May 8, 2018 Shelby Pedersen, CEO, ICAN: Positive Programs for Youth Many parents know that middle school can be a nerve-wracking few years. So much growth and change occur with youth as they transition to high school – they transform into young adults right before your eyes. At ICAN, we see this transition among youth in our afterschool program all the time. We also see the struggles that their parents face with this transition. Our program team works with our parents in a variety of ways each month – focusing on positive parenting skills and communication with youth. They decided to tackle this transition to high school with youth and parents through the “Bridges” program. This curriculum was introduced to ICAN through Arizona State University and the work of Dr. Nancy Gonzales and Dr. Larry Dumka. Bridges is a program for middle school youth and their parents to attend together. It is designed to increase school engagement and achievement, strengthen family-school linkages, and prevent adolescents’ social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. The skills presented through the Bridges program are important for any parent facing the middle school years. ICAN is the first to offer the Bridges program through a nonprofit agency. Students work together to explore their aspirations and the role of education in reaching them. They learn strategies to achieve long term personal goals and practice life skills to manage problems and challenges. Parents work together to increase awareness and understanding of adolescents’ changing emotional and educational needs. They learn skills to strengthen communication and positive bonds with their students, structure and monitor their students’ activities and opportunities, and manage adolescents’ emotional problems and risky behavior. One of our families that participated last year at Willis Jr. High recently reached out to ICAN to share a follow up on their family plan. The mom shared that her son was having some challenges deciding what high school he wants to attend next year. She shared that her son had been practicing some of the coping skills learned in the program and that she had been able to listen more carefully to her son’s reasons (see CONNECT skills below) instead of reacting. Mom shared that, thanks to Bridges, they were able to make an action plan, and have been visiting the different schools to learn together about their options. Without Bridges, she said, “My husband and I would have ‘forced’ our son to attend the school of our choice, but thanks to what we learned in the program, we have been able to support our son better and make a decision together.” What skills can you utilize on your own from the Bridges program? Here are some of the skills that parents who attended the Bridges program report using the most: Do a “check up” on some of these skills – most parents use these skills already, but middle school is a new challenging stage for the teens: CONNECT skills, to help you keep a strong and positive relationship with your teen […]
September 1, 2017 Shelby Pedersen CEO, ICAN: Positive Programs for Youth Positivity can be a very powerful tool with youth. Positive reinforcements are a great way to instill encouraging, optimistic feelings. At ICAN, we work with youth who deal with many struggles in their daily lives. This can lead to sizeable behavioral issues and the natural tendency for most adults is to “penalize” children for poor behavior. This may show up as yelling, lecturing, or other negative reactions. We take a different approach with these youth – with all of our youth. Our staff uses purposeful, positive statements with youth every day that appreciate them for their unique skills and abilities and provide praise when they’ve followed directions, met a goal or been kind to one another. These tactics are something that every parent, teacher or youth care worker can utilize. All of our programming at ICAN is evidence-based, which means it’s based on scientific research and typically endorsed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. One of those curricula is called PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies). The PATHS program is grounded in the science of children’s brain development, which has determined that children experience and react to strong emotions before developing the cognitive abilities to verbalize them. One of the main education objectives of PATHS is to enhance children’s self-esteem, self-confidence, and ability to give and receive compliments. Research has shown that youth learn best and show higher motivation within the context of positive attachments. Much of this ties in with the Golden Rule, something that threads through most of the PATHS activities that we teach. For example, in one activity we break the kids into groups and give them a series of scenarios to discuss. These scenarios include: “You said something mean to your mom and hurt her feelings” and “You have to do your homework, but you don’t want to. Your parents remind you to do it now!” Youth discuss how they would feel in that situation, how does their parent feel, what they could do if they were the parent and what they could do themselves, using the Golden Rule. Our staff use many different types of positive reinforcements with our youth. If a staff member sees a group of youth misbehaving and not staying on task, they don’t scold that group, they find a group nearby who is working well and compliment them so that everyone can hear. If they see youth running down the hall instead of walking, they say “why don’t you come back and try that again” instead of yelling “Stop! You can’t be running.” It takes a great deal of effort and forethought – rephrasing what we are so quick to yell out. Our staff understand that character building takes time and commitment, it doesn’t happen overnight. So many of these tools are great for parenting in the home as well. I hope everyone will take a second to think through how much positivity they are sharing in the […]
A recent study that surveyed over 10,000 teens, found most used alcohol and drugs before adulthood. This could become a possibility of setting up youth for a lifetime of substance abuse. The study results indicated that by late adolescence, 78 percent of teenagers reported having consumed alcohol; 47 percent having reached regular drinking levels of at least 12 drinks within a year; and 15 percent having met the criteria for lifetime abuse. The opportunity to use illicit drugs was reported by 81 percent of the oldest adolescents, drug use by 43 percent and drug abuse by 16 percent. ICAN’s youth programs are targeted at preventing youth substance abuse with early education and positive decision making skills. Our life skills programs like Botvin’s Life Skills (A comprehensive program that addresses all of the most important factors leading adolescents to use drugs by teaching a combination of health information, general life skills and drug resistance skills), Second Step Program (This program is a long-term intervention that builds skills consecutively with the intention of preventing alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use and promoting healthy decision-making and positive, healthy youth development), and Too Good For Drugs (This program includes activities to strengthen knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and skills which research has shown to be effective in preventing drug use and violent behavior) make a proven difference in youth attitudes toward substance abuse. We invite people to see our programs in action by getting involved through a variety of ways beyond financial support. We have our needs and in-kind support is a way to provide items we are directly in need of. There are also many volunteer opportunities whether you are looking to work with ICAN youth, assisting in an administrative capacity, supporting our special events, or many more opportunities to get involved! There are also many opportunities to make a difference through our partnership with the Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse (CCYSA). This study shows the immediate need for ICAN programs and you can show your support by joining us in creating a positive future for youth and the community!
Welcome to the ICAN blog…a new place for supporters, community members, and clients to stay in touch with ICAN. My name is Christy McClendon, and I always say that it is my privilege to serve as ICAN’s Chief Executive Officer. I have been with the organization for 6 years and continue to be inspired by the youth and families we serve. They inspire my work each day as I watch them grow, learn, and develop into productive members of our community. In the spirit of our first blog post, let me start off by saying that there are a lot of exciting things happening at ICAN! Our organization has been serving youth and families for nearly 20 years and we have seen so much change in the Chandler Redevelopment Area; however, we have more work ahead of us to increase awareness about youth substance abuse and gang activity. This blog is just one step forward to creating a larger awareness through our invaluable programming. Within the ICAN blog we want to be able to bring detailed information on some of the ongoing events and information to keep you informed. ICAN has so much going on between youth preventative programming, community outreach programs, volunteer opportunities, and community involvement through various events that we host and partner with throughout the year. Summer is coming upon us quickly and ICAN is preparing to bring positive programming from the school year into summertime. With the extra free time youth have, we provide programs and activities that not only keep them entertained, but continue their growth with the ability to make positive choices when it comes to substance abuse, gang activity, and personal development in academics and life skills. ICAN also holds the annual Pack-a-Backpack Drive from July 1-15 where the community donates school supplies so youth are ready to return to school after summer. Furthermore, ICAN is in the midst of the Only ICAN Capital Campaign to build a new facility, which a rendering of the new facility is show to the right, that will give the much needed space and expansion our programs need to serve a growing population of youth and families. We have already made some great progress, but there are still many more milestones to hit including: Ground Breaking in June Beginning Construction in September Raising $1.1 Million by August 2011 to be eligible for a significant grant opportunity I encourage you to explore our website including the Only ICAN Capital Campaign webpage. There is a lot of great information on programs, our history and the many ways you can get involved to bring change to the youth of ICAN. You can also contact our office at 480-821-4207 to set up a tour.