California Law Spurs Reforms after Suicide Cluster
Suicde Prevention Required in CA Schools
“In an effort to address youth suicide, a new law in California requires schools to establish suicide prevention programs for students in grades 7 to 12. The state law mandates that schools have suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention procedures in place by the start of the next school year.”
CAST Added to the Canadian Best Practice Portal
CAST Added to the Canadian Best Practice Portal!
The Public Health Agency of Canada reviewed the science-based prevention program Coping and Support Training (CAST) and subsequently added it to their prestigious Best Practice Portal. You can read their summary and independent review on their website.
Help is at Hand
The Canby, Oregon RY Program makes inroads with student drug and alcohol use
by Peggy Savage, Canby Herald
When high school senior Scott Munoz first arrived at Canby High School a few years ago, he had some serious problems. But thanks to help from a dedicated counselor at the school and the school’s intervention-prevention program, Munoz turned his life around.
Thursday, Munoz, in company with CHS intervention-prevention specialist Trevor Lockwood, told his story to the Canby School Board. Munoz said he came to Canby as a transfer from Tigard High School……..
RY leads to a turn-around in behavior
Dropout prevention program emphasizes emotional control for angry teens
Published in the Toronto Globe and Mail, May 21, 2013
Little things like rain on his walk to school, a teacher nagging him about homework or a classmate knocking a pencil off his desk used to be enough to set Ahmed Gulzar off. He would yell at his teacher, his classmates – anyone within earshot – throw a book across the room and storm out.
Ahmed rarely made it through the first 20 minutes of class without losing his temper and getting kicked out and sent to the office.
Just over a year ago, Ahmed, a student at R.H. King Academy in Toronto, was among the first Canadian students to participate in a U.S. drop-out prevention program, Reconnecting Youth (RY). The Canadian version of the program puts special emphasis on mood control and has been life-changing for kids like Ahmed, 16.
Hitting the target: suicide prevention for at-risk youths
Published online in Prevention Action, October 31, 2012
On both sides of the Atlantic, suicide is one of the largest causes of death among teenagers. Two short programs that focus on at-risk students can offer some protection, according to a study from America’s west coast.
Over the last two decades, universal suicide prevention programs – often delivered to all students in a school – have increasingly been introduced. But concerns remain that young people most at risk are not getting the additional help they need.
Two targeted programs, called Counselors CARE (C-CARE) and Coping and Support Training (CAST), can help these teenagers, according to researchers…
Reconnecting Youth Program boosts teens
Seventeen-year-old Chris Malcolm is the first to admit he squandered a lot of his high school years because he just didn’t care.
“I was like, I don’t care about school, I don’t care if I’m here, it’s so boring I can’t deal with it,” said Malcolm, a senior at Summit High School in Frisco. “But now, I can tell myself the day’s gonna be fine, I’m fine, and I’m capable of doing school” …
He credits the turnaround in his life to one class, which he’s taking this year. It meets second period, three days a week.
CAST lessons pay off for even the toughest kids
Sometimes it is hard to know when or if our efforts with at-risk youth are paying off. Every once in a while, an especially challenging group dynamic or ambivalent individual student has us “stumped” and wondering if it is working at all. Ann Tracey, a school counselor at a Seattle area school, was experiencing these kinds of doubts a few years ago, with a particular CAST group.
She wrote us a note, just last month, to share a silver lining that we all should read and take to heart. “One of my toughest CAST groups and CAST students has produced a school leader!” Ann wrote. “I noticed one of my former students, now in high school, at a district program actually doing conflict mediation with the students from my school. He was using CAST skills that he learned in group! He was such a typical “trouble maker” that I wasn’t sure he was getting anything out of CAST, but he is thriving. This was a student on the road to dropping out, back when he was in our program. Now he is a leader in this alternative program, and he will graduate with honors.”
This is a story we’ve heard before. Sometimes it is easy to allow yourself to believe that the CAST/RY lessons are really not getting through. But more often than not, students are taking notice. Tucking away the support, skills training, practice and encouragement for later. When they are ready. When they’ve had enough of the old patterns. When they are able to make a change.
Ann tells us, “I am a STRONG advocate in CAST for all!” We salute Ann Tracey and other CAST and RY Facilitators out there who may experience doubt, but persevere. For the sake of our kids. Every single one.
Reconnecting Youth alum “paying it forward”
Sixteen-year-old Trayvon Alston is living proof of the difference the West Springfield High School’s Reconnecting Youth program can make in a young person’s life, much as it did for Lincoln Blackie.
Blackie, a 22-year-old alumnus of West Springfield High and a May graduate of Westfield State University with a degree in public administration and regional planning, says he faced the same challenges as a student which beleaguered Alston until Reconnecting Youth changed both their lives for the better. Blackie is now a candidate running for state representative in the 6th Hampden District.
Reconnecting Youth…is the same program for which Blackie was targeted and the one from which he benefited – so much so that when he heard of the great strides Alston made in his education from his involvement in Reconnecting Youth he wanted to “pay it forward” and do something for the teen to keep him on a successful path.
Kansas SD expands RY Program to all high schools
How RY was adopted into all high schools in a district.
In the summer of 2011, Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, KS, sent five fabulous and passionate staff members to our annual Seattle RY Facilitator Training. Blue Valley Academy Principal, Valerie Jennings, wrote us in February to say that the RY Program was going so well in their district that “we met with the high school principals who do not have RY … and all of them are wanting to offer RY in their buildings next year!”
That led to a July 2012 training hosted in Overland Park, just outside of Kansas City, for seven new RY Facilitators. By the end of the training week, the previously trained group of teachers, school psychologists and counselors was eagerly making plans with the new RY Facilitators to meet regularly for group consultation. Later in the summer, Jennings flew back to Seattle for an advanced RY Coordinator Training, for more instruction on how to support her growing team to teach RY with fidelity.
Students in Chaffee County, CO. sing RY’s praises
Decreased drug use and increased resilience are among several positive effects reported by both Chaffee County, Colorado school districts implementing Reconnecting Youth. Among the 30 high school students that completed the RY program last year, there was a 30% drop in both alcohol and marijuana use, along with statistically significant increases in resiliency and positive outlook.
Youth @ Crossroads delivers the RY Program through Family and Youth Initiatives, a division of Chaffee County’s Health and Human Services Department. Kayla Maddox, a trained RY Facilitator and the Youth @ Crossroads Coordinator, shared some of their RY students’ year-end testimonials with us, this summer.
Both RY and CAST are listed in Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools, a new resource released by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, earlier this year. Ours are the ONLY programs listed under Skills-Building Programs for Individuals at Risk of Suicide.
Developed through a contract with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors in collaboration with Education Development Center, the Toolkit aims at reducing the risk of suicide among high school students by providing research-based guidelines and resources to assist schools, providers and others to identify teenagers at risk and take appropriate measures to provide help. The toolkit offers information on screening tools, warning signs and risk factors of suicide, as well as statistics and education materials that are easily adaptable to any high school setting. Available free for download now!