YC Magazine, Lincoln County Unite for Youth - Summer 2024

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Friend or Foe?

» Legal Does Not Mean Okay

» Self-Care Activities for Kids of All Ages

» Strategic Instruction Opens Doors to Learning for Your Child

FEATURE: CULTIVATE HOPE; GROW RESILIENCE Summer 2024 | lincolncountyuniteforyouth.org

A new way to advance health and wellbeing for children, families and communities

The HOPE National Resource Center (NRC) sees a world that honors and fosters positive experiences as being fundamental to everyone’s health and well-being. The HOPE NRC aims to inspire a HOPE-informed movement that fundamentally transforms how individuals and organizations advance health and wellbeing for children, families, and communities.

The HOPE Framework

The importance of positive childhood experiences (PCEs)

Research shows that positive childhood experiences (PCEs) drive healthy development and lessen the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). PCEs allow children to form strong relationships and meaningful connections, cultivate positive self-image and self-worth, experience a sense of belonging, and build skills to cope with stress in healthy ways.

The Four Building Blocks of HOPE

The Four Building Blocks promotes PCEs that help children grow into healthy, resilient adults. PCEs in these four areas can protect against long term health outcomes associated with ACEs, and the HOPE National Resource Center wants to help increase access to these opportunities for all children and families.

Connecting the Building Blocks



Relationships within the family and with other children and adults through interpersonal activities

Relationships within the family and with other children and adults through interpersonal activities Environment

Safe, equitable, stable environments for living, playing, learning at home and in school


Social and civic engagement to develop a sense of belonging and connectedness

Emotional Growth

Emotional growth through playing and interacting with peers for self-awareness and self-regulation

Children’s brains develop in response to experiences, both positive and harmful The HOPE framework describes PCEs in supportive environments. These experiences and the relationships around them promote child and adult engagement leading to social, emotional, and cognitive growth.

Contact Us | HOPE@tuftsmedicalcenter org
lincolncountyuniteforyouth.org | YC MAGAZINE | Summer 2024 1 INSIDE SUMMER 2024 2 From the Director 5 Confessions from the Kitchen Table 10 Difference Makers 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Hope in Action 18 Q&A / By the Numbers 6 Cultivate Hope; Grow Resilience 14 Legal Does Not Mean Okay 16 Self-Care Activities for Kids of All Ages 20 Strategic Instruction Opens Doors to Learning for Your Child 23 Caffeine: Friend or Foe? FEATURES IN EVERY ISSUE TO ADVERTISE OR CONTRIBUTE lincolncountyuniteforyouth@gmail.com COVER PHOTO BY Floating Leaf Studios BROUGHT TO YOU BY PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH


In 2008, following the US Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking, a cross-section of the Lincoln County community gathered together for a presentation focused on the reality of youth binge drinking and drinking and driving across the lifespan in Lincoln County. At that time, Montana ranked first in the Nation for underage drinking and Lincoln County ranked 5th in the state. Nearly 84 percent of youth in grades 8-12 reported drinking alcohol in their lifetime and nearly half of high school seniors reported binge drinking on a regular basis. Additionally, Lincoln County had lost three young people to alcohol-related crashes in the 18 months prior to the event. The evening’s presentation ended with a call to action. EVERY person in the room responded with a “yes” and committed to being part of Lincoln County Unite for Youth (UFY), a community coalition comprised of individuals, agencies and organizations dedicated to working together to create a stronger, safer, healthier community for youth and families.

As a coalition, UFY often poses challenging questions regarding how we as a community – our beliefs, our attitudes, and our actions – including long-standing community norms, contribute to or support the problems we face as a result of underage drinking and Rx drug abuse in Lincoln County. What we have learned is not always easy, but we understand that by keeping the health and safety of our community at the center of this conversation, we can arrive at consensus and through collaborative prevention efforts, begin to implement strategies shown to reduce youth substance use.

UFY’s Mission is…to leave a legacy of community health and safety by reducing youth substance use through collaborative, individual and systems-level prevention and intervention efforts. UFY’s mission statement serves as a guide for coalition building, strategy selection and action planning. In Lincoln County, the idea of leaving a legacy speaks to individuals from all sectors of the community interested in reducing youth substance use. It lifts them out of the (often overwhelming) day to day consequences of youth and community substance use, sets their eyes (and hearts) on a better future, and draws them in to the creation of a shared vision for community health and safety. With an established vision, coalition members can think creatively about the pieces of the community puzzle essential for achieving our common goals and are better able to see their place in the big picture.

Risk factors leading to youth substance use exist at the individual, peer, family, school and community levels. None of us is equipped to address them all, but together, as reflected in our mission statement, we can draw upon our collective strengths and expertise to raise awareness, provide support, build skills, change consequences, reduce access, change physical design, and implement policy-level changes aimed at promoting health and reducing youth substance use. As a result, we are creating a stronger, safer, healthier community for all of us!

We are so happy you are here! Throughout this issue of YC Magazine, we hope you will find helpful and relevant information to support you in your parenting journey as you continue to love and nurture the beautiful children in your lives!

From Unite for Youth’s early years in prevention to present, we have come to understand that many of the unhealthy behaviors and associated risks youth & families are faced with are linked directly to the loss, or lack of, deep and meaningful connections and relationships. As our lives have become busier and even more full of distraction, it seems we spend less time truly hearing, seeing, and being present with and for one another. The tradeoff is great, as we know that healthy human connection, paired with positive experiences are foundational to developing trust, creating a strong sense of belonging, and overcoming adversity as youth grow into healthy, resilient, and thriving adults ready to meet their next challenge. In fact, did you know that having hope for a healthy, joyful, productive and “connected” life is actually built into our DNA? It’s TRUE! Through trial and error, UFY continues to learn and stretch TOGETHER as a community-based coalition, and has taken intentional steps to implement a HOPE (Healthy Outcomes for Positive Experiences) focused approach to prevention. What we know without exception is the positive DOES exist, and it is worth growing – we have witnessed it!

We don’t have to look far to find the good that is happening all around us. By providing youth with opportunities for Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs), we continually see HOPE in action and the dividends of more resilient kids! Honoring and fostering positive experiences has proven to advance overall health and wellbeing. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of something so hopeful and transformational?

Learning and growing with you are our favorite things to do, and we look forward to seeing you this summer as we connect to support youth through implementing activities that promote HOPE and wellbeing!

Unite for Youth monthly meeting schedule: First Tuesday of every month via Zoom meeting link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82731427355

Meeting ID: 827 3142 7355

Communities That Care (CTC): https://www.communitiesthatcare.net/programs/ctc-plus/ CTC Social Development Strategy(SDS): https://www.communitiesthatcare.net/prevention-science/

Readers! WELCOME
Vel Shaver Maggie Anderson
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4 Summer 2024 | YC MAGAZINE | lincolncountyuniteforyouth.org August 5th from 5:30pm-7:30pm Fireman’s Park HWY 2/Mahoney Rd. Libby, MT Free STEM Activities for Kids Join us for an evening of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. All are welcome! For more information, email customercare@gsmw.org



Iwas concerned about how much time my kids were spending on technology. We had tried to set limits, but it got to be more and more of an uphill battle. I knew I needed to address it ASAP as my 12-year-old son was living on one form of technology or another. I found the book Unplug: Raising Kids in a Technology Addicted World by Drs. Lisa Strohman and Melissa Westendorf. It was a lifesaver, full of information on technology addiction, signs of overuse, and tips to deal with it. We were lucky enough to not need professional help. Yes, some kids need professional help to deal with a technology addiction. I learned that addiction has two components. The first is the behavior that causes a problem. For us it was playing video games. The second part is the persistence of the behavior. When someone continues the behavior or thinks about it despite negative consequences, AKA getting grounded, it can be considered an addictive disorder. That was definitely where we were with my son. Yikes, how did we get to this point?

It was helpful to learn how all this technology was affecting his brain development, albeit frightening. A study found that teens who excessively play video or internet games have brains structurally different than those who don’t play, which may cause developmental delays, difficulty processing information, and problems maintaining relationships. I was definitely concerned about his schoolwork. In addition, the brain chemicals that control moods and feelings are chemically different. I was beginning to have some “ah-ha” moments. Maybe his moods weren’t just teenage angst but were from his excessive use of technology.

Equally disturbing was finding out that these structural changes in his brain can also lead to difficulty dealing with social conflict, being more susceptible to addiction, higher rates of depression and suicide, and riskier behaviors. The authors said technology use can change how kids’ brains develop and can impact judgement. I had noticed that he didn’t seem to know when to stop a potentially risky behavior, like when he was doing tricks on his bike. I just thought it was him being a tween, although his friends didn’t seem to exhibit the same disinhibitions.

I was excited to find some actual pointers on what to do to try and gain control again. Removing ‘intermittent reinforcement’ was one of those tips. Messages from social media in the form of ‘likes’ or ‘mentions’ reward kids randomly and, because they see no tangible negative consequences, they become hooked (similar to a gambler in Las Vegas). Every time I gave in to allow more TV or computer

time, I was inadvertently using the most effective reward system. UGH. I won’t be doing that anymore. By removing intermittent reinforcement, providing consistent (notice it’s not constant) oversight, and continuing to be an active and present role model, I was starting to gain control. Whew!

I found signs very helpful in identifying if my kids needed help:

• Increased need of technology – the more they played, the more they needed to

• Loss of interest in previous activities

• Amount of time spent on technology

• Lower grades

• School attendance

• Increased conflict at home

• Refusing to turn the device off

I learned that technology overuse isn’t my son’s desire to use, or even frequency, but how he responds to restrictions and his ability to impose his own limits. This was a huge red flag. My daughter liked playing games but didn’t have a crisis when limits were set. Her brother’s behavior was the polar opposite.

The physical symptoms we learned to look for were:

• Mood swings

• Depression/anxiety

• Excessive anger

• Alienation from friends

One extremely helpful tool from the book was access to the Technology Use Continuum. It helped us assess whether we might be headed for trouble. It’s available at https://technologywellnesscenter. com/screening-tuc-survey/. If answers show there may be a problem, a more in-depth assessment is available to address physical, emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal areas. This and other resources on the site were extremely helpful.

To increase our awareness of our kids’ wellbeing, we started being more purposeful in our daily contact. Every day we have a 10 minute debrief about our days. We’ve even started Sunday Family Nights with tacos and games. Yes, they balked at first, but we were persistent, and now they actually enjoy it.

Reducing the use of technology for the entire family wasn’t the easiest, but it has been worth it! ■

YOU CAN SUBMIT YOUR STORY AT: lincolncountyuniteforyouth@gmail.com

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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GROW RESILIENCE cultivate hope

hope; Y


oung kids are notorious for having big dreams and ambitions. Whether it’s for a new hamster, a trip to Disneyland, or a kickflip on a skateboard, kids spend a lot of time imagining and planning for their future.

Of course, sometimes their dreams are outlandish — think about the little kid who wants a farm filled with unicorns. Sometimes their dreams are unrealistic — the kid who wants to become a YouTube star, never hold a job, and live at the beach with all their friends when they grow up.

Dreaming, it turns out, is more than just a sweet thing kids do when they’re young — it becomes a critical part of overall wellbeing.

Hope, as defined by the researchers at Alliance for Hope, is “the belief that your future can be brighter than your past and you play a role in making it happen”.

In other words, when you’re feeling hopeful, you are confident that tomorrow will be better than today. Feeling hopeful makes whatever you’re going through today more tolerable, and the anticipation you feel for the future enables you to endure whatever challenge gets in your way.

Hope is a simple concept to understand, especially when you consider the opposite: hopelessness.

You know about hopelessness, right? It’s the feeling you get on Sunday afternoon when you know you’re going to spend most of your week in pointless meetings that you can’t get out of. It’s the feeling you get about your health when you don’t stick to your plans to exercise more and eat healthier foods.

Hopelessness translates into a desire for escape. It’s too uncomfortable to feel hopeless, and the emotions of regret, shame, disappointment, sadness, and anger can drive people to activities that will numb their pain.

The encouraging news is that hope is something that we can cultivate and encourage. It acts as a protective factor against harmful substance use and is a key indicator for wellbeing and academic success.

Kids who are hopeful about their future will do better in school, have stronger relationships, make the transition to adulthood more efficiently, and make healthier choices along the way.


Feeling hopeless is a miserable experience. Whether you’re feeling hopeless about your relationship status, friendships, career path, or your health, most people would say it’s one of the worst experiences of being human.

The good news is that hope is like a muscle — it can be exercised and strengthened. You’re not born with a fixed amount of hope. It’s not given out in limited quantities, and it doesn’t evaporate over time.

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Although some people are born with a more optimistic outlook than others, anyone can become a hopeful person.

Charles Snyder was one of the key figures in developing pop psychology in the 1970s and 1980s. He developed what’s known today as Snyder’s Hope Theory which includes a framework for understanding and cultivating hope, as well as measuring how much hope someone carries within themselves.

He distinguishes different parts of hope and explains the thinking that underlies each one:

Hope Pathways

Hope pathways are about seeing multiple pathways to achieve your desired future. In other words, believing deep down that your goal is possible and achievable.

Hope Agency

Hope agency is about seeing yourself as a critical piece and driver towards your desired future. In other words, believing that you have the power and ability to make the steps and changes necessary. It’s saying to yourself, “I can do it — I have what it takes.”


When it comes to cultivating hope, Snyder’s theory creates the foundation for proper goal setting. It’s one thing to ask people to come up with things they want in life, but too often their desires are left as wishful thinking that lacks any real benefit.

To help someone cultivate hope, guide them to describe the type of future they want, and help them design the path to get there by creating specific activities they can engage in to make progress.

Here’s an activity to help kids with goal-setting called Designing Your Future: https://www.naturalhigh.org/wp-content/ uploads/2021/11/Designing-Your-Future.pdf.

Use the example of improving your health: it’s one thing to set a goal to become healthier, but it’s more powerful to help someone think through the different paths they can take in order to make healthier choices overall.

There are many factors that lead to improved health including exercising more regularly, eating a healthier diet, getting more sleep, processing feelings in productive ways, and spending more time outdoors, etc.

That’s a different process, and it leads to more resilience which is a key measurement to understanding someone’s level of hope. When someone can only see one way to achieve their goal or feels like they have no part to play in moving forward, then their experience of life becomes more like a victim than a participant.

Victims feel small, insignificant, forgotten, and helpless. Those internal states often

By opening your life and sharing what you’re going through, you’ll make it normal for kids to see engaged, healthy adults who are moving forward on dreams and ambitions rather than accepting whatever life hands them. Your life will be an encouragement to do the same; to pursue worthy goals, make progress each day, confront setbacks with tenacity, and celebrate the milestones to get there.

lead people to make unhealthy and unwise choices.

People with high hope, though, respond differently to setbacks and challenges. They understand roadblocks as a part of the process, not the end of the story.

So, when it comes to working with kids, we can lead them to think through what they want, what they will do to get what they want, and alternative routes to getting what they want.

They will be clearer about their future, and they will see themselves as key actors in the story that’s unfolding, strengthening their motivation and resolve along the way.


When it comes to making a positive impact in a kid’s life, there’s nothing more effective than what you model and demonstrate. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done!

You’ve heard the phrase a thousand times before, “It’s not what’s taught — it’s what’s caught that counts.” Kids watch and learn from adults, for better and for worse. In fact, if you’re going to err on one side, the evidence points towards emphasizing the example you give rather than the words and concepts you teach.


1. Share Your Hope

Make sure you’re sharing about what you’re striving towards. Most of the time, kids aren’t going to care to ask you about your personal ambitions and goals. No surprise there —kids are more used to receiving than engaging. They also probably don’t care about you because they’re more focused on their own lives.

That’s why it’s important for you to take the initiative to share with them the goals you’re working towards. Don’t assume they know. Trust that it matters. If you’re working on an academic goal, maybe a graduate degree or a professional certificate — tell them about it and the work you’re doing to achieve it.

If you’re working on a personal goal, perhaps around your desire to give back to the community or a character trait— let them know what you’re working on and what you’re doing.

2. Divulge Your Setbacks

One of the most important examples you can offer is how you respond to setbacks and challenges. If you’re truly filled with hope, and you’ve anticipated multiple setbacks and routes to achieve your goals, then you should have no problem talking about them when they arise. When kids can see adults push through setbacks with creativity and resolve, then they’ll be more encouraged to face their own challenges in similar ways.

3. Celebrate Progress

Having a hope-filled life isn’t just about crossing the finish line of your goals and ambitions, it’s about recognizing the importance of all the little steps along the way. If you have a goal to publish a book someday, then celebrate writing a paragraph. Each paragraph is progress and a sign that you have what it takes to keep going.

Let the kids in your life know what you’re feeling proud of and grateful for. They will see behind the scenes what accomplishing a goal really looks like, and your enthusiasm to keep after it will be contagious.

By opening your life and sharing what you’re going through, you’ll make it normal for kids to see engaged, healthy adults who are moving forward on dreams and ambitions rather than accepting whatever life hands them.

Your life will be an encouragement to do the same: to pursue worthy goals, make progress each day, confront setbacks with tenacity, and celebrate the milestones to get there. ■

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Check out who’s standing out in our community.


Please email lincolncountyuniteforyouth@gmail.com and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.


Casey Fuson, Trego Learn and Play Coordinator, is truly a difference maker! In the past two years, Casey and her Trego Learn and Play team have offered 75 high quality playgroups serving 111 unique children and 86 adults in North Lincoln County. These fun playgroups provide engaging and inclusive experiences that foster growth and connection. Additionally, Trego Learn and Play provides a safe and welcoming atmosphere for families with young children. Casey’s dedication and warmth make her an invaluable asset to the community, deeply impacting the lives of young children and their families.


Jaylee Meyers exemplifies student leadership at Troy Public Schools. She leads through example on the court, in track and field, and through her work in Student Council. Recently, Jaylee attended UFY’s Positive Community Norms training and was inspired to create messages that promote healthy lifestyles and elevate wellbeing at home, in school, and in the community. Since then, Jaylee has advocated for the participation in Montana’s Prevention Needs Assessment, and raised awareness of the positive choices young people are making when it comes to NOT using drugs and alcohol. She is committed to working together with students and staff to create a culture of wellness at Troy Public Schools.


Carrie Wardian, CPMC’s pediatric physical therapist, has a passion that fuels her commitment to youth well-being. She shares expertise generously, volunteering at local events and hosting educational sessions. Her dedication bridges gaps, offering parents and children valuable insights and support. Carrie’s presence revitalizes the community, fostering a culture of care and empowerment. She epitomizes the essence of compassionate service and leaves an indelible mark on young lives.

Little Libby Loggers

The Little Libby Loggers (LLL) team of dedicated volunteers is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of Libby youth! With a commitment to expanding opportunities for healthy youth engagement, LLL connects kids with adults who share their love for football, basketball, and baseball and supports a variety of camps and youth sport options. The crew has worked to improve facilities and has increased access to activities that were not previously available. Little Libby Loggers encourages youth development by investing in assets that build self-control, enhance self esteem, and promote a sense of belonging and community pride.


The Lincoln County Connections Resource program promotes a thriving, vibrant community and strives to enrich the lives of those it serves by connecting community resources in ways that support healthy youth development, strengthen families, and expand access to information, resources, and essential healthcare, education, and social services. Together with a variety of community partners, the team values the opportunity for social connection and is contributing to a stronger, safer, more inclusive Lincoln County - one stop at a time!

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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!

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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.



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.


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.


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.


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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Eureka’s Robotics team continues its tradition of excellence at State Tournament
19 Engaging together in safe and healthy
Libby Youth with hearts for service making a difference in Africa
fun at Troy’s River Run
Troy families share love and connection through engagement in healthy activities

If you or your child would like to submit a picture that represents one of the 40 Developmental Assets, please email lincolncountyuniteforyouth@gmail.com with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents. Not


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.


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.


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.


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.

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Young readers cheering for Friday Story Time at the local library Libby student creates opportunity to recognize the good in others Libby’s Speech and Debate team gears up to compete at State Cross-county students create messages of hope and advocate for healthy lifestyles
all pictures are

legal does not


There have been a lot of changes recently across the country regarding the legalization of marijuana. Alcohol is legal for adults over the age of 21. Prescription pills are legal if prescribed by a physician. No matter how we as adults feel about substance use, research has proven that the use of any substance is harmful for youth and the developing brain. Just because a substance has been legalized for adult- or medicinaluse by adults, does not make it okay for youth use. The following is information taken from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Of the more than 500 chemicals in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, is responsible for many of the drug’s mind-altering effects. Marijuana disrupts the brain’s normal functioning and can lead to problems studying, learning new things, and recalling recent events. These skills are obviously needed to be successful in school. In fact, youth who use marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school.

THC affects the areas of the brain that control balance and coordination, as well as helps control movement. These influence performance in sports, driving, and even video gaming. It interferes with alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. (This comes in handy if a baseball is coming at our face at 60 mph). High school seniors who use marijuana are twice as likely to receive a traffic ticket and 65% more likely to get into a car crash than those who don’t use.

THC affects areas of the brain involved in decision making. Using marijuana can make youth more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as unprotected sex or getting in a car with someone who’s impaired.

Research suggests that people who use marijuana regularly for a long time are less satisfied with their lives and have more problems with friends and family compared to people who do not use marijuana. Being a teenager is hard enough to maneuver without adding the burden of problems with friends and family.

Whether we want to believe it or not, marijuana can be addicting. Approximately 10 percent of users will develop marijuana use disorder. Youth who begin using before

Alcohol is the mostly widely used substance of abuse by America’s youth. When teens drink alcohol it affects their brain in the short-term, but repeated use can impact long-term brain development. It can affect both function and structure.

the age of 18 are 4–7 times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.


Alcohol is the mostly widely used substance of abuse by America’s youth. When teens drink alcohol, it affects their brain in the short-term, but repeated use can impact long-term brain development. It can affect both function and structure. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to meet the criteria of alcohol dependence at some point in their life. Drinking can lead to poor decisions by youth about engaging in risky behavior, like drinking and driving, sexual activity (such as unprotected sex), and aggressive or violent behavior. In fact, underage youth who drink are more likely to carry out or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault after drinking than others their age who do not drink.


When taken as prescribed, prescription and over the counter medications can be effective ways to treat pain or cold/flu. If taken without symptoms or in higher quantities, it can affect the brain in similar ways illegal drugs can and may lead to addiction.

Given all these statistics and the research, it’s important that we as parents relay the facts to youth so misinformation does not lead them to make poor decisions. Our conversation needs to include the dangers of drugs on the developing brain and why just because it’s legal for adults, it’s not okay for kids.

Here are some pointers from “Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change,” William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnicon, on how to have that conversation:

• Keep an open mind. When a child feels judged or condemned, she is less likely to be receptive to the message.

• We need to put ourselves in their shoes. Consider how we would like to be spoken to about a difficult subject. Try to think back what it was like when we were teens. Ask if it’s okay talking about this and if it’s okay if we give some advice.

• Be clear about our goals. Try writing them down and review them later to make sure we got our points across.

• Be calm. If we start when we’re angry or anxious, it will be harder to achieve our goal.

• Be positive. Approaching the subject with anger, scare tactics or disappointment will be counter productive. Pay attention and be respectful and understanding. Telling them that we appreciate their honesty will go a long way.

• Don’t lecture. (It didn’t work when our parents did it!) Just saying, ‘you shouldn’t use because I’m the parent and I said so’ will not work. Offer empathy and compassion, showing them that we get what they’re saying.

• Ask open-ended questions. For example, say, “Tell me more about…” Then sum up and ask questions.

It’s important with all the messaging on marijuana and the messages we send youth about alcohol and even medications, they understand just because it’s legal, does not make it safe for them to use. Their brains are still developing, so for their health and safety, and to reach their full potential, they must stay substance-free. ■

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self-care activities


Local coalitions and partners work tirelessly to reduce substance abuse, bullying, and violence for youth. Part of this means teaching children how to care for their mental and physical health from an early age, which includes everything from finding a hobby to maintaining their physical appearance. Today, we showcase a few self-care activities for kids that can help them maintain a clear mind so that they can avoid toxic habits in adulthood.


Before your kids can engage in self-care, they have to see you do the same — after all, they are quick to mirror your behavior. It’s not hard to role model healthy habits, especially knowing how badly parental stress affects children. Show your kids that it’s not selfish to practice self-care by easing up on your perfectionist tendencies, fueling your body with healthy foods, adding physical activity, and looking for ways to reduce stress when you come home from a hard day at work. Anything you can do to shake up your routine and give yourself a mental or physical break will go a long way toward teaching your little ones to do the same.



There are few activities that are both relaxing and mentally stimulating at the same time. But reading is one of these, and as Reading Rockets explains, starting early gives your children a leg up in the classroom. Read to your children and encourage them to find a story they love to enjoy on their own. Thirty minutes each night with a good book can help them wind down while stimulating their imagination and getting their brain ready for all the learning they’ll do throughout their years in school. You can further encourage your child to read by taking them to the library and getting them a library card. Although you can easily read books on phones or tablets, you’ll truly introduce them to the joys of reading by allowing them to pick out physical copies of the books that interest

Blank Children’s Hospital shares several alarming statistics about childhood health, including the fact that only two percent of kids in the U.S. eat a healthy diet, and around a quarter of all kids don’t engage in physical activity. Give your children a healthy head start by helping them exercise. This could be anything from playing soccer in the backyard to hiking on the weekends.

them. A library card is a wonderful gateway to the joys of reading.

Maintaining Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene is more than just taking a bath and brushing your hair. Helping your children learn to keep themselves clean and well-maintained can improve their self-esteem, confidence, and selfimage. Just as importantly, great hygiene reduces children’s chances of becoming sick. Personal hygiene also includes keeping their bodies healthy through getting enough sleep. Even when you have a kiddo that wakes before the sun comes up, the youngest members of your family need 10 or more hours of sleep every night.

If you think your child has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try a noise machine or talk to your pediatrician for advice. You can also create a relaxing bedtime routine that will help them get their minds and

bodies ready for sleep. And last but not least, make sure your kids turn off their phones, tablets, and computers at least an hour before bedtime and remove them from the bedroom.


Blank Children’s Hospital shares several alarming statistics about childhood health, including the fact that only two percent of kids in the U.S. eat a healthy diet, and around a quarter of all kids don’t engage in physical activity. Give your children a healthy head start by helping them exercise. This could be anything from playing soccer in the backyard to hiking on the weekends. You can also encourage your kids to partake in other forms of physical activity, such as swimming, jogging, or signing up for martial arts classes. Letting them find what they enjoy will make them more likely to stick with it for the long term. At the end of the day, anything that gets them up and moving will encourage other healthy choices, such as sticking to a healthy diet.

Spending Time Away from Technology

While there are many different reasons for children’s stagnant lifestyles, one is, without question, their access to technology. In a world where most children have their own smart devices—88 percent of teenagers own a smartphone—kids have more distractions and don’t get outside as much. Introduce moderation into their lives by getting them to step away from tech for a little bit. Encourage your kids to play basketball with their friends in real life instead of talking through their headset during their next Fortnite battle. Make sure they have ample opportunities for socialization, including play dates and participation in afterschool activities.

Kids learn by watching, and if they are watching you let yourself go, they’ll do the same. Model healthy habits and make sure you give your kids plenty of opportunities to take better care of themselves. From personal hygiene to putting the phone away, healthy habits today can result in healthier, happier adults tomorrow. ■

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My daughter’s best friend has a practice, club, or class every night of the week. I want my child to be involved in extracurricular activities, but how much is too much?

The social pressure to sign your child up for ‘all the things’ is very real, and extracurricular activities are important. Numerous studies show that participating in extracurricular activities help improve academic achievement, build self-esteem, and encourage supportive friendships. However, over-commitment is a genuine concern and can be harmful to a child’s wellbeing, not to mention stressful for you. Here are factors families should consider when considering after-school activities:

TIME: Children need sufficient time for schoolwork, playing, resting, and eating. If time for these things is already tight, limit yourselves to one extracurricular activity per kid.

AGE: In general, younger children need fewer organized activities and more unstructured play time. As kids get older, it sometimes makes sense to add in more sports, classes, or clubs. High schoolers looking into higher education should keep in mind that colleges and universities like to see applicants with a robust resume of extracurriculars.

FAMILY SIZE: The number of caregivers in your home will affect how much you can realistically schedule. Furthermore, if you have five children it is going to be harder to coordinate schedules than if you have one or two. If need be, have the kids take turns participating in after-school experiences.

MONEY: Extracurriculars can be costly. Uniform fees, tuition, and travel can add up. Be realistic about what your family can afford.

FAMILY PRIORITIES: What do you value most as a family? Fitness? Teamwork? Music? Family dinners? Whatever they are, make choices that reinforce those priorities.

CHILD INTEREST: Is your child excited about each activity you are considering? Are they a kiddo that needs down time or do they prefer having places to go and things to do? Let the answers to these questions guide your choices.

PARENT INTEREST: How do you feel about drop-offs and pick-ups, events and games? What does your work/life balance realistically allow? If you, the caregiver, are less than enthusiastic about an over-committed extracurricular schedule, it will take its toll on everyone in the family.

Your child will benefit from extracurricular activities, but by keeping the above guidelines in mind, you will be able to keep the whole family happy and healthy.


The average number of years a dollar bill lasts.


The number of fish a puffin is recorded to have carried in its mouth.


The length in feet of the world’s longest wedding veil.


The weight in pounds of the largest animal’s heart (blue whale).


The number of muscles used to take a step.



The height in feet of the largest sand castle.

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opens doors to learning for your child

It’s hard to know how best to support your child or teenager at home with their nightly homework. You’ve probably wondered where the line is drawn between doing it for them and simply helping. Most homework assignments are meant for students to practice the skills they are learning in class. But many students, and perhaps this applies to your child, are not yet ready to practice on their own. This creates a problem. You want your child to be independent, and at the same time, you want their homework to be meaningful. And, you want them to practice the skill in a way that is strategic, efficient and worthwhile.

Education researchers at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (KUCRL) design teaching methods to help students become strategic learners. These methods are called Learning Strategies and are part of the Strategic Instruction Model (SIM). Each Learning Strategy uses eight stages of instruction that have proven time and again to help students of all levels succeed on academic tasks or assignments. To teach your child to be strategic, you can use the same eight stages of instruction. The stages are Pretest, Describe, Model, Verbal Practice, Controlled Practice and Feedback, Advanced Practice and Feedback, Posttest, and Generalization.

Of these eight stages, modeling is the heart of the strategy instruction and is easy to do at home. Modeling is a demonstration of a skill by thinking aloud while doing it and then gradually involving your child until they take over the task. Of course, finding out what your child knows and doesn’t know is essential. No matter how much modeling you do, if your child is missing important knowledge that is needed before moving on, you must clarify that first. Once you know where to begin, model the desired skill you would like your child to use.

First, preview your child’s assignment and determine what steps are needed to complete it successfully. A solid model always starts with a statement of purpose

Modeling is the heart of the strategy instruction and is easy to do at home. Modeling is a demonstration of a skill by thinking aloud while doing it and then gradually involving your child until they take over the task.

known as an Advance Organizer. Then, it moves onto the Presentation Phase when you complete the task in full while saying your thoughts aloud while your child watches you. The third stage of modeling is when you Enlist Engagement from your child. This is a time when you are both working together until you successfully complete the work. At this point, you are acting as a support net to make sure the task is completed as planned and all the steps are verbalized. Repeat these first three steps as many times as needed to finish the homework, giving your child more and more of the responsibility to verbalize and complete the steps while you affirm their progress and correct when necessary. Eventually you turn the assignment over to your child when they model successful completion of the task for you. Lastly, once your child has finished the whole assignment, provide a Post Organizer, a review of all that you did. At this point, you’ll highlight the critical steps you both did, personalize the steps, predict when to do this again, and state expectations for next time they have this type of assignment or one that is similar.

A model might sound and look like this:

“The directions say to use context clues to write a definition for each bold word in the passage. This means we will do a close reading of the passage to determine the meaning of the vocabulary words by using clues in the context of the passage (Advanced Organizer). So, I’m going to start by just reading the passage once in full to become familiar with it, knowing that we’re going to have to go back and read it a few times to focus on the sentences with the target words to complete the assignment. I also see that there are six words in bold print, so we’ll be going back to the reading at least six times, probably more, because even if we think we know the meaning of the word, we also know that word meanings can change significantly, depending on how the author uses it. So, we must consider the words around each word to complete the close reading accurately.”

Continue verbalizing all the steps as you complete them: read the passage, then go back to each word in bold, re-read that sentence, use the context cues to decide on a definition and write down the definition (Presentation Phase). After doing it once in full as a model, begin giving some of the steps to your child. Allow your child to take on more and more of the verbalizing and directing of the task until they are doing it fully on their own for you (Enlist Engagement). Then, before you end, review the critical steps and talk about when else they can use this skill (Post Organizer).

Completing work in this way allows your child or teenager to gain confidence in knowing how to approach, manage and complete tasks. The use of self-talk helps many students both remember and make sense of what they are doing as well as identify and isolate questions if they are confused. Modeling allows students to see and hear the physical behaviors and thought processes that those who are proficient with an assignment use. Last but not least, the four phases of modeling increase the likelihood that your child will be able to complete future assignments independently. ■

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22 Summer 2024 | YC MAGAZINE | lincolncountyuniteforyouth.org

CAFFEINE: friend or foe?

It’s a common occurrence to see youth walking around with a can of Rockstar or Monster. But have we thought about what they’re actually consuming in the form of caffeine? And it’s not just the energy drinks, but those coffee drinks as well.

One can of Rockstar has 160mg of caffeine. A caffè mocha has 174 mg. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents get no more than 100 mg per day. In one can or cup, they’re consuming more than one and a half times the recommended amount. If they’re drinking three per day, that adds up to around five times the recommended amount. Some youth report that friends drink four of five energy drinks a day.

In addition to caffeine, these drinks have a lot of sugar. One can of Rockstar contains 60 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent to about 1/3 cup. Now times that by three, and they’re consuming almost a cup of sugar per day.

In addition to weight gain from the sugar, there are negative side effects of caffeine. Consuming too much caffeine can cause nervousness, irritability, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and increased

blood pressure—none of which are good for kids. Side effects also include nausea and diarrhea. Kids with medical conditions may be at even greater risk. Caffeine in high doses becomes toxic. There have been increased calls to poison control and even reported deaths of teens from overdose.

Withdrawal symptoms include headache, fatigue, decreased alertness (which then makes them want to consume more caffeine), difficulty concentrating, flu-like symptoms, irritability, depressed mood, muscle pain or stiffness, and nausea and/or vomiting. None of these make it optimal for learning and may lower their academic performance.

Teens have started drinking energy drinks at a record pace. Sometimes it is to stay up to study, but a lot of times it just for the “high” they get from the caffeine. It’s time we share the dangers of too much caffeine and energy drinks with our kids. Caffeine is a stimulant like cocaine, nicotine, meth and amphetamines. It is a drug and it is addictive.

Most of us would probably not give our children illegal stimulants, so we should rethink their use of legal stimulants. ■

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Playing a board game, riding bikes, cooking dinner together… Every moment you spend with your child provides a clear message that they matter. Take time to be around your child in their environment and invite them to be a part of yours!

Together... we ’ re growing the good!

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Zero to Five Lincoln County would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our community members, partners, and families. We are incredibly proud of the work we have accomplished together over the past five years.

Lincoln County Unite for Youth Coalition PO Box 1633 Libby, MT 59923 Back 2 BASH!School Together... celebrating youth, families, schools, and community! EUREKA Saturday, August 10 10 am - 1:00 pm Lincoln County High School Coats, Boots, Shoes Haircuts! Backpacks and School Supplies! Hygiene Kits BBQ, Games, Fun! Save the Dates! LIBBY Wednesday, August 14 10 am - 1:00 pm The Memorial Center TROY Tuesday, August 20 10 am - 1:00 pm Troy Activity Center

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