Community

  • 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.

  • 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.