A Realistic Look at Anxiety

Written by: Jennifer Scott, spiritfinder.org

Parents want to protect their children from the sorrow and stresses of life. Achieving this worthy goal requires practical insights as well as noble intentions. In this post, we’ll share strategies for helping your children to face the tests and trials that life will bring their way.

A Realistic Look at Anxiety

Living in the 21st century offers many advantages.  Diseases that were once death sentences now yield to routine treatments. The Internet offers unlimited access to education and entertainment. Automobiles are both safer and friendlier to the environment than those made just a few years ago. Social media connects us with friends and family members around the globe.

All of these benefits make it easy to forget that life was once “poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” to use the words of philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Ancient humans had to worry about thousands of things that never cross our mind, like being attacked by hyenas or going hungry because a blight wiped out our food supply.

Our minds developed a system of defenses against these dangers, including an early warning system that today we call anxiety. In its proper context, this sensation steers us away from real-life threats. But, like anything, this helpful emotion becomes hazardous when it occurs too frequently. Some of the many problems that can arise from uncontrolled anxiety include:

  • Elevated or uneven heartbeats
  • Gastric distress leading to ulcers and other serious conditions
  • Hypertension
  • Prolonged insomnia
  • Difficulty thinking or acting rationally

According to doctors at Mayo Clinic, untreated chronic anxiety can even lead to agoraphobia. Those who suffer from this condition go to great lengths to avoid situations that provoke fear or uneasiness. In extreme cases, this disorder can make people afraid to leave their home, imprisoning them inside for months or even years.

Nobody wants their children to face these kinds of debilitating problems. At the same time, ridding them of all anxiety can prevent them from taking common sense precautions, like staying out of bad neighborhoods or replacing the batteries in a smoke detector. So how do parents find a healthy balance between these extremes? Here are some tips from child rearing and mental health experts:

  • Recognize that your goal is help your child manage his/her anxiety, not to prevent feelings of anxiousness.
  • Help him/her to assess fears in the light of evidence. For example, if he/she worries about going to the dentist, express that dental visits are not only safe but essential for good health. Let him/her meet the dentist and see for herself that the doctor wants to help.
  • Reward your child’s courage with verbal praise and other positive feedback. This will help counter fears with self-affirming thoughts and actions, according to writers for Psychology Today.
  • Remind the child that feeling anxious, or even overwhelmed, is normal. Young people may feel that anxiety reflects weakness. It’s important to help dispel these negative thoughts.
  • Teach youth that making good choices is very important. Using alcohol or illicit drugs to cope with anxiety is never a good idea. At the same time, realize that healthcare providers may prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help youth manage symptoms. Medically supervised use of pharmacological agents is entirely different from substance abuse, as long as the patient follows the prescribed dosage, frequency, and directions and shares any concerns with a qualified practitioner.

Anxiety is part of life. Properly controlled, it can remind us to avoid dangers and prepare for the unexpected. Use the tips in this post to help youth face whatever life brings their way with the caution and confidence that will serve them best.

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Image by Pixabay

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in articles published on NSPNsights are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of National Safe Place Network.

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Making the Best Home for Your Autistic Child

Written by: Paige Johnson, learnfit.org

Every parent wants what’s best for their children. As a parent of an autistic child, you are certainly no different. Having a child with autism presents a set of unique challenges for parents to figure out. Your latest puzzle is your home interior, and now you want to make a few changes to give your child the best home experience they could ever wish for. While no two children on the autism spectrum are alike, there are a few known ways to make your home more autism friendly. Whether you are starting from scratch with a new home or updating your current one, here are three key essentials every parent should know when designing their home.

  1. Color
    Children with autism perceive color more intensely, and the colors you choose to decorate your home will have a much greater impact on your autistic child. When deciding how to decorate each room, you will want to consider how a color will be perceived by your autistic child. The warmer the color, the more stimulating it will be for your child, and can cause increased heart rate, appetite, or even aggression. You will want to avoid intense red colors for your walls and furniture, and most likely stick to more neutral colors for your home to have a calming effect. When you design your home, you will want to consider varying your colors to match the purpose of the room. Bedrooms should have calming restful color scheme of greens and blues, while you might want your kitchen a shade of white, with neutral orange to inject a little energy and appetite. Mixing up colors in your room’s scheme is okay, so long as the colors work well together, but you will want to avoid any bright, busy, and contrasting patterns at all cost. This could overstimulate your child’s sensory functions and possibly trigger an episode.
  2. Lighting
    Much like color, how you choose to light your home will have a huge impact on your autistic child’s sensory experience. The general consensus in the autism community is that fluorescent lighting should be avoided. The bright, sterile lighting can put your child on edge, and disorient them, leading to headaches, and migraines. A great idea is to use lighting that has a dimmer switch, that way you can gradually adjust the level of light in each room of your home based on your child’s needs. For your child’s bedroom, you might want to consider alternative lighting sources, such as Christmas lights, or a projector, to give them a positive sensory experience that won’t overwhelm them. Natural light in your home can be a great way to add energy to your home, but you will want to consider using blackout curtains to draw, if your child has a sensory overload from shadows or glares.
  3. Safety
    Other than creating a positive sensory environment for your child, you will undoubtedly want to create a safe environment as well. There are several steps you can take to ensure that your child remains safe at your home. Some basics include locking away any and all hazardous materials out of reach of your child, including: cleaners, medicine, lighters, and scissors. Next you will want to protect your child from electrical outlets, and wires. Use plastic outlet caps and hide your wiring to reduce the risk of electric shock. How to best guard your child at home will depend mostly on the unique aspects of your child’s autism. Many children with autism enjoy climbing whenever they can, so you might consider moving furniture so that you child cannot climb where it is unsafe to do so. You can even take it a step further and install railing and other wall fixtures that allow your child to climb in a safe environment. In other cases, children with autism might wander or leave the home unexpectedly, and unannounced. If you experience this with your child, you might want to install locks on the doors, or alarm systems that let you know when someone is exiting your home.

    You love your child and want to do everything you can to make sure your home is a safe and comfortable place for them. Keeping these keys in mind will help you find the perfect way to design your home so that everyone is happy, especially your child.

Autism

Author
Paige is a fitness nerd and shares her insights on LearnFit.org.

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in articles published on NSPNsights are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of National Safe Place Network.

Beat the Odds with These Organizational New Year’s Resolutions

Written by: Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing & Events, National Safe Place Network

Are you one of the 41% of individuals who makes one or more New Year’s resolutions? In 2017, the top 5 New Year’s resolutions included:

  • Lose Weight (21.3%)
  • Life/Self Improvements (12.3%)
  • Better Financial Decisions (8.5%)
  • Do more exciting things (7.1%)
  • Spend more time with family/close friends (6.3%)

According to research, only 9.2% of people felt they were successful in achieving their resolution. The number one reason for failed resolutions is the lack of a clear goal. NSPN is making it easy for you to beat the odds by helping your organization create clear goals for top resolutions.

Lose “Weight”
Stress will make you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You can lose this “weight” with the help of NSPN. Organizational Development members can shed some stress by taking advantage of benefits already available including:

  • Crisis debrief for staff and volunteers
  • Ace the audit tips and consultation
  • Department specific consultation and support

If there’s an area where your organization is struggling and could use some help, let NSPN help lift the weight off of your shoulders.

Maybe you’re thinking of a different type of weight… Does your inbox seem pretty hefty after the holidays? Perhaps you’re deleting emails without reading them? Take some time to go through your inbox and make some updates. Consider updating your profile or preferences.  Many businesses send emails based on interests you have selected or information you have provided in your profile.  For example, occasionally, NSPN may send emails to individuals with a specific job role or to organizations in a specific regions. If your information is not correct in your profile, you may receive an email that isn’t helpful to you. Consider logging in to your NSPN profile and update your information to make sure you’re only receiving information that fits your needs at www.nspnetwork.org/login. Your user name is [merge data].

Life/Self Improvements
In the youth and family services field, self-improvements are critical. Not only do individuals want to better themselves for a successful career, the lives of young people depend on continued growth of knowledge and skills. Every year, organizational leaders are making the choice to become a Professional Development member to help enhance the skills and abilities of their staff. If you’re a Professional Development member, you already have access to the following benefits (plus more) at no extra cost:

Better Financial Decisions
Sometimes the best and easiest financial decisions include taking advantage of benefits you already have. If you’re an NSPN member, you can save money by taking advantage of discounts already offered to your organization. Base members receive discounts on NSPN events including:

If you are an Organizational Development, Professional Development, or Training Center member, you have deeper discounts and even FREE access to some events and additional resources.  If you’re not already a member, you can achieve your resolution of making better financial decisions by becoming one. Base membership is only $200 and provides a multitude of benefits to your organization. Join today here.

Do More Exciting Things
If traveling to Louisville, KY for Focus 2018 or having NSPN create a personalized training just for your organization isn’t exciting enough, consider doing something new! NSPN is the only membership association that customizes benefits to fit the needs of its members. If you have a need – or an exciting idea – connect with the membership team to discuss ways we can help.

Spend More Time with Family and Close Friends
All NSPN members have access to NSPN Connect. NSPN Connect is a forum where member of all levels can network, share resources and ideas, and have discussions around impactful topics. Log in to NSPN Connect today and ask a question about how something is done in another organization or share some ideas you find helpful. Feel free to upload documents to share with others.  Licensed Safe Place agencies have access to Safe Place Connect and National Youth Advisory Board Collaboration Committee (YCC) members have access to YCC Connect. If you are part of the Network in more than one way (NSPN member, licensed Safe Place agency, and/or a YCC member), you have access to each forum based on your affiliation.

Ultimately, whatever your resolution is for your organization, NSPN wants to help remind you that you have support. Together we can!

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A Holiday Memory

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network

It would be difficult for me to think about or discuss the holidays without remembering my paternal grandparents and the influence they had on my life. As my mother’s parents had passed before I was born, my only experiences with grandparents were from a couple who were courageous, hard working, simple and very different from each other.

My grandma can best be described as a gentle soul who wanted to take care of everyone. She spent much of her life in a rocking chair, staring out a window and waiting for one of her children or grandchildren to come through the field to the back door of the kitchen. Regardless of the time of day, there would be something cooking. Chocolate pies (using a recipe that allowed her to stack them 3 high) would be in the pie safe and she would already be taking home grown vegetables from the stove before you could stomp the red clay of Mississippi from your feet and crack the screen door. Her desire was to care for each of her children by meeting very basic needs: food, love and knowledge of the Bible.

My grandpa was at work when he wasn’t waiting for grandma to serve a meal. Although he insisted that I was too young to help in the picking of beans in a field near the farmhouse, my memories were of watching him, my grandma and the other members of my family clearing row after row of vegetables in efforts to complete the task before the sun rose above the magnolia trees at the house. Grandpa was a no nonsense man who collected treasures from the castoffs of others and stories of his neighbors with an equal sense of purpose and passion. Quick to temper, he was also quick to defend and to encourage each of his children to stand up and be accountable for their actions.

My love of my grandparents deepened as I grew older and while we lived many miles apart, there was a strong emotional tie. However, this was not always the case. Love was shadowed by uncertainty and insecurity.

To be clear, as a young child, I felt isolated and different from not only my grandparents but from almost all of my relatives on my father’s side of the family. I don’t recall how I became aware of the differences between us. I just remember incidences of not ‘fitting in” and feeling as if I was living a life filled with broken rules.

I had two first cousins – one 11 months older and one 10 months younger – and we would come together on Sunday afternoons. While the adults conversed about whatever matter was most important that week, grandma would prepare dinner and the children would play outside. I remember attempts to play house that were never quite successful because we could not agree on the contents of our desired home. At the age of 6, it seemed quite important to me that we have a television, a record player and other items that were in my home. My cousins’ views of a proper home were of a stove and table with dishes set for the entire family. While this difference seems trivial now, at the time, I became lost in why there was a difference at all and what the difference meant.

I became increasingly aware that the conversations I attempted to have were challenging and that few commonalities exited between my experience and theirs. Once my older sisters and brothers were able to explain the difference, I understood but was still unsure of myself and how my grandparents could accept me.

My grandparents and the rest of my father’s family were members of a fundamentalist Pentecostal church. In the way they practiced their spiritual beliefs, they could not watch television, they could not listen to popular music, women could not cut their hair, wear pants or make-up, etc.  Because my parents both came from previous marriages, neither were allowed to practice in the Pentecostal church in my home community, and therefore, my siblings and I were raised in a different church with different beliefs. I grew up knowing that the people I loved best in the world did not believe as I did and in my childish imaginings I wondered who was right and if I was “less than” because of these beliefs. I started looking for, and so easily saw, slight differences in the way that our branch of the family was treated. I became sure that these differences were proof of an insurmountable divide. This awareness brought hurt to my inexperienced heart. Was the look that I received from my grandma one of love or tolerance? Was she proud of me for what I knew and for the dreams that I had? Was it o.k. that I knew about Elvis and could do the twist? Would she be disappointed if she knew I wore shorts and played softball every weekend? Was it o.k. to be me?

Christmas was the time when we could all come together and exchange gifts and appreciate that another year had kept us well. My grandma’s care-taking and love of the holiday meant that the stove was always hot and oranges, apples and walnuts could be found on every sideboard. My grandpa’s stubbornness and final authority meant the Christmas “tree” was a small branch cut from a larger tree and decorated with a single string of lights and a star. To him, it was important that the tree be high enough on a table so that he could walk without running into it. So we would gather around the table and open presents. While every child has wishes, I knew that my wishes were different from what my grandparents would see as appropriate gifts. So, I would receive a purse or a scarf or mittens and I was always happy because it was the one time of year when my cousins and I were alike because we would all receive the exact same gift. It was at those times when it felt as though perhaps it was grandma’s way of saying that we were all the same in her eyes.

The year that I turned 10, the gifts yielded an unexpected surprise. We came into the room and as I walked around the large wood stove that covered a substantial part of the floor, I saw three large boxes. I knew immediately they were for my cousins and me and unless there was a pair of mittens for every day of the year, there was something unusual inside. Not knowing what my grandma would select that was so big, it seemed as if I were going to explode as we finished dinner and took turns opening packages. When it came our turn – my cousins and I, with no regard to waste of beautiful bows or paper, ripped into the packages. The room was quiet as I studied the pink on the package and examined the pictures on the outside. I remember feeling across the top of the package for sealing tape because for a split second, a thought crossed my mind that the box may have been one found by my grandpa and put to use by my grandma for the present. However, the box was sealed and as I looked at my cousins, I was pleased at their smiling faces as we realized that we had all received Barbie Dream Campers. Well, even if no one else understood, I knew we had received a mighty gift. Barbie and her large residential road warrior were very much a part of my dream world.

How did Grandma know? Did my parents say something? If so, why would she go along with it? I didn’t state the questions out loud. I just laughed and felt an immediate and lasting joy.

Looking back, the message that I took from the gift was simple. I was o.k. Even if I knew about different things and had different hopes and dreams for my life, I was just as important in my grandma’s eyes as the other members of my family.  What I wanted and hoped for and dreamed about was just as acceptable as what they longed for in their lives. Years later, my grandmother shared with me that she had gotten the gifts because she had been in a store and had heard a woman talking about how the camper would allow little girls to make believe and imagine traveling and seeing what was beyond their own door.

As we celebrate a season that is filled with different beliefs, hopes and expectations for the world, I am reminded it is these differences in points of view and experience that make our world brighter. My life is fulfilling not because I am the same as everyone else but because I am different and because I embrace the differences in others. The truth in giving lies with the acceptance and love that is shared with a greeting or a kind gesture that says my world is better because you are part of it.

My grandma passed away in 1997 and a few weeks later, her husband of more than 60 years followed. I still return to that place and travel through that field, toward her home place and imagine her rocking in her chair, looking out the window and waiting for us to return. Now, I know she was not only waiting for us but she was also imaging those places that existed outside her door, over the hill and just beyond her reach.

Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: The Gift of Giving . . . and Receiving

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

Tis the season for giving . . . and receiving. Have you ever thought about why it’s sometimes hard to receive gifts? Most people like to give gifts instead of receive them. There’s something to say about having a giving heart—to be responsible for invoking happiness in another. Happiness is contagious. It feels good to know you helped make someone smile. You experience excitement and glee as you wait for the person to find out what you’ve gotten them. You don’t do it for the “thank you,” you give because you know you’re sharing a positive, uplifting emotion with someone you’re connected to.  What a great feeling, right?

Giving gifts feels good, but if you think about it, receiving gifts offers an opportunity to experience an entirely different emotion. It also “feels good,” but there’s something “deep” that tends to happen.  Sometimes the sense of gratitude can be overwhelming (in a good way). When you receive a gift, you feel warm, peaceful, and sometimes tearful. You don’t become thankful because the gift is useful or fun (although sometimes gifts are AMAZING); you’re thankful because the person who gave you the gift cared about you. They dedicated a moment of their life—just to you. That’s pretty amazing too, right?

Since it’s the season of giving and receiving, take your time during each exchange and focus on the emotions you experience. Feel the sense of bright, joyful glee—and appreciate the warm feeling of gratitude.

As mentioned above, sometimes the gifts you give—or receive—are pretty awesome. We asked your NSPN family, “What is the best gift you ever gave or received?” Here’s how they answered:

  • Laurie Jackson, President/Chief Executive Officer: “The most memorable gift for me is a longer story than just an answer. Prior to my coming to Louisville, my family and I would host a Christmas dinner party each year for our friends. Each year there would be a gift exchange. It was a great time and a great event. After several years the decision was made that all of the couples didn’t really need gifts as all of us were blessed in our lives with our families, connections and lifestyles. We all made the decision that our normal routine of “gift giving to each other” would change and we would adopt a family each year instead. As there were six couples and multiple singles we chose larger families with several children. While it was always satisfying, the first year was truly the best as it just felt right and all of the participants truly embraced the decision and the action. There are many stories of how much were we able to give an how much we could stack in the entry way. We truly loved giving and celebrating our friendships in this manner.”
  • Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: “I told my mom that I wanted to take up music again and mentioned that I might like to get a keyboard. My mother passed in November and a week after she was buried, I found the keyboard she had ordered for me for Christmas. I thought it was the last gift I would ever receive from her and so it holds a special place in my heart. Little did I know that she has continued to find ways to send me gifts when I least expect but most need them.”
  • Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: “Music is a pretty core part of my identity, and I have driven a 1991 Volvo without a functional radio for more than 12 years. One Christmas, my partner completely surprised me with an iPod, engraved with the message, ‘Music is where it began. We make the perfect duet.’”
  • April Carthorn, General Specialist: “The best gifts I ever received are life, free will, and faith. The best gifts I have ever given are trust and loyalty.”
  • Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: “When I was in sixth grade, my younger brother, my sister, and I gathered up all of our allowance money and spare change around the house and planted a flower garden for our mother on Mother’s Day. While we were working, a lot of the other neighborhood kids came over and helped out, so by the time the garden was planted and we showed it to her, there was a crowd of kids watching. She was quite touched and still brings it up to this day!”
  • Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: “A day off with no obligation.”
  • Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: “The most memorable and biggest gift I received was a Christmas gift from my mother in 1979. It was a Dodge Omni O24.”
  • Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: “I’ll always remember my first car, gifted to me from my parents. I had just come back home from a show choir competition in Branson, Missouri, and the car was waiting for me in the driveway. It was a 1998 Chevy Cavalier.”
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: “I’ve been given a lot of gifts in life that are important to me, but I think the best gift I received was being taught to have faith and to be a good person—no matter how difficult it is.”
  • Autumn Sandlin, Operations Specialist: “There isn’t one particular gift I can pinpoint as the best given or received. I have very creative, thoughtful family and friends who always manage to come up with something amazing during the holiday season. I also love giving gifts to the people I care about, so I’d hope they’d all think that any gift I’ve given them is the best gift at the time.”
  • Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: “The best gift I ever received was a scroll from my girlfriend on Christmas Day accepting my proposal of marriage four months earlier. My mother read it in front of our family.”

Learn more about your NSPN family at https://nspn.memberclicks.net/our-team.

What’s the best gift you ever gave—or received? Feel free to comment below.

Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: Being Thankful

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

Each month, we share a little something about your NSPN family as a way to help you get to know us better. Sometimes the posts include fun facts and sometimes the answers are pretty meaningful. This month, we asked the team, “What are you most thankful for?”

The answers are below—but before you take a look, we want to say on behalf of the entire team of National Safe Place Network, we are thankful for you. We are thankful for each and every person who believes in our vision of creating a world where all youth are safe—and supports our mission to ensure an effective system of response for youth in crisis through public and private partnerships at a local, state, and national level. We’re thankful for the time you spend with us, the time you dedicate to teach and learn from us, and all of the times you share us with people you know. Thank you for allowing us to meet your needs and be your network and for working with us—because, together we can.

“What are you most thankful for?”

  • Laurie Jackson, President/Chief Executive Officer: “My family and friends.”
  • Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: “My family and the unique relationship I have with each member.”
  • Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: “My partner in life and love—Kimberly Brooks.”
  • April Carthorn, General Specialist: “I’m most thankful for my life experiences.”
  • Sherry Casey, Operations and Administration Manager: “My family.”
  • Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: “The support of friends and family. I would not be where I am without them.”
  • Autumn Sandlin, Operations Specialist: “I try and be thankful for the good parts of my life. I graduated this year, and I’m thankful for my time interning at NSPN and their willingness to let me make this work my full-time job. My nephew is one of the best parts of my life, and I’m thankful for his curiosity and intuitiveness that he shares with me. My friends who show me support and love I might not know I need, as well as my mom and sister. And cute dog videos. Always cute dog videos.”
  • Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: “My beautiful bear and wonderful family and friends.”
  • Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: “I’m thankful for family and friends.”
  • Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: “My family, my faith, that I am healthy and whole, my dog Buddy.”
  • Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: “My family and my health.”
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: “I’m fortunate and blessed to have a few good family members, but I was born with them. I don’t really know what it’s like without them—or their impact on my life. So, when I think about being thankful for something, I immediately connect it with something that I have personally developed true appreciation for. I’m most thankful for my job. I worked hard to earn the skills I have to do my job; I worked hard to get my job; and I work hard to keep my job. It’s something I have done on my own and I’m proud of what I do and the organization I work for. I continue to be thankful for my job on a daily basis because no one is indispensable. I also know what it’s like to work for a company that doesn’t have NSPN’s standards of ethics and dedication toward its members and mission.”
  • Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: “I’m most thankful for my wife.”

Learn more about your NSPN family at https://nspn.memberclicks.net/our-team.

 

Receiving RHY Funding News: When Hope Turns to Uncertainty

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network

If you applied for RHY funding this year, the staff of NSPN hope you have received good news. The work you do in your community is important and youth depend on your services. If you were successful, congratulations!

Unfortunately, due to increased competition and static funding levels, there isn’t enough money to go around and some of you will be dealing with significant loss. If you did not receive RHY funding, here are a few things you can do to increase awareness and support for your program(s):

  • If your application was not approved, it’s important to note that applications are often very well written and still may not be funded. NSPN members with the Organizational Development package are encouraged to connect with April Carthorn (acarthorn@nspnetwork.org) to share your reviewer comments. The NSPN team will work to help you understand what may be improved in your response to future funding opportunity announcements.
  • Although you should have well established city, county, and state congressional relationships before you get the notice of the status of your application, it is never too late to reach out to community leaders. Visit your local representatives and share a packet of information to include statistics of service, outcomes of services, and projections of impact on the community if services are discontinued. Gap funding from city and county governments is not unheard of – especially for programs deeply grounded in the community landscape.
  • Reach out to all referral sources to explain what services will or won’t be continuing and ask for assistance from trusted partners in creating responses for youth to meet basic needs.
  • Craft a media release focusing on the impact of the loss of funding and the importance of additional resources for all RHY youth.
  • Create a social media support campaign (consider Go Fund Me) if the loss of funding will mean the discontinuation of all services.

Some of you have built sustainable programs capable of withstanding a loss, especially in the cases where reapplication is possible the next year. Others of you may be faced with closing facilities and laying off staff. There are no words of comfort or encouragement during these times that do not sound trite. All social service organizations face this loss at one time or another. Our best wishes are with you and your team as you make your decisions for what is next for your organization.

Children with Cerebral Palsy at Greater Risk of Bullying

Written by Cerebral Palsy Guidance

Youth and family service organizations serve a multitude of young people, including those with disabilities. Children living with any type of disability are more vulnerable to bullying than their peers. With those disabilities that make a child look different, including Cerebral Palsy, the risk of being a victim of bullying is even higher. The Forum for Equality estimates that nearly 15-25% of students in the United States are victims of bullying. While bullying is a big problem for a lot of children, and the consequences can be serious, there are things that can be done to prevent this victimization and to help victims cope.

 

Bullies Often Target Children Perceived as Different

Cerebral palsy affects a child’s muscle movements. There are different types of Cerebral Palsy and it affects everyone in different ways. According to Cerebral Palsy Guidance, individuals with the most common type of Cerebral Palsy, Spastic Cerebral Palsy, can experience stiff muscles, difficulty controlling muscles, and/or difficulty moving from one place to another. Some children may struggle to chew and swallow food, which can cause drooling. These kinds of factors cause other children to perceive them as being different or not normal. Statistics show that perceived differences are major factors in bullying, and this means that children with disabilities are at risk.

Children with a disability like cerebral palsy are more likely than their able-bodied peers to be bullied. A child with cerebral palsy may be targeted by a bully because they are perceived as being less able to defend themselves due to their various physical make-ups. Some children with cerebral palsy also have cognitive impairments that can make them vulnerable. These children may have a more difficult time distinguishing between friends, and individuals who are trying to hurt them.

 

Bullying Has Consequences

Both the victim and the perpetrator of bullying suffer negative consequences. Some are physical; bullying can cause real and serious injuries. A child with disabilities related to cerebral palsy may not be able to defend himself and can really get hurt by bullying. Of course, the psychological consequences are often the longer-lasting effects of bullying. Bullying increases a child’s risk for developing depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, low confidence, and could potentially lead to substance abuse issues. These psychological consequences can also affect the perpetrator of bullying.

 

Prevention and Support for Bullying Victims with Cerebral Palsy

Preventative measures can help put a stop to bullying. Adults, including teachers, parents, and others, must take an active role in teaching children to empathize with others and to stop bullying behaviors as soon as they are witnessed. Awareness and education can also play a big role in prevention. Teaching children about cerebral palsy helps build empathy and prevent bullying behaviors. This can be done at home, or in the classroom.

When a child with cerebral palsy does become a victim of bullying, they need support and guidance from both adults and peers in their life. A strong group of friends, adults who they feel comfortable talking to, and participation in activities of all types can go a long way in helping a child feel more confident and able to avoid some of the worst long-term consequences of bullying.

Living with cerebral palsy presents challenges that others don’t have to face, such as simply being able to walk. These children shouldn’t also have to face bullying and its side effects. Greater awareness, education, and support can help these children avoid bullying and stand up to it if it does occur.

 

Learn more about helping young people with cerebral palsy at:

cerebral palsy guidance-logo

Sensitivity to the Season

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network

Autumn pumpkin background

It’s October and with the season comes such traditions as pumpkins, fall leaves, trick or treat, and brisk mornings. One only needs to look at theater listings or the aisles of your local department store to see signs of Halloween. Who remembers the first time you saw the movie Halloween and heard Jamie Lee Curtis scream? Have you seen any cars named Christine lately? How many hockey masks do you have? Do crows make you shiver? Why is that balloon tied to the storm drain?

If you are one who enjoys the season, frights can be fun and create memories worth sharing. However, for many youth and adults, the signs and sounds of the season can trigger memories of experiences scarier than most of us can imagine. Just like you, Safe Place® is committed to helping youth not only BE safe but FEEL safe. As you think about how to connect with youth during this time of year, consider the following activities:

  • Invite youth to create a collage (on paper or digitally) of the images that remind them of feeling safe. Make sure there are sufficient options to address differences across culture, age, and experience.
  • Have discussions with youth new to your program about any aspect of your organization’s physical layout that is frightening or uncomfortable for them.
  • Host a group discussion of things youth rely on when they’re scared. Be prepared to respond when youth say they are never scared or when they say they have nothing or no one to rely on in those moments.
  • Ensure you are not selecting movies for group viewing or seasonal activities without considering the needs of each youth. Allow for alternative activities without disparagement. Adults working with youth may not recognize specific triggers. Corn mazes may evoke feelings of being lost. Haunted houses may trigger unsuspected reactions. Pumpkins that smile are just wrong.

If the sound of chain saws make you cringe and the idea of summer camp makes you nauseous, you understand the power of images, sounds, and, memories. Work with your staff to create safe memories for the youth you serve. It will be the treat they never forget.

Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: A Little Pick-Me-Up Please

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network 

 Coffee is the most coveted morning beverage of humanity. Coffee is so popular, people write about how great it is—a lot. The Huffington Post alone has a full web page dedicated to numerous blog posts about coffee, one of which is titled “19 Things You Didn’t Know About Coffee.” The article shares some interesting information. For example, legend says “coffee was discovered by a goat herder,” “a coffee plant can live up to 200 years,” and “coffee beans can vary in color”—not for the strange “cat” reason shared that no one would spend money on. Anyhow, who knew? Someone must really love coffee to dedicate precious time just to write about the goodness these little beans bring to the world. 

 Coffee can be consumed in many ways; however, most people like traditional coffee—black or with cream and/or sugar. But there are also some coffee concoctions that are unique, yet delicious: 

  •  Thai iced coffee 
  • Steaming mocha cocoa 
  • Turkish coffee 
  • Creamy iced vanilla caramel coffee 
  • Iced espresso marvo 
  • Coffee imperial 

Image credit: http://www.food.com/ideas/15-easy-coffee-drinks-6102?c=10188 

 These flavors are actually easy to make! You can get the recipes here 

Because there are so many different ways to make coffee, we thought the topic might offer a fun way for you to get to know your NSPN family. We asked them, “How do you like your coffee?”  

· Laurie Jackson, President / Chief Executive Officer: Flavored with a little cinnamon and cream

· Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: In someone else’s cup. I am so not a coffee drinker.

· Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: Medium Roast in a large mug with two packs of Splenda and a 4-count pour of real heavy cream.

· April Carthorn, General Specialist: Not at all.

· Sherry Casey, Operations and Administration Manager: Iced vanilla coffee

· Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: Black. Regular in the morning, decaf after noon.

· Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: Don’t drink coffee anymore. Made me sick while I was pregnant and I never picked it back up. I do enjoy a good cider or lemonade, depending on the season.

· Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: I love strong coffee – but not Starbucks strong – with nothing in it.

· Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: I only like the smell of coffee. Coffee is a lie because it smells amazing but tastes horrible. I don’t even like coffee ice cream.

· Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: It depends on my mood. Somedays, I like it black and other days, I like it with a generous portion of milk. I also enjoy a good cappuccino – it’s great for the soul.

·Autumn Sandlin, Marketing & Communications Intern: ICED! If I drink it hot, I have to have lots and lots of sugar and milk or creamer. I want it as far from black as possible.

· Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: I love coffee! To me, the perfect cup is 10oz of “Golden French Toast” or “Wild Mountain Blueberry” straight from the Keurig with a 3 count pour of “Sweet Cream” creamer. I can drink it all day – everyday. YUM

· Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: I like my coffee with two creams and three sugars.

Learn more about your NSPN family at https://nspn.memberclicks.net/our-team 

 How do you like your coffee? Feel free to let us know by commenting below.