Too Good Today

  • Wagner Celebrates National Prevention Week

    Wagner MLKThis week is National Prevention Week, and Wagner has enjoyed participating in the SAMHSA "I Choose" initiative by exploring his own backyard.  Be sure to check Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the places he’s visited!

    We’d also like to take a moment to address this year’s theme for National Prevention Week: “Strong As One. Stronger Together.” With the release of the revised Too Good for Drugs for High school right around the corner, the challenges of adolescence have been on our mind. During the teen years, it can at times prove trying to develop inner strength alone. Self-aware and socially aware teens are better prepared to forge solid and meaningful relationships with their peers and are more resistant to negative peer pressure and influence.

    Differentiating between healthy and unhealthy relationship qualities emboldens teens to choose their social circles wisely. These relationship networks often become a key piece of the foundation for how teens perceive and interact with the world around them. Teens who build healthy relationships bolster themselves with a strong support network that will offer positive peer influence when they are faced with difficult decisions. Educators, community members, and parents can all help students identify and develop healthy relationships by acting as role models themselves and by teaching and reinforcing essential social emotional skills.

    Teens who are relationship savvy and socially and emotionally equipped will be “strong as one” and “stronger together” as they embark on the road to successful futures.  We know Wagner would agree!

  • Too Good Programs and Positive Behavior Support

    This week participants from around the world will gather in San Francisco for the Association for Positive Behavior Support's annual conference. APBS is an organization of practitioners who use evidence-based methods to build safe and supportive environments for students to thrive and learn. Check out the below chart to see how Too Good programs align with Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support.

    MF PBIS Alignment 3-16

    Click to view larger image.

  • National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

    Portrait of cute coupleAs we wrap up National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, we should take a moment to focus on the challenges teens face as they begin to enter the world of dating.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that “nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.”  Developing strong social skills and teaching healthy relationship qualities early on can help prevent dating violence.

    Social Intelligence: Good decision-making and communication skills enable teens to better understand the emotions of others and respond to the needs of those around them thoughtfully and with understanding.

    Emotional Intelligence: Teens equipped to identify and manage their own emotions have the self-awareness to be present in the moment and prepared to anticipate and identify the emotions of others and respond appropriately.

    Peaceful Conflict Resolution Skills: Conflicts are mitigated by teens who pause and process before acting when faced with difficult situations. Teens ready to think through potential conflicts are more likely to seek alternative, peaceful solutions.

    Violence is a learned behavior. With social emotional competencies in place, teens are more prepared to find meaningful relationships based on love and mutual respect.

  • Introducing Too Good for Drugs High School Revised

    AHS3901 TGFD Binder cover for web 1-16 look at any reputable study on current alcohol and drug use among youth will bring no surprise; substance use is still prevalent among teens. As children enter their teen years, they face increasingly complex challenges and influences. According to a survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 60 percent of high school students, at both public and private schools, reported drug-infected campuses. Such statistics make prevention efforts more relevant than ever.

    This week, individuals from across the nation will convene in Washington D.C. for CADCA’s 26th Annual National Leadership Forum and SAMHSA’s 12th Annual Prevention Day. Coalition leaders, prevention specialists, public health professionals, parents, and youth will join together to address the essential part prevention plays in keeping our youth substance-free.

    And on this auspicious occasion we announce with excitement our latest prevention effort: the forthcoming release of our revised Too Good for Drugs High School curriculum. The revised curriculum builds social emotional competency through fun and age appropriate lessons that foster self-awareness and social-awareness. With the help of educators, counselors, and prevention specialists, our evidence-based curriculum equips teens with the skills they need to resist negative influence that may lead to substance use, as well as prepares them for academic success that will carry over into their college and professional careers.

    Sign up today to receive program updates and news!

  • The Benefits of Responsible Decision Making


    Young girl in glasses, looking up

    "The time is always right to do what is right."
    - Martin Luther King Jr.

    As children grow, they face ever evolving challenges that require them to make increasingly complex decisions. For a kindergartner, this might be deciding to share a toy. For a senior in high school, this could be recognizing negative peer influence and incorporating that knowledge into their decision making. Learning to consider the positive and negative consequences of a decision is essential at any of these stages, and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) identifies responsible decision making as one of the five pillars of social emotional learning. CASEL states that decision making skills can help children negotiate the following:

    Ethical Standards: By being challenged to make decisions, children evaluate and develop ethical standards that influence character building.

    Social Norms: Decision making skills that incorporate positive social norms as an influence help children navigate the difficulties of adolescence and resist peer pressure and peer influence.

    Consequences: Children with strong decision making skills can evaluate potential consequences of actions in order to determine what choice is the best option.

    By developing responsible decision making skills early on, children are prepared to face the real world challenges that will impact the course of their lives. And with those responsible decision making skills in place, children are equipped to lead happy and prosperous lives.

  • Volunteerism Encourages Social Emotional Learning

    Hands Holding VolunteerThe Holiday season is a time to be grateful for the many blessings we have in our lives. It is also a time we can help make the lives of others better. A report on National Public Radio states one in five families with children will go without enough food during the holiday season. Families, schools, and communities have an opportunity to address these needs by volunteering locally and by donating toys, food, and other goods. Children who volunteer become more aware of their own lives in relation to the lives of others. Volunteering also offers children the opportunity to develop and apply key social emotional skills.

    Social Awareness: Children exposed to and aware of the diverse backgrounds of others learn how to interact with others with respect, empathy, and open-mindedness.

    Responsible Decision-Making: Volunteering teaches children to make respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions in situations they may not have otherwise encountered.

    Relationship Skills: By listening to and interacting with the experiences of others, children learn to communicate clearly, listen actively, and respond to the needs of others.

    Social emotional skills are essential for academic, personal, and professional success. Through volunteering, children have the opportunity to better the lives of those around them and to develop skills that will lead them to lifelong success.

    All of us at the Mendez Foundation wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

  • Building School Connectedness

    Teacher Standing in Front of a Class of Raised HandsThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocate school connectedness as an essential ingredient to buffer youth against engaging in risky behaviors such as tobacco, alcohol, and drug use or aggressive and violent behavior. Students who feel connected to their schools stake a claim in their learning and are therefore more likely to make healthy choices and stay on a path toward academic success. Schools, families, and communities must work together to create a caring and supportive environment for students.

    Adult Support: Parent engagement encourages positive student behavior and academic success. Schools can engage families to take part in their child’s education through interactive take-home activities or newsletters.

    Belonging to a Positive Peer Group: Students with strong social emotional skills are better equipped for positive peer bonding. Students are faced with the challenge of selecting their friends, and strong decision-making skills will help them choose positive peer groups.

    Commitment to Education: Students who have an active interest in their education are more persistent in succeeding academically. Participatory learning enhances students’ commitment to their education by keeping them interested and engaged.

    School Environment: A caring and supportive school environment fosters student learning. Students who feel they are valued are more comfortable and therefore more willing to take healthy risks as they try and learn.

    Students who are actively connected with their schools develop positive behaviors that reinforce their decisions to avoid risky behaviors and to set positive short and long term goals.  Strong social emotional skills, coupled with a supportive school climate and caring adult involvement, foster in students the resiliency they need to meet the challenges they face in childhood, adolescence, and beyond into adulthood.

  • Four Attributes of Empathy

    Puzzle pieces cute-478945508Empathy is an essential trait that aids meaningful connection with others in both our personal life and work life. Instilling empathy as a norm for children at an early age promotes the development of good character necessary in the complex social environments in education and the workplace. Numerous articles highlight and explore ways to recognize and cultivate empathy in both children and adults. One such article by Theresa Wiseman published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing is “A Concept Analysis of Empathy.” Wiseman takes a practical exploration of the mechanics of empathy and its development.

    I would walk a mile in your shoes. The first step to developing empathy for other people is to see things from another’s perspective.

    Hey! No judgement here. Once we adopt another’s point of view, we must reserve negative judgment.

    No hidden agenda. Staying as neutral as possible, we can then gain an understanding of how another feels.

    I feel you. The final step to developing empathy is to communicate the understanding we have gained. In this way, the circle of empathy is reciprocated and barriers are dissolved.

    Empathy requires two fundamental social emotional components: understanding emotions and applying effective communication. The development of these skills from a young age establishes an intrinsic capacity to connect with peers. We can encourage children along the path toward empathy by helping them identify their emotions and to recognize those emotions in others. Furthermore, children who build effective communication skills are able to have an open dialogue about their emotions and the emotions they identify in others. Ultimately it is in the affirmation of one another’s emotions that we truly connect.

  • Social Skills for the Workplace

    Young Business WomanAs technology in the workplace advances, fears that computers will soon replace people in the workforce perpetuate. However, a recent article in the Harvard Business Review reassures us that jobs highly reliant on social skills are extremely secure. In the past thirty years, job growth has predominated in occupations that require finely tuned social skills. The ability to work with others seems irreplaceable, as computers simply cannot emulate human interaction. Not yet anyway.

    Effective communication ranks right up there as a top social skill essential to success in the workplace. The earlier children learn and master these skills, the better prepared they will be as they progress through school and into their careers.

    But what is a recipe for effective communication that we can teach children? We can begin by breaking down communication into two roles: the speaker and the listener. Of course, the speaker’s goal is to effectively share information, and the listener’s goal is to effectively receive information.

    What are some qualities of a good speaker?

    Be assertive. Good speakers have a confident tone of voice.

    Pay attention to body posture. Good speakers stand up tall and sit upright.

    Make eye contact. Speakers who make eye contact show they are serious about delivering their message.

    What are some qualities of a good listener?

    Pay attention to body language. Good listeners can read a speaker’s body language to pick up on any unspoken cues.

    Lean in. Good listeners pay careful attention to what the speaker is saying.

    Ask questions. Good listeners are not afraid to ask questions to clarify what the speaker says.

    Children develop their social skills by learning these best practices in effective communication. According to the Harvard Business Review, not only is there a demand for a high level of social skills in the workplace, but people who have good social skills earn more than those who lack them. Effective communication skills foster a thoughtful and assertive approach to navigating complex social environments. Children with this higher social intelligence can ask for what they need and advocate for their goals with a sensitivity to the needs of others. Preparing children with the tools they will need in the workplace sets them on a productive path to secure their prosperous future.

  • Mendez Appears in Summer Issue of SEEN Magazine

    Charles E. Mendez III appears in the Summer Issue of SEEN Magazine with his article "Addressing Youth Violence for Safer Schools." Mendez writes, "How do we address youth violence and create sanctuary within our schools? Character education and social emotional skill development are natural adjuncts in the establishment of safe and supportive learning environments."

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