YC Magazine - The Legacy Center, June to August 2020

Page 1


The Harmful Effects of Teen Binge Drinking




FINDING HOPE IN THE WAKE OF DISASTER » An Introduction to Coping Skills » Is Your Child Dealing with Loneliness? Three Ways to Know » Childhood Fear and Anxiety: What is Normal and When We Should Take Action

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Finding Hope in the Wake of Disaster

14 16

An Introduction to Coping Skills

Is Your Child Dealing with Loneliness? Three Ways to Know


Childhood Fear and Anxiety: What is Normal and When We Should Take Action


When the Party is Over: The Harmful Effects of Teen Binge Drinking


2 From the Director 5 The Kitchen Table 10 Faces in the Crowd 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Assets in Action 18 Q&A / By the Numbers PRINTED BY


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








Director F FROM THE

School closures and social distancing due to Covid-19 have drastically changed our students’ lives, especially for the seniors. Please check out our Faces in the Crowd and Assets and Action pages as we honor some of our graduates in this issue. We wish all graduates good luck and success in their future adventures!

Thank you for supporting Youth Connections Magazine.

riends, there are no words to describe what has happened in the past few weeks. Our communities are changed forever because of the dam failures and the flooding. I worry about the youth and families in our community who are now facing devastating damage to their homes, and a pandemic. However, we have an incredible community and we are all in KATHRYN TATE this together. We will get through this. Our feature article has suggestions for helping kids through disasters. Most of our articles were written when we only had pandemic on our minds. Kids and parents alike were adjusting to stresses of homebound life, including schooling from home and changes in so many workplaces. Add in the flood, and you can be assured that kids are experiencing stress and anxiety in a way they never have before. We have articles on helping your child learn coping skills and dealing with anxiety and fear. With luck, these will give you some tools to help ease the stressors in your household. Since we are still under the Safer at Home order, kids are likely feeling lonely. It is important for parents to recognize loneliness to help kids find ways to reconnect. You can help by keeping kids connected with friends and family using technology. Our summers will look different this year. It’ll take some extra work, but I hope that you can find a sense of balance during this time at home with your kids. Maybe it’s a game or a walk in the middle of the day. Maybe the best you can do is keeping everyone fed and healthy. Try to stay upbeat and model positive behaviors for your kids. Give yourself grace during this time and we’ll get through this together. If you need help from the flood, please reach out to United Way of Midland County. Follow The Legacy Center w w w.tlc4cs.org w w w.facebook.com/tlc4cs Follow the Community Alliance 4 Youth Success w w w.drugfreemidland.org


The Legacy Center changes the trajectory of people’s lives as we help them reach their full potential. We help our neighbors build the reading and language skills they need to succeed. We equip young people to make responsible choices. We are a local collaborative partner committed to increasing the impact of agencies in Midland County.





THE LEGACY CENTER FOR COMMUNITY SUCCESS Kathryn Tate, President/CEO (989) 496-1425 ktate@tlc4cs.org 3200 James Savage Rd, Ste 5 Midland, MI 48642


We’re creating an email distribution option. Email tlc4cs@tlc4cs.org and provide your physical address and your email address to switch to electronic delivery.


#MakeArt Virtual Join us as we #MakeArtVirtual & stay up-to-date on the latest happenings at the Center!




midlandcenter.org www.cmhcm.org ∙ 800.317.0708

Helping Families Grow and Thrive Preschool for three- and four-year-olds at five locations Childcare for children ages 12 and under After-school and summer programs for youth and teens Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for youth ages 18 and under Dow College Opportunity Program to support and mentor high school students Parent education and social services Free computer and Wi-Fi access Call us for details at 989.832.3256, or visit WMFC.org Located at 4011 West Isabella Rd. (M-20) 14 miles west of Downtown Midland









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M I D - S T A T E



CONFESSIONS FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE A local youth minister shares the benefits for youth to belong to a faith community. While her experiences are Christian-based, any faith community can be a benefit.


left the church for many years. As a teenager, I had experienced some difficult times. I did not ask questions and decided God either did not exist or was not good and I turned away from Him. However, when my children were toddlers, I wanted them to attend Sunday school. Why? Because I had positive memories of Sunday school and I wanted my kids to learn about God. After returning to church, I started reading the Bible and God showed me He is there during tough times and He has a plan. He showed me Romans 5:3-5: “not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” He may allow us to go through a trial, but we must hold on to His promises and persevere. The Bible makes it clear that faith in Christ does not guarantee a good life, but a perfect eternity. Now I work in youth ministry and get to hang out with teenagers who are going through their own trials, including the Covid epidemic. I am blessed with the support of an amazing team of volunteers. Each one has different life experiences, is gifted in different ways and all have a heart for teens. Benefits I have experienced and witnessed with being connected to a faith community include: CONNECTION: We are made to be in community with others. Youth group gives

teens an environment that offers nonjudgmental, trustworthy, and safe social engagements—such as eating and worshiping together, playing games, listening to a lesson and discussing those lessons, and life, in smaller groups. Each of us have different gifts, we need each other and are more effective together. Proverbs 27:17 says, as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. SERVING: We come together as a group to serve people in our community. Whether it is making blankets to support kids going through a tough time, playing Bingo at a housing facility for seniors and disabled people, or assembling boxes for Operation Christmas Child, together we make a difference. Hebrews 13:16 says, and do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. LEADERSHIP: Teens on the youth group leadership team learn leadership skills by attending monthly meetings and an annual retreat. They put these skills into practice by assisting in leading youth group. At youth group they pray, greet, lead games, teach lessons and plan events. They also greet and read at church and serve in Awana and Kid’s church. Timothy 4:12 tells young people, let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

KNOWLEDGE OF FORGIVENESS: Teens grow in their knowledge of the Bible and forgiveness. They learn how they and others can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; how Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, was buried and rose from the dead, and; how to take God’s Word and apply it to their lives through the receiving and practicing of forgiveness. People make mistakes that impact us and there are even people who purposefully hurt us. Although this is often out of our control, responding positively is not always easy, but with God’s help we can forgive. Lewis B. Smedes: “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Ephesians 4:32 says, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. PURPOSE: Teens find purpose in knowing that as followers of Christ, they will have eternal life after death. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” While non-faith communities may have many of the same benefits, by being able to openly speak about our faith, we are able to express to the teens exactly where our joy, peace, kindness and strength comes from. I invite you to connect with your local church youth groups and other faith organizations like Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Young Life. ■

YOU CAN SUBMIT YOUR STORY AT: ktate@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.







finding ho








2020. The year that face masks became the new fashion trend. The year we all grew our hair out, and started showing our gray. The year of no sports and way too much screen time. The year that school ended abruptly. The year of the global pandemic.


n its own right, the pandemic has cause undue stress on families. We rapidly had to adapt to routines, adjusting to school and work from home, massive job losses, stay home orders, and isolation from friends and families. For some, the stress began right away. Others may have initially enjoyed a few weeks home with their families. Three months in, though, things are getting hard. Kids and parents alike, miss their social connections, their routines, and the ability to go where they want when they want. Families with job losses are struggling to make ends meet and are wondering if and when they’ll be able to return to work. If that weren’t enough, citizens in and around Midland County watched their communities change rapidly with excessive rain and failed dams, flooding so many of our communities in late May. Families were evacuated and emergency shelters created. Suddenly, the pandemic seemed to fade into the background as the community responded to the immediate crisis. As people began to return to their homes and assess the damage, a new wave of emotions and concerns came over everyone. Many of us would like to bid farewell to 2020, but there is still a lot of the year left, and parents and kids alike, need tools to make the most of the time that remains this year. To help, I reached out to Purdue University professor emeritus, Dr. Judith Myers-Walls. Dr. Myers-Walls is an expert in the effects of disasters on children, and is a professor that I worked with in both my undergraduate and graduate coursework. She had heard of our flood and was glad to provide guidance on how to help families cope with the stressors of 2020. Below is a summary of notes that Dr. MyersWalls provided to me. I hope this provides you with some new tools for your parenting toolbox. continued on page 9












COUNSELING, EDUCATION, SUPPORT We provide free crisis services and affordable counseling on a sliding fee scale to families and people of all ages. Video and telephone appointments are available. Family Issues • Relationships • Bullying LGBTQ Support • Grief Counseling Substance Use • Pregnancy Support No matter what your concern, reach out. We can help.

Family & Children’s Services 989.631.5390 • fcs-midland.org

continued from page 7

Families, children, and other caregivers were already in situations likely to lead to stress reactions before the dams broke. That means that parents, teachers, and caregivers may feel that they have little left to offer in this situation. In addition, the stay-at-home orders and healthy-distancing recommendations remove one of the most powerful survival instruments from a caregiver’s toolkit—the use of touch and face-to-face networking. On top of this, Michigan has been struggling with…turmoil over approaches focusing on health and those focusing on the economy and returning to work. That tension…is felt both by adults and children. When the dams broke, the homes of many were lost. Those homes may have begun to feel like prisons, but they were at least something that families had. They had probably established a new normal there. They had transformed those homes into classrooms and maybe into offices. They were lost. With the evacuation, they were thrust out into the outside world where they [had been] told for more than two months that they could be at risk [because of the pandemic]. How could they feel safe and relax?

As our communities recover, it is critical that you care for yourself and tend to the emotional needs of your children, regardless of their age. As you are able, look around for ways to help others. Use your time, talents, and treasures, and involve your kids whenever it is appropriate Dr. Myers-Walls also shared a tip sheet on talking to children about disasters. Here are some highlights that seemed useful:

• The first step is to make sure that families and children feel safe. Be sensitive to their concerns and to their health and wellbeing. If they need to be in shelters, how can those shelters maintain safety from virus transmission? Listen to their concerns about safety.

• Ask your child or teen what they know about the crisis. In the fast-paced world of social media, kids can be exposed to information before parents have a chance to talk about it. Make a point to find out what they know and what they think.

• Another early step is to recognize that the parents and other caregivers are going to need support. They cannot help the children without getting support themselves… If possible, there should be a way to connect with other parents or caregivers and share stories, suggestions, and support. Now that it is warm, perhaps [people] can meet in small groups outside while maintaining 6-ft distance.

• Help your child know that you are doing your best to keep them safe and remind them that you love them.

• Provide a calming atmosphere. Children and parents [can benefit from] breathing exercises and relaxation. Provide quiet spaces. • Help kids talk about their worries. Let kids know it is ok to talk about the virus and about the [dams collapsing and flooding]. Let them take the lead. Correct their misunderstandings. Answer their questions when you can. Find answers together when you don’t know. • Give children words for their feelings. It is ok to share your own feelings, but do not burden your children with your feelings. Parents should explain to the children what healthy things they do when they feel scared or angry or upset. • Establish a routine. Doing normal, everyday things is helpful in a time of crisis. It helps children and families feel in control. It is good to keep the same mealtimes and naptimes and bedtimes if possible. Maybe they can be the same from one day to the next, even if they are not the same that they were before the family was displaced. • Let children use creative means of expression, such as drawing, music, play, puppets, Play Doh, and other cultural forms. Read books about health, disaster, moving, and friends. • Build connections between children and families. Use healthy distancing. Consider phones, computers, outside games without direct contact, and other ways that children and families can make contact. Allow children to have close contact with soft toys that provide cuddling and hugs. • Encourage children to dream. Be hopeful together. Talk about what they would like to do when they are in a new home [or their home is repaired] and when they return to school. Talk about how they would like to communicate with their friends. Talk about what they would do if they were big and could fix the world. Talk about what you are doing to make things better in the world.

• Help them find a way to get involved can provide a sense of control. You may observe a change in behaviors of children and teens, especially if they are feeling insecure or that they lack control over the situation. • Children and teens will feel more hopeful and safe if they see you helping during and after the disaster, too. Midland County residents experienced collective trauma when the flood occurred. As our communities recover, it is critical that you care for yourself and tend to the emotional needs of your children, regardless of their age. Hopefully, the tools above will help you. As you are able, look around for ways to help others. Use your time, talents, and treasures, and involve your kids whenever it is appropriate. Take a meal to a friend whose home was damaged. Donate items that someone else could use more than you. Draw a picture or send a card to someone who is struggling. Let your children choose ways they want to help, too. Help them see the support and hope that is all around them, as our communities come together for one another. To learn more about how community members offer or seek help, I reached out to United Way of Midland County: As thousands of families work to rebuild from the flood, United Way of Midland County is collaborating with the community and the county’s Emergency Operations Center to coordinate volunteer efforts. Families can visit reliefmidland.org to learn how to donate, get access to supplies, fill out the Midland County Flood SelfAssessment Form and sign up for volunteer opportunities. “We want families to know they are not alone,” said Holly Miller, executive director of United Way of Midland County. “It is amazing to see the community unite by raising their hands and stepping in to help in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s accessing reliefmidland.org or calling 211, there are resources available for families. We will rebuild from this flood devastation...together.” Midland County is filled with passionate people who rise to the occasion. During this trying time, let us care for one another – being cautious to maintain social distance and protect one another’s health. We will get through this, together. ■







Check out who’s standing out in our community. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO NOMINATE? Please email ktate@tlc4cs.org and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.

Alexis North


Alexis is a well-rounded student, committing herself to academics, extra-curricular activities, and her community. She will graduate from Meridian with Magna Cum Laude honors, along with earning academic honors from Delta College. Alexis served on Student Council for four years as Freshmen Council President, and Executive Board Treasurer three years. She is also a year-round athlete. Alexis participated in cross country, earning all-academic state for 2017 and 2018, along with track and competitive cheer. Her competitive cheer team placed state runner up in 2018 and placed 4th in the state for 2019. Alexis also volunteers in her community through the National Honor Society. Alexis plans to continue her studies in the field of nursing.

Elianna Gustincic


Bullock Creek High School is proud to recognize Elianna for her accomplishments and involvement. She earned the Class of 2020 Valedictorian and is honored as a National Merit finalist. Elianna has been a member of the varsity band for four years and a section leader for two years. She earned a spot on the Michigan Youth Arts Festival Band twice and the Oakland University Honors Band. Elianna is a leader and has a heart for service, helping wherever she can and spending her personal time helping other students in the varsity and middle school bands. Additionally, she has served as the National Honor Society President, Secretary for Student Council, and participated in Creekers for a Cause.

Ryan Kreusch


Ryan excels both at school and in his community. He played on the varsity football and lacrosse teams for four years. Ryan is the Senior Class President of the Midland High Student Council, and also a member of the National Honor Society. He loves to serve others in his community and tries his best to spread joy and positivity to everyone he meets. Ryan is the leader of the youth outreach program at Blessed Sacrament Parish. He also works as a lifeguard and enjoys cooking and spending time outdoors. We wish Ryan good luck when he attends Central Michigan University in the fall as a Leadership Advancement Scholar.

Breanna Bressette


Breanna is active in many academic and extracurricular activities at Coleman High School. These include the Robotics Team (Captain), Student Council, National Honor Society, 4th Year Board Scholar, and Board of Education Student Representative. She has been dual-enrolled at Delta College for two years and is part of Delta’s Honors Program. In her spare time, Breanna likes to create art and hang out with her dog, Bohdi. Breanna is excited to start the next phase of her life by attending Delta College to study nursing and earn her RN degree. She then plans to continue her education to earn a BSN degree. Good luck, Breanna!

Iris Fanaioli


Iris, an IB Diploma Candidate, helped create a movie highlighting cultures around the world for the Creativity, Activity, and Service Project. Her group captured film footage and interviews in different languages, but Iris’s vision and creativity were essential for the film’s final production. The movie was shared with the entire school to foster the idea of intercultural connections. Iris volunteered in her community with the National Art Honor Society and she also participated in DECA. She is an accomplished artist and curates her Instagram feed with her work; she has over 30,000 followers! Iris plans to attend the University of Michigan and major in art design, with a second degree in computer science or economics.






Faith is a GIFT. Faith is a CHOICE. Faith is a JOURNEY.

Interested in learning more about MPC or your faith journey? Visit mempres.org.

Youth have a tie to faith, fellowship, and fun at MPC. Through youth groups, worship, fellowship, confirmation, service, graduation, and beyond, we support and surround each other with opportunities to grow in our personal faith journeys.

1310 Ashman St. Midland, MI 989-835-6759 mempres.org

In the beginning, you saw a bri ght fu tu re. Great fam i l y. Gre at job. Gre at health. All the toys. Life doesn’t always go as planned. The s t res s. T he pai n. T he argu ments . The need to escape. Mo re and m ore, li fe feel s out of cont rol. It leaves you afraid t o l o ok at real i t y. Don’t like what you see be cause of your alcohol or drug use? We can show you a new w ay t o l o ok at l i f e, an d h e l p you recover a vi si on for a brighter tomorrow. For confidential help, please c all 631.0241.


H. G T I A



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

Turn the page to learn more!

The 40 Developmental Assets® may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial uses only. Copyright © 1997 Search Institute®, 615 First Avenue NE, Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828; www.search-institute.org. All rights reserved.







assets in action



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.

Bullock Creek High School Band Seniors


ACEA (Academic and Career Education Academy) Seniors

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.

HH Dow High School Volleyball Seniors


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.

HH Dow High School Senior Swimmers





If you or your child would like to submit a picture that represents one of the 40 Developmental Assets, please email ktate@tlc4cs.org with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.

Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.


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.

Meridian Early College High School Band Seniors


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.

Midland High School Senior Football Players


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.

Midland High School Chemic Band Seniors


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.

Bullock Creek High School Competitive Cheer Seniors













s a therapist, I am often approached by clients or parents who identify coping skills as their primary goal for counseling. This makes sense and is very practical. The term coping skills has become a popular “buzz” word in our culture, thus understanding and building a coping skills toolbox is helpful to most people. However, it is important to understand the definition of a coping skill, the purpose of using these tools, the goal of the tools, and an increased self-awareness to know what tools will work best. A coping skill is a strategy used to maintain emotional and behavioral control within a given moment, and when used effectively allows us to experience a full range of emotion without damaging relationships with others or ourselves. This requires self-awareness as emotions begin to rise, often first being noticed in the body. What happens when we get nervous, embarrassed, angry, jealous, or sad? Some people experience heat rising to their face during anger, butterflies in their stomach when they are nervous, heaviness in their chest when they are jealous, or a strong desire to run when they are embarrassed. These emotions manifest differently for everyone and only we can become the expert. Tuning in to our body gives us an advantage to knowing what we’re feeling and allows us to access our coping skills to effectively manage these feelings in the moment. Therefore, becoming curious about oneself is one of the first steps in using coping skills effectively. As we gain awareness about the first indications that emotions are becoming “big,” we can use short-term coping skills to keep our prefrontal cortex (i.e. the logical, thinking brain) to remain engaged rather than allowing the big feelings to access the impulsive responses that often result in getting in trouble, causing stress within relationships, or acting out in socially unacceptable ways and eventually leaving one with feelings of guilt, shame and beliefs of worthlessness. As we identify that hot sensation in our face, we can take some deep breaths, count to 10, get a drink of water, or go for a short walk. This allows

Practicing self-care basics is the daily act of loving ourselves. Basic self-care includes the daily activities of adequate sleep, personal hygiene, hydration, proper nutrition, exercise, and a spiritual or mindfulness practice in which our brains can rest. space to exist between the event that triggered the feeling, giving us time to problem solve and make a decision about how to handle a difficult situation that will be right for us and others who may be involved. The good news is, its likely these coping skills have been engaged to help us in this process. If we have ever walked away, taken a drive, gone for a jog ,or snuggled a pet, we have engaged in a coping skill. It is not difficult to find lists of coping skills on the internet ranging from blowing bubbles to meditation. The next step is evaluating what works for us individually and whether we are using active coping skills or avoidant coping skills. Active coping skills are those tools used to get an emotion under control. When we use active coping skills effectively, it is important to return to the stressor and make decisions about the next step such as how to problem solve, talk about the emotional experience, or use a journal to express our feelings and thoughts. Too often, people can use coping skills and end up avoiding the pattern of emotional experiences they are having which eventually results in

“blowing up” or acting in ways that are out of proportion to the situation. Additionally, people regularly use avoidant coping skills that allow suppression of the emotional experience because it is so uncomfortable. Avoidant coping skills include alcohol and substance use, tuning out through use of tv, games, or even books, withdrawal and isolation, or risky behaviors such as fast driving or engaging in thoughtless sex. These coping mechanisms not only help avoid the challenging emotions but often give a temporary positive experience which is why they are so effective. However, they further result in damage to relationships, both with others and ourselves, leaving the challenge even bigger than it was originally. Finally, attending to basic self-care needs on a daily basis is also an essential skill. So often self-care is considered culturally as “pampering” ourselves with a facial, massage or a night out with our buddies. While these types of self-care have their benefit, their effect is short-lived. Practicing self-care basics is the daily act of loving ourselves. When we love ourselves, we begin to have enough self-worth to use active coping skills to grow, mature and enhance our relationships with others. Basic self-care includes the daily activities of adequate sleep, personal hygiene, hydration, proper nutrition, exercise, and a spiritual or mindfulness practice in which our brains can rest. When these basic self-care needs are our primary coping skills, accessing shortterm coping skills is much easier. For this reason, I challenge everyone to keep a basic self-care daily report card, and to make a list of adaptive and active coping skills (as soon as you are done reading this article). Note: It is important to recognize when coping skills are not working for us, when we are not meeting our basic self-care needs, when we do not have safe relationships in which to share our thoughts and feelings, or when avoidant coping is our primary experience. It may be time to activate enough strength and courage to reach out for help to a licensed counselor. That is using an active coping skill. ■








three ways to know By DR. TIM ELMORE


hen both of my kids were young, they had no problem expressing what they wanted or needed. My wife and I would’ve sworn they were both extroverts, as they (like millions of other Millennials) let us know if they were hungry, thirsty, in need of a toy, or desiring a friend. Then they became high school students and, later, college students. Eventually, the situation changed around our house. Turns out our daughter is, indeed, an extrovert and is energized by her time with people. (Don’t believe it? Just ask her). My son, however, is an introvert and has a difficult time expressing his deepest feelings or desires, even when they’re merely social. He is intelligent, college-educated, and actually quite articulate. (He’s a writer.) But he has an easier time sharing what he thinks than how he feels, just like his dad. WHAT ARE COMMON SITUATIONS WHERE KIDS FEEL LONELY? Every young person needs time alone, even the most social one. However, time alone can lead to a feeling of loneliness or sadness. Introverts typically love time alone but may eventually begin feeling lonely. Note some common situations: 1. Times of Transition and Change Kids are especially vulnerable to feeling lonely when they move to a new school, (elementary school through college). Transition points bring change and a sense of unsettlement. They can be emotionally paralyzed and become lonely. 2. Periods of Grief or Loss Often, kids don’t know what to do emotionally when they lose a pet or a family

member or when they grieve a personal situation. Instead of connecting, they isolate themselves. Their withdrawal can lead to loneliness.

we all need and can learn to appreciate. While loneliness is not a sign of mental illness, it can foster mental health problems in kids. So, how can we spot it?

3. Connecting Through Screens more than Face-to-Face Believe it or not, while social media allows us to connect with others, it’s virtual and often doesn’t satisfy our human need for social intimacy. Screens can lead to a melancholy state of loneliness.

1. They are unable to talk about their friends. In normal social situations, even a student who isn’t articulate can express how they feel about friends or about a social situation. Lonely kids can feel unable to do this. My son’s best friend moved out of state in fifth grade, and we noticed he stopped talking about any friends at all. His temporary loneliness fostered a silent 10-year-old in our home for a while.

4. When Being Bullied An obvious context sparking loneliness is when a student is being bullied or cyberbullied by peers. Smartphones have enabled bullying to expand beyond school hours, and kids can be manipulated into isolation and feel unworthy of friends. WE LIVE WITH AN IRONY It’s ironic that as a society we’ve never been more connected, yet we experience a growing sense of loneliness. Statistics report that people have never felt so lonely. Teresa May announced a new position in England, a loneliness minister, to address the trend. Australia organized a Coalition to End Loneliness. One in five Americans reports rarely or never feeling close to others. And a recent study of over 20,000 people found that nearly half of respondents sometimes or always felt lonely. I believe our portable devices designed to connect us have actually isolated us. THREE WAYS TO SPOT A KID WHO MAY BE LONELY The fact is we can be with a crowd of people and still feel alone. And we can be alone and not feel lonely at all. Solitude is something

2. They begin to look sad and withdraw. During that same year, we noticed our son begin to withdraw from his routines, and he looked sad much of the time. When we inquired, we discovered that he wandered around the playground at recess alone or sat alone. This was unlike him. 3. They lose their appetite for the food they like or lose interest in fun activities. A natural outgrowth of the previous symptom, kids can lose their appetite at mealtimes, and even lose their appetite for the usually attractive activities they previously enjoyed. Lack of motivation is a prime symptom of loneliness and can be associated with depression. Editor’s Note: If you feel your child may be experiencing these symptoms, contact their physician or schedule an appointment with a mental health counselor for an assessment. ■

About The Author: Tim Elmore is an international speaker and best-selling author of more than 30 books, including Generation iY: The Secrets to Connecting With Teens & Young Adults in the Digital Age, Artificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenges of Becoming Authentic Adults, the Habitudes® series, and 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid. He is founder and president of Growing Leaders, an organization equipping today’s young people to become the leaders of tomorrow. Sign up to receive Tim’s blog at www.growingleaders.com/blog and get more information on Growing Leaders at www.GrowingLeaders.com and @GrowingLeaders @TimElmore. Used with permission. All content contained within this article is the property of Growing Leaders, Inc. and is protected by international copyright laws, and may not be reproduced, republished, distributed, transmitted, displayed, broadcast or otherwise exploited in any manner without the express prior written permission of Growing Leaders. Growing Leaders, Inc. names and logos and all related trademarks, tradenames, and other intellectual property are the property of Growing Leaders and cannot be used without its express prior written permission.











NUMBERS What do you wish parents knew? (Asked of a teen.) As a child of a parent who tends to ask a lot of questions, there are a couple questions I believe all parents should be asking their children. One of my favorite questions happens as soon as your child gets in the car when you pick them up: “How was your day?” This is a question that may seem as though it gets repetitive, but it shows that you are interested in what happened that day. Some days are boring, and your child will just respond with “fine.” If we are having a bad day, I would want my parents to ask me how they could make it better. On the days that crazy things happen, we want to tell someone about it and it may even spark an entire conversation. Those days when we are struggling, we want parents to acknowledge that. For instance, just a simple “are you okay?” or “how are you doing” can let us know that you care about our feelings and well being. If we are struggling, sometimes it’s hard for us to get out of bed and do our favorite things. For me personally, it’s working out. Everyone close to me knows that working out makes me happy and relieves a lot of stress that may be occurring in my life. On those days that I don’t want to work out, I want my parents to ask me if I have worked out that day. Parents should be asking their child if they have participated in things that they enjoy doing. You should also ask your child what makes them happy. There are obvious things that make people happy including friends, family, pets, etc. But there are also random small things that can make them happy. Especially during my teenage years, being social and hanging out with friends is a very important life stage. Kids tend to feel the safest when they are loved, so you should ask your child “What makes you feel loved?” Coming from a teenager’s perspective these are just some questions you can ask your child. What I hope you can take away from this article is to just ask caring questions and talk to your child. Not only will it allow you to understand your child more, but it will also make your relationship stronger.

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what is normal and when we should take action By ANDREA HOLMES, Director of Strategic Growth and Programs, Florence Crittenton


arents often wonder if their children’s fears and anxieties are a normal part of development. Much like adults, children experience a variety of emotions, albeit uncomfortable at times, which allow them to navigate their world in a meaningful way. Childhood itself can be an anxious experience. Young people are tasked with learning many new skills, meeting everyday challenges, overcoming fears, all while interacting in a world that is ever-changing and that doesn’t always make sense. However, healthy fears and anxieties serve as a temperature gauge to maneuver through situations that may be dangerous or require them to slow down and assess whether to engage or seek out help. Most importantly dealing with anxiety and fear are necessary in preparing young people to handle life’s experiences and challenges that come their way. Whether healthy or unhealthy, child development happens quickly and varies from child to child, so distinguishing normal emotions from those that require special attention may require caregivers to slow down and take note. NORMAL FEAR AND ANXIETY + Babies experience stranger anxiety, clinging to parents when confronted by people they don’t recognize. They will also be startled by loud noises and have a fear response to falling. + Toddlers may experience separation anxiety, becoming emotionally distressed when one or both parents leave; fear of strangers or new things. + Kids ages 4 through 6 may also have anxiety about separating from their caregiver or being around strangers; they may also be afraid of animals, blood, heights, dark places or things that aren’t based in reality, such as fears of monsters and ghosts. + Kids ages 7 through 12 often have fears that reflect real circumstances that may happen to them or their loved ones, such as bodily injuries, death and events in the news such as terrorist attacks or virus pandemics. Adolescents may also have a healthy dose of sexual and social anxieties. Most childhood fears are a normative part of development, temporary or eventually outgrown, but research has shown that anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric diagnosis in childhood. Approximately one in eight children have an anxiety disorder, but the majority of the children who qualify for a diagnosis are not getting the treatment they need. Not treating anxiety leaves children at risk of decreasing performance in school, poor social skills, poor emotional regulation skills, and the use of negative coping strategies (e.g. substances). Anxiety diagnosis in adulthood can be traced back to underpinnings of anxiety in childhood. Therefore, prevention and intervention around signs of childhood anxiety is important.

Sometimes kids’ fears or stressors prove too much to handle and can take a toll on a child’s sense of well-being. If the comfort, support and reassurance from a healthy parent to mitigate these everyday stressors is not enough, it may be time to take action. As much as caregivers hope a child will grow out of it, the anxiety becomes greater, more prevalent and the opposite may occur without proper help. But the good news is that unless the anxiety hinders the young persons everyday ability to function, the child most likely won’t need extensive treatment by a mental health professional. WARNING SIGNS OF ABNORMAL FEAR AND ANXIETY + Becoming clingy, impulsive or easily distracted + Avoidance or withdrawal + Nervous movements or twitching + Problems getting to sleep and/or staying asleep + Sweaty hands or body parts + Accelerated heart rate or breathing + Nausea, headaches or stomach aches Parents know their children best and can usually tell when a child is feeling excessively stressed, anxious, or uneasy about something. Simply being there for the child and allowing them to feel what they feel in the moment, without judgment, can be a healthy way for a child to feel comforted and move towards emotional regulation and safety. IMPORTANT FACTORS TO KEEP IN MIND + If the child’s fear is related to a developmental stage or age of the child, there is a strong probability their anxiety or fear will resolve before it becomes a concern. However, if they continue to experience trouble getting past the anxiety or fear with support, intervention may have to be more extensive. + Try to identify the specific symptoms the child is experiencing and how/if it is affecting their personal, social, or academic functioning. If anxiety is a response to the child’s everyday activities (e.g., sports, school, extracurricular) adjustments can be made to alleviate some stress they are experiencing. + If a child’s fear seems disproportionate to the event/s or situation, this may be a sign to seek outside help from a professional. Also take note of any patterns of anxiety that are persistent and pervasive and take action, or the anxiety is likely to continue to affect the child. Fear and anxiety are inevitable, but parents often feel helpless when they see their children experiencing intense fear or worry. For questions or concerns as to whether a child’s fear and anxiety is normal, seek out advice from a mental health professional. ■








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THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF TEEN BINGE DRINKING By SKY COVA, MA, NCC, PCLC, Intermountain Psychotherapist - OP - Candidate


ow many times have we seen a movie with the following storyline - parents out of town, house filled with underage drinkers, red solo cups filled with beer, and kegs supplied by a best friend’s-brother’s-girlfriend’s cousin. In movies like these, there is also a common background chant of “CHUG CHUG CHUG.” SOUND FAMILIAR? While these movies may seem entertaining, they also depict a seriously harmful kind of drinking – binge drinking. Binge drinking, defined as drinking 3+ drinks in a short amount of time (1-2 hours), may seem cool to teens, but the long-term implications of consuming alcohol this way may be worse than they realize. To help paint a binge drinking picture, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) compiles statistics surrounding this form of substance abuse among teens. Alarmingly, they have found teens consume 11% of all alcohol consumed in the US. WHY IS THIS A BIG PROBLEM? According to NIAAA, studies have shown youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence. Unfortunately, they also found young people consume more than 90% of their alcohol by binge drinking. This kind of drinking to excess is associated with many health and

responsibility risks, including increased incidence of accidents, death, assault, and long-term consequences including increased incidence of alcohol abuse. DON’T DESPAIR, PREVENTION IS POSSIBLE! Teaching teens abstinence or drinking small amounts with responsible adults to mark celebratory events is likely to assist them in developing a responsible relationship with alcohol. With all the development complexities occurring between childhood and adulthood, it is important for teens to form a responsible attitude toward not only alcohol, but also socializing, driving, navigating the internet, gambling, psychoactive substances, and physical risk taking. The NIAAA also encourages parents to talk openly about values and drinking, model a responsible relationship with alcohol, supervise gatherings, and encourage activities which don’t involve alcohol. These interventions may seem small, but they can assist in creating and maintaining responsible relationships with alcohol. While binge drinking is something many teens will have to navigate, clear guidance from parents can help provide more clarity and safety. If drinking is already a problem for your teen, seeking help from an addiction professional may be recommended. ■ www.tlc4cs.org






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Our Heartfelt Thanks During these unprecedented times, we would like to extend a special thanks to our local communities for the outpouring of support we have received these past several months. For the personal protective equipment donations, the thoughtful signs that line our campuses, the prayer warriors who have been lifting up our care teams, and the encouraging words we have continued to receive on our Facebook page, we send our heartfelt thanks.

As a service to our communities, MidMichigan has set up an informational web page at


We would also like to thank all of the school administrators, teachers and coaches for their flexibility, as well as their dedication and commitment to the students and families across the Great Lakes Bay Region. While we continue to face uncertainty ahead, one thing remains clear, WE are community and WE stand together!

Thank you again for your support and we wish families across the Great Lakes Bay Region good health!





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