Thursday, January 28, 2016

SELPA1:  Monthly "Let's Talk" Event

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Vote:  “Unmasked” Needs Your Vote in the Student Filmmakers Awards

Voting ends Sunday, January 24th at 10:59pm PT
Last weekend the community united as emails and FB posts spread like wild fire to alert people of the Student Filmmakers Award online competition. “Unmasked”, a movie produced by Paly and Gunn students (DocX) rallied for the win in the semi-finals, and has now advanced to the FINALS!! The DocX team is thoroughly humbled by the support they have received.  Let’s keep it going.  Please help them by clicking the link below (or paste in your browser).  Then sign in with either Facebook or Google+ and vote for “Unmasked” by Sunday 10:59pm
Last summer students from Paly and Gunn (DocX) came together and collaborated on a project to address the issue of teen suicide in Palo Alto. Their goal was to open dialogue, to help their community and their fellow students, and to let those who might be feeling pain know that they are being heard and we care.
In a few short weeks this team of 15-18 year old kids story-boarded the project, filmed, interviewed key high level people and created the amazing documentary “Unmasked”.  The movie is good and it addresses an incredibly sensitive and complicated issue in a balanced way. “Unmasked” has not only united a great group of kids (and families) from the two schools but it is uniting the community. Someone who has seen it said, “…it gives us a chance to step back and realize the goal is not to blame, but to care.” A Cupertino student told me, “It’s really on the kids’ level. It hits home and gives hope.” I am so proud of what these kids took it upon themselves to do and how they have helped the community that they love.
“Unmasked” is good. The film won “Best Short Film” last November at the Big Asian Film Festival in Los Angeles. And now it is in the FINALS of the Student Filmmakers Award competition, a world-wide student film competition. Of the original 32 films that were accepted to this competition, 5 were from high schools and the rest were from college and grad school; stiff competition.  The movie they are up against is “If Death Were Kind".  It is the thesis project of three students from the University of Nebraska.
Online voting is in progress and ends Sunday 1/24/16 at 10:59pm. 
Voting will be tight so please forward this to friends and family. 
These kids care for their community, their schools, and their peers and hence they are hesitant to self-promote their work. Throughout the competition, the one thing the DocX team has stated over and over is that the most important consequence of this competition is that more people have been able to view the movie and be helped by its message.  

Help them in their quest to support us.  Please vote!!

Parent Ed:  Alcohol & Drug Education Workshop for Parents

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Course: Advanced Authentic Research Project

ACS:  Understanding and Coping with Anxiety

By Deborah Sloss, LCSW

Most of us have experienced anxiety at some point in our lives. Some people even feel a moderate amount of anxiety spurs them to action.  However, for others, anxiety can start to interfere with their day-to-day functioning.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are among the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans; as many as 25% of teens and adults will experience some form of significant anxiety during their lifetimes. While anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it can be debilitating and affect general well-being, social life, academic performance and social interactions.  And while the person suffering may realize their worry is excessive, they may also have difficulty controlling it.  For example, a person may avoid situations that cause anxiety or suffer through them with little enjoyment and lots of distress. If anxiety is interfering with your day-to-day life, there are steps you can take to reset this balance.  Understanding more about anxiety itself and learning ways to identify the anxious components in your own thoughts, feelings and behavior can lead to effective ways to cope and manage anxiety.
Three Components of Anxiety
There are three major components of anxiety: physical sensations, thoughts (cognitions) and behaviors.

  • The physical sensations of anxiety may include feeling wound-up, tense or restless, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty with sleep, and stomach pains. In more severe cases, panic attacks may result in heart palpitations, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea, sweating, shaking, a choking feeling, chest pain, chills, and numbness.
  • Anxious thoughts (also called cognitions) can be about suspected danger, fear of dying, fear of losing control, and worry about having additional panic attacks.  For example, one might fear that chest pains caused by anxiety are a deadly heart attack or that the shooting pains in one’s head are the result of a tumor or aneurysm. One might have intense and recurrent thoughts of dying.  Anxious thoughts may also result in nightmares or bad dreams, and feeling like everything is scary.
  • Anxious behaviors might include: reduced eye contact, nail biting and other nervous habits, or an increase in motor activities, like foot tapping. One may also avoid situations or withdraw from activities that previously caused discomfort.
It is important to note that “…when a person becomes anxious, the cognitive, physical, and behavioral components of anxiety interact with each other…For example, an anxious thought may lead to increased heart rate and muscle tension, which in turns leads to more anxious thoughts” (Hope, Heimburg and Turk, 29-30).
What can we do to manage anxiety?
While there are a number of methods that have proven helpful in addressing the physical component of anxiety, this article will focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a research-based technique that helps manage the thoughts and behavior generated by anxiety. CBT was developed in the mid 1950s and early 1960s by Drs. Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck.  CBT therapists realized that understanding the interaction between thoughts, feelings and events is the first step in successfully managing anxiety. These ideas were later expanded on by Dr. David Burns. In his book, Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy, Burns explains that our interpretation of events is often governed by negative or “automatic” thoughts, which can result in anxiety. Here are some examples of automatic, negative and anxious thoughts that may sound familiar: 

  • I’m going to fail this test
  • I will never get into a good college
  • All of the kids at school think I’m a loser
Talking Back to Automatic Thoughts
It can take time to figure out how one’s thoughts are tilted toward the negative.  Once we can do that, we can start “talking back” to our thoughts and we are on the way to feeling less anxious.  Dr. Burns says, quite simply and powerfully, that by changing the way we think, we can change the way we feel (Burns, 29). One example of a more balanced, less negative thought to “talk back” to anxiety might look like this:

  • I’m afraid I am going to fail this test and so sometimes I want to throw my hands up and not study.
Here the student is acknowledging where her anxiety is coming from.

  • But, I’m kind of ignoring the positives here.
This is identifying how this thought might be distorted.

  • I actually have studied all week and kind of know what I am talking about!
This is a more balanced thought about the situation, with some hope added in.
By stepping back and looking at her automatic thoughts more objectively, the student was able to create a shift in her thinking. By substituting a more positive and realistic thought for the negative one, she is on the road to changing how she feels.
Anxiety is something we all deal with.  This article focuses on the cognitive aspect of anxiety.  When we find ourselves feeling anxious or upset, it is important to tune into our feelings and identify negative or automatic thoughts that accompany these feelings. Can we take a step back and ask ourselves if there is another way to look at the situation?  If we can substitute realistic, positive thoughts for negative ones, then we are on our way to managing anxiety.
Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy, Dr. David Burns

Adolescent Counseling Services is a community non-profit, which provides vital counseling services on nine secondary campuses at no charge to students and their families. To learn more about our services please visit the ACS website at ACS relies on the generosity of community members to continue offering individual, family, and group counseling to over 1,500 individuals annually. ACS provides critical interventions and mental health services, building a better future for tomorrow. If you are interested in helping to support our efforts, do not hesitate to call to make a donation. It goes a long way in helping teenagers find their way!

SELPA1: Learning Challenges Resource Fair

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Via Heart Project: Teen Heart Screening Event