Five Tips to Ease Kids’ Social Reentry

Tavyev’s strategies include:

Staying engaged at home. Tavyev, also an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Cedars-Sinai, pointed out that kids who turned 2 or 3 during the pandemic might have little experience interacting with people who don’t have masks on. “We can’t just give up masks,” Tavyev said, “so that places more impetus on the family to disconnect from their screens and interact with children face to face.”

Trying to curb screen time. Children’s own screen time can also present a challenge. “If kids’ social interaction is being replaced with screen time, you could have exponentially more work in front of you,” said Tavyev. “You’re going to have to break that addiction before they will want to go out to do social things.”

Encouraging sports and games. Organized sports and other types of play—most of which happen outdoors—can help replace screen time and ease children back into social situations. “It’s something social, but lightly social,” said Tavyev. “It isn’t two hours of intense personal interaction, like a birthday party might be.” For children who aren’t attracted to team sports, Tavyev suggested activities such as martial arts classes or swimming, which are individual pursuits but still happen in a group. Younger children might enjoy group play with balls or parachutes, she said.

Letting younger children learn from conflict. When younger kids do come together, the occasional tussle if two reach for the same toy is a learning opportunity. “If they’ve only been interacting with friends on screens, you’re at home with your Legos and they’re at home with their Legos, so no negotiation has to take place,” Tavyev said. She recommended that parents let children older than 2 or 3 work out in-person conflicts for themselves. “Tell them you believe they can figure this out, whisper ideas and encouragement, but don’t come in and be the mediator,” she said.

Putting fears into perspective for older children. “For children who are feeling awkward and afraid at school or with peers, talk through the worst-case scenario,” Tavyev said. “Encourage them to imagine what might happen. Maybe they’re going to say something foolish. Maybe people will laugh at them. Whatever it is, play it out. Then stop and ask, ‘Was that so bad? Is that something that you truly could not recover from?'”

While some conflict, awkwardness and uncertainty is to be expected, Tavyev advised parents and teachers to be on the lookout for children determined to avoid interaction with others.

“If younger children aren’t showing an interest in their peers, and that is accompanied by language delay and repetitive or ritualistic behaviors, it’s time to seek help because those are signs of autism,” she said. “Parents should also seek help for an older child who was previously interested in social activity and seems to have lost their interest, because this might be a sign of depression.”

Tavyev also encouraged parents to take heart, because everyone is in the same boat. And while the brain’s ability to grow and change is at its height during the first three years of life, neuroplasticity persists well into adulthood.

“Social interaction, comfortable distance while talking, and all kinds of subtle, nuanced things have probably changed for billions of people around the world,” said Tavyev. “So even if children have missed out on certain social things, it could be that some of those things are going to become obsolete anyway. How will that change this generation of children? I honestly have no idea, but they’re all in it together.”

NASW to Educate Social Workers, Others About Adolescent Brain Development

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has developed training resources that will give child welfare workers, social workers, foster parents, and others who work with older youth critical information about how the adolescent brain develops.

The knowledge professionals acquire through NASW’s Integrating Adolescent Brain Development into Child Welfare Practice with Older Youth curriculum will help older youth – especially those in foster care or involved in the child welfare system – obtain the skills they need to overcome past trauma and become successful adults.

“Many people do not realize that the brains of youth continue to develop until they are in their mid-twenties. Using this knowledge can create opportunities for positive youth development and acquisition of new skills, decreasing impulsive behavior or poor life decisions,” said Joan Levy Zlotnik, PhD, ACSW, Director Emerita NASW Social Work Policy Institute.

Each year more than 23,000 children age out of the foster care system in the United States. Many have missed the opportunity to have stable schooling, friendships, and/or lack family support. Odds are higher, they will become incarcerated, single parents, drop out of college or have trouble finding stable jobs and housing.

The curriculum was created in keeping with the Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’s commitment to “Train and equip practitioners to understand the role of trauma and racism, and employ effective practices to help young people understand their experiences and develop effective strategies for healing and growth.”

However, the training will have a much wider impact. It can be a resource for professionals who provide mental health and health care services to adolescents; those who work in schools or juvenile justice facilities; and social work faculty who are training new generations of social workers to work with older youth.

“The period of brain development in adolescents provides a critical opportunity to help young people grow through learning experiences and heal from trauma they may have experienced,” Zlotnik said. “That is why this curriculum and the accompanying resources are so important and we hope is shared as widely as possible.”

To learn more about adolescent brain development, join the NASW Integrating Adolescent Brain Development webinar on August 25 at 2 p.m. ET or on demand or visit the curriculum website for more information.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.

How To Reduce Harmful Police Contacts With Youth

Imagine this scenario: A young black man is falsely suspected of illicit behavior, stopped, and questioned by police. Because of media depictions of police encounters with people of color, the youth perceives the stop as an injustice (whether it was or not). On edge, he signals his anxiety to the police, making it more likely that the interaction devolves into verbal abuse or physical aggression. The police officer detains the young man and brings him to the station where he may be abused. Even if this young man leaves the encounter without serious harm, the experience of arrest makes it likely that he will begin to label himself in a negative manner. He begins to think of himself as bad and acts accordingly – increasing the likelihood of future interactions with the police leading to arrest.

Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is all too common. Research shows that young people who experience arrest often begin to view themselves as “delinquents” or “criminals,” taking to heart social stigma and stereotypes. This process can perpetuate offensive behavior resulting in an increased risk of arrest and sanctions in the juvenile justice system. Such police-contact spirals impact not only young people’s immediate and long-term futures; they exacerbate dysfunctions and expenses in America’s justice system.

Understanding Increased Contacts

U.S. criminal justice policies have spurred increased contact between police and young people. In fact, studies suggest that police are more likely to come into contact with youth than adults. The War on Drugs and other measures designed to address serious offenses have prompted this increase – and too often the suspicion of drug possession serves as a pretext for searches that are racially skewed. Studies show that young Black people, compared to Whites, are disproportionately likely to encounter police and be arrested for similar offenses. From a societal perspective, this skew can be explained in part, by implicit and explicit racial biases held by police officers as well as by various economic circumstances, including profiteering by privatized prisons and detention centers that have incentives to push for “get tough” laws. Zero-tolerance disciplinary policies in schools have also increased the likelihood of police-youth contacts.

Health, Trauma, and Detention

Some of the most harmful and concerning initial encounters between police and adolescents involve physical abuse. Whether deliberate or inadvertent, police do damage to young people’s wellbeing by using aggressive holds, tasers, pepper spray, and other aggressive methods to subdue suspects. Even when physical contact is limited, placing adolescents in handcuffs in a police cruiser and transporting them to the station is often a humiliating and traumatic experience for the young arrestee. At times, research shows, detained young women have even had to ward off inappropriate sexual remarks or advances from police officers.

Arresting young people can lead to detrimental outcomes including harm to their mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing at an especially impressionable phase of life. Like formal arrests, youth detentions often lead to worrisome outcomes. In general, youth detention centers are overcrowded and understaffed, and young people admitted to them often spend anywhere between a few hours to a number of months exposed to negative experiences like verbal or physical abuse in addition to isolation and loss of privacy. Correctional conditions can foster mental illness and unhealthy levels of fear, especially among those who are unfairly detained.

Besides the physical and emotional damage, arrests of young people can damage their future chances to be productive citizens. Arrests can lead to losses in academic standing and increase likelihood of dropping out of school. Such risks are especially acute for those detained for extended time periods. Furthermore, youth who have experienced arrest are likely to face barriers to employment and access to housing and higher education. And because income and educational losses are known to harm individual health, the long-term health of arrested young people also suffers. Moreover, the ill effects can cumulate, because negative encounters and experiences early in life often promote later use of drugs and alcohol and other risky behaviors, which in increase the likelihood of future run-ins with the law.

Finally, policies that lead to increased numbers of youth arrests also further misallocations of constrained public resources. Time spent processing youth arrests detracts from the investigation of serious crimes, which may undermine public safety. Frequent arrests of young people for minor infractions also reduce the efficiency of the legal system. For example, low-level misdemeanor cases drain a lot of time from public prosecutors and public defenders; and youth arrests are more expensive than other measures that could be taken short of arrest.

What Can Be Done to Improve Police-Youth Relations

Although the current picture is grim, research points to promising new approaches:

  • Instead of arresting problematic young people, authorities can make referrals to social services or to community programs or camps that provide training in behavior management. With such referrals, police in Florida reduced the time spent on youth cases from six hours to 45 minutes apiece. Similarly, officers in Georgia decreased their arrest time from two hours to 35 minutes. And by channeling contacts with youth through social services, police in Louisiana reported an arrest time of only 12 minutes.
  • Officers in training can be taught about alternatives to youth arrests and encouraged to give warnings or civil citations. These options are cost-efficient and cause less harm to young people and the community.
  • Once in place, non-arrest measures must be monitored to measure effectiveness and ensure accountability. Research shows that community members can play a key role – for example, through citizen review boards that offer input on new police practices and suggestions for further improvements in police-community relations.

Read more in Patrick Webb, Incapacitating the Innocent: An Investigation of Legal and Extralegal Factors Associated with the Pre-Adjudicatory Detention of Juveniles (Universal-Publishers, 2008).

Reps. Bass, Marino Introduce Legislation To Develop And Enhance Kinship Navigator Programs

Earlier this week, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Congressman Tom Marino (R-Penn.), Co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, introduced legislation to provide grants to states, tribes (including tribal consortia), territories or community-based organizations to develop, enhance, and evaluate Kinship Navigator programs. Kinship Navigator programs support family caregivers through complex legal and administrative systems, help avert crises, prevent multiple child placements, and avoid the need for more costly services.

“With the rise of substance abuse highlighted by the opioid epidemic, more and more kinship caregivers are stepping up to raise children in need of temporary care or permanent homes,” said Rep. Bass. “This is happening in every state and every county in the United States. While we work to address this immediate epidemic, our child welfare systems are being overwhelmed. Kinship caregivers need support and this bill will help provide the assistance necessary to creating a stable home and environment for the child. I hope Congress can come together on this bipartisan issue to stand up for our kinship caregivers and our nation’s most vulnerable youth.”

“Every child deserves to grow up in a healthy, safe, and loving home,” said Congressman Marino. “We know that when children grow up in stable households, they are much more likely to succeed as adults. This legislation will help ensure that every foster child has the opportunity to pursue their dreams, start great careers, and raise loving families of their own.”

The bill will allow community-based organizations to apply directly to the Department of Health and Human Services for funding and also require program evaluations that include community perspectives. You can read the full bill here.

Why Kinship Care Matters:

Research demonstrates that children in kinship care are less likely to experience numerous different placements with different families. Kinship care results in better outcomes for all children living in out-of-home care because they are more likely to remain in their same neighborhood, in the same educational setting, be placed with siblings, and have consistent contact with their birth parents than other children in foster care. This is one critical piece in improving outcomes for the children in the child welfare system.

What Schools Can Do To Reduce Risky Behaviors and Suicides Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth

A high school English teacher in New Mexico told me about one of his students who had difficulty focusing in class. When the teacher showed concern, the student confided in him that her parents had kicked her sister out of the house after they found out she was dating a girl. The teacher tried his best to console the student and referred her to the school counselors for help.

The next year, the same girl sought his support when her parents took similar punitive measures against her because she, too, came out as a lesbian. This time he spoke openly with her, explaining that she had to keep her spirits up; that no matter what happened, she had to be true to herself. In concluding the story for me, the teacher explained that he knows the school needs to be a safe place in a community that may not accept his student. But even though he strives to create a safe environment, he does not think all staff people or students at the school are equally accepting.

At another high school, I heard something quite different. When asked about the experience of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, an administrator responded – simply and implausibly – “We don’t have any of those kids at this school.”

Such accounts from teachers, administrators, nurses, and counselors illustrate the importance of schools and school staff for students struggling with their sexual orientation in a world that does not always support or even acknowledge their existence. Paradoxically, schools are often the only places lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth may find marginally more accepting than the surrounding community – and of course schools may not be more accepting. The everyday traumas experienced by these youth, especially when they find themselves in schools that ignore their needs, can put lesbian, gay, and bisexual students at increased risk for depression, substance misuse, and suicide.

Research Links Suicide to Sexuality

According to the Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-fifths of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth have seriously contemplated suicide. These young people are three times more likely to think about taking their own lives than their straight peers and four times more likely to actually plan and attempt suicide.

In addition to risk of suicide, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are twice as likely to be bullied or threatened with a weapon on campus and three times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe. Risk behaviors that could result in negative health outcomes are also prevalent at a higher rate among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. For example, such young people have higher rates of smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, misusing prescription medicines, and using dangerous drugs including cocaine and heroin.

These statistics underline serious threats to many American young people. What can be done? The Center for Disease Control has identified several evidence-based ways to reduce the risk of suicide and risk behaviors among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth – by creating safer and more supportive school environments. So far, however, these strategies have not been fully or consistently implemented, and they are only rarely combined to create an optimum response.

How Schools Can Help

Schools are a critical point of intervention because they are the places where students spend most of their waking hours. When it comes to reducing risky or suicidal behaviors, schools are second in importance only to families. School nurses and counselors also often provide the first line of response to student medical or behavioral health issues. In rural settings where resources can be scarce, the school or school-based health center may be the main place students can find support or help. Based on available evidence, the Center for Disease Control has defined several strategies that can be adopted and combined to ensure that all American young people are supported and protected, regardless of their sexual orientation. According to these recommendations, schools can take the following steps – and, to date, only eight percent of schools do all.

  • Create “safe spaces” like a designated classroom, office, or student organization where students can receive support from school staff or other students. Only about 60% of schools currently have such spaces available.
  • Prohibit bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender expression. Most schools report having such policies in place, but a fraction of them do not.
  • Facilitate access to medical health and behavioral health providers with experience serving lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Fewer than half of US. high schools facilitate such access.
  • Promote professional lessons on how staff can create safe and supportive school environments. Less than 60% of high schools provide this type of support to their faculty.
  • Deliver health education that includes information relevant to lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Only one-fourth of U.S. schools do this.

These strategies are an important way to address the needs of not only lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, but may also help transgender and gender non-conforming students as well. Unfortunately, research on these subgroups and programs to help them remains to be done. An important recent development is the inclusion a gender identity question in the 2017 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey.

Recognizing the existence of sexual and gender minorities in America’s schools and gathering large-scale data about their experiences can provide a clearer picture of the challenges various groups of students face – and, in turn, allow improved responses to their needs. By creating safer and more supportive school environments, we can reduce dangerous behaviors, eliminate many suicides, and improve academic and health outcomes, not only for sexual and gender minority youth, but also for all other students in our schools. Problems and tragedies that affect some students reverberate among many – and undermine America’s future.

The Importance of First Aid Training for Young People

Being equipped to respond to a medical emergency brings you one step closer to saving someone’s life. Though you may never encounter a critical situation, the chances are you’ll one day need to apply your first aid knowledge, meaning you could really help someone in a time of need.

First aid is usually taught, at request, later in life, but why aren’t first aid teachings encouraged among youngsters? First aid training provides highly sought after skills which bring various opportunities with it, so you’re never too young to learn the basics. Neglecting the importance of first aid could be to the detriment of society, especially since young people are unable to assess risk evaluation in the same way as adults. Educating youngsters accordingly is vital, so this article will evaluate the importance of first aid training for young people.

Should First Aid Be Taught at School?

Advocates have long argued for first aid to become a compulsory aspect of the school curriculum. This notion was supported by public health supporters in D.C., who recently urged decision makers to make first aid training a requirement at schools. Further support was received from the American Academy of Pediatrics, who have instrumentally taken active steps to influence local regulations. The need for increased first aid training and awareness is critical during a time when kids don’t know how to respond to emergencies.

Though counter arguments view first aid teachings as a waste of time and money, for something kids could easily forget, doesn’t that apply to everything taught at schools? Research has offered support for the introduction of first aid at schools, a concept which is viewed positively in most communities. The American Red Cross has proposed free first aid training at schools, so neglecting the welfare of society by failing to teach first aid is inexcusable. Teaching first aid at schools is a no brainer, considering it could breed a generation that’s capable of responding to medical emergencies.

How Would Children Benefit from First Aid Training?

Parents would love to be able to watch their children at all times, but this is unrealistic. As children get older they’re inclined to explore more, and adventures inevitably lead to accidents. This can be worrying for parents who are concerned for their child’s safety, but what could be more reassuring than knowing you children have the skills necessary to effectively respond to emergencies? Knowing basic first aid can be life-saving, for scenarios ranging from heart attacks to injuries and falls.

With new stories emerging daily regarding children saving adults, teaching first aid at schools could potentially save thousands of lives. Lifesaving lessons should be introduced at various stages, to varying extents, starting with basic first aid training in early years, before progressing to more advanced training as kids progress through school. First aid training can also influence a child’s confidence, creating benefits which extend beyond the obvious.

Building Confidence, Communication, and Leadership

With basic first aid training, children are introduced to fundamental, transferable skills. Learning how to contact emergency services is invaluable, and it also indirectly enhances communication and confidence. First aid training teaches children how to respond to various accidents and emergencies, but in turn will inspire a nation of young leaders. It will encourage children to work as a team, alongside enforcing patience and an ability to listen to others. These versatile skills will continue to benefit children throughout their lives.

Why wouldn’t the government want to encourage students to adapt to different environments, and ultimately do better in life? When children are taught to think clearly under pressure, they’re more likely to positively influence the world we live in, and create a knowledgeable, balanced society. In its most simplistic form, first aid training could reduce the more than 140,000 deaths a year which could have been prevented. If we want to create a progressive, forward-thinking America, introducing first aid training at schools is a great place to start.

It’s time to change the antiquated curriculum, don’t you think? It would be great to hear your opinion, so if you’d like to comment below, please do so and kick-start the conversation! Together we can call for change, so let’s rally for the good of society!

The Long Pathway: Journey to Understanding Mental Health

Written by: Iman,  Introduction: Rosie, Billy, Anisah, and Fahim – Haverstock School Journalism Project

*Editor’s Note: UK Social Work Helper Staff Writer, Chey Heap, and myself worked with the Haverstock School Journalism Project to support budding young journalists in their pursuit to better understand mental health issues. The below work was written by an 11 year old student, and I am proud Social Work Helper was able to be apart of this effort. The article is a collection of interviews and collaboration with her classmates. They did an outstanding job of exploring and processing a complicated issue like mental health. – Deona Hooper MSW 

A recent survey stated that 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year. In the Journalism project, we choose the subjects we want to write articles on and because I personally had an experience that traumatised me when my brothers had been separated from me. It really felt like I had been deprived of the things that gave me the most pleasure, and it put me into a deep depression. No one could understand the way I felt.

If we had physical problems, people would have noticed, but the inner ones are not noticed. If you break your arm everyone knows, but there is a stigma attached to mental health problems.

I wanted to know about how psychologists and other professionals work and understand how they can help us so that young people who are experiencing mental issues will know they are not alone and can get help.

The article is titled ‘The Long Pathway’ because it takes a long time to train to become a helping professional and to research and understand different conditions, but it is also a long pathway to healing.

So, I decided to ask my classmates who have experience with mental health issues including depression and bereavement to help me with this project.

One person, we shall call him Stephen told me: His Nan had a very rare disease that messed with her head. It made her see things. “When we went to visit her she saw everybody but me! It made me feel sad and left out but no one knew how I felt”.

Another a girl called Sarah told me: “My Mum and my Nan were fighting and they stopped talking to each other and when I wanted to go out with my Nan my Mum wouldn’t let me that made me very upset and angry”.

I then wanted to know what it was like to train, work and research in the field of mental health.

Journey Through a Psychologist and her Trainees Eyes

Dr Gursharam Lotey, a young person’s clinical psychologist and Jasmeet Thandi a trainee clinical psychologist agreed to an interview at Camden Open Mind – an organisation that reaches out to young people and helps them deal with life situations including bereavement, bullying or educational issues. It gave us a unique insight into their work.

Jasmeet: I am constantly thinking about feelings. You are talking to someone you have never met before and you are asking:

“How do you feel?”

And it is probably a bit much. So we get beautiful Russian dolls, name each doll that we have made: happy doll, sad doll Yesterday, one girl put a sad doll inside a happy doll. So, on the surface, she seemed happy but on the inside, she was feeling a bit sad.

Q: Do you use your own experiences to connect with patients?

Gursharan: It is really important to be aware of your past to be able to connect with a young person

Jasmeet: A patient will tell you something and I think:

 ‘Ah I have experienced that…’

Q: How do you deal with the unexpected?

Gursharan: The best thing to do is to not panic and to just think why that person might be sharing something with you that might be a bit out of the ordinary; and to be able to hold this inside, even if you are thinking: Wow! This is not what I expected!

Q: Do you ever get scared of your patients?

Gursharan: Not scared as such… I worry about them but our aim is for them to go home and be safe.

Jasmeet: Not scared I worked on a unit where adolescents had committed crimes. Once you get to know someone you can really understand the context and why things have happened. Understanding them is really important.

Q: What challenges do you face in your work?

Gurshuram: If something really complex and serious is happening within a young person’s family and you have several families like that all on the same day it can be quite challenging to not think about it when you go home.

Gursharam and Jasmeet explained training to be a clinical psychologist was like embarking on a long pathway and it felt like we were given a fascinating peek into what that entails.

Thank you, Gursharan and Jasmeet. We think Camden Open Mind gives an invaluable service.

Journey Through a Psychology Lecturer’s Eyes

Tony Cline is a now a psychology lecturer and trains child psychologists. When Tony was twenty-one, he found himself in a room with a new computer, but this computer was gigantic. It took up a WHOLE room!  He punched information into cards and it would take three weeks to process. Unfortunately, when Tony made a mistake, it would take another three weeks to process. Since then, technology is the biggest change he has seen.

Tony specialises in research as well as teaching and over the years has worked on subjects like dyslexia and has organised dyslexia conferences. Elective mutism was another subject in which he took an interest. This is where a young person can talk but only with some people. People thirty years ago often thought the child was just being naughty, but Tony’s analysis showed they weren’t, they genuinely had problems.

An example would be a pupil refusing to communicate with their teacher. The review of research highlighted a treatment called ‘Fading In’ where the child talks to the people they are comfortable with. For example, while the child is talking to their parents about something very interesting, the teacher appears at the door but does not enter. The second time, the teacher might come in but not stay, and on the third time the teacher stays and joins in the conversation. There is now a new name for the condition is called Selective Mutism.

I asked about the difficulties his students face to become trained professionals:

Tony: One of the things students do is they carefully train and prepare for an interview and then despite what they have been told about the child before they meet them, there is sometimes much more than is said.

I wondered whether there are difficult situations whilst he was teaching.

Tony: Yes. You can sometimes see that it is making someone in the group think about their own lives and they have had a bad time; for example noticing when a student is being hit by a subject like bereavement because they have experienced it.

Although Tony has years of experience, he still says to his new students: “I am going to learn something from you.”

I learnt lots from everyone I met on this fascinating journey and hope this article will be the first of many that shed light on an area that is difficult for people to understand.

Thank you. Gurasharam, Jasmeet, Tony, and classmates.

Brief description of the project:

The Haverstock School Journalism  Project exists to give underprivileged young people a very high standard of journalism training and proper assignments.

The students have interviewed all sorts of people from a lady firefighter to Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, recently they contribute to the University College London, Amnesty Journal, and provide regular articles for On the Hill Magazine. The project is funded by the John Lyon’s Charity.

The Project Co-ordinator

Danielle Corgan worked in broadcast documentaries for over a decade, mainly with the award-winning documentary company Goldhawk Media Ltd. She helps the students research their subjects, prepare interview questions, organises the interviews, and write and structure print quality articles. She strongly believes every child can write well and encourages them to develop their own voice. She has worked with youngsters with Special Education Needs and Looked After children on the project with very good results.

Why the Use of Scare Tactics to Promote Sexual Health For Youth May Backfire

Many adults do not like to think about youth engaging in sexual activity, but the reality is that the majority of young people have had sex before they graduate from high school. Exploring one’s sexuality is a normal part of adolescent development, but risks also accompany sexual behavior. Although people in American society have strong and divergent feelings about adolescents and sex, most will agree that research can and should guide efforts to help young people to stay safe and healthy as they navigate their journeys into adulthood.

Sexually transmitted infections (also called sexually transmitted diseases) are one of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions in the United States. More than 110 million people in the United States live with such an infection. After years of decline, sexually transmitted infections are now on the rise, with young persons aged 15 to 24 disproportionately affected.

The good news is that many of these infections are curable, and all are treatable. However, if left undiagnosed, they can lead to serious conditions including infertility and cancer. In addition to their health toll, sexually transmitted infections also carry a financial burden, with $16 billion spent annually on treatment. Given such high costs, it is important for researchers to examine efforts to prevent sexually transmitted infections to ensure that they are implemented as effectively as possible. One approach questioned by research is the use of graphic pictures meant to scare young people about the suffering and disfiguration having a sexually transmitted infection might entail.

Sexually Transmitted Infections and Youth Education

The majority of young people in the United States receive school-based sexuality education, including information about sexually transmitted infections. Older adolescents may also get such instruction in collegiate settings, such as classroom-based health courses or at forums held in residence halls or fraternities. Often, instructors display graphic PowerPoint slides, initially developed for use in medical training, portraying real but atypical sexually transmitted infections that have led to visually disturbing symptoms such as severe genital warts.

Many sexuality educators have strong feelings about integrating such images into their programs. Educators who use graphic pictures feel that young people should be aware of potential consequences of unprotected sex, or of sex in general. They also want young people to be prepared to recognize sexually transmitted infection symptoms. But on the other hand, educators who do not use graphic images find them misguided, in that most sexually transmitted infections have no visible symptoms at all. What is more, these reluctant educators worry that graphic images may lead young people to think that sexually transmitted infections are rare, when instead they occur frequently in less visible forms.

Public health educators are expected to use evidence-based practices, but surprisingly, the impact of sexually transmitted infection graphic images on young people’s sexual health has been unknown until recently. While understanding the impact of these pictures may seem inconsequential, most people would never feel comfortable taking a medication if its efficacy had not been tested. The same standard should be used for public health interventions.

Pros and Cons of Instilling Fear about Health Issues

Scare tactics, also called fear appeals, are intended to make people think about the worst-case scenario that can follow from a problematic health behavior. The intention is to cause mental distress in order to prompt healthy behaviors that will minimize the health threat. Fear appeals are not new in public health; they have a longstanding place in health communication campaigns – such as the infamous, decades-old “this is your brain on drugs” public service announcements.

Research reveals mixed effects from fear-inducing strategies. A well-known large-scale study found that fear appeals can be useful at changing attitudes and behaviors when people feel susceptible to the health problem and confident in their ability to take action to prevent it. Yet for people who don’t meet these two conditions, fear appeals can backfire – indeed, such tactics can induce even more risk-taking behavior. Although this research is compelling, little attention has been paid to the ethical implications and potential unintended consequences of fear appeals.

A key issue is that many fear appeals portray possible but rare and unlikely maladies in ways that may mislead. People with sexually transmitted infections are more likely than not to exhibit no symptoms at all. Because educators are supposed to impart factual information, fear appeals pointing to atypical symptoms could be seen as deceptive. Fear appeals also put the full responsibility for decision-making on individuals without recognizing or working to change root causes, the underlying reasons why many people take health risks. This can be stigmatizing to already marginalized groups in society.

In 2016, I conducted an experiment with young people enrolled in a large public Midwestern university. Participants watched one of two randomly assigned web-based sexual health programs, one with graphic sexually transmitted infection images and the other without such images but otherwise identical. I then compared the two groups of participants to assess their knowledge, beliefs, and behavioral intentions related to sexually transmitted infections. Overall outcomes were the same, but when I asked participants to provide feedback, more than a quarter of those that saw the graphic images expressed disgust and dismay. These results suggest that presenting such images may prompt stigma – without having any health benefit.

What Now?

Because sexuality education is an important tool to help prevent sexually transmitted infections among young people, it is vital for programs to be crafted with great care. Given the mixed evidence, the use of graphic sexually transmitted infection images should be reevaluated. Parents, policymakers, and community members should learn more about what kind of sexuality education is being taught in local schools, and if scare tactics are used, assess whether they may be more harmful than helpful.

Depression: Youth, Counseling and Antidepressants

The advent of modern antidepressant medication has been a lifesaver to many. Recent research demonstrates that a combination of counselling and medication can provide the most effective treatment for youth suffering from depression.

However, there is evidence to suggest that in the early stages of medication treatment, there is an elevated risk of suicidal thought, which for some persons may lead to suicidal behaviour. This is causing a great many people to reconsider their use of medication, even when indicated.

This issue is determining which youth will benefit from one or the other or both treatments. To this end a good assessment will look for exogenous factors and endogenous factors.

Exogenous factors are those things outside of the individual that may contribute to depression. These include; family dysfunction, abuse or neglect, parental separation, school related problems and relationship problems. If it can be determined that one or more of these kinds of factors are at play, then counselling alone may be sufficient to treat depression.

Such counselling includes family therapy, or in the case of separated and fighting parents, mediation to help them resolve their conflict, so that the youth is no longer subject to their turmoil. If the youth is in a difficult interpersonal relationship, then counselling for the youth to address the difficulty may be in order. If the youth is abused or neglected, these issues must be addressed and the youth’s safety must be attained.

Endogenous factors generally relate to biological or neurobiochemical factors. If there is a history of depression in the family and there are no known exogenous factors, then medication alone may be the treatment of choice. Often though, with endogenous depression, the sufferer has difficulty controlling depressive thoughts and as such, in this situation a very specific form of counselling, CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is also indicated.

There are times of course when both endogenous and exogenous factors are at play. In these circumstances a combination of counselling and medication could be in order and should seriously be considered.

Parents and youth are cautioned against making their decision solely on the basis of newspaper articles proclaiming the good or the bad about any treatment. Depression is a serious disorder, which left untreated can lead to suicidal thoughts, action, injury and death.

If you or your child is depressed, obtain a good assessment by qualified professionals that will look at both endogenous and exogenous factors and devise a treatment plan accordingly. Further, the counsellor and the prescribing physician should be working hand-in-glove following the individual to manage safety issues and communicating regularly about progress.

It is important to know that with antidepressant medication, it can take a good thirty days before the therapeutic effect is achieved. During this time, counselling may be of benefit to resolve other issues as listed above or to simply provide support until the medication reaches effectiveness.

If you or your child is depressed, get help. It is often advisable to start with your family doctor or community clinic. A physician can make the diagnosis and direct you to treatment.

When to Turn to Outside Help

Many parents are struggling with adolescents and young adults who suffer from mental health, substance abuse, and other typical issues associated with this age group. Although the usual courses of therapy and medications have been tried, for some, these therapies are just not working. In these cases, alternative therapies are being sought out.

One type of alternative therapy parents are asking questions about is outdoor therapy. This type of therapy has been around for decades, but is quite different from the first offerings parents may remember from years ago.

What is Outdoor Therapy?

Outdoor therapy is a treatment option that takes place over an 8 to 10 week period. Its purpose is to help adolescents and young adults with mental health issues and issues of addiction. It is a full immersion style therapy that can include one on one sessions with therapists and group therapy sessions with other participants.

Along with formal therapy, the participants take part in team building exercises and life skill courses. Part of the program also includes regular exercise, excellent nutrition, and incorporating healthy sleep habits.

The therapy is tailored to the individual after being assessed by a mental health professional. The patient is placed with therapists and peers with similar issues to promote optimal mental health benefits.

What are the Benefits?

Wilderness therapy is typically high structured for participants. Although there is downtime to eat and rest, most of the time spent is either in formal therapy or informal therapeutic activities. Young adults who discover they can not only survive, but thrive, in the wilderness, experience a greater sense of self and higher self esteem.

The therapy also promotes self reliance. For example, a teen who refuses to participate and learn how to build a fire will learn later on that they will have to eat their meals cold because of their reluctance to engage. The awareness that no one is going to do it for them forces the person to learn how to do it themselves or suffer the consequences of their behavior.

The simple nature of being outdoors promotes physical health. It has been shown in numerous studies that exercise bolsters mental health and can alleviate depression.

The therapy takes place outdoors, which means there is no place to isolate themselves from others and no electronics to hide behind. Participants must confront their issues head on.

The outdoor setting allows mental health professionals to conduct therapy in ways that do not feel like therapy to teens. These sessions are simply fun and and teens may not feel pressure to participate. This is important for rebellious teens and those with authority issues.

Being outside and away from environments that promote unhealthy or unsafe choices is a huge benefit Of these programs. The removal of outside forces on impressionable youth can make a big difference in jump starting therapeutic benefits.

What Does the Research Show?

The Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council, or OBH council, has conducted research on the benefits of outdoor therapy. Their research shows that the therapeutic benefits of outdoor therapy are sustained in participants at the one year mark.

The OBH council’s research also found that most participants reported a decrease in their mental health and substance abuse issues at the end of the therapy.

Who Can Benefit?

Young people who can benefit from outdoor therapy include those suffering from definable mental health issues such as Asberger’s syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder. Outdoor therapy can also help adolescents and their families dealing with typical issues of rebellion, low self esteem, and substance abuse.

With its full immersion model of therapy and measurably good outcomes, outdoor therapy may be the right alternative to traditional therapies for many young adults and teens. For parents who are struggling with family members going down the wrong path, the benefits of this therapy can be a lifesaver.

Resources to Make Math Fun and Engaging for 5-Year-Olds

For young children, playtime is learning time. Through play, kids discover their world, figure out how things work, expand their vocabularies, acquire physical and mental skills, become sociable, and learn math concepts. A youngster’s natural fascination with numbers, counting, and shapes makes early childhood a perfect time to discover the mathematical world. These five activities are sure to make acquiring math skills so much fun kids won’t realize that they are learning.

Yummy Geometry

Provide food in various shapes: round veggie slices, chickpeas, blueberries, triangular crackers and slices of cheese and bread, diced carrots and cucumbers, and anything else you can think of. Name the different shapes or ask children to do so. Encourage kids to create animal faces, people, or objects from their favorites. You can ask them to use only one shape or a variety. Be sure to photograph each food artist with his or her creation.

Match It

This game has twenty cards: ten number cards, each with a numeral from 1 to 10, and ten quantity cards. You or a child can draw pictures or use stickers on the latter—for example, seven flowers to match the number card for 7. Index cards work well. Shuffle the cards and lay them face down in four rows with five in each row. Each player turns over two cards. If the number on one piece matches the quantity on the other, he or she keeps them. If not, they are turned back over and the next player takes a turn. When all the matches are found, the player with the most cards wins.

DVD Math

Watching DVDs is a favorite pastime. Their catchy music and captivating action combine to make them great learning tools as well as wonderful entertainment. This Math DVD for kids introduces youngsters to the world of numbers and shapes. Addition, subtraction, and telling time are some concepts kids learn. If children associate acquiring skills with positive experiences, they will remember them much longer—and equate learning with fun.

Lego Skills

Lego blocks are great math teaching tools. There are so many ways to use these favorite playtime items for this purpose.

  • Greater than/less than: Write numbers 1-20 and the greater and less than symbols on slips of paper. Provide piles of same-size blocks in two different colors and a base. The child draws two numbers and places one on the left side of the base and one on the right. He or she decides if the left numeral is smaller or larger than the right and puts the symbol between them. The child tests the answer by making two towers with the same number of blocks as each number and determining which one is taller.
  • Count by 2s: Begin with a brick with 2 studs, then increase to 4. As proficiency grows, group blocks into sets of 5, then 10, and have the child count by each number.
  • Geometry: Encourage children to build towers of different heights and various types of structures. Not only are the youngsters demonstrating their creativity, they are improving spatial perception and geometry smarts.

Plants

Let the child choose one or more plants. Plant seeds or seedlings either indoors or outdoors. As the plant grows, ask what shape the leaves are and how many are on a stem or in a group, and look for patterns. Measure the plant at regular intervals and chart its growth. If the plant produces flowers, talk about the shape of the petals and the whole blossom. More than one plant provides opportunities for comparing size and parts of each.

By incorporating math-centered activities into play time, you are ensuring that kids grow up with a greater appreciation for the world of numbers—and will look forward to math class in school. Let the fun begin!

 

Federal Mentoring Grant for Youth Maybe in Danger Under New Administration

Photo Credit: Big Brothers Big Sisters

Over 40 youth serving organizations have expressed their support for the Youth Mentoring Grant, the only federal grant dedicated to providing investment in quality youth mentoring, by sending letters to the United States House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Collectively, these groups are demonstrating their commitment to mentoring programs across the country who provide essential support for young people as Congress works to determine funding for fiscal year 2018 (FY18).

In the United States, 1 in 3 young people do not have access to a mentor of any kind, constituting the “mentoring gap” that youth advocates strive to close through expanded access to mentoring opportunities. The Youth Mentoring Grant program, housed within the U.S. Department of Justice and focused on prevention and interventions for at-risk youth, helps mentoring programs as they work to close the gap.

“We have seen the incredible and far-reaching impact that the Youth Mentoring Grant has made on mentoring organizations and ultimately on America’s young people,” said MENTOR CEO David Shapiro. “The grant has allowed mentoring organizations to bolster their evidence-based work on mentoring and serve many more young people. This is a critical investment in education, workforce development and safe communities, providing young people with a strong support system as they navigate personal, professional and achievement challenges.”

Law enforcement officers and agencies have also written a letter in support of the Youth Mentoring Grant and the role it plays in fostering trust and positive engagement between young people, law enforcement and their communities. The letter notes that “mentoring can serve as an intervention strategy for young people involved in the juvenile justice system (in addition to a prevention strategy for youth at-risk of entering the system) providing them with guidance and critical support to work towards positive decision-making and away from risky behavior that could harm themselves and their communities.”

Mentoring advocates from across the country have also asked their Members of Congress to increase funds for the grant. In 2014, youth mentoring programs funded through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) served over 100,000 youth and had over 33,000 active mentors. Over 60 U.S. Representatives have signed on to a letter in support of the Young Mentoring Grant and U.S. Senators will sign a similar letter in the coming weeks.

“Young people are a vital resource for our nation. We have an obligation to provide a strong investment in mentoring programs that improve academic achievement, self-confidence and widen social capital for some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. I’m proud to help champion support for this critical program that improves the lives of children across the country,” said Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), who co-led the letter to the House Appropriations Committee.

As Congress considers funding for FY18, you can urge your elected officials to invest in kids throughout the nation by expressing support for the Youth Mentoring Grant. Congress can help close the mentoring gap, but they can’t do it without hearing from you! Visit the Action Center, and use our online tool to send Congress an email.

Exploring A New Approach to Anti-Bullying with James Gavsie

With the advent of social media and live streaming, public suicides of youth have pushed bullying and cyberbullying to the forefront, and adults are beginning to approach bullying with the seriousness it demands. According to Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, one in every five students reported being bullied which means a large percentage do not report.

The Center for Disease Control reported victims of bullying are at an “increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression.” They also reported that those who engage in bullying behavior have an increased risk for substance abuse, academic problems, and/or violence in adolescence and adulthood.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview James Gavsie, a renown martial artist, who students have included th Navy Seals, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Army Rangers, Police Forces, and many more. As a young kid, James was often bullied, and he talks with me about his lived experiences and how his book Renegades Guide to Bullying was birthed.

SWH: Tell us a bit about yourself, and how Renegades Guide to Bullying came to life?

James Gavsie – Author/Martial Artist

What can I tell you? I’m the biggest nerd I know and proud of it! I’m also a mixed martial arts instructor and have been studying and teaching martial arts, self-defense, etc., for well over twenty years. As a kid I was the ‘gentle giant’ who hated fighting and confrontation. As a result, I got bullied…a lot! I was an easy target.

As I got older, the physical bullying stopped but the social bullying continued. It wasn’t until my twenties that I was able to put everything into perspective concerning my bullying experiences. I realized that for a bully to be successful they needed their target to become their victim. As my mom used to say, ‘I don’t do victim!’ I took control of my emotional state and simply chose not to let someone have power over me at my own expense, which is what bullying is.

Years later when I opened up my martial arts business in Los Angeles, I started to have a good deal of clientele that would come to me asking for help with their bullying problems. What’s interesting is that it wasn’t just for kids and teenagers. Many adults asked me what they could do in the workplace to stop the bullying they would encounter. As a result, I started to notice that the questions being asked where very similar across the board regardless of the age or gender of the victim.

When my methods started gaining notice, I got the attention of several parent groups and spoke to a number of school administrations. I’m not anti-school by any means, but I do advise parents to take power and control into their own hands if the school administration doesn’t handle the situation properly and quickly. This didn’t sit well with some teachers in particular who proceeded to confront me by saying ‘Why can’t you just conform to the rules set in place? Why do you have to be such a renegade?’ It was at that point that I realized I had the name of my book and the Renegade’s Guide to Stopping Bullies was born!

SWH: What about your approach is different from other counseling and communication methods that you have come across?

Purchase on Amazon

My approach is different in that I take a VERY aggressive stance towards anti-bullying. I reject the ‘just ignore them’ or ‘tell them to PLEASE stop.’ methods so often described. The current so-called anti-bullying programs that many schools in North America have in place do little more than create a victim mentality for our children.

At the root of the problem is our reactive stance to bullying. Bullying WILL happen at your child’s school in some way, shape, or manner. Your child may be the target, victim, bystander, or the bully themselves. My approach acknowledges this and uses it to our advantage.

I help parents of kids who are at risk to bullying to set up a pro-active anti-bullying plan that uses a crowd sourcing, or team, methodology. Anti-bullying is a team effort, to say the least, and having a team that is ever vigilant is the way to go. Conversely, for those who are currently being bullied I do my best to connect with them first, and then to let them know that we will get the bullying to stop.

Once I have the confidence and buy-in from the victim of bullying I’ll go to work to come up with a solution that gets the bullying to stop, gives the victim the tools to make sure the bullying doesn’t happen again, and that also gets the bully to re-think their current behavior. I also recommend that parents model the behavior they want their kids to have.

We all want our kids to be strong individuals but we sometimes forget that they need to learn how to be that way by observing their parents doing it. This also develops pride children have in their parents which in turn helps to develop a more open relationship. Parents need to be in a position where their children will be open books to them. It can be done!

SWH: Does your approach address any reformation for the bully? If so, how?

In our society we are very much prepared to punish the villain. School bullies can easily be ‘overly villainized. Who doesn’t feel the plight of the middle school student who is being physically, socially and/or cyber bullied relentlessly? We as a society want to punish the bully and we want to punish them harshly! However, what I’ve found over the years is that the bullies, even when they fully realize what they are doing, are unaware of the severity in which their bullying is received.

For example, Jack thinks saying bad things about Mario behind his back isn’t a big deal. Let’s call that a 2 out of 10 on the emotionally hurtful scale. However, Mario eventually hears what Jack said about him and it hurts him on the same scale at an 8 out of 10. Jack unintentionally bullied Mario at a much higher level than he intended, which is the case for most bullying. It doesn’t make it any less forgivable, but it does help us to understand that we need to work with Jack to develop a higher sense of empathy towards others as well as to work with Mario to help him understand to avoid allowing himself to be hurt to such a high degree.

I’ve been very fortunate in being able to reform bullies completely by helping them understand what kind of negative effect they unintentionally have on people because of their actions. What a lot of people may not realize is that a bully typically is intelligent, excels at one or more things, and can have some great leadership qualities. As I’ve mentioned to my clients before the best way to absolutely destroy a bully is to make them your friend. Imagine if a school bully became the school hero who helped others to fight back against bullying! We’ve done that on a number of occasions and it is a huge win!

SWH: What takeaways can teachers, practitioners, and parents incorporate into their toolbox for dealing with bullying?

Parents need to understand one VERY important fact; Schools, despite their best intentions, are not typically set up to properly handle bullying. This is not a put down of schools as they absolutely provide amazing value for families. It is simply shedding light on an erroneous assumption parents have had for decades. Assuming schools can properly handle bullying situations is like assuming the local hospital cafeteria can serve the best steak in the city.

Parents instead should be prepared to morally, ethically, and legally take matters into their own hands. Additionally, parents should place a high emphasis on E.Q. as well as I.Q. for their children. Intelligence should always be valued, but a child with a high emotional quotient will be better in command of their own emotional state while also being able to interpret the emotional state of others. The question I often ask parents, teachers, and members of the school administration is do we want our kids to be nice or to we ant our kids to be good? If our kids are nice there’s a high probability they will become an emotional doormat for other people. If our kids are good then they will want to be friends only with those who respect them.

SWH: Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share, and how can people connecting with you?

I’ll be announcing my new crowd sourced anti-bulling program for schools shortly. We’ve tested it at one high school and the results were beyond anything we could have expected. So, stay tuned for that!

For those in need of quick solutions I recommend going to my anti-bullying blog at www.renegadesguide.com . Additionally, they should feel free to pick up my book, The Renegade’s Guide to Stopping Bullies, now available on Amazon.

Ways of Getting Children Involved in Giving Back to The Society

Involving children from within the community, especially those from limited-resource families, has been a primary goal of the Restoration Community Gardens sustainable agriculture project. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo)

Getting the children involved in activities that allow them to pay back to the community. Giving back is not just for the community, it is also good for the personality building. The activities that allow the children to give back to the community and in return develop a sense of responsibility, creative thinking, and compassion and leadership qualities. It is a great way of developing healthy and compassionate minds.

Here are some useful tips for teaching the kids the importance and value of giving back to the community.

Understanding the concept:

When you are involving the children in charity activities you should make sure that you are able to get the idea of helping. They should understand that giving back does not mean that you give away things that you do not need anymore. They should also understand that helping is not just limited to donating money. Young kids mostly do what they are told to do by their parents but if you really want to instill the idea of helping the community then you need to make sure that they understand the importance. You can explain the ways in which the giving back is helping other people and the effect it has on numerous lives. Once they know the effect of their actions their interest will increase.

Do not wait for children to grow up:

Empathy and compassion are concepts that the kids are able to understand and learn from a very young age. You can encourage them to nurture these feelings just by sharing their things with other kids. No age is too young for learning to share. It will encourage them to participate in charity work and volunteer. They will not consider it as something they need to do but as something that they should do. Introducing them to charity work such as painting posters or baking sales will help in increasing their interest.

Making it a part of the routine:

You should not wait to give back. With your actions, you need to show the kids that you do not need to wait for large sums of extra money so you can pay back because it is not the only way of helping. You can inspire your kids by making the charity a part of everyday activities. You can do little acts of kindness like buying an extra bag of food while grocery shopping and giving to someone who needs it. It will set the example for the children that you can help other people with small acts of kindness on daily basis.

You should teach the kids that you do not need to be a part of a large organization in order to give back to the community. The important thing is to have the desire to help others and it will help in paving a path to giving back to the community. Random acts of kindness even like helping someone cross the street is an excellent way of instilling goodwill in people.

Consider the aptitude of the children:

If you want to make sure that the children are interested in doing the charity work then you need to make sure that you take into consideration their interests. Everyone has an aptitude for certain activities so try to introduce young children to activities that they have an interest in. If the kids are interested in creative work then you should let them paint the posters. If they are interested in food then you can get them involved in bake sales. You can show them that they can help people and nurture their own interests as well.

Get the family involved:

You should try to indulge in charity activities that you can do as a family. It will not just allow you to give back to the community but will also be good for bringing the family closer. It will help in building a stronger bond between the parents and children. You can also discuss the results of a charity event and share what you have achieved as a result. It will give a sense of accomplishment to the kids and they will be encouraged to contribute more.

It’s Grief To Me – Death, Divorce, Incarceration, Deployment and Foster Care

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Every year, educators in the public education system spend roughly 180 days and approximately around 1,000 hours with our children.  For many children, the time spent with their classroom teacher accumulates to more time then the time they spend with their own parents.  For many grieving children and teens in our communities today, their schools and their teachers remain the one constant in their lives.

Who are our grieving students in our schools today?  They are our students impacted by experiences of not only death, but situations like divorce, parental deployment, parental incarceration and foster care placement.  Many students impacted by grief and loss are not only unaware of their own grief, they find themselves struggling academically.

Grieving children have more academic barriers than their peers who are not experiencing grief.

Like the students themselves who may be unaware of their own grieving, many teachers are left in the dark about who their grieving students are.  Many may not know grief and loss experiences can connect to other life experiences such as parental divorce, incarceration of a loved one, parental deployment and foster care placement. Unfortunately, due to shame and stigma that can surround the specific grief situation of a child or teen, they may not tell their teachers out of fear or embarrassment.  Even when the teacher does know the situation, they might not quite know what to do to support their student.

In my research, I continue to find a scarcity of information on how to serve grieving youth impacted by grief and loss outside of death.  In my opinion, death is only one aspect of a much larger issue.  I realized this 13 years after my own graduation from high school when I found myself walking the halls of someone else’s high school thinking of that period of my own life that was so fraught with darkness.  This time however my role was different.  I was different.

As a mental health practitioner one of my roles was to prepare curriculum for an after school grief group within the high school mental health program where I worked.  When one student was referred to the grief group because of her father’s military deployment, I remember initially not understanding what deployment had to do with grief and loss. That quickly changed as facilitating the after school grief group provided a whole new awareness of how different grief and loss can look for a teen.

After finishing up my role as co-facilitator of the high school grief group and as my years working in the mental health program began to accumulate, I began to realize many of the youth I was surrounded by daily were grieving. Not only were they grieving, they were hungry for acknowledgement of their loss.  They wanted validation of their pain.

In my search for information,  I came to the realization that all key players need to be on the same page when it comes to the many emotions youth experience in connection to grief and loss.  Who are these pivotal players?  Not only are they the parents and caretakers of the grieving children and teens, but also educators and other key adults in the lives of youth.

I’ve come across a series of videos on Military Kids Connect, a great resource geared toward military children, teens, parents, and educators.  Although these videos are geared towards parents and caregivers of youth grieving the loss of a loved one, in my opinion, these videos also express very clearly the grief reactions of children and teens due to the effects of divorce, incarceration, and foster care placement.

In the videos Dr. Mogil, a licensed clinical psychologist and Director of Training and Intervention Development at The Nathanson Family Resilience Center, highlights grief reactions in both children and tween/teens.  Also, the Dougy Center, another great resource nationally known for their work with children and grieving families offers coping strategies for children and teens.

What initially began as one grief group experience has now turned into a lifetime mission for me.  My work is a result of my students, who allowed me into their space.  It is through their gifts I’ve learned to be curious, to ask questions instead of pass judgments.  It is through their actions and from their words I’ve learned to set the bar high, to never take “no” or “I don’t know” for an answer, and to never give up on them.

My Block, My Hood, My City Is Combining Social Justice with Service Learning

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Most youth have never traveled outside their own block or neighborhood. As a result, their worldviews are geographically bound and constricted by their neighborhoods. For youth who do not travel outside their neighborhood boundaries, their well-being, sense of self-efficacy, and educational and economic outcomes depend almost entirely on the neighborhood’s infrastructure, socio-economic, and resource characteristics. This truth poses limitations to opportunities for most.

If youth are to have a fair chance at having fulfilling and independent lives, that inequality must be revised. As a society how can we make the difference?  How can we open the door for the youth who seem to bound to their neighborhood?

My Block My Hood My City (M3) is an organization whose  mission is to educate, empower and engage youth from low-income and moderate income communities of Chicago to work together to advocate for social, economic and educational justice and become agents for positive change. The considerable limitations of being restricted to neighborhood boundaries cause countless missed opportunities for youth that live in the Chicago area. M3 began mentoring workshops and monthly community presentations as a way to expose youth to the city that existed beyond their neighborhoods.  The My Block, My Hood My City Explorers program, serves as the key vessel to empower young people and build appreciation for community diversity.

My Block My Hood My City’s purpose is to expose youth to their impact within their communities and communities beyond.  Because of this program youth have more information to make everyday decisions about who they are in society and what they can contribute to it. M3 inspires and prepares youth for their equitable role as active, engaged, and self-determined citizens. M3’s primary purpose is to broaden the often severely limited perspective and opportunities of teenagers living in underserved communities. M3 believes that exposing youth to experiences of economic opportunity, cultural diversity, community networks, and community-based services bolsters positive youth development.

M3 accelerates youth awareness of communities by providing insight into careers, jobs, lifestyles, cultures, and opportunities that they never have experienced. This is a vital door that not only removes them from what they’ve always known- poverty, unemployment, and a lack of opportunities- but it gives them a firsthand view of a world vastly different than their own and challenges them to rethink the impactful power they have in improving their community. By witnessing the positive activities and spaces in their own communities, as well as those they visit, the youth are armed with information to dispel the negative images and stereotypes that they are bombarded with daily. This helps develop a sense of pride and respect for what is valuable and the assets that exist in their neighborhoods.

To enhance their program My Block, My Hood, My City has now taken awareness and exposure to a new level by adding a service learning component. Experience has taught them that youth are seeking not only further exposure to networks and opportunities outside their community but also opportunities to make their community a better place to live.

M3 has recently adopted a service learning program component to the organization called Service Learning Exchange (SLE). Aligned with the Explorer program’s focus on connection and exploration, SLE utilizes video technology to connect youth to their peer network across the city, empowering and mobilizing youth to actively engage in discussions of community issues and their responsibility towards them. SLE provides months of online discussions and planning.  Afterwards the youth are then given the opportunity to travel to their peers’ communities to assist them in implementing service projects that positively impact those communities.

M3 is taking the proper steps to enrich the youth of Chicago by developing their culture through physical and vital connections. Community transformation efforts cannot be successful unless the members of those communities are involved in setting the agenda for change.  Social change cannot happen without youth engagement or awareness.

Youth expand their awareness of their geographical surroundings and opportunities by learning the history of their own and other communities, by understanding the current issues those communities face, and by participating in the experience outings,. As a result of their increased community engagement, youth feel more connected to their communities and city creating much needed social change.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6fnChNKwZ0

Honoring South African Youth Month through Social Work and Entrepreneurship

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June is a special month to salute civil and human liberties — from Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, which honors the 1969 Stonewall riot in Manhattan, a tipping point to the Gay Liberation in the United States. However, June 16, 1976, also commemorates the youth uprising which led to the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.

To Americans, commemorations can honor bravery and self-sacrifice, or they can remember those who have fallen victim to an unfortunate event or a series of heinous acts. But nevertheless, here in America — where Liberty stands clothed in democracy with one hand clenching independence and the other raising the importance of universal knowledge that brings light to all — tragedy no longer unites this deeply divided nation.

Of course, America is far from alone in its attempt to push a more unified front in the midst of tragedy, whether one we commemorate often or one we mourn just yesterday. South Africa — still a chronically racially divided nation — is a country where America’s struggles to end racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans in the 1960s and 1970s helped inspire its anti-apartheid movement in the mid-1960s.

Much like the origin of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the joint forces between students and youth in South Africa echoed the same courage and extreme tenacity of African American students protesting their unequal status in the state’s segregated educational system. Unlike the strides South Africa has made to celebrate student advocacy and its contribution to the larger society, America has not yet begun to observe, or even embrace, the strength of young people in the 1960s who sought to return the power back to ordinary citizens. As a result, this may be one of our nation’s biggest oversight: the lack of history we share about social movements inspired and led by our youth.

Today, in South Africa, millions honor the memory of a national tragedy — the tragedy that began with thousands gathering at a peaceful student protest against the education system of South Africa during Apartheid rule but ended with hundreds of young people killed by the ruling government. This historic event, also known as the June 16th, 1976 Uprising, continues to pave the way for the youth of South Africa to carry on the spirit and legacy of those who withstood the painful and unjust political force of the Apartheid State and demanded more for themselves and their community. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the uprising.

Millennials and Entrepreneurship in South Africa

After many decades of struggles, the South African government ended apartheid, but today’s Millennials still face many socio-economic challenges in modern times that are often overlooked. In this now diverse nation, largely made up of young people who constitute 66% of the total population, many are unemployed despite being qualified.

As of March 2016, the unemployment rate in South Africa increased to 26.7 percent in the three months from 24.5 percent in the previous quarter.  Of those unemployed, youth unemployment is at its highest.  Of those unemployed, youth unemployment is at its highest. In response to these staggering statistics, South African’s National Youth Policy is geared toward addressing the needs of young people from 15-34 years of age with respect to “education, health and well-being, and economic participation and social cohesion” (United Nations Population Fund, 2013).

However, too many South Africans, the reality of owning a business as an alternative solution to unemployment is far too unlikely. According to the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) South Africa Report (2014),  South Africa’s rate of entrepreneurial activity is undoubtedly low for a developing country. Less than 7.0 percent of the adult population in South Africa is engaged in some form of entrepreneurial activities, while less than 3 percent already own or manage an established business. This report also reveals that for every 10 adult males engaged in entrepreneurship there are eight females. However, the number of women in entrepreneurship has increased over the years primarily due to government support, but also because of the growing perception of opportunities to start a business.

The report also suggests that South Africa needs more Millennials – male and female alike – to consider starting businesses. But yet, there are very few governmental initiatives that are contributing towards entrepreneurial activities by its citizens. Historically, the most effective ones are supported by private companies or grassroots organizations that inspire to make a difference and increase the entrepreneurial propensity among all of South Africa, especially among their peers.

For example, Ndosi Strategies, an NYC-based consulting firm providing affordable development services, international platform, and economic investment for primarily African-led businesses, seeks to:

“Support Africa’s optimistic job creator towards success with the same passion and deliberation that propelled them into the arena of commerce, social enterprise, and industry – through providing accessible business in research, marketing and assisting in fostering their next U.S. or South African/African based partnership or collaboration”.

In fact, Ndosi Strategies in partnership with Brand South Africa will launch the first annual conference in NYC, on June 25th. South African youth entrepreneurs, both U.S. and S.A based, will come together and discuss their business ventures, the youth’s role in South Africa’s development, and the entrepreneurial movement as a vehicle for economic development and stability. The keynote speaker will include international branding & business expert, Mr. Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder of award-winning African brand and reputation advisory firm, Brand Leadership Group. Moderating the discussion will be Yolanda Sangweni, Deputy Editor of ESSENCE.com, and Founder of AFRIPOP.

Call to Action

Young people have always been viewed as the heart of socio-political change in South Africa. However, what is not well-documented is the contributions social workers made to help usher such change in South Africa through entrepreneurship, policy-making, practice, and community service. In events scheduled for later this month, we will be further exploring how social work and entrepreneurship can work collaboratively to improve outcomes for youth.

As a result, today I challenge my fellow budding social workers from all walks of life to learn more about Soweto, to uplift high school students or mentees in your local community by sharing this story with others, and to consider participating in one of two Twitter chat discussions focused the state of youth in South Africa and the role social workers play in developing the next generation in youth in South Africa as global change agents and social innovators.

Together let’s re-ignite the fire of Liberty here in the United States, but also in South Africa, so younger generations won’t forget those who pushed justice, freedom, and democracy forward.

Foster Care Youth: Using Technology to Provide Support

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Many social workers, other helping professionals, and foster care alumni have recognized the value in utilizing technology to support foster care youth. However, there is a gap in the scholarly research and development of technology solutions in this area.

In October of 2015, the Pritzer Foster Care Initiative sponsored a conference regarding “Web and Mobile app Solutions for Transition Age Youth.” at the conference, it was suggested that technology innovations for the foster care population should be amassed and made available via a single access point. At a similar event, the “Children’s Rights Summit” in December of 2015, they also discussed the myriad ways technology could be used to overcome legal barriers for foster care youth, families, and professionals.

The push for mobile applications, websites, and video games to engage and empower foster care youth is driven by the poor outcomes associated with “aging out”. Scholars define aging out, which occurs between 18 to 21 years old, as the process by which foster youth surpass the maximum age for foster care. Youth who leave foster care are presumed to join the ranks of: the homeless, undereducated, unemployed, incarcerated, substance abusers, those with unwanted pregnancies, and victims of poor credit and identity theft. 

According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analyse and Reporting, the number of youth who aged out of foster care during 2013 was 238,280. The racial/ethnic breakdown of these youth was: white 45% or 106,487; black 24% or 56,053; Hispanic 20% or 48,661; and Bi-racial or multiracial 6% or 13,889.

National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) captures data in the following areas for foster care youth aged 17: financial, education, relationships with adults, homelessness, high-risk behaviors, and health insurance access. The data revealed that 28% of those youth were either: employed full or part-time, received job training, social security, educational assistance, or other social supports.

Additionally, 93% of the youth reported participation in educational programming, 93% denoted having a healthy relationship with at least one adult, 16 % reported being homeless at some point, 27% replied having a referral for substance abuse counseling, 35% indicated being incarcerated at some time, 7% reported an unplanned pregnancy or fatherhood, and 81% reported having Medicare coverage.

These figures do not evoke a brilliant future for those departing foster care. For this reason, social workers have become innovators by melding technology and research into mobile applications, websites, and video games that meet the needs of foster care youth. Some of the promising technology available are as follows:

  • Bay Area Legal Aid partners with the Youth Law Center and the Public Interest Law Project to provide trainings in foster care benefits and advocates for foster care youth.
  • Beyond ‘Aging Out’: An MMOG for Foster Care Youth is a gaming platform and support network for foster care youth.
  • Foster Care to Success (FC2S) has influenced public policy, volunteer initiatives, and programs for older foster youth.
  • Foster Club is an online resource providing peer support and information for current and former foster youth.
  • Focus on Foster Families is a mobile app providing video interviews with foster youth and caregivers sharing experiences, and expert legal, education, and child welfare advice.
  • iFoster is an online community offering resources, technology, tutoring, eyeglasses, job opportunities, and a digital locker for foster youth to secure personal information.
  • Kids Help Phone is a Canadian-based website providing 24/7 counselling and information services for children and youth.
  • KnowB4UGo is a mobile application connecting foster youth with people, places and programs that support the aging out process.
  • National Foster Care & Adoption Directory Mobile App (NFCAD) provides search information, including location and key contacts, for organizations, groups, agencies, and experts across the child welfare profession
  • Ratemyfosterhome.com is a mobile app designed to garner information about foster homes and foster care experiences in real-time.
  • TeenParent.net is a website offering information, resources, and a blog to support foster youth who are expecting or parenting and their caregivers.
  • Think of Us is an online platform to support foster youth, foster/adoptive parents, and social services.
  • Pathos game is a puzzle and fantasy video game created by FixedUpdate. As the main character, Pan, explores new worlds and makes new friends, players experience some of the emotions of children in the foster care system. FixedUpdate hopes that Pan’s adventures will connect with people inside and outside of the foster care system. The game, Pathos, will be available on the iTunes Store and Google Play Store in 2016.
  • Persistence Plus engages and motivates college students through a mobile platform that uses transformative behavioral interventions.
  • Sortli is a mobile application that provides information, step-by-step guides and support. Sortli gives you 7 paths toward independence to include identity, relationships, a place to live, health, finances, education and employment, and living skills.
  • Ventura County Foster Healthlink (FHL) is a new website and mobile application that provides foster parents and caregivers with health information about children in their care. The goal is for information to be shared electronically among the care team to better meet the needs of the children.

These are only a fraction of the technologies available to assist foster youth. Many people in the public and private sector are unaware that social work professionals are leading the way in the research and design of high tech for foster youth.

Social worker Ruby Guillen of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has developed the following apps: (1) an app to report and prevent child sex trafficking, (2) an anti-bullying app, (3) a foster care placement app, and (4) an app for risk assessment of neglect and child abuse. Guillen was inspired by her passion for technology and her experience as a social worker. Guillen and her colleagues developed these apps at two hackathons sponsored by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Although, the apps are not readily available, they foreshadow trends for the future social work practice.

Jay Miller, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Kentucky, understands the gaps in support that exist in the child welfare system. Dr. Miller has asked for backing to create and assess a mobile app to support foster care youth in transition. This research is being conducted in the Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky area.

He states that, “a foster kid will turn 18 and there’s some kind of expectation that they’ll be able to function in a way that other kids who are never in foster care don’t have the capacity to function or make big decisions at 18. We expect foster kids to do that.” He further adds that, “With child welfare in general and with foster care specifically, the problems that plague these systems they are community problems. It’s not just a someone problem. It’s an everyone problem” Miller suggests an ideological change in people’s perceptions about foster care. “We need to look at it as a service for people in need. It is a solution. Dr. Miller’s work will continue to bring the barriers to success for foster youth to the forefront. 

Innovative technology solutions have been developed to address systemic issues in the foster care system and to sustain foster care youth in general. These mobile apps, websites, and video games meet immediate needs allowing foster care youth to focus on future goals. There are a plethora of resources accessible to equip foster care youth in their transition into young adulthood.

By shifting the focus from data that exposes the many apertures of the current system to programs that produce confident and successful young adults, our outlook becomes much broader. Developing thoughtful products and tangible services for foster care youth can produce more positive outcomes.

Passion of Parents in Youth Sports

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Parents really love to involve their kids in competitive sports.  Sometimes too much.

Sports is an ingrained part of the American landscape. It is so much a part of our daily lives that most people cannot imagine life without watching or playing on a daily basis.

A passion for sports is instilled in most kids from an early age. In my family, it was not so much. My mother took me out of baseball in kindergarten because the practices were too late at night. From that, my mother later extrapolated that it was somehow her fault that I didn’t become any good at baseball and, therefore, could not make millions of dollars. For her comfort, it can be noted that I never turned out good at any other sport either and made not a single cent as an athlete.

The Anomaly and The Norm

The anomaly of my situation was that my mother didn’t encourage my participation in sports. It is quite normal that parents want their kids participating in sports. They encourage it. Indeed, that translates into a majority of kids participating. A detailed article on data of youth sports, shows that 75% of boys and 69% of girls play.

For a larger estimate, thirty to forty-five million kids are involved in some sport and parents’ push to have their kids involved seems fueled by at least a little bit of grandeur and hope for the future. There are any number of articles already written about the nature of crazed parents pushing their kids to excel on the field.

Sometimes, parents and coaches push kids too far.

While encouragement and praise are natural coaching strategies, and excelling at the craft is mostly the point, there are still a lot of physical and psychological development concerns. Just the right balance needs to be considered from a coaching standpoint. That coaching should probably concern a more diverse life beyond sports, which considers health and well-being.

There are great ambitions that children and elders have and a good deal of growth that comes from athletic experiences. The encouragement is a positive, but the desire and success are the child’s own and can only be measured by their own standards. There is certainly a lot at stake. However, a wise gambler would know that the odds of failure far outweigh the opportunity for success.

My situation was also the norm because no kids are likely to grow up to make any money from sports, much less millions. Even the kids that grow up into excellent athletes also need a lot of fortuitous bounces to get anywhere in the business.

An NCAA chart outlines a picture of the chances that any given child will make it big. To be sure, it’s extremely hard to make it in sports. Most kids that play youth sports never end up playing high school sports. Then, very few high school athletes go on to play in college and very few of those make it professionally.

As the chart shows, with over 1,000,000 participants, football is by far the most common high school sport. Of those, 6.5% go on to play college football. Of those, 1.6% get drafted by an NFL team. For the best odds, baseball and hockey players are considerably better bets to make it to professional ranks than basketball, soccer and football. Still, the chances are pretty miniscule. About half of one percent of high school baseball players get drafted by major league teams. And most draft picks never see a major league field much less a multimillion dollar contract.

What is the cost?

There is a cost to every decision in life, particularly those that don’t pan out into big paydays. So, what are some of those risks?

A portrait of one slice of the American life shows a family who invests most of their time and resources in their kids’ athletics, driving the billion dollar youth sports industry, just for the hope that they become one of the five to ten percent that will go on to play varsity sports. At best, the parents are hopeful their children will learn great lessons from their experiences.

It is certainly true that people learn well from adversity. With only one winner, it would appear there is a lot of adversity in competitive sports. That may be a great learning experience, but are the kids having fun?  In one report, 84% wish they had more fun and 31% wish adults weren’t watching and putting pressure on them. This all seems to lead to the 70% attrition rate.

That’s not even the dark side. The top end of the spectrum isn’t terribly rosy, but what about the opposite end?

About three million children go to the emergency room every year from playing sports. Another five million are treated for minor injuries. So, while it is about a .01% chance any given child will wind up with a decent payday from sports, there is pretty close to a 100% chance they will get hurt.

The emergency room is not a great place to end up for kids in sports.

In October, a NYC teenager died after a collision in a soccer game. Eleven kids died playing high school football in 2015. While death and disability is fairly rare, they are no less than the odds of making it big. Moreover, minor injuries are not exactly minor.  

Concussions are easy to sustain and common among young athletes. They result in poor academic performance, attendance and the overall ability to learn. The younger a person is, the greater the issues surrounding head injuries. Also, the lifetime consequences of chronic pain result in treatments which create an entirely different array of problems, for example juvenile arthritis affects over 300,000 children. The magnitude of a future life of headaches and chiropractic visits is best realized by medical professionals. If nothing else, there are many more jobs created in the medical and insurance fields by more people getting and staying hurt.

There are endless untold complications from playing youth sports that go along with the billions of dollars spent on keeping kids playing.

Hedging Bets

I don’t mean to bash sports. There is no doubt to the growth opportunities. At the same time, I would argue that most of those lessons can be learned in other avenues, but there still is a redeeming value to sports. The idea of victory gives people hope and the execution of a game plan brings excitement.

The concept of sports doesn’t necessarily have to include the traditional big money sports. Light exercise is even better than high energy or contact sports. Combining exercise with academics helps students learn. For healing sake, many sport-like games can take the place of sports. For example, foosball is a great tool used in rehabilitation for injuries.

The point really comes down to, parents need to understand that not everyone can make it big in the same industry already flooded with talent. Moreover, kids take time to develop. Rushing into a sport they are not ready for can only risk injury and hinder development in other age appropriate areas. Somehow, many parents lose sight of the realities and try to live their own lost dreams vicariously through their children’s success.

Kids need to grow up according to their own dreams and desires. Success only comes from a person’s own initiative. It’s a hard balance. The younger start a person gets in life, the better they will typically be at something. On the other hand, it takes time to discover true interests.

Diversity always seems to be the key. The more options a kid has, the better.  

All the evidence in the world suggests kids that play sports have the best chance for success and the least chance for injuries when playing multiple sports. Likewise, a kid’s most well-roundedness will come not from being entirely immersed in sports, but also other outlets. I shudder to think however, what most parents who push their kids in athletics would think of them going into stage acting. The glory and bragging rights just wouldn’t be the same for those parents.

Understanding Foster Care Youth With The Help of the Documentary Foster Care Film

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When I tell people I am a former foster youth they usually have a similar response (something along the lines of) “I would have never guessed that about you.” Since many people wrongfully equate the foster care system with the juvenile detention system, I usually understand the source of their surprise.

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Charell and her Sister

Being a former foster care youth comes with its own set of challenges: lack of family support, lack of money, having to take care oneself from an early age. There are tons of disheartening statistics stating things like less than 50% of foster youth will graduate high school, only 3% will graduate from college and 20% will be homeless by age 18. Challenges like these make it hard for youth in foster care to believe that they’ll move past their current reality.

The truth is foster care kids are less likely to achieve the things they want most in life but that is directly proportional to the fact that they are less likely have people who support them in life. It’s much easier to write groups off as simple statistics then it is to lend a hand to ensure these youth don’t become statistics in the first place.

One way to help foster youth is to take some time to learn about their experience. Yasmin Minstry’s documentary film project – Foster Care Film offers a way for caring individuals and community members to learn more about the lives of foster youth.

Youth-Screening-Film-300x226Her first film – Feeling Wanted (of which I am the subject) – provides an honest portrayal of my journey through the system and life after foster care.

It is the first completed film of several that Minstry has in the works as part of her film project. You can order a copy or check out some powerful clips to gain some engaging insight on foster youth.

Being a former foster youth has given me a unique perspective on life, but it hasn’t made a different breed of human. The people I encountered growing up who knew that are the ones who were able to motivate me to go after what I wanted in life.

Being able to help youth in foster care starts by trying to understand who they are. Checking out Foster Care Film is a good first step in that direction. Here is the Foster Care Film – Feeling Wanted trailer:

Feeling Wanted: Trailer

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