The Upstanders

The Upstanders movie explores cyber-bullying among students, friends, family, co-workers and the brain science behind it all. It shows how we can make a difference together to create systemic change. Film producers, IndieFlix, recommend it for ages 13+. Free. Hosted by Oregon City Together with support from Clackamas County Children, Families & Community Connections.

Anxiety is an ongoing issue for youth

Anxiety

Being back to school for some kids means the excitement of reconnecting with friends, fall activities and sports. It may also mean increased stress and anxiety reaching beyond the worry of finding classrooms and opening lockers. For these young people, anxiety requires attention all year long.

The most recent Oregon Student Wellness survey shows many Oregon City youth are experiencing increased stress and anxiety. According to the survey, more than 18 percent of 11th – graders, 16 percent of eighth-graders and 11 percent of sixth grade students show high levels of psychological distress. The National Institute of Mental Health reports about 32 percent of teens experience anxiety disorders, with anxiety being more common among young women than young men. Teens who experience anxiety and distress use alcohol and marijuana two to three times more than other teens as a way to cope.

That is not surprising. While it’s hard to know exactly why we are seeing this increase in anxiety among youth, there are many possibilities. These include increased expectations for academic performance, peer pressure, social media, inability to effectively communicate, lack of ability to organize and prioritize, violence in our society, and pressure to meet perceived expectations of parents and others.

Symptoms can include worry, excessive stress, crying, loss of sleep, irritability, racing heart, difficulty breathing, sore muscles, exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, avoidance of school, activities and friends, sweating, dizziness, headaches, stomach aches and nightmares.

Parents can take several steps to help their kids manage stress and anxiety.

  •   Develop a consistent schedule and help kids be organized. Knowing what’s happening day-to-day can decrease anxiety.
  •   Support down time. School, activities, sports, friends, homework, family time . . . it can all be a bit much. Take some time to relax, stay in your pajamas, watch a movie and get a break from the busy schedule.
  •   Advise teens to take a deep breath. Like the body needs nutritious food, brains need plenty of oxygen. A deep breath refuels and allows one to slow down a bit, think and solve problems.
  •   Encourage kids to get outside. Even a short walk may help.
  •   Teach relaxation and mindfulness strategies. Apps such as CALM and Headspace are tools that can be used daily.
  •   Increase skills related to solving problems. Being able to solve problems builds confidence and decreases anxiety because kids know they can do it.
  •   Help kids develop coping strategies. Take a hot bath, listen to music, shoot hoops, play with your pet, journal, color, talk to a friend . . . the list is endless, but individual. Find what works best for your child or teen.

Paige Hirt, a licensed professional counselor and certified alcohol and drug counselor in Oregon City and member of Oregon City Together

 

 

Healthy Futures Film Series

Film producers state films are appropriate for children older than 10. Please review the trailers to determine your comfort level.

National Night Out 2018

National Night Out

Calendar Date:
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
5:30pm to 8:30pm
Location:
Mt. Pleasant
1232 Linn Avenue
Oregon City, OR 97045
Future site of the new Oregon City Police Department
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National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live. National Night Out has been celebrated across North America on the first Tuesday of August since 1983. It’s a day when people hold parties to strengthen community cohesiveness and crime resistance, and get to know their neighbors and their local public safety officials. When neighbors get to know each other, they create a connected and safer community.

Welcome to Fall

We are eager for all that Fall brings to the Northwest – the excitement of a new school year, the beautiful landscape as the leaves begin to change, and the promise of a few raindrops to remind us that we do in fact live in the Pacific Northwest!

Change has certainly been all around us, even as we wind down from the long days of summer. As of July 1st, recreational marijuana has become legal in Oregon. With this change, there are likely many questions about what this means for you, but perhaps more importantly, what this means for the children in our lives.

Choices we make as adults have a very different impact on our health and well-being compared to that of our children whose brains are still rapidly developing—in fact, until around age 25.
We hope that this season of change can prompt us to consider the needs of our growing children and how we can support and help them grow to be healthy young adults.
Did you know that you have the power to raise your children to be substance free?
It’s important to educate yourself and know where you stand on marijuana and alcohol use. And as important, do your children know where you stand?
Research shows that kids who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use. If you’re unsure on the subject, more than likely your children are too, which can open the door to adolescent experimentation.
As a parent or other caring adult, when we look to prevent or change particular behaviors in children, we sometimes do so by attempting to instill fear or scare tactics.  When it comes to anti-substance use scare tactics, it may sound something like this:

  • See that mock crash, if you drink and drive, you will crash and you will die
  • Were you listening to the story that family told about their child’s drug overdose? If you take those pills, you will end up the same way as that child
  • Look at those awful pictures of meth users. That is what happens when people use meth.

Prevention experts discourage the use of scare tactics and here’s why:

  • Youth are hardwired to defend against negative messaging: When the outcome doesn’t always match the message being delivered to them, they may discount it. “My friend took those same pills to get high many times and he’s just fine.”
  • Young people filter information differently than adults: Most adults filter information using logic and rational thinking. Most teens, on the other hand, are naturally driven to engage in riskier, more impulsive behavior. Blame it partially on the adolescent brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for controlling impulses, exercising judgment and decision-making (which we just learned from above isn’t fully developed!).
  • High-risk youth can be more attracted to risky behavior: Some youth are wired more strongly for sensation-seeking and are more impulsive risk-takers. Present such a youth with the chance to rebel by getting drunk or high and he/she may see it as thrill-seeking opportunity. The better approach here is to deliver a positive message about non-use, so as not to give a child something to rebel against.
  • Strong warnings can send unintended messages: Overwhelming negative attention focused on anti-use may unintentionally send the message to children that it is a widespread problem and everyone must be doing it. Such misinterpretation leads to youth believing alcohol and drug use is the norm, that their peers are using, and that peers would be accepting of their choice to use.

Ok, that’s helpful, but now what can I do?
When it comes to preventing alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, focus efforts on teaching children what TO do, instead of what NOT to do, and reminding them regularly that the majority of youth do not use.
Research shows that parents and other caring adults can have the greatest impact on young lives by guiding them to make positive decisions, showing them healthy ways to cope, teaching them important resistance skills, and then giving them the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned.
Our youth hold a great deal of promise for our future. It’s up to us as parents and mentors to help guide them to put their best step forward!
You can read our Fall Newsletter for more resources.