TAC Town Hall 2016: Shine Online
Tuesday, March 8th was a night of connection and education in North Pacific County at the Teen Advocacy Coalition’s annual Town Hall event. This year’s theme was Shine Online, featuring a community fair and dinner followed by a presentation by social media expert Josh Ochs. With over twenty community organizations present, the community fair was a great opportunity to learn about all of the great work happening in Pacific County. “I was very excited to have so many local agencies and organizations represented,” said Alyssa Grams, AmeriCorps member serving with the Teen Advocacy Coalition (TAC), “It’s a great opportunity not only for the community to learn about available resources, but also to increase connection and collaboration among those organizations. It’s awesome to see all of the good work happening in Pacific County!”
The keynote speaker of the evening, Josh Ochs, is author of the bestselling book “Light, Bright And Polite” and he travels the country training 30,000 teens each year how to be safe and smart online. Josh educates parents around the latest apps teens are using, including which ones are positive and safe and which one are unsafe for teens, as well as how to have conversations with their kids about social media use. His Popular App Guide for Parents and Teachers features a ranking system from the green or “safe” zone, which includes apps like Facebook and Instagram, to red or “unsafe” zone, which includes anonymous apps like AfterSchool, Ask.fm, and Kik. “We’ve been seeing a lot of issues in the schools lately around cyberbullying, sexting, and other misuse of social media,” said Grams, “ Because part of our mission here at TAC is to support teen mental health, we thought it was important to bring in an expert.” Josh spoke with North Pacific County parents and community members for two hours, addressing questions around what makes apps unsafe for teens to use and how teachers, parents, and community members can help our teens to use social media positively and productively. If you are interested in learning more, you can find Josh’s Parent App Guide and additional information online at www.safesmartsocial.com.
“Town Hall is a great opportunity to bring together community members from all sectors to talk about how we can support teens in North Pacific County. Thank you to all who helped make the evening a success!” said Grams.
AmeriCorps Report: February
As part of my work with Willapa Community Network, I've had the opportunity to sit on Wellspring Community Network's Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) committee. On February 2nd, Wellspring hosted a community event called Building Community Resilience to educate community members from all sectors about ACEs and resiliency.
ACEs Forum Recap: Community Bands Together for Change
(Content contributed by AmeriCorps member Colton Christener):
If ever there was a case where a community banded together in order to make drastic changes for the people in the area, Pacific County, Washington is it. On February 2, the WellSpring Community Network hosted a Building Community Resilience event to bring community leaders together for a training regarding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how to offer trauma-informed care to people they serve. An ACE is a traumatic experience in a person's life occurring before the age of 18 that the person remembers as an adult. In order to find a person’s ACE score, they are asked questions regarding neglect, domestic violence, abuse, divorce, and other events possibly experienced as a child. Here in Pacific County, there are many different organizations that provide support and services for those who struggle to overcome childhood adversity, but a concrete vision about how to better the community as a whole seemed hazy. This event brought leaders together from sectors such as Health and Medical, Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Youth and Family Support, to collaborate in creating a plan to build community resilience.
The event was fortunate enough to have Laura Porter deliver a presentation about the Foundations of Healthy Generations, ACEs and N.E.A.R Science (Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACEs and Resilience). By presenting, she was not only able to teach the public about ACEs, but she was able to explain the need for a united goal to increase resiliency in Pacific County.
After the presentation, participants were divided into their sectors where they were able to discuss current trauma-informed practices, as well as brainstorming ways to fill missing resources within their sector. After finding their gaps in resources, local leaders were able to offer ideas to other sectors in order to fulfill the community’s need to implement more trauma-informed care. By the end of the day, the room was filled with excitement and hope about how the community will benefit from the united front provided through WellSpring’s Community Resilience event.
To learn more about ACEs, visit Wellspring's ACEs Overview page. To learn more about the event or read notes from participants, go to Wellspring's Building Community Resilience page. I will be working to bring ACEs training to North Pacific County in the fall.
Youth Mental Health First Aid
On February 12th, my AmeriCorps team and I participated in Youth Mental Health First Aid training where we learned the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder. We learned how to support a youth developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis by using ALGEE, a five-step action plan:
Hearts for the ARts
Saturday, February 13th, was the Willapa Heritage Foundation's annual fundraising event, Hearts for the Arts. A team of Raymond Peer Helpers and I volunteered at the event, serving the three course dinner to attendees. The Peer Helpers received many compliments from volunteers and attendees alike and I was very proud of their hard work.
SADD Club Retreat
The Raymond High School Students Against Destructive Decisions Club had a retreat on February 26th. I was asked to help facilitate some activities and education around preventing teen drug and alcohol use. Prevention Consultants Sean Jarvis and John Ashley facilitated a presentation about drug trends in Pacific County and answered student questions. Using data from the 2014 Healthy Youth Survey, I led the students in a conversation around myths and facts of drug and alcohol use by their peers. We also talked about what motivates teens to experiment with substances. We wrapped up the day by having students create mini ad campaigns to discourage the use of drugs and alcohol. It was a fun and informative day!