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What's New at KidsPeace

News and Notes from KidsPeace

KidsPeace Thanks Attendees of Soccer Tournament

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The 12th Annual Soccer Invitational held by KidsPeace in Orefield, PA, on August 22 and 23, was a huge success. The organizers and planning committee of the event would like to thank the players, coaches, families and spectators who visited the Orchard Hills Campus during the tournament not only for their good sportsmanship and respect for others, but for arriving as strangers and leaving as friends of KidsPeace. More than 100 volunteers from the ranks of KidsPeace and the community contributed to making the tournament run smoothly and safely and ensuring that an enjoyable time was experienced by all. KidsPeace estimates that more than 4,000 individuals were present to play or cheer on their favorite teams.

Community service is a big component of the residential treatment programs at KidsPeace, so many of the children also provided invaluable assistance to the tournament organizers. From making signs to assist visitors in finding where they should be to marshaling games to assisting with setup and cleanup, our kids happily pitched in to help ensure the success of the tournament. Many of our associates spent their days off helping out, and several brought along family and friends to make the weekend one to remember. There was much good will everywhere, and visitors left with a positive impression of KidsPeace and those who work here.

Survey

KidsPeace is eager to receive feedback from those who attended the soccer tournament. We would like to know what we did well and where we can improve for next year's tournament. Therefore, if you attended the 12 Annual KidsPeace Soccer Invitational, we ask you to take a few minutes to complete our survey and share your thoughts with us. We hope to see you next year and ask you to bring your family and friends to play, help out or watch some great soccer competition. Save the date for August 21 and 22, 2010, for the 13th Annual KidsPeace Soccer Invitational.

Back to School Tips from K to College

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It’s that time of year again and parents all over the country are getting their children to return to school. Whether it is a little one going to Kindergarten for the first time, or a young adult going away to college, there are bound to be some worries and concerns for both kids and parents. KidsPeace Institute Senior Training and Development Specialist Jodi Campbell offers some suggestions on how to ease the transitions.

 

WORRY and ANXIETY

Going back to school represents change: a new year, a new start. Kids may be flooded with questions and worries about coming school year: Will I like my school and my teacher? What if I miss mom and dad? Will the kids like me? Will I be able to talk to that cute girl this year? How will I handle my classes? Can I even do the work? What will my roommate be like? Is that mean kid going to be in my class again this year? What will happen on the bus ride?

 

Worry and anxiety can cause some of the following:

  • Disrupted sleep (more sleep or less sleep than usual
  • Disrupted eating (eating more than usual, or inability to eat)

  • Physical complaints (headaches, stomachaches)

  • Irritability, mood swings.

Usually, these are temporary and will resolve in a few weeks once the transition is established. If they do not, consult a doctor.

 

It may be difficult to know what your child is thinking, so the best thing to do is ASK. Start the conversation in a casual way, perhaps while he/she is doing something enjoyable. Meet your child where she is. Get down on the floor in the playroom. Send a message on Facebook. Talk in the car.

 

Some possible conversation starters:

 

Elementary School: “So, school is starting really soon. You must be excited AND nervous at the same time! I know I would be. What do you think?”

 

Middle School: “So, what are you thinking about school? Are you freaking out at all? Worried about anything? Talk to me…”

 

High School: “Hey – just want to check in with you about high school starting. I know you are totally ready for this. But just remember I’m here if you’re stressing out at all. Let me know if there is anything I can do, ok?”

 

College: “So, leaving home. This is huge. What’s going through your mind about all this?”

 

Dealing with worry and anxiety can be overwhelming, but remember…lots of times it’s just a matter of thinking things through out loud. When we keep it inside, it can get out of control. When we talk it out and put it all on the table, it’s much more manageable. So, do what you can to bring up conversations and provide opportunities to vent. But, this is important…DO NOT force your child to talk. Make yourself easy to talk to. If you do this, then, even if they do not talk now, they will later…when they really need to.

 

PREVENTING WORRY and ANXIETY

  1. Participate in any orientation activities the school offers.
  2. Discuss how things will go once school starts including schedules, walking routes, bus stops, morning and evening home routines, etc. Kids are more successful when they are pre-taught.
  3. Know your resources at the school. Find out in advance who the important figures are at your child’s school. Know their names and how to reach them. (Principal, nurse, guidance counselor, advisor, dean, etc.)
  4. For K – high school students, make an alliance with your child’s teacher. In today’s world, email is a great tool for this. Make email contact with your child’s teacher within the first two weeks of school. Introduce yourself and encourage the teacher to drop you a line whenever necessary. Your relationship with this teacher should be appropriate for the age level – the younger the child, the closer that relationship should be.
  5. For college students, do the OPPOSITE. Do not contact professors on behalf of your child. Let your young adult navigate this new world on his/her own. This is crucial. Only in extreme situations, such as your child’s physical safety being at risk, should you be getting involved with college officials. Do not negotiate grades or ask for extensions on behalf of you child – ever.

 

You and your child have made it through the transition, perhaps with no initial worries, but now  some problems are cropping up…

 

PROBLEMS at SCHOOL

 

Some of the more common problems children experience in the school environment include:

 

Elementary and Middle School:

  • Problems with the teacher (not liking the teacher, getting in trouble with the teacher, afraid of the teacher)
  • Problems with peers (bullying, exclusion, getting “in with the wrong crowd”)

          Problems with romantic relationships (“first” boyfriend/girlfriend, lack of focus, break-ups, abusive or unhealthy relationships)

          Learning problems (attention problems, reading difficulties, learning disabilities)

  • Organizational problems (forgetting things, losing things, not completing assignments, getting behind)

  • Behavior problems (not following rules, getting into trouble)

  •  Mental health issues (emerging)

 

High School:

  • High expectations (pressure is too much to be successful, perform, get into a good college, get a scholarshh
  • Learning and organizational problems continue, especially if unresolved from earlier grades
  • Peer Issues (changing friendships and social groupings, pressure to fit in
  • Sexuality (romantic relationships, pressure to have sex, questions about sexual orientation
  • High-risk behaviors (substance use, driving, self-injury, eating disorders, steroid use, hazing, violence, etc.)
  • Academic problems (classes are harder – lack of established study skills cause problems)          

 

 College:

  • Problems with roommate and living arrangements
  • Problems with making new friends, dealing with romantic involvement
  • Homesickness

  • Physical wellness (poor nutrition, lack of sleep, exposed to illnesses in living arrangements, high-stress, safe sex, substance use, etc.)

  • Division of focus (academics versus social expectations
  •  Substance use abuse
  •  Hazing (sports teams, fraternities/sororities, etc.)

  • Workload and schedule (self-management, responsibility, attending/skipping classes)

  •  Economic problems (working, paying for basic needs, paying bills, running up credit cards)

 

So first, how does a parent KNOW there are problems at school?

 

  1. Know your children. If you know your children, then you know when they are “off” or “not themselves.” This is crucial. If this happens, you know it’s time to reach out and start asking questions. He/she may not fess up the first time you ask, but make yourself available. Encourage; don’t push. It will come out eventually.
  2. Look for a change – atypical behavior for your child in the following arenas: academic performance, punctuality, eating, sleeping, physical appearance and involvement in their interests and hobbies. A sudden or drastic change in any of these areas is a red flag for parents.

 

Ok, so you think there is a problem. What do you do?

 

  1. Know your resources and use them. Use the resources available at your child’s school to be an extra set of eyes and an additional perspective.
  2. Talk to your child. Do not be afraid to ask difficult questions. Be there and notice your child is in pain. Noticing makes your child feel important – worthy. Be comfortable with whatever he/she says. Be open and compassionate, regardless of the situation.
  3. Empower your child. Be a COACH, not the Calvary. Do not solve your child’s problems for her. Give suggestions and check back in to see how it’s going. That being said, you should know what your “line in the sand” is. Though we do everything we can to let our children make their own choices, we also have to know when “enough is enough.”
  4. When you do intervene, do it with dignity. Avoid getting into a conversation with another child, or another child’s parent. When issues are this big, go through the school whenever possible. Keep your cool. If you do, school officials will be more willing to help you and your child.

 

BIG PROBLEMS

 

So, what if you’ve tried all these things, and your child is still suffering? What if in your “gut” you just KNOW that something is really wrong?

 

If you suspect that your child is getting depressed or having a serious mental health issue (suicidal, hurting others, eating disorder, self-injury, etc.) you should GET HELP.

 

Do not be afraid to contact a professional so that your child can talk to someone who has helped other children before in the same situation. Don’t go it alone.

 

How to get help:

  1. Contact the school and see what resources are available there.
  2. Visit www.kidspeace.org for tips from experts.
  3. Encourage your child to visit www.TeenCentral.Net, an anonymous free website designed to give kids feedback from Master's level counselors when they are not sure where to turn.

NASCAR Star Supports KidsPeace

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The Foster Care and Community Services office in Raleigh, NC, has gained support from NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson. Program Manager Paige Pait learned that the popular racer was seeking out worthy causes to help out through the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and his "Helmet of Hope" fundraising campaign. Nominations were sent to the foundation by  KidsPeace FCCP  Raleigh Board of Associates members and members of the foster care community. Thanks to one nomination in particular by Thomas Swieca of Pinehurst, NC, KidsPeace was chosen as one of 12 organizations whose logos will appear on Jimmie's helmet during the October 11 Pepsi 500 Sprint Club Race at California's Auto Club Raceway. Additionally, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation will contribute $1048 to the Children's Fund of the Raleigh FCCP office, and all 12 organizations will share the profits from a tee shirt that will be sold online and display all 12 logos on the back.

"This is huge recognition of KidsPeace from an extremely popular NASCAR driver," Paige said, "and our logo will be seen by millions during this race." NASCAR followers are known for their philanthropy, and the Foundation will be conducting a major public relations effort to promote the cause and the organizations that were selected as benefactors. Learn more about the  foundation and order a tee shirt at www.jimmiejohnsonfoundation.org. KidsPeace greatly appreciates this honor and hopes to reach out to the many fans of and racers in the NASCAR sport.

A Letter of Thanks to KidsPeace of Florida

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The following letter was sent to the Program Manager of the KidsPeace FCCP offices in Florida.

  

To Whom it May Concern:



About 18 months ago, I needed help for my three children. We were going through so many changes in our family. We were dealing with the issues of a divorce, new relationships, new stepfamily, new baby, moving to a new home and undesirable input from others ...
 
I had visited with a private counselor, but she did not accept our insurance. She was kind enough to look into possible avenues for us and referred me to  KidsPeace. I had seen the sign for KidsPeace on the window of her building, but I was not familiar with the organization. I really needed help. I called KidsPeace. From our first conversation, I felt comfortable with the counselor. She was a wonderful listener. She asked lots of questions, was not judgmental and, most of all, it was obvious that she was the advocate of each child who was her client. She was interested in the well-being of the child, the confidence, security in and of self, the free thinking and the ability of that child to accept, communicate about, embrace, and participate in, his or her life, whatever that might look like to that individual child.
 
Some of the issues we identified in our planning meetings were anger, confidence and sibling "rivalry." We, with the children's input, established goals for the three-month periods. I feel that our counselor helped the children to address the issues that pertained to each of them. I have especially seen my daughter, Linda*, 11 years old, apply the tools that she learned in counseling sessions . Linda has actually come to me when I am having a problem and offered her opinion, which is full of ideas and skills that have come from her counseling with KidsPeace! I have seen her take a situation that is difficult for her and go from anger and being "out of control" to being positive, clear about her feelings, identifying pro's and con's, in control of her feelings and ready to meet the situation head-on. It is amazing to watch. She has gained tools that will serve her throughout her life. We have a very open household now, full of open communication and encouragement, and she is flourishing; I most definitely attribute much of her growth and success to her experience with her KidsPeae counselor.

  

Not only was our counselor highly effective in her sessions with the children, she made herself available to me whenever I needed to talk with her. I called her many times to update her on the kids' situations, but, very often, I was vexed with a problem and needed advice. I called and she listened and advised, always with a sincere concern for James*, Joseph* and Linda. This was very helpful, especially in regard to James. I was going through a difficult time when James did not want to come to my home and spend time with me. I struggled for weeks and months over it and finally took her advice ... We had a session in which I sat with James and the counselor and told him that I loved him, and, because I loved him, I would let him do what he wanted to do. He smiled at me and said, "Gracias."  It was a wonderful moment.  Our relationship has improved, and continues to improve, since that day.
 
One by one, each of my children expressed that he or she was ready to finish counseling. So, we did close them out, each at the appropriate time. KidsPeace staff were wonderful to all of us from our first encounter to the last session. We left the door open for any of the children to return if the need arises.

  

I have obviously been very happy and satisfied with KidsPeace and with our counselor individually. Thank you for providing such a valuable service.

Sincerely,
L.R.*


*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

 

 

Soccer Tournament Promises Great Competition

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The 12th Annual KidsPeace Soccer Invitational will take place on August 22 and 23 on the beautiful Orchard Hills Campus in Orefield, PA. A total of 96 teams have signed up to play a minimum of three games each in the categories of U-9 to U-17 (girls) at this beautiful, more than 255 acre location. We invite our neighbors and fans of great soccer to attend this event and enjoy a family weekend. It gives us an opportunity to show off our great campus and facilities and allows us to meet community members and players and their families in a fun and exciting environment. To learn more about the soccer tournament and find directions to the fields, visit the soccer page of our Web site.

Associates from our many Lehigh Valley sites will be volunteering and socializing with our visitors. Don't be surprised to see members of our leadership team readying fields or directing traffic. This event brings out the best in everyone at KidsPeace and brings a great deal of joy to the participants and spectators. We hope to see you there.

Georgia Teen Finds Happiness

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Richard* came to KidsPeace in May of 2007 dressed in a pressed pink button down shirt with a bright pair of pink shoes and a smile that peeked out from some long shaggy hair. He was a 13-year-old boy who had just been kicked out of his previous placement because the clinicians there had not successful at helping him with his issues. Upon his arrival, we learned that Richard had been physically and sexually abused by his father and was neglected by his mother before coming into DFCS custody.

His first month at KidsPeace affirmed that Richard was a true abuse survivor, as evidenced by his getting angry and scared with little provocation, difficulty trusting adults and little to no self-confidence. Richard’s typical day was spent punching mats, cursing and pushing everybody away. The therapist helped him understand and accept that he did not deserve to be abused and how he could protect himself in the future. The entire staff at KidsPeace and the Bowdon community showed him that most adults can be trusted. The therapist also taught Richard’s mother appropriate parenting skills; she educated her on the role of a mother and emphasized her responsibility to protect him from any possible future abuse. Richard was finally able to talk about his sadness and began to open up about the hopes and dreams he has in his life, he was able develop a plan for what he needs to do if anybody ever tries to hurt him. Once the “real” young man came to light, Richard began to win the hearts of staff and students alike. KidsPeace discovered he felt best when he was able to work hard, and when he felt like people cared about him.

 The day before Valentine’s Day, this boy dressed in pink, about two inches taller, hair cut and styled, left to step down to a group home that was closer to his mom’s house. During a recent training off-campus, this client’s therapist ran into some staff from the group home who shared they had put Richard to work in the kitchen and he continues to do well. He is able to attend a public school and has been able to control his anger and express himself appropriately. The family has been able to participate in weekly counseling, and Richard is hoping to return home soon.

 

*Name changed to protect privacy



KidsPeace of Georgia Gives Teen the Tools to Succeed

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Darlene* arrived at KidsPeace National Centers of Georgia  after habitually running away from other placements. She entered the campus with few possessions except for the clothes on her back and a spiky hairstyle to complement her alternative fashion style. Darlene had survived a long history of neglect and physical abuse at the hands of her biological father and adoptive aunt and uncle. She had little to no reference for the notion of stability. When she would run away, she was exposed to many drugs, exploitation and prostitution to meet her daily needs. These stresses led to an eating disorder and self-injurious behaviors – the marks of which were evident on her arms. Subsequently, she presented as depressed, hopeless and with little regard for her own well-being, much less self respect or esteem.

Despite these adversities, Darlene was a bright and insightful young lady who was willing to work on her issues, IF she could begin trusting people. Darlene slowly began to build relationships with her KidsPeace associates and therapists, leading to acknowledgment of her underlying issues. She was then able to start using her intelligence and insight to begin healing and fostering her resilience in healthy ways rather than her usual self-destructive patterns.

Due to Darlene’s lifestyle, she was very far behind in school. As she began to make effort, KidsPeace was able to help her catch up to her expected grade level. Her grades improved to straight A’s by discharge. This success served to build confidence and motivation in her in terms of academics.

Darlene has remained with KidsPeace as an outpatient client. Because of this, KidsPeace of Georgia associates have witnessed the flourishing of the seeds planted while she was in placement here. Not only did she never run from KidsPeace, she has never run from her subsequent placements either. Unfortunately, not all support systems have been positive for Darlene. She eventually moved from her group home back to the home of her aunt and uncle. She even continued family therapy with them at KidsPeace.  However, shortly before her state case was closed, it was revealed that her uncle had again resorted to physical abuse and violence against Darlene. She was returned to a group home where she remained until recently.

Darlene is moving into a loving foster care placement dedicated to building on her continued success. She has worked diligently on her academics and continues to make straight A’s. She is now scheduled to graduate on time with her peers and is planning to attend a local university. Darlene was recently awarded one of a handful of scholarships to a one-week workshop at a prestigious out of state university to hone her professional skills with some of the best and brightest minds in her field of study. This scholarship was a result of her own motivation and her demonstration of ability, not her background or history. Darlene is feeling a sense of confidence unknown to her just two years ago. This shows not only through her joyful and hopeful soul, but also in her healthy weight and scarless arms.  

Darlene’s triumph over extreme adversity is a testament to her own will and resilience, but also to the support and stability from KidsPeace.  There are countless other Darlene’s waiting to be discovered if given the chance.

*name changed to protect privacy


 

KidsPeace Brings Gardening Expertise to Puerto Rico

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Fred Indenbaum, Counselor from the KidsPeace Advances School in Berks PA, was invited to visit Puerto Rico last month and participate in the island's second annual "Veggie Fest." Fred stayed at the home of a local health care consulting firm executive and spent the weekend giving presentations and informal talks about the garden his kids tend on the Berks Campus. There was significant interest in the Advances gardening program for all of the therapeutic value it provides in addition to its bountiful yield of vegetables and flowers.

The festival was great fun and a terrific learning experience, and Fred was delighted with all of the interest shown for his program by members of the health and wellness community. There was coverage by a local radio station as well as high attendance. Fred also visited an inner city elementary school where his host would like to start a similar garden for the children of the area.

Fred also explained the Advances vericomposting project where the students recycle food waste and paper into rich soil for the garden. This not only helps the planet but also saves the school money in trash hauling costs. He showed the men plastic lumber, which is made from recycled plastic and works very well in garden settings. Fred impressed everyone so much with his knowledge and passion for environmental issues, that he was invited to return to Puerto Rico in October to make a formal preentation to the civic and business leaders of the Rotary Club. He will also meet with a grant writer to help the program obtain funding. Fred is delighted to help start a sister organization that can exchange ideas with the Advances program to benefit both projects.

KidsPeace Associate Wins Prestigious Award

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Hans Krichels

At the Annual Conference of the National Association of Social Workers, Maine Chapter, held this spring, a very active KidsPeace associate was recognized for his great work with our kids. Hans Krichels is the director of KidsGiveBack and a counselor at the KidsPeace National Centers of Maine in Graham Lake. He has spent many years getting the children of KidsPeace Maine involved in community service and making huge contributions of hard work and time to several worthy causes.

Hans was presented with the 2008 Citizen of the Year Award by the association and made a speech thanking the organization, the community of Ellsworth, KidsPeace and especially the children who give of themselves so willingly to improve the appearance and resources of the area. In 2008, 48 KidsPeace children logged 999 hours of community service under Hans' enthusiastic leadership. From clearing brush in the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust to conducting animal tracking surveys to helping at the Ellsworth Library to painting the exterior of the Woodlawn Museum to creating a camping/picnic area on the shores of Graham Lake, no task is too big for Hans and his crew of hard-working kids.

Congratulations to Hans and to all of the children at the KidsPeace Maine campus for their great effort and sense of community.


 

 
   
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