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JANUARY 2015

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Empowering generations of dreamers and innovators Dow Corning Corporation is proud to support The Legacy Center for Community Success and its mission to connect children, adolescents and families with opportunities to learn, thrive and succeed. Together, we can encourage and support those who will help lead us into the future. For more than 70 years, Dow Corning has helped our customers invent the future and has worked to promote the success of our friends, families, neighbors and employees. We’re harnessing our belief in the power of people and our passion for silicon-based technology to help solve some of the most important challenges facing our world. Learn more at dowcorning.com/community.

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JANUARY 2015

FEATURES

6 Exercise and Success 14 Screen Time: To Limit or Not to Limit? 16 10 Tips for an A+ Parent-Teacher Conference 20 Debunking Marijuana Myths 23 Conquer Kid Clutter 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 PRINTED BY

PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH

TO ADVERTISE OR CONTRIBUTE Barb Swierzbin: (989) 496-1425 bswierzbin@tlc4cs.org

COVER PHOTO BY Zo-Mak Photography

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About the legacy center The Legacy Center for Community Success (TLC) was established in 2004 to identify outside-the-classroom barriers to learning and development and to collaborate with other organizations to provide interventions that allow all children, youth and families to flourish and thrive. TLC has five areas of focus: Literacy Services: We provide free and confidential tutoring in reading, spelling, math and English as a Second Language so that people of all ages can reach their full potential. Early Childhood Development: Our Preschool Tool Totes are a cost-effective intervention designed to reduce the readiness gap experienced by many at-risk children when they enter kindergarten. Youth Development: We support initiatives and programs that ensure area youth excel and become productive members of society. TLC has adopted the concept of Developmental Assets, which we believe immunize youth against risk-taking behavior. TLC coordinates the activities of the Community Alliance 4 Youth Success, a group of local community leaders who are focused on preventing teen substance abuse. Healthy Families: Whether it’s developing parenting programs, working with youth-serving organizations to build Developmental Assets or adapting the concept of Developmental Assets for use with the senior population, we continue to focus on positive outcomes. Evaluation Services: Evaluation of program outcomes is one of our core competencies. While many organizations are proficient in assessing their activities, many are requesting assistance in understanding and measuring the benefits for participants in their programs both during and following program activities.

Follow us:

director from the

eeping up with teenagers can seem like a full-time job. They are always on the go. Their school work is getting more difficult. And they are facing challenges that we never dreamed of when we were their age. Hopefully, this issue of Youth Connections will offer some helpful tips to make life easier. Getting involved in your child’s jennifer education is one of the most important heronema things you can do to guarantee success in school and beyond. The Legacy Center was founded on the premise that outside the classroom factors directly impact what happens in the classroom, so we’ve provided 10 tips for an A+ parent-teacher conference. The article on the effect of exercise on the brain is fascinating. We all know that exercise improves health and boosts mood, but using it to schedule classes around optimum learning offers a whole new path to academic success. Anything we can do to help kids achieve their potential, we need to consider. We’ve also included an article about debunking marijuana myths by Dr. Kevin Sabet, former drug policy advisor to the Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations. Sabet was the featured speaker at a recent town hall meeting sponsored by the Community Alliance 4 Youth Success. A video of the presentation is available at http://drugfreemidland.org/bigmarijuana/. Cell phones, tablets and other high-tech items were #1 on many wish lists this year, so we decided to address the issue of ‘when is the right age to introduce technology.’ Technology is important, and kids will need to know how to navigate a more connected world, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of human contact and interaction. Now that we’re knee deep in winter (sorry, couldn’t resist), it’s probably time for the kids to clean their rooms. This is the perfect opportunity to help them develop organizational skills and shape their values by helping them decide what to keep and what to let go.

The Legacy Center w w w.tlc4cs.org w w w.facebook.com/tlc4cs Community Alliance 4 Youth Success w w w.drugfreemidland.org w w w.facebook.com/ca4ys

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The Legacy center for Community success Coleen Smith, YC Director Jennifer Heronema, President/CEO (989) Phone: 496-1425(406) jheronema@tlc4cs.org 324-1032 3200 James Savage Rd, Ste 5 Midland, MI 48642 coleen@youthconnectionscoaltion.org


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Upcoming Events FREE Snowshoe Hikes

in January & February!

Nature Day Camp Registration begins April 8 Ages 3-16

Teen Trex: Snowshoe Scramble

Sat, Jan 31 • 1-3 pm | Ages: 12-16

Call 989.631.0830 to borrow CNC snowshoes! Sat, March 21, 2015 10 am-4 pm Pancake Meal 10 am-2 pm

15 miles of trails | Visitor Center open 7 days a week FREE Admission | FREE Wi-fi 400 S. Badour Rd., Midland | 989.631.0830 Visit CNC online for a full calendar of events!

www.chippewanaturecenter.org |

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/cncmidland


confessions from The kitchen table

lessons in step-parenting looked across the dinner table and this cute, 12-year-old girl had ground the pepper all over her dinner plate, the place mat and a 12-inch radius around that. She was sitting sideways with one foot on the seat and the other foot on an empty chair, smacking her food. This was not my expectation for Sunday dinners. Or any dinner, for that matter. I was entering a new relationship and was becoming aware of all sorts of potential obstacles. From the perspective of a stepfather, here are some lessons I learned from the dinner table (literally!) – courtesy of my own children and my step children: While we were dating and early in our marriage we only saw each other on weekends, so I was this guy who dropped in on the weekends and distracted their mother. I wanted to respect the girls’ time with their mother, but I also needed time with my new wife. This was really hard, and even though we did things together as blended families, it didn’t bring us closer to each other’s children. Lesson learned: Respect the relationship between step-child and parent, enter when granted permission. I had seen what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like in my parents’ marriage so I vowed early on, the most important thing I could do is love my

spouse. It’s important that my stepdaughters see how much I love their mother. My wife and I hold hands, hug, and I strive to have respect in all my words and actions. Lesson learned: Actions speak louder than words. My mother used to tell me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” This is really true as a step-parent. I have blown it many times, but I am trying to let things go. I’m an Aries … ‘nuff said. Lesson learned: Bite your tongue. A lot. Sometimes I feel like I’m just the meal ticket. When we end up paying for something that should be shared with a former spouse, I feel very bitter and angry. If you’re a new step-parent, get ready to pay for your step-child’s car, car insurance, car repairs, gas for the car, tires … Lesson learned: How lucky you are to be a step-parent that can provide something, anything. I found that I was compromising on several things I hadn’t imagined I would. I had to work through them (most of them weren’t that important anyway), and we have developed new family traditions. For me, church and my faith is important, so I attend a church that is not my chosen denomination. By keeping open minds, we

are all benefitting. (I know my wife could make a list of things she’s compromised on.) Lesson learned: Pick your battles. It’s OK not to say anything (see #3). It’s OK just to hang out in space together. Crack a joke. Laugh at the dog. Try to allow peace in the room. Lesson learned: Breathe deeply. Please and thank-you are important things to me. But sometimes I can get too wrapped up in expecting that gratitude. I’ve always taken pleasure in helping others, so I’m learning to be selfless myself. Lesson learned: The best way to receive gratitude is by expressing it. Being a step-father is far from easy. I have stumbled on many occasions, and probably will continue to struggle. But as a man, I need to be a role model for my daughter and two step– daughters as to the characteristics of men they may choose to spend their lives with. That dinner table experience was 12 years ago, and I’m pleased to say that my wife and I have been very happily married for 10 years now. There were mistakes along the way, things I wish I wouldn’t have said or done, but those are life experiences. My suggestion to other step-parents is pay attention and learn from your dinner table encounters, but don’t let them beat you up (the kids or the encounters). ■

You can submit your story at: jheronema@tlc4cs.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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Let’s take a page from Richard Dawson’s “Family Feud” playbook: “Top five answers are on the board, here’s the question: Name something that’s improved by exercise.” Like most Americans, your top answers might be weight, blood pressure, sleep, stamina or mood. But what many people don’t realize is that one of the biggest benefits of exercise is what it does for our brains. John J. Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, explains some of the many ways exercise makes our brain function at its best, including by elevating our stress threshold to stave off anxiety, boosting motivation, lifting our mood, and fostering neuroplasticity, which reverses some of the effects of aging in the brain.

By Wendy Burt-Thomas

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The game of life isn't child’s play. Remember when you were young & ran all day kicking cans to set your “caught” friends free. Later, you ran through the night with your friends, chugging cans, hoping not to get caught. Now you need a couple cans just to get you going in the morning. If you think your alcohol or drug use isn’t a game anymore, consider calling us. We can help you kick the habit. For confidential help, please call 631 - 0241.

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Call today to schedule a free, one-on-one evaluation. 989∙832∙6855

A substance use evaluation & treatment program for Midland County youth

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continued from page 7

Exercise strengthens brain skills

It’s no coincidence that studies from the California Department of Education have consistently demonstrated over the past five years that students with higher fitness scores also have higher test scores. In his book, Ratey explains that going for a run “is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin” because using your muscles produces proteins that play important roles in our highest thought processes. But don’t expect to master Spanish on audiotape on your treadmill. Blood is directed away from the prefrontal cortex during intense exercise, so you won’t learn much. But almost immediately after you’re finished, blood flows back into the prefrontal cortex, making it the perfect time for problemsolving tasks and analysis. And exercise doesn’t just help your cognitive skills during, or immediately after, your workout. As Ratey explains it, exercise strengthens the connections between neurons, and the more you “practice,” the more the circuit develops definition. He compares it to wearing down a path through a forest. In 2004, a panel of researchers reviewed 850 studies on physical activity in schools. They found that exercise had a positive influence on memory, concentration and classroom behavior. The bad news is that only six percent of U.S. high schools offer a daily gym class, and it’s not likely that most children or teens are getting a regular workout at home. American kids spend an average of 5.5 hours a day in front of a screen of some sort. The takeaway: Students should try to schedule their hardest class right after gym. Adults should take on their more cognitively challenging task – like balancing their checkbooks – after their workouts. Schools and parents need to find more ways to incorporate regular fitness into children’s lives.

Exercise boosts mood

There are actually several ways exercise can improve your emotional state. It can increase serotonin, a lack of which is associated with depression. It can increase dopamine, which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure center. It can increase norepinephrine, which – among many other tasks – can increase the brain’s oxygen supply and suppress inflammation in the central nervous system. Exercise also teaches your body that heavy breathing and an increased heart rate doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having a panic attack. For most people, the more you exercise, the lower your level of anxiety. For many depressed people, getting motivated to exercise is a challenge in itself. But the end result more than makes up for the need to push through the initial resistance. In 2000, researchers at Duke University found that exercise and Zoloft had about the same effect at treating clinical depression. But even more impressive were their results on the long-term impact: Exercise beat Zoloft at warding off the symptoms long after the depression lifted. Exercise also helps by reversing some of the damage caused by stress eroding the connections between neurons. Regular aerobic exercise primes the brain by activating genes that produce proteins to protect the cells against disease and damage. As Ratey explains it, exercise calms the body by relaxing the resting tension of muscle spindles, which in turn disrupts the stress-feedback loop to the brain. In essence, exercise stresses the brain just enough to prep our bodies for the big stressors in life. There have been numerous studies on corporate wellness programs and the effects of exercise on workers’ attendance and production. Almost all have shown that employees who exercise regularly have fewer sick days. This could be due to

exercise’s effect on handling stress, fighting depression, increasing the immune system’s ability to fight off sickness, or the many trickle-down effects of being fit (fewer heart problems, less incidence of diabetes, lower blood pressure, etc.). Try boosting your mood with exercise before reaching for that sugary food, alcohol or pill. A recent study found that although girls suffer fewer concussions than boys, the effects tend to last longer in girls. Why? Boys tend to have strong neck muscles and a higher body mass index, making them more resilient to injuries. The same is true with exercise; it improves the aging brain’s ability to bounce back and to compensate when necessary.

exercise boosts young brains

In a recent study, researchers at the University of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign recruited eight and nine year olds for an after-school exercise program. They wanted to see whether regular exercise would improve children’s executive-function skills, boosting their normal mental development. Previous studies had determined that eight and nine year olds typically experience a jump in their brain’s executive functioning, which is responsible for maintaining concentration, helping control mental multi-tasking and preventing inappropriate responses to mental stimuli. Children whose executive functions are underdeveloped tend to have academic problems, whereas children with fully-developed executive functions usually do well. The children basically played for two hours. They were given activities like tag and instructions on how to dribble a soccer ball. After a year, researchers found that the kids who exercised had substantial improvements in their scores on computer-based tests of executive function as well as being better physically fit. They were better able to concentrate on the task at hand and had

the increased ability to juggle cognitive tasks. Children who didn’t participate in the study also raised test scores after the year, but to a much smaller extent than the children who exercised/ played every day. They found that both groups’ brains were developing, but the process was much faster and more expansive in the children who ran and played. The takeaway: if you want students to do well in reading and math, make sure they are also moving.

So how do we as parents do this?

Set examples for kids by being active yourself. Engage in a lot of walking, running, biking or playing a sport Make exercise a priority at home. Limit screen time, i.e. TV, video games, and being on the internet Make exercise fun. Engage your child in sports or games he loves; don’t limit yourselves to traditional sports, there are video games that are active like Dance Dance Revolution Encourage walking. Look for opportunities to walk – find the farthest parking spot in the lot, walk or bike to the store instead of driving Encourage dance. Dancing is one thing that some kids enjoy more than traditional exercise Get outdoors. Take a hike, take the dog for a walk, sweep the driveway, rake leaves or shovel snow, go to the park There is so much research on the benefits of exercise on the developing brain. We as a society need to encourage physical activity as much as we can for our children. We don’t need to be athletic to encourage an active lifestyle. The earlier we get them in the habit of moving, the more ingrained it will be in their lives and the better off they’ll be physically, mentally, academically and emotionally. ■

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Check out who’s standing out in our community. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO NOMINATE? Please visit our website http://tlc4cs.org/faces-in-the-crowd/ and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.

FACES IN THE CROWD

Abby Tointon NORTHEAST MIDDLE SCHOOL, 7TH GRADE

Abby’s first volunteer experience was developing a fundraising plan to support the Midland County Humane Society. She began by talking to the folks at the Midland Community Tennis Center and convincing them to give her all of the used tennis balls and cans. She re-labeled the cans “Abby’s Animals” and sold the tennis balls to dog owners. She donated the proceeds to the animal shelter. Abby also volunteers at Memorial Presbyterian Church as a babysitter and Sunday School helper. This past summer, she served as a volunteer for Safety Town and the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library. She also participates in the school yearbook, volleyball team, orchestra and Midland Lacrosse team. Way to go, Abby!

Anna Townsend MIDLAND HIGH SCHOOL, 10TH GRADE

Anna is an exceptional individual, who brings joy and laughter to everyone around her. She is a caring person, who helps all sorts of people in need. Anna’s volunteer work has included raising money for the Humane Society of Midland County, helping out seniors, and making meals at a homeless shelter. She cared for her aunt after school for several years, providing companionship and personal assistance. She also aided a homeless family by helping to take care of their twin babies. She pitches in at home by cleaning, doing dishes, washing laundry and raking. She enjoys acting, dancing, and spending time with friends and family.

Toni Jones BULLOCK CREEK HIGH SCHOOL, 11TH GRADE

Toni has participated in the Dow College Opportunity Program at West Midland Family Center since her freshman year. Through the program, she has learned the importance of volunteering in her community. She enjoys volunteering for the child care program at West Midland, and volunteers as often as possible. Toni is interested in becoming an elementary school teacher, and her volunteer activities offer her valuable, hands-on experience on how to interact with children. She also is willing to step up and volunteer for other activities, from spring cleaning in the community, to painting faces at Dow Gardens. She is a wonderful example of how young people getting involved in their community can make a big difference.

Jackie Warner YOUTH INTERVENTION SPECIALIST, COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH FOR CENTRAL MI

If you’re looking for Jackie, there’s a good chance you’ll find her in one of our local schools, or the courthouse, talking with troubled youth. She works with youth and their families to assess the underlying cause of mental, emotional distress and behavior problems and refers them to professional resources when necessary. Jackie is a wonderful advocate for our community’s youth. They tend to open up to her fairly quickly, which facilitates better and more accurate treatment referrals. Jackie is a role model for many, and her personal strength is inspiring to all of us.

West Midland Family Center

We’d like to recognize the efforts of the West Midland Family Center (WMFC). WMFC offers youth a safe place to learn, grow and be active, equipping them with skills to become productive adults and stabilizing forces in their families. Through structured activities like preschool, summer camps and after-school programs, as well as recreational activities like swimming, aerobics and basketball, WMFC is preparing our community for long-term success by fostering healthy development of the people who will shape its future. And these programs are just part of what WMFC offers. From its critical support of those in need through holiday programs, to counseling and other family support, WMFC is a compassionate, generous and vital part of West Midland.

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Leonardo da Vinci invented the bicycle 300 years before it appeared on the road! Visit the exhibition at Midland Center for the Arts! You’ll see: • hands-on full-scaled invention models • interactive computer stations, with simulations of his inventions Open January 24 - May 17!

Discover more at www.mcfta.org/leonardo Sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company Dow Corning Corporation Catholic Federal Credit Union The exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Man-Inventor-Artist-Genius is organized by EMS Exhibits, Vienna and distributed by Exhibits Development Group, USA.

NEARLY 1,000,000 TEEN GIRLS FIND OUT THEY ARE PREGNANT EACH YEAR. Know where to turn. We are here to help. www.prcmidland.org 835-1500 4818 N. Saginaw, Midland

PREGNANCY TESTING, ULTRASOUNDS, PARENTING EDUCATION, MATERIAL SUPPORT, POST ABORTION COUNSELING Providing Compassionate Care to the Midland Area since 1987.

40 developmental assets

Did you know...

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! www.tlc4cs.org

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assets in action

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

9 Support

Jefferson and Northeast students send packages to U.S. Troops

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 Members of the Midland Gymnastics Club have a little fun

Young volunteer at Grace A. Dow Memorial Library summer camp

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11. Family boundaries: Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts. 12. School boundaries: School provides clear rules and consequences. 13. Neighborhood boundaries: Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior. 14. Adult role models: Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior. 15. Positive peer influence: Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior. 16. High expectations: Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.

Constructive Use of Time

Meridian High School Marching Band in action

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


If you or your child would like to submit a picture that represents one of the 40 Developmental Assets, please submit the information through our website at http://tlc4cs.org/assets-in-action/with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.

Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.

18 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.

Coleman Comets Cruise past Farwell Eagles in prep football

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MSU alumnus Anthony Ianni brings anti-bullying message to Bullock Creek

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.

Student participates in Windover High School Culinary Arts Program

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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.

Swim For a Cure event at Dow High School

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screen time: By Gary Myers, Middle School Literacy Coach

why that is not really the question s children, many of us remember rushing home after school to make sure we didn’t miss the latest episode of our favorite TV shows. Then there were glorious Saturdays, when several channels showed cartoons we actually wanted to watch. Occasionally we went to a movie or watched Wild Kingdom on Sunday night. Fast forward and we find ourselves plagued with unlimited digital choices and gadgets to pass the time and entertain us. Even babies have joined the movement – have you heard the story of an infant sitting in front of a glass door looking at a squirrel in the yard? The baby is trying to expand the screen (AKA window) to make the squirrel bigger. Add to this the phones permanently attached to kids’ hands and we’re left with a burning question: Is there any limit to how much “screen time” is appropriate for our kids? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clearly supports such limits: No “passive” screen time for children up to two years old,

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and no more than one to two hours of “engaging with entertainment media” per day for kids and teens. Why impose such strict limitations on what are arguably some of the coolest inventions of mankind? It turns out that numerous studies have linked an over-abundance of screen time to obesity, attention problems, sleep disorders, and other challenges most parents would prefer to avoid. It’s not hard to find good research that supports these conclusions. Perhaps the most documented connection between screen time and obesity is from a study done by Harvard University, School of Public Health. While some studies point out that the rise of obesity is a multi-pronged problem resulting from more than a single cause, it’s clear that over the last two to three years, the use of mobile devices, smartphones, tablets, etc. by young children ages 0-8, has increased dramatically. The devices we use for digital media are evolving quickly. Evolving less rapidly are the typical uses of those devices. Making sure we model moderation for kids is key. www.tlc4cs.org

If we want our children to have healthy screen habits, we ourselves must strive for that goal. Part of this is emphasizing the importance of human interaction. Constantly text messaging or posting to FaceBook isolates kids, causing us to miss out on conversations with them about their day and issues they are facing. How much screen time parents allow varies dramatically. Steve Jobs, whose vision inspired many of the devices kids obsess about so passionately, limited his own teenagers’ screen time, as do many other technology leaders, as reported in The New York Times. It’s clear that digital devices don’t belong in kids’ bedrooms. Sleep is too important for all our health to be compromised by late night screen use. We need to always be involved in an active conversation with our children about how, when, and where they are using technology. The AAP makes a helpful distinction between inactively “consuming” digital media and actively creating with digital tools. As a parent, consider how we use screens,

at work and at home. Parents are invited to team up with schools to prepare students to be masters of media. With guidance, kids can think critically, read closely, analyze, design, publish, share, and communicate in powerful ways that were never possible with the Atari 2600 we may have played as adolescents. We can’t assume kids will simply know how to do any of these things just because they have a smartphone and can build amazing copies of Middle Earth in Minecraft. We need to actively teach them the screen skills they need for a future where technology connects everyone, everywhere, all the time. What is the answer about setting appropriate limits for screen time? Finding a balance that works for each family is key. Mix some entertainment with learning, talking, moving around, and doing absolutely nothing. A child who has worked hard in school all week may want to watch some YouTube videos (with parental supervision). Better yet, maybe a game of catch would be more beneficial – for everyone. ■


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10 tips for an

Parent-Teacher Conference By Wendy Burt-Thomas


Parent-teacher conferences are right around the corner and they can be a huge source of anxiety for everyone concerned: parents, teachers and students. But with the right approach, you can turn the oft-dreaded conference into a valuable opportunity to collaborate on your child’s progress.

ccording to a 1994 U.S. Department of Education survey, the most significant factor in determining a student’s success in school is the amount and extent of parent involvement. So, if you can’t make it into the classroom on a regular basis, conferences offer a great way to get involved and ensure you and your child are both doing all you can to guarantee school success. These 10 tips can help you prepare for a quality conference that continues to be beneficial long after you leave the classroom.

1

Start the process with an open mind and good attitude. Don’t let bad experiences with school, conferences, or even this teacher force you into a defensive role.

2

Talk to your child. Asking direct questions about conferences may uncover worries you didn’t know about before. Ask about social issues. According to a 2002 survey by the Families and Work Institute, nearly one-third of youth are bullied at least once a month.

3

Take information about tests, diagnoses and treatments that may affect how your child does in school. Don’t try to hide a learning disability or diagnosis fearing your child may be labeled. The teacher should be aware of tests and grades from previous years, and should have copies of Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) or Individual Education Plans (IEPs). If a child has fallen behind, these plans are used to map his individual progress, needs and provided services.

4

Do your homework before you go. Conference time is limited, averaging 20 minutes in elementary school and just a few minutes per teacher in high school. Review schoolwork, test results, online grading systems, homework policies and other information already sent home so you don’t use valuable time asking questions that you could already have the answers to.

5

Take your child’s other parent with you. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students do better in school if both parents are involved, whether the father lives with the child or not.

6

Write down all questions and concerns beforehand so you remember them. Take notes during the conference and jot down new questions as you go.

7

Be an advocate. Work with the teacher to develop the best plan for your child. If the teacher downplays your concerns, don’t be afraid to push a bit. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires public schools to provide free and appropriate special education services to meet the learning needs of eligible children with disabilities. Getting the right diagnosis, and the services and accommodations that go with it, may require persistence. If your child doesn’t have a diagnosable learning disability but still struggles, cognitive skills testing can reveal if weak cognitive skills are the root cause of the problem. You may also need

to insist on more testing, or outside testing, when seeking enhancement opportunities for a gifted child.

8

Be prepared for openended questions, such as “How do you think she’s doing?” or “Is there anything I should know about.” Be honest! Tell the teacher if you have concerns or if there’s something at home that could impact your child, like a divorce, new baby, soccer league or insomnia. If you’re near the end of the conference, this is your opportunity to ask key questions if the teacher hasn’t already answered them – questions like “How does my child interact with others? Is she working up to her ability?” And most importantly, “What can we do at home to reinforce what you’re doing at school?”

9

Make a follow-up plan and set a timeline for updates. Confirm the best time and manner to contact the teacher to check on progress.

10

Finish at home. Even if there are no problems, chances are your child was a little nervous about conferences too, so be sure to share praise, concerns and solutions. Following these tips can help you have a conference that lays the groundwork for a productive relationship with the teacher and a great school year for your child. If you’re still nervous about conferences, or dreading it altogether, remember the payoff: getting involved in your child’s education is one of the most important things you can do to guarantee his success in school and beyond. ■

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BY THE Q. When do I need to start looking

NUMBERS

for financial aid for my child?

6

A. The time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student

Aid (FAFSA) is fast approaching, and students and families can begin preparing now to make sure the form is completed by the priority deadline. The priority deadline at many colleges is March 1, 2015, but students should confirm that date with the school they plan on attending. While most people know that the FAFSA is the key to obtaining federal financial aid, along with some state and institutional aid, they don’t always know why it’s important to complete the form by the priority deadline. Some forms of aid, often need-based, are provided on a firstcome, first-served basis. Students will want to get the maximum amount of aid for which they qualify in order to help pay for their postsecondary education. While the FAFSA for the 2015-16 academic year is not available until Jan. 1, 2015, students and parents can begin their FAFSA preparations by obtaining a Federal Student Aid PIN at www.pin. ed.gov. This PIN will be used to sign the FAFSA electronically, and both the student and one parent of a dependent student, will need one. In addition, parents and students can start gathering their tax information so they can be ready to complete their taxes as soon as possible after Jan. 1. Use 2013 tax information to estimate on the FAFSA and go back into the form later to correct the information. To complete the FAFSA, visit www.fafsa.gov. You will need:

» FAFSA PIN — Both student and parent (if the student is under the age of 24) will need a PIN.

» Social Security numbers (students and parents) » Last year’s federal tax returns for estimating purposes (or

2014 if complete). You can go back later to confirm numbers after you finish your 2014 taxes.

The number of days a scorpion can hold its breath. www.funfactz.com/animal-facts

12

The number of letters in the Hawaiian alphabet. www.uselessfacts.net/page/7

14

The number of feet of earthworms a baby robin eats in a day. www.uselessfacts.net/

50,000

The number of scents your nose can remember. www.somethinwonderful.blogspot.com/2009/02/ 50-weird-facts-about-humans.html

» W-2s, tribal income, other aid information (TANF, child support, other benefits)

300

» Additional asset information (money market funds, stocks, other investments)

Free help completing this form is available from high school counselors, financial aid staff, and at many financial aid night events. Remember, it’s the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid. If someone wants to charge you a fee to fill it out, it’s probably a scam. For more information about completing the FAFSA, visit www.SmartAboutCollege.org.

Have a question?

email: jheronema@tlc4cs.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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The number of times a hedgehog’s heart beats in a minute. www.strangefacts.com/facts1.htm

11.9

The number of pounds of cereal the average American will eat in a year. www.strangefacts.com/facts1.htm


{ { PREVENT YOUTH SUICIDE STAY WITH THAT PERSON LISTEN, REALLY LISTEN

GET THEM TO HELP OR CALL SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP NEVER KEEP A SECRET ABOUT SUICIDE. IT IS BETTER TO LOSE A FRIENDSHIP THAN LOSE A FRIEND.

If you are thinking about suicide, talk to someone or call for help or call a crisis hotline. Locally call: (989) 631-2320 Nationally call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go online to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org When it seems like there’s no hope, there is help!

YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID CLASSES ARE AVAILABLE

CRISIS HOTLINE: 800-317-0708

Prevent Injuries and Get Back in the Game Quicker In addition to injury prevention, the WellSport program is designed to help expedite the assessment, referral and treatment of athletes with strains, sprains, contusions, fractures, joint injuries and concussions.

Program goals § Prevent injuries through education and training. § Help athletes of all ages achieve their highest potential and prevent illness and injury through comprehensive sports physicals. § Help injured athletes get back in the game as safely and quickly as possible. § Manage medical conditions that can affect performance, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weight or arthritis. § Promote the use of “exercise as medicine” to maximize health and wellness.

Locations MidMichigan Medical Offices Campus Ridge 1 4401 Campus Ridge Drive, Midland MidMichigan Health Park - Mt. Pleasant 4851 E. Pickard Street, Mt. Pleasant To make an appointment, call (989) 837-9350.

For more information, visit www.midmichigan.org/wellsport.

www.tlc4cs.org | M-7724 Youth Connections Magazine Ad (7.25" x 4.675")

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g n i k n u b e d a n a u j i r a m

s h t y m galization le a n a u ij r . hype: ma e h t lic safety e b u v e p i l d n e a b lth Don’t ublic hea p o t , s k is f re s e a rc h m a ny r o o s o e t d s a e c s e d po ro ss t h re e lmost two c a a n e o ic t d c e a s pr Ba nd policy a , k r o w fer Sanity d e e e s a R b k o y o it b e co m m u n ations, th r t is in rijuana. a m m d a t l u o ia t b a presiden eld myths h ly e id w some discusses

By Kevin Sabet, PhD author of Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana and Director of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

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3 myth no. 1

“Marijuana is harmless and non-addictive.” Marijuana is not as dangerous as cocaine or heroin, but calling it harmless or non-addictive denies very clear science embraced by every major medical association that has studied the issue. Scientists now know that the average strength of today’s marijuana is some 5–6 times what it was in the 1960s and 1970s, and some strains are upwards of 10–20 times stronger than in the past— especially if one extracts THC through a butane process. This increased potency has translated to more than 400,000 emergency room visits every year due to things like acute psychotic episodes and panic attacks. Mental health researchers are also noting the significant marijuana connection with schizophrenia, and educators are seeing how persistent marijuana use can blunt academic motivation and significantly reduce IQ by up to eight points, according to a very large recent study in New Zealand. Add to these side-effects new research is now finding that even casual marijuana use can result in observable differences in brain structure, specifically parts of the brain that regulate emotional processing, motivation and reward. Marijuana use hurts our ability to learn and compete in a competitive global workplace. Additionally, marijuana users pose dangers on the road, despite popular myth. According to the British Medical Journal, marijuana intoxication doubles your risk of a car crash.

myth no. 2

“Smoked or eaten marijuana is medicine.” We don’t smoke opium or inject heroin to get the benefits of morphine, so we do not have to smoke marijuana to receive its medical effects. Currently, there is a pill based on

marijuana’s active ingredient available at pharmacies, and almost two dozen countries have approved a new mouth spray based on a marijuana extract. The spray, Sativex, does not get you high, and contains ingredients rarely found in street-grade marijuana. It is likely to be available in the United States soon, and today patients can enroll in clinical trials. While the marijuana plant has known medical value, it does not mean smoked or ingested whole marijuana is medicine. This position aligns with the American Medical Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Glaucoma Foundation, National MS Society, and American Cancer Society.

myth no. 3

“The legality of alcohol and tobacco strengthen the case for legal marijuana.” “Marijuana is safer than alcohol, so marijuana should be treated like alcohol” is a catchy, often-used mantra in the legalization debate. But this assumes that our alcohol policy is something worth modeling. In fact, because they are used at such high rates due to their wide availability, our two legal intoxicants cause more harm, are the cause of more arrests, and kill more people than all illegal drugs combined. Why add a third drug to our list of legal killers? Cannabis food and candy is being marketed to children and are already responsible for a growing number of marijuana-related emergency room visits. Edibles with names such as “Ring Pots,” “Pot Tarts,” and “Kif Kat Bars” are inspired by common candies and dessert products. Profitable companies such as Medbox (based in California) have stated plans to open marijuana vending machines containing products such as marijuana brownies.

myth no. 4

myth no. 5 “Prevention, intervention,

and treatment are doomed to fail — so why try?” Less than eight percent of Americans smoke marijuana versus 52 percent who drink and 27 percent who smoke tobacco cigarettes. Coupled with its legal status, efforts to reduce demand for marijuana can work. Communities that implement local strategies implemented by areawide coalitions of parents, schools, faith communities, businesses, and law enforcement, can significantly reduce marijuana use. Brief interventions and treatment for marijuana addiction (which affects about one in six kids who start using, according to the National Institutes of Health) can also work.

myth no. 6

“Colorado and Washington are examples to follow.” Experience from Colorado’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana is not promising. Since January 2014, THCpositive test results in the workplace have risen, two recent deaths in Denver have been linked to recreational marijuana use, and the number of parents calling the poison control hotline because their kids consumed marijuana products has significantly risen. Additionally, tax revenues fall short of original projections and the black market for marijuana continues to thrive in Colorado. Though Washington State has not yet implemented its marijuana laws, the percentage of cases involving THC-positive drivers has significantly risen. There is a better way to address the marijuana question—one that emphasizes brief interventions, prevention, and treatment, and would prove a far less costly alternative to either the status quo or legalization. ■

“Legal marijuana will solve the government’s budgetary problems.” Unfortunately, we can’t expect societal financial gain from marijuana legalization. For every $1 in revenue the United States receives in alcohol and tobacco taxes, we spend more than $10 in social costs.

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Your

The ROCK Center for Youth Development

Dress is

Waiting

Teen-focused organization that helps each youth succeed and thrive ROCK GROUNDED

after school programs

*Jefferson Middle School *Northeast Middle School *The ROCK Underground at MCC

ROCK Exposure

life skill & character development programs Various schools and venues near you!

ROCK unplugged

special teen events

Check out our website for upcoming events www.therockc4yd.org 989-835-2542 * 2205 Jefferson Ave. Midland, MI

Discover the ideal dress for that magical high school moment. With hundreds of dresses from top designers to choose from, yours is waiting. And did we mention, the dress is free?

Join us for our 7th annual event!

March 19th and 20th from 3:00-9:00pm March 21st from 10:00-1:00pm North Midland Family Center For more information, contact Terrah Johnson at (989) 689-7770.

sharethememoriesmi.org

(Offices in The Midland Community Center)

Preschool (3 & 4 year-olds, 5 sites) Childcare (0-12) After School Programs & Summer Programs (youth & teens) Summer Food Program (18 & under, through USDA) Dow College Opportunity Program (high school students) Parent Education and Social Services Community Computer Lab with internet access

Find out more at 832-3256 or visit us at wmfc.org 4011 West Isabella Road

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conquer kid clutter Helping Kids Take Charge of Their Rooms By Niki Whearty and Jean Goetz, Professional Organizer

hen you look around your home, do you give a deep sigh of satisfaction? Or do you open your children’s bedroom doors and feel like you wandered into a superfund site? Helping our children learn to keep their rooms in order can be tricky business. We can either avoid the issue as long as possible or take complete control and leave the child out of the process entirely. But that “get out of my way while I clean your room” approach doesn’t teach our kids the fundamental skill of keeping their space organized, both now and in the future. Young children can be encouraged to pick up their things. Some parenting experts recommend making it a game. Have

the child find everything that is red then work together to put them away as fast as possible, changing colors until every piece of each color has been found and put away. As children grow into teenagers, their sense of privacy typically gets much stronger. They may not want you to enter their room without permission. If you have ever had the experience of returning to work only to find that a co-worker has done you the “favor” of reorganizing your desk, you know how infuriating it can be to have someone else decide what to do with your things. Our kids feel just as upset about having their possessions sorted or given away when they are not involved in the process. It is important to respect our children’s needs to hold on to certain special

possessions, but equally important to not let the habit of keeping get out of hand. Give a child a container as a “memory box” to let him know that the special items he no longer needs, but wants to keep, are safe. Obviously the box has limited space, so he will have to make choices about what he truly wants to keep. These decisions about saving some possessions and letting others go are ones that help to shape children’s values. This is a great time of year for kids to be encouraged to decide which items they are ready to let go of. Things that are gently used and clean can be donated. Tell your child that those items are being shared with another family or child who needs them. Helping our children to recognize when they have enough is a real gift in itself. ■

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Conte

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Shop

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Cou d o o F

ping

AT THE

MIDLAND MALL 9:00PM-12:00AM $5 pre-registration, $10 at the door Middle School Students Only-Bring ID Call 989-835-2542 to register

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The Legacy Center for Community Success 3200 James Savage Road, Suite 5 Midland, MI 48642

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Don’t worry. Your brain will only hurt for a millisecond while it’s gearing up for total excitement.

www.delta.edu/success

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Ycmag legacy jan2015 issuu