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News and Notes from KidsPeace

Overcoming the stigma of special education

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classroom-special-education-kidspeaceBy Denise Morganthall


The majority of children with mental health issues have a learning disability that requires special education and/or special instruction in a classroom setting.


Special education allows schools to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities through specially designed individual or group instruction. Many special education settings are segregated from mainstream students.


Many parents struggle with their children being labeled under special education. For this reason, many parents refuse to accept the fact that their child has a learning disability and in turn refuse to put their child in special education courses, even though they know their child would benefit from it. It is sad to think we still struggle with this stigma in 2013. The first step is for school systems to have a zero tolerance policy for children who make fun of and/or disrespect their classmates who are “different.”


Some of the children who have learning disabilities are fortunate in that they are able to remain in the general classroom setting with the assistance of a teacher’s aide. This concept is known as “inclusion.” These children have the opportunity to learn alongside children of both average and exceptional abilities; however, there is controversy over that as well. There does appear to be less “labeling” under this umbrella of teaching. However, this does not always meet the needs of the children.


Many children who receive special education support in their early years eventually mainstream in their middle and high school years. Mainstreaming attempts to move students from special education classrooms to regular classrooms only in situations where they are able to keep up with their other classmates without specially designed instruction.


We need the help and support of the parents, teachers, administrators and students to end the stigma. We need to expose special education children to the other students so they can see  they really aren’t that much different, except that they learn at a slower rate. And even if they are different that’s OK too. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.

Get moving during National Fitness Month

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running-woman-kidspeaceBy Denise Morganthall


Are you trying to lose weight or even fit into your summer clothes from last year? Have you felt tired lately and don’t know why? Are your children spending too much time in front of the TV and/or computer?


If you have answered yes to these questions, now is the time to get up and get moving! May is National Fitness Month, and you can make a change in your life starting today. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car far away from store entrances. Go for a walk once a day with your children, ride a bike, play Frisbee or even go fishing. Just making these small changes will play a large role in not only your physical well-being, but your mental health as well.


Research has shown that physical inactivity can lead to premature death, chronic disease and disability. Proper and adequate amounts of exercise boost brain activity affecting everything from the way we think to how we feel to what we do. Exercise can improve memory, not only in adults but in children as well. It makes it easier for kids to learn and boosts the brain’s capacity for knowledge. Exercise increases strength, flexibility and endurance. Research and statistics tell us that 20 percent of people have symptoms of mental impairment. By 2020, mental illness will be the highest cause of death and disability in the world. If those statistics are not enough to get you moving, I don’t know what is.


Don’t have time to go to the gym? Well you are not one does. But there are plenty of things you can do at home for exercise. Be creative in making exercise fun. Get your kids involved in sports, dance or even running with a dog, if you have one. If not, volunteer to walk the dogs at the local SPCA.


We can all use this month to raise awareness about the benefits of physical activity – both at home and work. Make a difference and spread the word about fun ways to get moving!

National Nurses Week and Teacher Appreciation Week remind us to honor those who serve others

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“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mahatma Gandhi 


This first full week of May is a time to honor two groups of professionals who embody service above self – nurses and teachers.


This year, for National Nurses Week, the American Nurses Association has chosen the theme “Delivering Quality and Innovation in Patient Care.” At KidsPeace, our nurses blend science and compassion every day, putting in long hours to make life a little easier for the children and adolescents in our care. And through tackling both the ordinary and extraordinary situations that arise each day, they have the chance to make a permanent impression not just on their patients, but also the families of those they serve. We are immensely grateful for the passion they bring to their vocation.


National Nurses Week began Monday and runs through May 12, which was the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is considered the founder of modern nursing. Whether nurses are working directly with patients, educating those who are in the trenches or conducting research, their purpose is always to ease others’ burdens and provide high-quality, patient-driven care.


In addition to honoring nurses, May 6-10 is Teacher Appreciation Week. I’m sure everyone can recall at least one special teacher who went above and beyond to make learning enjoyable. Good teachers help their students by showcasing their strengths, teaching new skills and encouraging them to dream bigger for their future. At KidsPeace, our teachers work hard every day to ensure out students receive a well-rounded education. It’s never too late to thank a teacher for setting you on the right path. If you are a parent, you are probably even more aware of the crucial role teachers play. So take a moment this week to say thank you, volunteer in a classroom or nominate a teacher for an award.


Do you have a special way to honor a nurse or teacher in your life? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Recognizing National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

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By Denise Morganthall


depressed-teen-kidspeaceOne out of five children suffer from some sort of mental health problem. Children’s mental health problems include ADHD, Autism, bipolar, depression and schizophrenia. May 5-11 is children's mental health awareness week.


As a parent, how do we know our child is suffering from a mental illness? Some red flag behaviors can be change in appetite, trouble sleeping, dropping grades, showing less interest in sports and taking unnecessary risks. Some behaviors may seem to parents like children are just going through a phase or “being a teenager.” Some parents are hesitant to get treatment because of the stigma attached to mental illness or they do not want to believe it is happening to them. However early intervention is critical to successful treatment.


Today mental illness is so prevalent that we are better at understanding what causes it and in turn being able to provide successful treatment. This week is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health and lending a hand to those who are struggling. Shame and stigma too often leave people feeling like there is no place to turn. We need to make sure they know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.

Peer mentors help pave the way to successful recovery

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By Denise Morganthall


peer-mentors-kidspeaceWhen you were a student, you may recall having had a peer mentor. This was someone you could look up to and turn to when you needed advice or were unsure of something. Maybe you had the opportunity to be a mentor for someone else as well. Peer mentors are becoming increasingly common in the mental health field and have been known to provide mental health patients with a successful recovery.


Peer mentors are a supplemental service to the primary care a patient receives. Here are some advantages a peer mentor can offer:

  • Peer mentors have first-hand knowledge of what their mentees are experiencing, in that they had the same diagnoses and understand the pain and frustrations of what they are enduring. They are able to give sound advice and share how they overcame their illness.
  • Peer mentors will teach basic life skills, such as how to get a bus, how to access a bank and where to buy groceries.
  • Peer mentors will provide hope and motivation, which pave the way to recovery.

We all need encouragement at some point during our lives. Who better to give it than those who have been through it before, know how tough it can be and have a proven track record of overcoming difficulties and moving forward with their lives?

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