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!

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!

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Teen depression skyrockets and there is one common theme: Social Media

According to a recent national survey, between the years 2010-2015, the number of teens who felt useless and joyless surged 33%. Suicide attempts alone increased by 23%. These numbers are simply terrifying. After countless surveys, all of the results have one thing in common: a smartphone and the growth of social media. According to a recent poll, teens now spend much less time interacting with their friends in person. Interacting with people face to face is one of the deepest wellsprings of human happiness; without it, our moods start to suffer and depression often follows.” Our goal in the Digital World program is to promote healthy online behavior and personal relationships, as well as talk to kids about the “reality” of the Internet, and how social media affects us both socially and emotionally, now and in the future. Take a look at Kids in a Cyber World for some quick facts about how fast social media has grown, and the ways the cyber world, left unchecked can impact youth development.

If you would like more information on this presentation or other Digital World programs send an inquiry to gpsempowered@gmail.com.