On Sunday May 5 at 3 PM you are invited to share in the celebration of our 3 black belt candidates who will complete their testing with a demonstration. In the last couple of months in addition to all of the physical preparations the three candidates completed the following:
1. Kyle Pinder engaged some of his classmates and created a program for a group of individuals who have MS. He showed them how they could use martial arts to get some positive movement in their routine. It was met with appreciation from all of the participants, as they not only enjoyed the different kind of movement, but also the skill and patience of each of the students who worked with them.
2. Mark Paalman has put together a program on Downs Syndrome as a beginning of an awareness education work we are creating for our school. His goal is to help all of our students understand the scientific side of some common differences – that in the end we can see and feel that no matter our differences, as humans we all have goals and dreams. This is a great follow up to the work done last year by Audrey on autism.
3. Jen Selby completed a 6 week program on art education, Art in Mind. This visual education in art and the conversations that resulted in what you see created opportunity for creative thinking. In addition it helped each of the students to appreciate that all of us see things in different ways. All of this culminated in a unbelievable display and evening meeting the artist and seeing all of the work they put in on Museum Night. There was a great turnout and demand for the program to be repeated.
Please come and support the candidates this Sunday afternoon and watch them do forms, kicks, self defense, break boards and talk about their journey. The event will be held at Summit School – right across from Camp Letts. Their test begins at 11AM and you may come at any time, but the please be there by 3 PM for the final demonstration.
Our own Jennifer Selby was just highlighted in an article in the South River Source for her Visual Arts project, Art in Mind. Read the article and then think about joining her in this creative thinking project.
Davidsonville Black Belt Candidate Takes Her Art to a Higher Level
For more information about the project and to enroll call 410-263-0050
What should you do if your child is being bullied in school? Will you even know? If the the child is not talking about it, are there other signs that may help you know that they need help and some skills to deal with those kind of behaviors?
The Bullying Prevention Class for Parents will be held on February 5, 2013 at 9:15 AM at Balanced Life Skills. The class led by bully prevention expert, Joe Van Deuren, will answer these questions along with why children do not tell and how to help your child even if they are not the target of bully at this time.
All parents in the community are invited no matter how old your child is and please feel free to invite your friends and neighbors. In our last class one of the participants said, “Every parent should take this class, I learned so much.”
Watch for our Focus on Friendship class for students too. The next one is on February 8th at 5 PM for Kindergarten and First Graders, both boys and girls. Call for more details.
A Storm to Remember from Rob Grieb on Vimeo.
This film created by a community member who has family on the Jersey Shore. We must not forget. Can we find a way to help a family or community there this spring?
Our goals for the next few years is to have a martial arts, visual arts and performing arts as a part of our programs, reaching children where they are, building character, confidence and contribution. Here is our first program in the visual arts – ART IN MIND – developed and presented by Jen Selby, black belt candidate 2013. Please JOIN us on February 18 for a preview. Invite your friends to be a part of a revolution for all students. CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW THE PREVIEW WENT FOR THE ART IN MIND CLASS
One of our students, Kaelyn, was highlighted on CNN for the letter she wrote to the families of Sandy Hook ES in Newtown, CT. Here a link to the report: Children reach out to Newtown
In addition I have enclosed a letter written by Sarah Montgomery with the Chesapeake Life Center in regard to helping our children and ourselves with these difficult conversations. I hope this information is helpful to you and all in our community. If more help is needed please feel free to call on us here at Balanced Life Skills or our friends at the Chesapeake Life Center.
Dear Chesapeake Life Center Family and Friends,
It is with sadness that we, along with the rest of the country, process the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. As my nine year old daughter prepared for bedtime Friday evening, we talked about what had happened and she said, “Mom, the parents must be especially sad because school is supposed to be a safe place.” Yes, school is supposed to be a safe place. Continue reading
Dear Parents and Friends,
With the recent events in Connecticut all of us have been struck by very deep emotions and feelings of wanting to help and support the families involved. Personally I would love to be able to go and sit and support personally each of the families of the students and teachers and others that were so close to the situation. For me this is not possible, so I have thought of another way that I would like to support them.
I would like to encourage all of us to write a letter of support or create / buy a card with a note of support that we can send to the Family Services group in Newtown. I believe this is a good way for us to get our feelings on paper and to demonstrate our support for the families. There will be time in the future to have the other conversations we need to have as a country, but now lets support the families in this manner.
On Friday December 22 I will take all the collected cards and letters and mail them to Newtown to be distributed to the families. (NO POSTAGE REQUIRED ON YOUR PART) If you would like to take part in this demonstration of support please bring your letter or card to Balanced Life Skills by end of day on Friday the 22nd. I will get them in the mail that evening (Fed Ex) so they arrive prior to Christmas.
Thank you for supporting this effort of healing.
Joe Van Deuren
PS. If you feel like you would like to donate funds to a group that will be dealing with these families long after everyone else is gone I would suggest the Newtown Youth and Family Services.
I have been quiet on the tragedy of this past week in Connecticut. Like so many of you, this event has touched me so deeply, emotionally creating havoc for any parent or teacher. The feeling of helplessness and without the ability to support this community is sometimes a feeling that is overwhelming. At the same time we must also be aware of the effects on our own children – hundreds of miles away, as they very quickly pick up on our emotions and will respond accordingly.
The following are suggestions from National Association of School Psychologists. It is unfortunate that in the past few years we have had to review these tips too many times, as our community, country and the world have faced devastating events, all of which affect the feelings of safety that our children deal with. As you review them, feel free to share them with your friends and neighbors. I would like to thank NASP for providing this information.
If there is anything that Balanced Life Skills can do for anyone in our community please call or email us and we will help or assist in finding the help you need to provide a peaceful culture and environment for you and your children.
Tips for Parents and Teachers
Whenever a national tragedy occurs, such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters, children, like many people, may be confused or frightened. Most likely they will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children cope first and foremost by establishing a sense of safety and security. As more information becomes available, adults can continue to help children work through their emotions and perhaps even use the process as a learning experience.
All Adults Should:
- Model calm and control. Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives. Avoid appearing anxious or frightened.
- Reassure children that they are safe and (if true) so are the other important adults in their lives. Depending on the situation, point out factors that help insure their immediate safety and that of their community.
- Remind them that trustworthy people are in charge. Explain that the government emergency workers, police, firefighters, doctors, and the military are helping people who are hurt and are working to ensure that no further tragedies occur.
- Let children know that it is okay to feel upset. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy like this occurs. Let children talk about their feelings and help put them into perspective. Even anger is okay, but children may need help and patience from adults to assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
- Observe children’s emotional state. Depending on their age, children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of grief, anxiety or discomfort. Children will express their emotions differently. There is no right or wrong way to feel or express grief.
- Look for children at greater risk. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Be particularly observant for those who may be at risk of suicide. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
- Tell children the truth. Don’t try to pretend the event has not occurred or that it is not serious. Children are smart. They will be more worried if they think you are too afraid to tell them what is happening.
- Stick to the facts. Don’t embellish or speculate about what has happened and what might happen. Don’t dwell on the scale or scope of the tragedy, particularly with young children.
- Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that the daily structures of their lives will not change. Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence and threats to safety in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. They will be more committed to doing something to help the victims and affected community. For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Be a good listener!
- Monitor your own stress level. Don’t ignore your own feelings of anxiety, grief, and anger. Talking to friends, family members, religious leaders, and mental health counselors can help. It is okay to let your children know that you are sad, but that you believe things will get better. You will be better able to support your children if you can express your own emotions in a productive manner. Get appropriate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
What Parents Can Do:
- Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy. Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
- Make time to talk with your children. Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
- Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.
- Limit your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
- Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
- Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
- Safeguard your children’s physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
- Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.
- Find out what resources your school has in place to help children cope. Most schools are likely to be open and often are a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy. Being with their friends and teachers can help. Schools should also have a plan for making counseling available to children and adults who need it.
What Schools Can Do:
- Assure children that they are safe and that schools are well prepared to take care of all children at all times.
- Maintain structure and stability within the schools. It would be best, however, not to have tests or major projects within the next few days.
- Have a plan for the first few days back at school. Include school psychologists, counselors, and crisis team members in planning the school’s response.
- Provide teachers and parents with information about what to say and do for children in school and at home.
- Have teachers provide information directly to their students, not during the public address announcements.
- Have school psychologists and counselors available to talk to students and staff who may need or want extra support.
- Be aware of students who may have recently experienced a personal tragedy or a have personal connection to victims or their families. Even a child who has merely visited the affected area or community may have a strong reaction. Provide these students extra support and leniency if necessary.
- Know what community resources are available for children who may need extra counseling. School psychologists can be very helpful in directing families to the right community resources.
- Allow time for age appropriate classroom discussion and activities. Do not expect teachers to provide all of the answers. They should ask questions and guide the discussion, but not dominate it. Other activities can include art and writing projects, play acting, and physical games.
- Be careful not to stereotype people or countries that might be associated with the tragedy. Children can easily generalize negative statements and develop prejudice. Talk about tolerance and justice versus vengeance. Stop any bullying or teasing of students immediately.
- Refer children who exhibit extreme anxiety, fear or anger to mental health counselors in the school. Inform their parents.
- Provide an outlet for students’ desire to help. Consider making get well cards or sending letters to the families and survivors of the tragedy, or writing thank you letters to doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals as well as emergency rescue workers, firefighters and police.
- Monitor or restrict viewing scenes of the event as well as the aftermath.
Operation: BuddyPack was a huge success! Thank you to every student and family who contributed for the backpacks to be filled with toiletries, school supplies, and games or toys to pass the time! Thousands of children in the New Jersey and New York area are without homes and all of the comforts that a home usually brings. Thanks to you, 10 additional children have been given a backpack full of practical supplies, and comfort. Mr. Joe and I cannot express the gratitude we have for all of you – the families at BLS – that helped put a smile on those children’s faces. We owe a very special ‘Thank you’ to Caroline S. and her family for bringing Operation: BuddyPack to the studio. And another special ‘Thank you’ to Max and Joey P.’s family for providing two completely filled packs to our collection!
It has been very heartwarming to see how quickly our students and parents were ready to sign-up to go out of their way to purchase and bring in brand-new supplies! I got so many replies, “Is that all?” from families that were so willing to donate more. Hurricane Sandy left behind a path of destruction, but in that wake, our Mid-Atlantic region has been able to witness the power of community connection!
Suicide is a major, preventable mental health problem. In 2009, 14.4 percent of all deaths of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 occurred with completed suicides. Here is what is important to understand. While it may seem common, it is not a healthy or typical response to stress.
While many of us could recognize some of the risk factors such as depression, substance abuse, prior attempts there are many others that may occur in combination or change over time. Many people may have these risk factors and not be suicidal. So how are we to know when to speak up and how to do so?
There are signs that we can look for and more important there is help available. Balanced Life Skills is dedicated to the health of our children in the community and is offering a FREE seminar that will get rid of the myths that are commonly believed about suicide. The training is offered to everyone in the community, because just as with CPR, the more of us who are trained in knowing the signs and what to do when we see them – the more lives can be saved, not just of our youth but all in our community.
Training by Marcie Gibbons, Spaulding High School, Psychologist