Author Archives: gpsempowered

NEW: Evidence Based Suicide Prevention opportunities for students and staff

ESCWR Prevention Department staff are trained to provide two nationally recognized programs to meet your district needs. Both meet the requirements of HB 123. 

The programs differ, being that one is a primary prevention program, building student strengths and resilience, and the other is a gatekeeper program, designed to identify and intervene with students at imminent risk.

Sources of Strength

This primary prevention program utilizes a Youth Led Model, a small student team and school advisors to build students’ strengths and change school climate. Sources has both elementary and secondary versions. 

Contact Karen Lackey at for information 

QPR-Question, Persuade, Refer

QPR is a gatekeeper training that provides students in grade 7-12 and all staff with the knowledge, skills and resources to identify a peer or student at risk and act on it.

Auburn Youth Leaders Promote Bi-lingUal Policy

Geauga Youth Led Prevention expanded their reach in 2019 to serve Auburn Career Center, a joint vocational school that serves 11 school districts in Lake and Geauga Counties.

Even with a widely diverse student body, strict vocational program requirements (limiting the amount of time in YLP group), and an early close to the school year due to COVID-19, YLP students and adult allies had a very successful year.

Two YLP groups (first year and second year) combined forces on identifying problems of focus, reaching common ground on two very divergent topics, and collaborated to reach their first objective: Make ACC more bilingual, and sensitive to Spanish speaking students and families.

Auburn administrators looked at the data they had gathered, sat in on several meetings, and listened carefully to students’ proposals. The result is seen below in the first Spanish –English posters to be used in ACC’s hallways. ACC also took heed and hired a translating service to begin the process of translating all online forms into Spanish, with priority on those that go home to parents. 

We can’t wait to see these students working on their next task!      

YAC’s “E-Race The Stigma” Event Registration is now Open!

Geauga Youth Advisory Council is an organization in Geauga County that focuses on youth empowering youth throughout our community to create a healthy lifestyle for themselves and future generations through demonstration of leadership skills and prevention programs. This year we decided to focus on the issue of mental health and organized a 5K run/1 mile walk to erase the stigma that surrounds mental health. Signup here!

Sign up for the 5k run/1 mile walk by simply scanning this QR Code with your mobile device. The camera app will take you directly to the event registration page!

Youth Leaders Steal the Show

On September 12 Dr. Scott Hunt, Cardinal Superintendent and Karen Lackey, LISW, Geauga ESC led a team representing Geauga County to the Ohio School Board School Safety Summit. With more than 700 conference attendees, our session “A Framework for Assessing, Preventing and Intervening” was a popular destination with over 250 school representatives from around the state in attendance.

Our presentation featured the work of Geauga ESC’s School-Community Agency Forum and Work Group. The Forum, now in its third school year, has brought together over 100 school, agency, youth and community members who touch the lives of children.  The Forum is focused on commonly identified needs in our schools: Mental health, social media concerns, and support during building transitions. Our goal is to build a framework to support our students, and address our needs through prevention, early intervention and treatment options, supported through partnership with our local agencies.

As much as our committed adult partners have contributed to our mission, our youth leaders stole the show at conference, and have been a strong and clear voice for youth during this process. Their contributions have been unbounded in developing our framework, gathering and communicating student perspectives from all districts, and actively working on youth-led projects that support of our goals. YLP leaders are empowered to act by using a strategic planning process, and it shows in their accomplishments.

Pictured are Kaylee Klepper and Abby Geesling, both Cardinal students and members of YAC (Youth Advisory Council) of Geauga Youth Led Prevention. These ladies also produced a short video with the help of other YAC members featuring students talking about the importance of adult relationships in school that was appreciated by all.  Check out the video below!

Social Media addiction and your teen’s mental health

Social media is a growing trend and a required skill in the 21st century. We live in a time when if a teen does not have an Instagram account, Twitter or Snapchat, they are automatically considered an outcast and looked down upon in one way or another. Because of the way these social media platforms have been designed, they are highly addictive. According to recent surveys it was understood that almost 90% of Facebook users felt that their day cannot start on a good note unless they check their public social profile. That trend is only growing among young people with other various platforms.

Parents tend to often overlook the very negative and diverse effects that these websites have on the mind and mental health of their children. Following are some of the many negative effects social media and its addiction has on people:

  1. When one person is posting everything they do on a daily basis on a public platform, it is easy for people to begin to form a comparison. People automatically begin to judge their lives with everyone else’s and often forget the difference between one’s actual life and their virtual life.
  2. Teens express that when their phones are taken away, they feel completely uneasy and anxious being unable to check their notifications on their social media platforms.
  3. When a lot of pictures are being turned into memes and humorous content, it is easy to make things that have a very serious connotation into something that is almost ridiculous. Further, pictures on social media can be made to look more glamorous and that comes with negative influences for young people.
  4. People get into a debate over perceptions and realities. If they do not get a lot of likes on a single picture they report feeling sadness, insecurity or loneliness.
  5. It is true that social media has enabled connectivity and staying in touch with friends, but it has also made cyber bullying easy. People find it easier to mock and ridicule others from behind their screens. The number of suicides has dramatically increased ever since the use of social media has made it easier for people to hide, and still make people feel terrible about themselves, or worse, put out material or pictures to the world that were meant to be private.

These are the effects social media addiction has on people. It is important that technology is used in a balanced manner to ensure it does not influence one’s personality, feelings or actions in any negative way. Having open communication, talking with your children and being their number one resource is imperative to contributing to a healthy online social life.

Check out this video on how to stop the worst of social media: Link

Teens are smarter than adults

How often do you hear that teens and youth are smarter than their educated parents, teachers, administrators and other adults in their lives? NEVER. An amazing new evidence based practice is sweeping across Geauga County letting us see how youth are smarter than adults in many ways. So before you get to angry, let me explain…

Youth today face many more issues than most adults faced growing up, especially with the massive amount of technology they are constantly surrounded by. We see some youth struggling with addiction, bullying, mental illness, problems in school at home and with peers. However, do we REALLY know what most youth are struggling with? For most adults the answer is NO. So we decided to ask adults in our schools and communities what they think the problems are that youth face today? Here are some of the responses we received: drugs (especially heroin), prescription pills, vaping, too involved in technology, underage drinking, they are lazy, and finally, they don’t do anything in school/not challenged. Then we asked students from various Geauga County schools the same question. Here are their responses: mental illness, mostly anxiety and depression; social media’s impact on negative self- image (because of the “picture perfect lives” others are portraying); social isolation; negativity on social media; and pressure…. not peer pressure, but pressure to be perfect and very high achieving, mostly coming from parents and schools.

So what does this mean? Youth are the experts, and are smarter than adults when it comes to what they face and experience every day. So the big question is why don’t we listen to what they have to say? The usual adult approach is…. “this is the problem you are facing and this is how we will fix it”. The new movement is here to let you know that this thinking is going to be a thing of the past.

Starting in 2015, ESC introduced our schools to a new evidence based practice called Youth Led Prevention (YLP). It is exactly as it sounds: youth telling adults what issues they face, and advocating for their ideas on how to fix them. The adult leader or allies’ role is to help guide the process of identifying the problem, determining capacity to change the problem, developing solutions, implementing ideas, and even evaluating the impact of their solutions. We are allowing our youth to be smarter than adults, we are listening to what they have to say, and teaching them how to act on their ideas. This process is called the Strategic Planning Framework.

Youth Led Prevention has allowed so many students in Geauga County to speak out that we now have YLP groups in seven school buildings, and have 14 representatives on our Youth Advisory Council (YAC). We are proud of the youth- led activities these students have undertaken in such a short amount of time.

Please check back for more articles, and to see what your local YLP group is doing in your community!


What do annoying jingles and sex education have in common?

Just for fun, click on this link and see if you can finish these old time popular jingles. Or, see if you can finish these phrases from popular commercials (hint: you may want to hum them):

  • “I want my baby back, baby back, baby back………………” (name the restaurant)
  • “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that……….(name the candy bar)
  • “Nationwide is…….”
  • “For the best night’s sleep in the whole wide world visit……”

Marketers are great at knowing how to get us to remember things whether we want to or not. It helps them sell us their products.

Here are some marketers basic rules:

  • The shorter the better
  • The more repetition the better
  • The more rhymes the better
  • Make it common (hear it everywhere)
  • Add music

Jingles are designed to stay in your memory, sometimes popping up from out of nowhere. Jingles become part of what we know, whether we know it or not.
That’s where marketing meets sex and relationships for teens. The common phrases (shorter the better) we hear over and over (repetition), that are common themes in popular songs and commercials (add music and rhymes) are things we naturally believe, whether we really know them to be true or not.
Here are some common phrases you will recognize, and that you may want to think about before you make any decisions you may regret.

“Everyone’s doing it”

Real Scoop: Since 1992 (crazy I know) the percentage of teens who choose to have sex has declined. In the last 3 years it has averaged 44%, less than half.

“Sex will bring us closer”

Real Scoop: Most young people can tell you the answer to this one. The most mentioned relationship issues they experience? Increased jealousy, possessiveness, insecurity, loss of time with friends and other activities.

“Just use condoms”

Real Scoop: First, very smart decision. Unfortunately, it only protects you from about 20% of the risks we hear about. Negative personal, social, emotional and relationship impact can’t be protected by a condom. Also check out some STI and STD info you might want to have while we are on that topic.

Real relationships and safe sexual decisions take time, honesty, and awkward conversations about difficult topics before you decide to do anything. You ready for that?