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Prevention Education News and Information

  • June is Effective Communication Month – How youth can communicate more effectively

    June is Effective Communication Month. This is the perfect time to talk with adolescents about how to be effective communicators. The earlier they learn and master these skills, the better prepared they will be to express their ideas and emotions and alleviate misunderstandings as they progress through school, college and in their careers.

    What is effective communication?

    Effective communication is the ability to communicate clearly and listen well to promote understanding and a sharing of ideas and information. Effective communication skills enable adolescents to resolve conflict peacefully, share feelings and ideas with others, and resist negative peer pressure and seek and offer help. Adolescents who are effective communicators are better able to make decisions consistent with their goals and develop healthy relationships, preparing them for the opportunities and challenges they will face in college and in the workplace.

    What can we teach children about the roles involved in communication?

    Practicing effective communication is not as simple as exchanging a few words. There are elements to consider as we approach a conversation: Is the communication verbal or nonverbal? Is the exchange face to face or electronic? Is the communication between two adolescents or an adolescent and an adult?

    Adults and adolescents can practice the communication roles together to foster a thoughtful and productive approach to navigating today’s complex social environments.

    What are the roles in communication?

    The Speaker- The role of the speaker is to share, explain, and describe. What do you want to say? Why do you want to say it? How will you say it?

    The Listener- The role of the listener is to learn, understand, and acknowledge.

    Being an effective communicator

    Adolescents with effective communication skills are prepared to ask for what they need and are more likely to reach their goals and develop strong friendships. They can enhance their social skills by learning the following best practices in effective communication:

    Be an Active Listener – It’s easy to misunderstand what people are trying to communicate.

    Focus on what the speaker is saying – Listen for understanding. Don’t interrupt the speaker and don’t focus on your response while the speaker is talking.

    Ask clarifying questions - Paraphrasing the speaker’s message in your own words to make sure you understand what the speaker is trying to tell you.

    Observe the speaker - Pay attention to nonverbal cues like tone of voice and body language.

    Be an Assertive Speaker - Standing up for yourself and your ideas while respecting others is a powerful skill. Youth can be honest and forthright without coming off as too aggressive.

    Stand Tall and Look the Listener in the Eye – Communicate your confidence.

    Speak Up and Speak Clearly – Make sure the listener can hear you and understand what you are trying to say.

    Effective communication skills are an asset at any age. Visit us online at toogoodprograms.org to learn more about how our evidence-based Too Good for Drugs and Too Good for Violence-Social Perspectives curricula develop effective communication skills in children and teens to ready them to navigate their world in school and career to set them on a path to secure a prosperous future.

     

  • National Safety Month – Safety in Many Forms

    June marks the official start to summer and National Safety month. It’s a great time to spread awareness and ensure safer environments that can improve students’ social-emotional learning and behavior.

    There are different types of safety to consider for children. Below are some suggestions for children and adults to consider this summer, and to remember as they head back to school in the fall.

    Emotional Safety: Young people excel in an environment that nurtures healthy relationships with their peers and when they have positive role models in their lives who set examples of appropriate behavior, healthy attitudes, and positive emotional response. Whether it is a parent, a teacher, a counselor, or a coach, our youth need adult figures they can reach out to in times of need.

    Peer groups also matter. Young people who are part of a group that values respect for themselves and others are less likely to be bullied and less likely to bully others. Students who can identify and bond with positive peer groups who are positive influences make better, more responsible decisions.

    Physical Safety: Supervision and clear communication about maintaining boundaries while in and out of school promotes safe environments in places like classrooms, hallways, lunch rooms, and outdoor areas. Youth who are self- and socially aware and equipped to resolve disputes peacefully are less likely to engage in physical confrontations with others and are more likely to de-escalate conflicts when they arise. Learning environments that emphasize and encourage more peaceful approaches, such as compromise or agreeing to disagree, encourage children to practice resolving differences and respect others despite those differences.

    A great resource for more information on staying safe from physical harm is the National Safety Council (NSC) website. Throughout June, the NSC will be sharing tools and topics ranging from First Aid training to teen driving. Be sure to visit them at nsc.org.

    Academic Safety: The student bond with school is a strong protective factor that encourages children to interact with each other and their teacher as they learn, motivating them to work hard to reach their goals and resist risky behavior. Students need a safe and supportive learning environment that encourages them to try and to risk failure so they can learn from their mistakes.

    As advocates for student learning, teachers, counselors, and parents are in a prime position to create and promote a safe and supportive learning environment that encourages students to challenge themselves to learn. Having high expectations of the students is a big part of this supportive environment. Students who know that the adults in their lives are invested in them and expect them to perform will work harder to meet that expectation.

    The more committed we all are in the health and safety of our youth during National Safety Month and beyond, the stronger our community will be. Be sure to show your commitment by visiting toogoodprograms.org to stay on top of what the Mendez Foundation is doing to ensure the safety and healthy growth of our kids through prevention education.

  • National Prevention Week – Awareness Leads to Action

    Another important week is upon us! May 14-20 being National Prevention Week, a great time for parents and educators to talk about alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse and prevention. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), National Prevention Week is an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.

    The three primary goals of National Prevention Week according to SAMHSA are to:

    • -Involve communities in raising awareness about behavioral health issues and implementing prevention strategies;
    • -Foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health; and
    • -Promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications.

    The importance of achieving these goals is magnified with summer fast approaching. A study by SAMHSA notes that most teens first try drugs and alcohol during summer. All parents want their teens to fully enjoy their summer vacation, but we all want them to be safe. Thankfully, a recent article on USA.gov about SAMHSA and National Prevention Week outlined a host of resources for parents and educators to help prevent risky behavior including:

    • -Marijuana Myth busters from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens
    • -Videos and games for kids teaching them about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs
    • -Tips about discussing underage drinking

    Prevention is a necessary tool that requires continuous awareness and action. The mission of the Too Good for Drugs programs, SAMHSA and its partner organizations is to provide the tools necessary to to put alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse prevention into action for the benefit of our youth. Specifically, Too Good for Drugs for Middle and High School are designed to mitigate risk and build protective factors so that teens are more likely to make healthy decisions and refuse negative peer pressure and influence. And National Prevention week is the time where those healthy decisions must be promoted to our youth.

  • College and Career Readiness - Skills to Survive and Thrive

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    No one can deny the importance of students gaining academic skills to succeed at the university level and beyond. But in recent years, research has shown that in addition to academics, focusing on non-cognitive skills creates a school climate and culture conducive to learning. And it gets better. It turns out that these social-emotional skills, attitudes, and behaviors not only facilitate success in school, but also in the workplace.

    A 2016 Study of over 200 members of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that employers are looking for employees who excel at:

    • Setting and achieving goals
    • Feelings and showing empathy for others
    • Cooperating and teamwork
    • Creative problem solving
    • Making responsible decisions

    Therefore, a more collaborative, empathetic workforce is at the forefront of our society. This workforce will only grow more connected and dependent on skills gained through college and career readiness, which means that students must develop both academic skills and social-emotional skills if they want to thrive in the workplace.

    A 2013 report from the College & Career Readiness & Success Center explores many ways in which college and career readiness standards (CCR) can combine with social-emotional learning (SEL). The report highlights evidence that supports the benefits of using CCR and SEL standards together for the benefit of school-aged children.

    The Mendez Foundation continues its commitment to both CCR standards and SEL skills for teens. The newly revised Too Good for Violence – Social Perspectives High School program, available in early June, is an evidence-based program that adheres to CCR standards and reinforces SEL skills that teens need to succeed in life. It is our priority to ensure that teens have these skills for when it is time to step out on their own to achieve success.

  • The New, Revised Too Good For Violence - Social Perspectives High School Edition is here!

     

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    As we approach the final weeks of the school year, Too Good has some exciting news before you wrap up: the new, revised edition of Too Good for Violence – Social Perspectives is here. This program will be available the week of May 29th and is available for pre-order now.

    The new, revised Too Good For Violence - Social Perspectives High School Edition is a highly acclaimed, evidence-based program that empowers teens with the skills they need for academic, social and life success. The 10-week curriculum is proven to help educators engage students in grades 9-12 build core social-emotional competencies that foster self and social awareness. The program also teaches college and career readiness to prepare students for the challenges they will face in high school and beyond.

    A March 2017 study by the Aspen Institute and The Aspen Education & Society Program demonstrates that classroom instruction that promotes high school students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) facilitates better student outcomes on college- and career-ready (CCR) standards. Over the past several years, states have developed and adopted rigorous standards in language arts and mathematics that build toward college and career readiness by the time students graduate from high school. Nearly every state has adopted these CCR standards and the federal government has supported these state-led efforts.

    The research-based Too Good for Violence - Social Perspectives lessons help high school students build character and peer pressure refusal skills and college and career readiness. The curriculum teaches critical concepts through interactive lessons, games, and activities to practice and reinforce skills. Students are engaged in a safe and supportive learning environment that promotes social and academic success.

    So before you clear your desks for the summer, make sure you are stocked up for your fall implementation! To pre-order, visit our homepage for more information. Or, email us info@mendezfoundation.org or call 1-800-750-0986.

  • National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit - Strength Through Community

    Atlanta was host city to the 6th annual National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit this week. Realizing the importance of collaboration, the C.E. Mendez Foundation was proud to exhibit along with education providers, treatment and recovery centers and other organizations in the field. What we found was a strengthened, hopeful community of over 2,000 attendees ready to reinforce solutions to the current opioid and prescription drug epidemic.

    The National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit is the largest national collaboration of federal, state and local professionals that seek to address prescription drug and opioid abuse and misuse. This year, several of the nation’s top researchers, medical professionals, and law enforcement agents participated in the Summit. Officials from several communities, including education, medicine and government met, connected, and gained a clearer understanding of what needs to be done to help those suffering from addiction.

    Through a focused three-day agenda of vision sessions, breakout discussions, speeches and panels, attendees of this year’s summit were exposed to expert opinions and new ideas from conference speakers including former U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, United States Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., and Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas E. Price, M.D.

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    Nancy Hale, President/CEO of Operation UNITE, educational adviser to the 2017 Summit and a session moderator, believes that a multi-faceted approach is needed. "All…approaches -- from prevention and education to law enforcement to treatment - must be utilized together so we can protect and save our families and communities.” And the summit is already leading to a greater response, as Price announced on Wednesday that the federal government will provide states with $485 million in grant money for prevention and treatment programs aimed at confronting the opioid epidemic.

    With the increase in opioid use, the Mendez Foundation maintains a serious commitment to communities throughout our country to work with schools, after-school programs, law enforcement, and nonprofit organizations that seek solutions to this pressing issue. Our Too Good for Drugs substance abuse prevention programs are designed to help all children, beginning in Kindergarten, with positive youth development and drug-free living.

    We are proud to have been part of such a worthy cause for the second year in a row that has garnered a movement of this size and strength. We thank the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit for including the Mendez Foundation and we look forward to participating in 2018.

  • National Stress Awareness Month - Helping Our Teens Cope

    It’s April! Spring has officially sprung and National Stress Awareness Month is in full swing.

    So let’s talk about stress. As we all know, a little stress can be helpful in certain situations.  For example, when you’re competing in a contest, it’s okay to push yourself to do your best.  In this way, stress can motivate you to rise to the challenge. However, too much stress can negatively impact you mentally and physically.  That’s why it’s helpful to know how to deal with stressful situations.

    Communicating and managing stress can be difficult for teens. Teens feel academic, social, and work stress. A 2015 article published in Psychology Today and written by Sara Villanueva, Ph.D. and associate professor of psychology at St. Edwards University in Austin, TX, cites numerous factors that can contribute to teen stress. Among them are academic pressures, familial expectations, and keeping up with the fast-paced world of social media. Add in the aspects of self-discovery and the seeking of autonomy, and today’s teens are likely having a more difficult time with stress than we all first thought.

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    The good news is that Too Good has you covered.  This May, we are launching the revised edition of Too Good for Violence – Social Perspectives for High School.  Program objectives include preparing teens with stress management strategies to deal with change, conflict, and difficult situations and identifying the physical, emotional, and health related signs and symptoms of stress.

    With a series of lessons and activities promoting empathy, self-discipline, honesty, respect, and perseverance, TGFV equips teens with the coping strategies they need to increase emotional self-awareness and live their best lives.

    The more you practice managing stress, the more resilient you will be and the more confident you will be to try new things.

  • Youth Violence Prevention - A Community Effort

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    Today wraps up National Youth Violence Prevention Week, sponsored by The National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE).  The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness and to educate students, teachers, administrators, counselors, resource officers, parents, and the public on effective ways to prevent or reduce youth violence. Bullying is only one form of school violence and districts across the country are reporting a rise in the number of bullying incidents.

    Maryland’s Public School System, for example, recently released its annual report, “Bullying, Harassment & Intimidation in Maryland Public Schools.” It showed that 12-year-old children are the most likely to be victimized and are the most likely to bully. During the 2015-2016 school year, Maryland saw an increase in bullying compared to the previous year, with 45% of incidents involving a physical attack.

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    The increasing trend in bullying is likely to be the same across much of the country, highlighting the need for youth organizations, nonprofits, school systems, teachers and parents to take an active approach to reduce youth violence in schools.  Our Too Good for Violence – Social Perspective program for grades K-12 promotes character development by strengthening character traits to help reduce the incidence of bullying in schools.  This evidence-based social emotional learning curricula can be implemented at any time to help develop the following social skills linked with healthy growth and academic success:

    Conflict Resolution

    Anger Management

    Respect for Self and Others

    Effective Communication

    Responsible Decision Making

    Goal Setting

    Friendship

    Get started today by clicking  HERE.

    Photo care of American Conference on Diversity.

  • Promoting SEL with Games

    C5XLTUVVcAQh-0JLast week, the Too Good team packed our bags and headed to the NASP conference in San Antonio, Texas.  We spoke with school psychologists and graduate students from across the country to learn more about emerging trends in the field.

    So what did we hear?  One major focus is measuring social-emotional skill development through game-based learning.  Games are a powerful way to develop social-emotional skills in children and adolescents.  The SEL skills necessary to play well with others are the same skills needed to succeed at work and in adult life.

    Experience-based learning tools like games teach and reinforce SEL skills, such as cooperation, problem solving, emotion management, and communication.  Games also provide a safe, fun environment to simulate obstacles and teach resilience.

    Tips and Tools to Get Started

    When facilitating a game, make sure to model positive behavior and make learning connections for students.  Focus on cooperation over competition, and after the game, ask students to reflect on what they learned.

    The Too Good toolkits incorporate games designed to balance engagement, assessment, and learning.  If you’re interested in implementing game-based learning, check out these fun and interactive games:

    Ages 9-11:

    Pop Up!:  This card game teaches respect for others, perspective-taking, empathy and solving problems.

    Around the Block:  This fun and engaging board game teaches decision making, goal-setting, teamwork, self confidence and communication.

    Ages 12-14

    Anger Outlet:  Students test their anger management and conflict resolution skills through a variety of scenarios. This board game teaches students how to identify emotions, impulse control, stress management and decision making.

    The Buddy System: Students learn positive friendship qualities in the Buddy System Jr. card game.  This games teaches relationship building, social engagement. respect for others and communication skills.

    Ages 15-18

    Deciding Factor:  Deciding Factor gives students the opportunity to learn the role different influences have on their decision making. Players must differentiate and categorize influences such as media, values, and family.

    Quality Assurance:  In the Quality Assurance card game, students are faced with scenarios to practice healthy relationship qualities and teaches relationship building, social engagement, decision making and analyzing situations.

  • Another Successful Too Good for Drugs Jr. Gasparilla Distance Classic

    download_20170220_085629The Mendez Foundation was thrilled to once again sponsor the Publix Too Good for Drugs Jr. Gasparilla Distance Classic held annually in Tampa, Florida. Held prior to the nationally-recognized Gasparilla Distance Classic, the event brings children of all ages together to take part in a day of activities and exercise that promote healthy, happy behaviors. Ranging in distances from 30 yards to one mile, children aged 2-10 took to the track at Thomas Jefferson High School.

    Our prevention specialists in Tampa make it a point to join in on the fun every year and cheer on the children as they make a dash for the finish line. Our friends Carmen and Wagner, the mascots for the Too Good for Drugs elementary school programs, also had the opportunity to drop by and root on the participants and assist with arts and crafts.

    This annual event is a wonderful way to remind children the importance of learning how positive behaviors and healthy choices can give them the tools they need to know that they are Too Good for Drugs. We looking forward to taking part in next year’s event and hope you can join us in Tampa in 2018!

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