep 23 Inhalants: Toxins, Not Drugs 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

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

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ON THE COVER

Summer or winter, you will find Trey Moseman with a fishing pole in his hand and skis on his feet. Whether behind a boat or down a hill, he loves Montana. When asked his favorite fish to catch, he would say a Northern Pike with his grandpa. Trey is starting his eighth year playing soccer, with the past three years with the Helena Arsenal Team. He recently received the American Legion School Award after being selected by his fifth grade peers at Rossiter Elementary. Trey will start sixth grade this fall at CR Anderson Middle School, and he is excited to start this new adventure.

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

ere we are once again in the throngs of Back To School. It will be a few weeks before we settle into a routine. Transitions are difficult, but can also be fun and exciting. We are thrilled to have a great article about transitions with some great advice we can all use at some point. Changing schools, changing teachers, even changing the students our kids will be hanging out COLEEN with can all cause a certain amount SMITH of angst. For this reason we chose to focus on Support in our series of 40 Developmental Assets. Family support, positive family communication, and parent involvement in school are so critical for kids’ success. I truly hope you’ll use the resources in this issue of YC Magazine to help make this the best school year ever! In addition to support, we can never minimize the importance of enough sleep. I recently heard a story of a child who woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep so played games on a device. Needless to say this child was sleeping through most of the day at camp. She was not only missing out on the fun, but the lack of sleep was affecting her ability to regulate her moods and feelings. It might be easy to just give them a game, but at what expense? Speaking of technology – we’ve got a great article on sexting. I think parents have no idea how much this goes on – and the kids who are choosing to participate. We need to truly educate our teens on the consequences of this dangerous practice. In line with dangerous practices, inhalants are a substance of choice, particularly for middle school students. They’re easy to find in every home and can kill on the first use. We underestimate the availability of everyday household items. We hope the articles assembled for this issue are helpful in your quest to support your child(ren) to be as successful as they can. Every child has so much potential; we just need to foster it. Here’s to a great school year! 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


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CONFESSIONS FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE think just about every parent fears having to talk to their kids about “the birds and the bees.” Well, one day last week, my teenage daughter mentioned to me that I need to have a chat with her little brother about sex. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded. I thought he was way too young to be talking about sex. Nevertheless, I knew that something or some things had piqued his curiosity. Compared to when I was a child, our children today are bombarded with sex. Just about any time you turn on your television you see previews and advertisements that display/mention sexual content. Well, my youngest was at his grandparent’s house, and he saw a preview for a movie that showed a couple talking about sex and had also seen on a greeting card two people embracing in bed. I was freaked out because I thought, “He is too young to be asking about sex.” But then as I thought about my son and his very intuitive personality, I realized that it was probably right on track for him. So, I did as any parent would do and scoured the internet for the right time to talk to your child about sex. Every site had a different recommendation. I decided to go with my gut and tackle this head on, otherwise it would be something

that would just consume his curiosity. My son can sense my feelings and I knew that if I tried to avoid this conversation, he would just keep probing until someone or something would give him an answer. I bit the bullet and on our hour-long trip back from the museum, I started the conversation. I asked him what he thought sex was and found out that he was pretty much in left field. I explained that we would read a book together that would help Mom and Dad explain sex to him. A couple evenings later we started reading the book and are currently in the process of working through the book while answering numerous questions. We are about half way through and amazingly this book has satisfied his curiosity for now. As parent, I have looked back on the way I was raised. I grew up in a strict Catholic household where we did not discuss sex. In fact, I think it was considered a bad word. My mother knew that I would watch “the film” (which talked about puberty and the changes occurring to our bodies) in 5th grade. But everything I knew about sex came from my friends. I decided when we welcomed our first child into the world, I would normalize our conversations about sex. What I have learned is that each child is different. We explained it to my daughter

when she was eight because I was pregnant and she was very curious about how the baby got in my belly. I was recommended a book that would help us talk about sex in a way that aligned with our values. Since that day, we have always asked her if she has any questions regarding sex. We also worked through a program that talked about dating and self-esteem. It has been interesting as she has entered the teenage years, and we have had some very real conversations about sex. Sometimes these conversations blow my mind, and I am shocked by what kids know in today’s world. With all the access our children have to knowledge (you can Google anything) it is hard as a parent to keep up. I think the hardest part was starting the conversation about sex. But since we have, my children now know that they can ask us anything. The reality is that our kids are talking about sex, but my daughter knows that she can always talk to us if she has a question or is confused about something she has heard from her friends. What it boils down to is having open communication. My children need to know that they have a voice and we are here to listen. The kitchen table is a great place to start communicating with your children! ■

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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MOVIN’ ON

dealing with

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UP:

transitions By DANIEL CHAMPER, LCPC

During a recent trip back to the home that houses most of my treasured childhood memories, my mother abruptly halted the evening conversation after our kids had successfully been pressured into slumber, and disappeared up the creaky old farmhouse steps with an alarming twinkle in her eye. y siblings and I cast concerned looks around that cherished living room and waited impatiently for her to reappear. After a couple of mysterious clunks and a few discordant curse words came from the attic, my saintly mother descended back into an expectant room with several dusty and incriminating photo albums. She proudly recounted and entertained us with the “highlights” of our developmental journey while in her care. She pointed out the first steps, the first days, the graduations, the weddings, and the babies. She talked of the highs. My brothers made sure to point out the lows. And I remembered the “in-betweens.” Pimples and puberty preceded cuddling and canoodling which led to wisdom and weddings. Silliness and socializing gave way to cutting class and consequences which transitioned to acceptance and achievement. In short, each picture represented a path, a journey, towards whatever moment was captured. There was movement and change behind every story; good, bad, or super smelly. For every moment of maternal pride, there were transitions and turmoil that were integral parts of the process. It is easy as parents, teachers, or semifunctional adults to forget the nitty gritty details and the incredible angst created by the movement between each developmental stage, seasonal change, social steps, and environmental shift that we experienced in our youth. But childhood and adolescence isn’t just sprinkled with transitions, it is created by them. continued on page 9

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continued from page 7

When we think of transitions we often think of the big life changing variety; the kind that alter the trajectory of a person’s life course. But transitions flood every aspect of our lives together in minute ways that we overlook and minimize on a regular basis. We, and our kids, experience hundreds of transitions every week. Some of these transitions become integrated into our daily routine to the point that we don’t even recognize them as a transition. Transitioning from work or school back into the home environment is a perfect example. Most of us have struggled at some point with “leaving work at work.” Some transitions are big, obvious, and exciting; such as getting out of school for the year or sending those little rebels back in the fall. Some are uncomfortable and easy to avoid. Nobody really enjoys talking to teenagers about body odor, bodily functions, and babies (hopefully in that order). Transitions come big and small. They can be life changing or monotonous. They can be inevitable or avoidable. But, transitions all have universal stages that when understood can provide a roadmap to all of us parents out here trying to support the chaos that all this moving and shaking creates. When transitions are small and routine, we often move through most of these stages without acknowledging their existence. When transitions are big and scary, we often obsess over each stage, sometimes to the point of avoiding the change altogether. The human brain and body enjoy sameness. We enjoy normalcy and uniformity. But we also are hardwired for hope and expectation. We are programmed to see the green lush grass on the other side of that fence. Each transition contains several phases or stages that are universal in nature. Normalizing and understanding these stages is an integral part of supporting our children through the thousands of transitions that life is throwing at them. The first step is becoming aware of the transition. Recognize a change in daily routine or a life change as a transition rather than just “part of the day.”This allows us to separate that particular move or change from the rest of a child’s day and will allow us to view the emotions and reactions as uniquely connected to that specific event. Think of the liberation that may come when the connections is made between the moody teenage girl responses at the end of each school day to the transition away from her boyfriend (or “boo” for those hip parents out

there). The snarky attitude and impressive eye rolls may be associated with that particular change and not necessarily indicative of their general feelings about life and parents, in general. Ok, I admit that may not have been the best example but hopefully the point is made. This move towards identification and specification can be especially helpful when a transition is eliciting a negative response as it allows adults to isolate and intervene surgically and thoughtfully. The next stage is preparation. This stage is much easier to understand when we accept the universal truth that most every

One of the most important ways that we can support a child through any transition is to be flexible and supportive no matter what. This new school year will not go as planned. And puberty sure as heck won’t go as planned (if that’s even possible to plan for). human change is met with initial resistance, unease, or refusal. This can be illustrated by a teenager who doesn’t want to get out of bed in the afternoon or a 65-year-old man who works a job he hates for 40 years because he is unsure what else is out there. We cannot prepare ourselves or our children for transition if they are still in a state of refusal. We can only prepare once we have moved into a state of acceptance. Sometimes this may mean dragging them kicking and screaming into the store to shop for school supplies, but sometimes it may involve sitting down and thoughtfully listening and understanding the emotions and feelings connected to the transition. Fear, shame, anxiety, and poor self-image are often the drivers behind the resistance to change. Once acceptance is achieved, we can fully move into the preparation stage of a transition. This is the most practical stage and is often the easiest for parents to complete as it requires action. Complete preparation should include discussion about potential outcomes; both positive and negative. Talk

with kids about what can go right and what can go wrong, as well as what choices may lead in either direction. Be open and direct in asking children what they need for a transition. This can vary from new shoes for the school year to check-ins with a parent every day after school. Also, think about ways in which we may need to advocate for our kid; or areas in which we may need to back off now that they are getting older and moving on to new developmental tasks and challenges. The more we think about the specifics of each identified transition the more we will be able to prepare. And then, the unexpected will hit the fan and blow the plan out of the water. Remain calm, and offer support and nurture, rooted in hope and acceptance (we can always freak out later). One of the most important ways that we can support a child through any transition is to be flexible and supportive no matter what. This new school year will not go as planned. And puberty sure as heck won’t go as planned (if that’s even possible to plan for). Providing a safe and supportive place for children during these times of unrest is just as vital in thriving during transition as the first two steps. Then, start the stages all over again. There are certain times during transitions that require intervention or assessment from professional eyes outside of the home. While these instances are the exception rather than the rule, recognizing when it is time to involve professionals during a particularly difficult transition phase can be crucial. Developmental changes and physical growth can trigger medical issues. Social pressures and anxiety can spark symptoms that may require assistance from a mental health professional. When we feel like we may be in over our head, we should reach out to a doctor or trusted school staff member for resources and assistance. When we hold those little squirmy bundles we call our children for the first time, we don’t envision freak outs over being placed with the tough chemistry teacher. We don’t imagine meltdowns due to a perfect storm of hormones and social drama. We surely don’t visualize having the birds and the bees talk with tweenagers. No, we picture creeping down the stairs in our later years with a mischievous look in our eye and armed to the teeth with dog-eared photographs and heart-warming stories. But, we can’t make it to those framable moments without hanging in there through the thick and the thin of the series of transitions that we call life. ■

Daniel Champer is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who currently serves as the Director of School Based Services for Intermountain in Helena, Montana. Daniel provides leadership and clinical oversight to teams of mental health professionals who provide therapeutic services in public school settings in the Helena area.

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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.

Ashtyn Ridgeway

FACES IN THE CROWD

EASTGATE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 2ND GRADE

Ashtyn exemplifies the motto we have at Eastgate—we ROAR, which means we work to be Responsible, give Outstanding effort, work to Achieve goals, and be Respectful. Ashtyn models these characteristics every day. She receives top marks in all academic areas. She is always polite and respectful to adults and peers. She is a model student who comes to school ready and excited to learn. She readily offers a helping hand and goes out of her way to be a friend to all. She has an early interest in becoming a veterinarian, with an additional dream of being a singer/ songwriter. There is no doubt that Ashtyn will excel at anything she puts her mind to!

Skyla Evans

HELENA MIDDLE SCHOOL, 8TH GRADE

The YMCA nominated Skyla for the Faces in the Crowd. This past summer, she volunteered at YMCA Camp Child for three weeks of camp as a junior counselor. She was super helpful and totally present with the campers and all activities. They said they never had to worry about her goofing off or shirking her duties. She was very helpful with the counselors and gave them breaks when needed. She was great with the young kids and would like more opportunities. In her spare time, she enjoys longboarding and likes to tour around town. Way to make a difference in kids’ lives, Skyla!

Amber Houser HELENA HIGH SCHOOL, 12TH GRADE

Amber is committed to leading an active lifestyle. She is in her fourth season playing soccer for the Lady Bengals, where she earned Academic All-State honors last season. She has also played club soccer locally with both the Helena Arsenal and Queen City FC teams, and with the state-wide regional club, Rocky Mountain FC. She is a past Elks Hoop Shoot free throw champion, and also played two years of high school basketball. When not competing in sports, Amber has a passion for downhill skiing, fishing, and archery. A member of the National Honor Society, she has an interest in physical therapy, athletic training, and radiology technology. Amber plans to attend Montana State University after graduation.

Lisa Sommers CERTIFIED OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANT, INTERMOUNTAIN

Lisa has been working to offer a summer motor skills camp for three years. This year, she was successful in getting three small grants to support the camps for different aged children so that those who have been waiting for occupational therapy can get started on skills and strategies to make their lives better. In mid-July, students at the weeklong camp, called Improving by Moving Motor Development Day Camp, had fun in the neighborhood around the Intermountain Clinic at 3240 Dredge Drive. The camp is aimed at helping children incorporate sensory and self-regulation strategies with perceptual motor skill building and social skills. Thanks, Lisa, for making a difference in the lives of kids.

Capstone Church

COMMUNITY PARTNER

We’d like to highlight Capstone Church and the great things they have done for Helena kids and families. They have hosted Candy Jam, an Easter Egg Hunt, and two Party in the Park events. For the Last Day Bash, they hosted an inflatable and provided popcorn for all the attendees. They are also committed to our community and cleaned up the landscaping at both Kessler and Central Elementary Schools. Their goal is to partner with organizations already doing good things. We truly appreciate their commitment to our community and to help make Helena a great place for families! Thanks!

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40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

All Your Party Needs!

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

1 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.

Family enjoying a vacation at Glacier National Park

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 4H members working together to help the community YMCA Summer Literacy kiddos help clean up the park

Grandstreet campers enjoying a break for lunch

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.

25 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.

Families enjoying 4G’s library night

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Lane warming up a pony for future riders This cowboy is committed to his sport and future

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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.

Attending Last Chance Bash vs. last day of school parties

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40 THE

DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

SUPPORT By KELLY ACKERMAN, Parent Educator

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YC Magazine highlights 40 Developmental Assets in each issue. These assets are evidence-based to positively contribute to the development of children across their lifespan. esearch clearly shows that the more assets a young person has, the less likely they are to participate in risktaking behaviors during adolescence including drug and alcohol use, violence, illicit drug use, and sexual activity. Sadly, the average young person has less than half of these assets according to Search Institute. This article is one in a series to highlight the eight categories of assets in order to more fully engage families, schools, agencies, businesses, and community members in ensuring our children experience as many assets as possible. SUPPORT This developmental asset consists of the following six aspects: 1. FAMILY SUPPORT 2. POSITIVE FAMILY COMMUNICATION 3. OTHER ADULT RELATIONSHIPS 4. CARING NEIGHBORHOOD 5. CARING SCHOOL CLIMATE 6. PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN SCHOOL Every child needs love, affirmation, and acceptance, which is what is referred to as support. Support may be even more important for adolescents because the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual changes they are going through may make it more difficult for adults to feel close to them. However, research shows that teens who report a high level of connectedness to families and schools are protected from seven out of eight risky behaviors, including suicidal thoughts, violence, substance use, and early initiation of sexual activity. Youth need to be loved and accepted unconditionally. They shouldn’t be made to feel embarrassed or stupid by adults or to be lectured when asking for advice. Supported youth know they are not alone and can rely on positive and fulfilling relationships with a number of adults in their family, community, and school. They know they have adults they can turn to for help, such

as dealing with emotional issues or learning new skills. Family Support: Family life provides high levels of love and support. Supportive parents are emotionally close with their kids, communicate opening with them, have democratic discussions about family rules and decisions, and provide clear and sometimes negotiable boundaries. Research shows support from parents has been associated with lower substance use, higher self-esteem, less anxiety and depression, less delinquency and school misconduct, and higher school engagement, including higher grades and standardized test scores. Ideas to foster family support include: starting traditions such as game nights or season outings; giving kids a hug a day (even big kids); spending time weekly with teens individually; giving kids space and respect their privacy when they need it; having family meetings. Positive Family Communication: Parent(s) and child communicate positively and the youth is willing to seek advice from the parent(s). This is reached when the parents encourage two-way conversations with their children, validate the child’s point of view, and recognize the rights of both the kids and the parents. It’s important to encourage the adolescent’s emerging independence through the gradual increase of the decisions they are allowed to make, and not by indulging them. Ideas to foster positive family communication include: use drive time to have conversations, which may be less uncomfortable for adolescents; use a whiteboard on the refrigerator to write a message of encouragement or to let kids know when you’ll be back. Other Adult Relationships: Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults. Relationships with adults outside the family, like teachers, coaches, friend’s parent, or clergy, are strongly associated with adolescent well-being. On some issues, such as school concerns or sexual issues, a nonparental adult is a preferred go-to person. Sometimes this person may be a neighbor or someone with similar interests. Ideas to encourage a relationship with a caring adult include finding someone who

can share skills with a youth in their area of interest such as gardening, woodworking, cooking, outdoors, or fitness. Look for opportunities outside of school like a mountain biking club, robotics, or quilting. Caring Neighborhood: Neighborhood monitoring of youth’s behavior may be perceived as a form of caring, instilling a sense of security for kids. In addition to being caring and friendly, it means holding high expectations for youth’s behavior. Research shows that youth who reside in caring neighborhoods have higher grades, better selfesteem, reduced crime, and less drug use. Ideas to develop a caring neighborhood include hosting a neighborhood celebration on the first or last day of school; organize informal activities like pick-up basketball or flash light tag; let the kids in the neighborhood know they can cut through your yard, sled on your hill, or play basketball in your driveway ( join them!). Caring School Climate: The school provides a caring and encouraging environment. The adults have high expectations for students’ success and are considered fair in dealing with youth. They are also friendly and approachable and show care and concern about the student as a person. Students feel respected and valued, and have a sense of belonging. All of this is linked to better academic performance, better mental health, and lower delinquency among adolescents. Ideas to support a caring school climate include: mutual respect of teachers and staff; talking to kids about their friends, experiences on the bus and in the lunchroom; and making a plan to solve any issues. Parent Involvement in School: Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school. Absolutely, parental support affects adolescents’ perceptions about their own abilities, which can enhance or stifle progress in school. Research shows that parent involvement promotes success at all grade levels. Parent involvement includes attending school functions, high expectations for the child’s success, encouraging and expressing interest in what they’re doing at school, talking about homework and school activities, ensuring a place to study, and encouraging reading. ■

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sexting:

GAME OR CRIME? By TRACIE DAHL, LCPC

game of Truth or Dare can easily be taken too far. Spin the Bottle can land on over-aggressive players. However, these remembered games of adolescence have a level of nostalgic innocence that disappears when experimentation goes mobile through a text message, instant message, or chat. The ever-present role that technology plays in our day-to-day lives has now become instrumental and formative in teenage sexuality. Thus, being watchful as parents and determining the size of that role and the level of safety embedded within it has become a complicated task. It’s a topic that can be difficult or uncomfortable for parents to discuss with their children because, like some other risk behaviors, there are parents who adopt a “do as I say, not as I do,” stance on the issue. According to a 2014 report by computer security software firm McAfee, more than half of all adults have sent or received intimate content on their mobile devices. For the other fifty percent, fear of the unknown can cause either an overreaction that may stifle open discussion or a complete lack of knowledge can result in no discussion at all. What is “intimate content,” exactly? The word “sexting” is a relatively new word with just as much hype as possible significance. It has the potential to ruin political careers and yet its definition can be ambiguous and therefore ominous. Coined by putting together the words “sex” and “texting,” what, exactly, constitutes “sexting,” is not so easy to define. A common definition is “the sending of nude, suggestive, or explicitly sexual photographs by electronic means, usually text message.” However, most would agree that sexually explicit content can include messages

without photographic material. Sexual exploration has occurred for as long as teenagers have been curious about sexuality. Yet the accessibility of electronics and the potential for circulation and distribution that sexting now affords has created a response from lawmakers resulting in consequences beyond the hard lessons of regret, guilt, shame, and embarrassment that used to result from a spin of the bottle. Most states have child pornography laws that apply to sexting. In addition, federal law also criminalizes causing a minor to take part in sexually explicit conduct, or any material that otherwise constitutes child pornography. Parents who allow this behavior can also be prosecuted. (18 U.S.C. § 2251.) Depending on the state, the following are considered offenses: • photographing, filming, or videotaping a child (a person younger than 18) naked or engaging in sexual conduct • distributing photographs or images of a child naked or engaged in sexual conduct, or • possessing naked or sexual images of a child. For example, a teenager who urges a 16-year-old friend to pose for a nude photo could be convicted of making child pornography. Sending the photo to others, even other teens, constitutes distributing child pornography and anyone who possesses the image on a phone or computer is guilty of possessing child pornography. Despite laws prohibiting sexting, most enforcement agencies are hesitant to prosecute teenagers. Sexting can now generally be considered developmentally normal adolescent behavior. It has become a very real approach for teenagers and adults to develop intimacy with their significant

others. Therefore, efforts should be started early by parents to initiate ongoing, ageappropriate discussion with their children about technology and sex through honest, open, proactive conversations. While teens can’t contract an STD (sexually transmitted disease) or get pregnant from sexting, the effects can be just as far reaching when it comes to future employment opportunities, their social reputation, and feelings of overall regret resulting in guilt and shame. Since teens are impulsive and consideration must be given to the speed with which texting or instant chat conversations occur, there is often too little regard given to the very real consequences that sending nude photos via electronic means can have. Talking to teens about the facts ahead of time can be the best way to prevent them from making a decision that could have devastating effects. According to research by the Internet Watch Foundation, an estimated 88% of self-made explicit images are stolen from their original upload location (like social networking sites) and are made available on porn sites. The McAfee study also found that approximately 60% of sexts are shared or leaked. Parents should be particularly watchful for inappropriate sharing of images and compulsive and/or coercive types of behaviors, whether they occur in or outside of an electronic context. Make sure that teens and pre-teens know what sexting is and how to respond to pressure from their peers. Help kids understand the ramifications of sexting whether they are legal, social, or emotional. Teenagers will most likely continue to explore their sexuality whether playing games like Spin the Bottle or Truth or Dare, or sending sexual messages. However, the more educated and informed that they can be about their choices, the better choices they will make. ■

Tracie Dahl is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) working as a School Based Outpatient Therapist for Intermountain in Helena, Montana. She currently works primarily with middle school aged students and families and has been working in school based counseling in Montana since 2010. Tracie holds an M.Ed. from Montana State University-Northern.

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60% Approximately

of sexts are shared or leaked Source: McAfee


BY THE

NUMBERS

Q. What should I know about Snapchat? A. Snapchat is an app that allows users to send texts, photos

and videos to people who they choose. They can also add special effects, time/weather/location, and cartoon features. Many kids think it’s safe from being seen by others because of the ten second maximum time and disappearing feature, which gives the sender a false sense of security. For this reason, bullies have taken to Snapchat, and kids who participate in sexting think it’s a safe way to send photos and videos. However, it’s possible for the viewer to take a screenshot or use tools to save a copy and share with others who were not intended to see it. In addition, forensic companies have recovered images, so youth should understand that anything sent digitally has the ability to be recovered. If a child is being bullied on Snapchat, it’s possible to block friends. For more info, visit: https://support.snapchat.com/ en-US/article/block-friends. In addition, be sure to report the abuse. If someone is at risk of harm to themselves or others, contact law enforcement immediately. If need be, the account can be deleted. Other Snapchat options include: Spectacles: Sunglasses with a built-in video camera. Glasses light up to show something is being recorded, but it’s not always obvious. Kids need to know they need to ask before recording anyone. Snapcash: A feature available to anyone over 18, but parents need to know about it so no one “borrows” their debit card. It was developed to pay someone back (for lunch or movie tickets, etc.) via Snapchat. It links a debit card and Snapchat account to make peer-to-peer payments. Snapmap: Lets Snapchat users see where their friends are, as long as friends choose to share their locations with them. It is off by default; however, if a Snap is submitted to Our Story, it may appear publicly on the map in the exact location it was taken. Once someone opts-in, whatever audience is being shared with can see the location updated, every time the Snapchat app is opened, regardless of whether a Snap is sent.

55

The percentage of Americans who know the sun is a star. www.funfactz.com

400

The number of times per day a child laughs (adults laugh only 15). www.funfactz.com

10,000

The number of variety of tomatoes. www.thefactsite.com

60

The percentage of fat in our brain, making it the fattiest organ. www.thefactsite.com

50,000

Snapstreak: Means the user and friend have Snapped each other within 24 hours for more than one consecutive day. A ???? emoji shows up next to a friend’s name. This has become an issue in school with kids not wanting to be the one to break the streak.

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.

The number of different scents a human nose can remember. www.thefactsite.com

18

The number of muscles in a dog’s ear. www.thefactsite.com

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GIVING HER A BRIGHTER FUTURE YMCA AFTER SCHOOL

YMCA after school programming focuses on eight core content areas: arts & humanities, character development, health & wellness, homework support, literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering, & math) service learning, social competence and conflict resolution.

HELENA FAMILY YMCA 1200 N LAST CHANCE GULCH • HELENA MT 59601 406.442.9622 • HELENAYMCA.ORG/KIDS

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TEENS AND

sleep

Reprinted with permission from www.tuck.com

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eens are young adults, but they don’t sleep like adults. Epidemiologic studies suggest that most function best with at least nine hours of nightly sleep—yet few sleep that much. Nearly 90 percent of high school students don’t get enough sleep on school nights. This is unfortunate, as teens often have intense physical and mental demands that require adequate sleep. There are serious consequences for teens who don’t sleep enough: poor grades, moodiness, obesity, drowsy driving, even an increased risk for anxiety, depression, and suicide. Founder of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic, William Dement MD, PhD, warns that high school is a danger spot for sleep deprivation. Without enough sleep, teens don’t perform at optimal levels in school, sports, driving, or even in health. Teens are often not getting enough sleep due to factors beyond their control. COMMON SLEEP PROBLEMS + Demands on time: For many teens, the biggest problem with sleep is there just isn’t enough time to get more than nine hours of sleep every night. They’re balancing demands on their time, including early school hours, heavy homework loads, extracurricular activities, jobs, home responsibilities, and more. Parents should carefully examine schedules along with their teen to determine if changes can be made. + Circadian rhythm shift: When teens hit puberty, their circadian rhythm shifts to a later bedtime. Teens may be sleepy around 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. before puberty, but after puberty, they aren’t sleepy until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. This sleep phase delay can make teens feel like they’re suffering from insomnia and make it difficult to get enough sleep. + Not enough daytime activity: Though teens are usually incredibly busy during the day, they’re often not getting enough exercise. Exercise is important for health and good sleep. + Too much screen time: Teens often spend a lot of time on screens during the day and into the night. They’re working on computers at school, texting with friends, watching TV, and doing homework. They may even take mobile devices to bed. But all of this screen time can interfere with their already confused circadian rhythms. Teens should pay attention to how much screen time they have during the day and stop using technology an hour before bed—never taking devices to bed.

HELPFUL SLEEP TIPS + Maintain calm before bed: It can be tough to wind down from a busy day, but it’s important for teens to do so. Making the hour before bed a calm time can help teens get into a more sleepy mindset and make it easier to fall asleep. + Regular sleep time: Sleep thrives on routine, so teens should try to keep a regular sleep time, even on the weekends. + Limit evening activities during the week: Teens can quickly become overwhelmed with weeknight activities that keep them wired and up well past their bedtime—even cutting into homework time, so they have no choice but to stay up late to finish it. Carefully consider evening activities, including sports, extracurricular activities, work, and home responsibilities, and how they have an effect on everyday sleep habits. + Make bedrooms calm and comfortable: Like younger children as well as adults, teens need bedrooms that are calm, cool, dark, and comfortable. Make sure they have a good mattress, soft bedding, and a healthy sleep environment free of distractions. + Maintain a regular exercise routine: Teens should make sure they’re getting enough physical activity every day. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of activity every day for good sleep and overall good health. + Keep lights low at night: Before bed, keep lights low in order to signal to the brain that it’s just about time to go to sleep. And in the morning, let bright lights in to signal the start of the day and alert time. + Limit caffeine use: Too much caffeine can leave teens wired, especially in the evenings. Encourage teens to avoid consuming too much caffeine during the day and stop caffeine consumption after 4:00 p.m., including sodas and chocolate. + Consider the effect of medication on sleep cycles: Some medications, such as Ritalin or Adderall, can cause insomnia. Talk with your doctor about any medications and the best time to take them. + Discourage smoking, alcohol, and drugs: Teens should always avoid smoking, alcohol, and drug use. But it is especially important that teens avoid these substances for their sleep health. They can interfere with a teen’s ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get restful sleep. + Reduce anxiety: Teens often suffer from serious stress and anxiety, especially as they navigate increasingly complicated personal relationships and the stresses of school. For many teens, stress and anxiety aren’t going away—and they can interfere with healthy sleep. Teens can reduce the negative effects of stress and anxiety by practicing stress relieving exercises, including meditation, yoga, and prayer. + Catch up on sleep over the weekend—within reason: While teens should try to maintain a regular sleep schedule every day of the week, weekends do present an opportunity to catch up on a few hours of sleep missed over the course of the week. Teens can safely add a couple extra hours of sleep on weekend mornings— but be careful not to overdo it. Sleeping in too late all weekend can make it difficult to wake up on Monday morning. ■

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2017-2018 Academic Calendar Cut me out & Hang me on your fridge!

Follow CTF

Outstanding You’re so cool

Awesome

Good listener

Terrific

You mean so much to me

Success

Whiz Dynamite BRAVO

Creative Way to go Precious Super

Nice work SHARP Genius

You’re my sunshine

Excellent

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First Day of School *day varies by grade and school No School Early Release Mondays *times vary by grade HS Semester Testing Early Dismissal K-8 Vigilante Day - K-8 Released 11AM / HS No School Last Day of School #GoBlue on Mondays! April is Strengthening Families Month

You made my day

WONDERFUL

You’re a star Thoughtful Imaginative Unique IMPORTANT

You are the best

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INcreDIBle Remarkable Caring Energetic |

youthconnectionscoalition.org

Fabulous PROUD

13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Great idea

Great work

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15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Fantastic job

BRIGHT Brilliant HOORAY

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June 2018

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Perfect Neat

You got it

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Marvelous You rock

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Amazing Special Clever HILARIOUS

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Treasure WOW Funny Extraordinary


INHALANTS:

toxins, not drugs By LINDA COLLINS, Prevention Specialist

ccording to the 2015 Monitoring the Future survey done of American 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, 9.4% of 8th graders reported ever using inhalants. In this country, approximately 100 teens die per year from inhalant abuse. The scary fact is it can happen the first time, most commonly from Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. Inhalants refer to the various substances that people typically take only by inhaling. They include: Solvents – industrial or household products including: paint thinners or removers, dry-cleaning fluids, gasoline, and lighter fluid. Art or office supply solvents including: correction fluids, felt-tip marker fluid, electronic contact cleaners, and glue. Aerosol sprays – household aerosol items including: spray paints, hair or deodorant sprays, aerosol computer cleaning products, and vegetable oil sprays. Gases – found in household or commercial products including: butane lighters, propane tanks, and whipped cream aerosols (whippets). And those used as anesthesia like ether, chloroform, and nitrous oxide. Nitrites – often sold in small brown bottles labeled as video head cleaner, room odorizer, and leather cleaner.

Inhalants are easily bought and found at home. They contain dangerous substances that have mind-altering properties when inhaled. They are mostly used by teens and is the only class of substance used more by young teens than older ones. Kids use these inhalants by sniffing or snorting fumes from a container, spraying aerosols directly into the nose or mouth, “huffing” from a chemical-soaked rag in the mouth, sniffing or inhaling fumes from chemicals sprayed or put inside a plastic or paper bag (bagging), or inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide, often called laughing gas. The high usually only lasts a few minutes, but the process can be repeated over and over to extend the high. Most inhalants affect the central nervous system and slow down brain activity. Short-term effects are similar to alcohol and include: slurred or distorted speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. People may also have hallucinations or delusions. With repeated inhalations, many people feel less self-conscious and less in control. Some may start vomiting, feel drowsy for several hours, or have a headache that lasts a while. Inhaling concentrated amounts of these chemicals can cause heart failure, suffocation, convulsions, seizures, coma, even death. Repeated use may cause addiction. It’s important to remember that inhalants aren’t drugs; they’re poisons and toxins. It’s important to discuss the dangers with kids. For more information, visit: www.inhalants.org/about.htm. ■

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ORGANIC SUSTAINABLE LOCAL

we are MAKING

Rule No 9

OUR HELENA HOME STRONGER TOGETHER

switch to thecu4u.org

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

Named Montana’s Best Restaurant by Business Insider magazine

Breast Cancer Screening Do It For You, Do It For Them

Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death for Montana women. Talk to your doctor about getting screened. If you can’t afford a mammogram, call

457-8923 to see if you qualify for assistance.

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Nothing is impossible, the word itself says Reach Higher Montana helps students believe in their possibilities.

We guide, prepare, and support Montana students with inspiration, information, and resources for college. We offer:  Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion help  Scholarship search and application assistance  Financial education  Support and advice for pursuing your goals for higher education

To find out more, stop in our

Helena office at 40 West 6th Ave or call us at (406) 422-1275 x 802 Visit us at ReachHigherMontana.org Follow us

#406students

#406parents

#406educators


Youth Connections 1025 N Rodney Helena, MT 59601

Profile for Deanna Johnson

YC Magazine Helena Sept2017  

YC Magazine Helena Sept2017