Dr. Dan Siegal: The Teenage Brain

Dan Siegal, M.D., provides thoughtful, easy-to-understand explanations of adolescent brain development.

Anxiety is an ongoing issue for youth


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




Oregon City Teens: We need your opinion!

Your input is greatly appreciated.

We are collecting input from the community to determine if there is a need for a Community Center.  Such a center would provide activities, programs and resources for residents in the Oregon City area.
Within the Community Center, there would a Teen Center section designated for teenage students. The Teen Center portion of the building would be built and designed for teenagers, with their interests, needs, and wants in mind.
The following survey is geared towards that portion of the project.  Your honest opinions will help us in our decision to promote this project to completion.  All answers will be kept anonymous.
Follow this link to share your opinions.  And thank you for your help!

Gardiner Middle School is Above the Influence!

It was National Drug Facts Week last week — can you pass the quiz?
Drug Facts Week gave Oregon City Together another great opportunity to partner with our schools and talk with students about the choices they are making.
We asked Gardiner Middle School students what keeps them “Above the Influence” and here’s what they told us:
DFW 2016 stay in school DFW2016 my future DFW2016 group DFW2016 friends

Finding Kind

All 6th, 7th and 8th grade Gardiner and Ogden students are welcome to join in on a FREE event coming December 1st from 5-7pm at Gardiner Middle School. This event has an amazing message about anti-bullying, shown through a documentary film.
This message is based on the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.”  Two young women who created this film decided to create change by giving females a platform to speak out about this universal experience.
It will be an evening full of opportunities to listen, watch and speak out about these issues girls everywhere find themselves in. There will be free pizza and treats provided. Parents are encouraged to come with their students for this awesome event. So mark your calendars so you don’t miss out on this FREE FINDING KIND experience!
For more information please contact Lisa Lee……. llee@nwfs.org or 503-785-8205
finding kind

Smart Choices postcard-save-the-date

Mark your Calendar!

Smart Choices for a Safe Future: Parent/Youth Forum
Join us for an inspiring evening of information, support, and a little bit of magic, featuring special guests and nationally renowned speakers Kevin Brooks and Robert Hackenson.
Kevin Brooks is a leading youth speaker on suicide prevention, overcoming obstacles and impaired driving. He is living proof that one poor choice can change one’s life forever. From his wheelchair, Kevin shares his life-changing story with audiences of all ages.
AND, get ready to be “edutained” as professional speaker Robert Hackenson Jr. infuses magic, illusions, skits, and more to deliver a highly interactive educational experience.  Students are raving about Robert’s dynamic and memorable performance, and his unique way of tying in the magic to deliver messages that will be remembered.
Oregon City High School, Tuesday October 20th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Open to all ages
Doors open at 5:45
Free dinner and childcare for ages 5 and up
Sponsored by Clackamas County Safe Communities, Oregon City Together, OCHS Pioneers, Oregon Impact, and OC Community Education.
Read more here.

Positive Media from Gardiner Middle School

Kudos to the students who teamed up with Willamette Falls Media Center this spring in our Positive Media After-School Camp!
For seven weeks, students met at the Media Center, learned media tools, and practiced creating their own messages. And here are the results!

Congratulations to DECA's State Conference Winners!

Landon Martinez and Jon Reece provided invaluable support to the Oregon City Together Coalition with their meticulously designed research study on alcohol and drug use in Ogden and Gardiner Middle Schools.
Congratulations on placing 5th at this year’s State Career Development Conference!  Read about Landon & Jon’s placement AND OC’s 2nd place Community Service Project here.
The Creative Marketing Project is a chapter project that develops in chapter members an analytical and creative approach to the marketing process, actively engages chapter members in the marketing activities of their community, and provides an opportunity for experienced executives to guide and assist in preparing emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
The project should be a research study in the marketing field, planned, conducted and reported by a DECA chapter, the use of which will measurably improve the marketing activities of an individual company, a group of companies (such as a shopping mall), an organization, a club or the business community. All chapter members are encouraged to participate. Such a project might concern itself with finding new markets for local products, promoting the community’s resources, increasing the trading area of facilities, increasing sales, increasing employment, providing better shopping facilities, solving problems or challenges affecting the marketing process, etc.
Their project involved Ogden and Gardiner Middle schools and gathering information about student use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Their survey, will assist Oregon City School District in their efforts to make people aware of the effects of these substances on students.