Introducing Our Newest Team Member!

This week, Antionette Meeks will be joining Cairn Guidance as the Dove Self Esteem Coordinator. Below, is her introduction to you!

By Antionette Meeks


Resilient says a lot about who I am. Without a doubt, though, I’ve had my moments of feeling low, but I’ve always bounced back quickly. To say that I have a positive, hopeful, and thankful spirit may be an understatement. The question is, why? What made me so positive and resilient as a child and on into adulthood? How are these qualities connected to my career path?

I am Antionette Meeks, the Dove Self Esteem Project Cadre Coordinator for Cairn Guidance, and I had the proverbial village. My village consisted of people who lifted me up and helped me understand and live two words: “I can.” I am grateful for them.

Who made up my village? Early on, it consisted of my parents, great grandparents, great aunt, siblings, other relatives, neighbors, my dad’s customers, and other adults. Later, my village included friends, teachers, professors, coaches, scout leaders, clergy, and colleagues. Globally, there are historical figures that fought and achieved for themselves and/or others, national figures, and even some celebrities.

Those in my initial village set the foundation. My father taught me to be inquisitive, think, and take initiative. Both of my parents imparted the importance of trying and doing my best. The race was never against another; the race was for me. My parents taught kindness, gratitude, honesty, and respect for self and others. They taught me to stand up for myself and others, and for that which was right.

I learned the value of education, being able to speak coherently, and using facts to support a point. Further, I was taught to respect varying opinions. It was okay to bend, but not break. My great aunt taught compliance to rules that serve purposes.

My great grandparents added giving. They all taught love.

Everyone in my village, without fail, taught, “I can”. Teachers always encouraged, giving additional learning support and using tools to move me forward. Professors helped me succeed by their instruction and one-on-one discussions in the hall or their offices. Coaches taught the concept of teamwork, playing fair, and encouraged me not to settle for less than what I knew I could do. We were all taught to be teammates, understanding what we brought to the team as individuals. We learned the importance of the journey versus focusing solely on the win. The win was the “gravy”.

The village taught me to laugh, laugh at myself, have fun, and not take life too seriously. The expectation, ultimately, was that I was to achieve – do my best. It was okay to fail, learn from it, and move on. The village expected me to find my life’s path – knowing I may walk many on my discovery tour and that was okay. I found my path as a teacher and coach. It just seems natural that I would begin my professional career as a health/physical education teacher. I enjoyed helping 5 of 5 students learn their “I cans”. The opportunity to touch more lives led me to a school district-level role, leading to contact with educators at all of our schools. This new role helped me develop relationships with several local agencies and organizations.

Later, working for the state health and education agencies gave me even greater reach. Returning to my educator roots as an adjunct for undergraduates, graduate, and doctoral students confirmed my reason for selecting this career path. Giving back through board memberships and community involvement added to my path.

Quite simply, I believed in me. I believed in my unique gifts and skill sets. I had people in my life that told me and showed me, “I can”. I chose a career path that allowed me to impact young lives, helping them see and experience their “I cans”. I want youth to feel good about themselves, feel empowered, fell courageous, feel joyful, feel whole. My path, beginning with my village, gave me the tools and desire to be a part of the positive journey of the youth and professionals with whom I have worked.

How one sees themselves, sees their world and sees themselves in the world, makes a difference. See yourselves as beautiful or handsome, smart, talented people.

Everyone doesn’t necessarily have a village, but they do have themselves and often, at least, one person who believes in, cares for and encourages them. I hope I have been that one as I have touched lives along my journey. I know I am looking forward to this journey, working with the Dove Self Esteem project.

Urban School Wellness Coalition

This week, Jamie Sparks and I co-facilitated two sessions of the Urban School Wellness Coalition convened by Action for Healthy Kids. This Coalition, comprised of thirty large urban districts came together in Denver to network, share stories, gain knowledge around Wellness Policies, the WellSATEvery Students Succeed Act (ESSA), Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) and observe WSCC in action at a local school!


Jamie and I spent about 90 minutes Tuesday afternoon on ESSA. We introduced the federal legislation, including key Titles for those unfamiliar with it, shared Cairn Guidance's State ESSA Analysis, and allowed district participants time to review their states' analysis to determine opportunities and challenges within their districts as they move ahead. Yesterday, we spent the morning on WSCC- introducing the framework, sharing effective practices around the school health approach, systems thinking; systems changing, creating buy-in and addressing resistance and brought participants through a variety of engaging activities in order for districts to essentially begin to see how ESSA and WSCC, advocacy, support, implementation are feasible and achievable at home!

We created and share our ESSA/WSCC Symbaloo page- a page that showcases the most current, helpful resources in the school health field. Feel free to share with your colleagues.

We were honored to have the chance to network, socialize, share, train education leaders around the country this week- what a fabulous group truly dedicated to shifting the norms of how we define school success in the United States. 

Since 2013, the Urban School Wellness Coalition brings together urban district health and wellness leaders to facilitate discussion around mutually important issues, provide opportunities to share information, network with peers, coordinate joint efforts, and inform urban educational leaders on the importance of student health as a driver of academic success.
— Action for Healthy Kids

Making School the Heartbeat of the Community

By Liz Thorne, VP of Policy and Programs

I had been anticipating the grand opening of Faubion K-8 School, in Portland Oregon, this Fall for both personal and professional reasons. Most importantly, it is our neighborhood school. My daughter will be starting kindergarten there next year. As someone who works in school health and public health, the opening of Faubion also embodies so many of the practices we know are effective in supporting the health and academic achievement of young people.


A bit of background. Faubion is physically located right next to Concordia University, a private liberal arts college. Concordia has a school of education, and for years they have partnered with Faubion to provide student-teachers with experience in the classroom.

Out of this partnership grew 3 to PhD. The first of it’s kind in the nation, the model aims to create safer, healthier and more educated communities from early learning through Pursuing one’s Highest Dreams (PhD).  In 2012 a Portland Public School bond was approved that included a rebuild of Faubion because of the strong partnership with Concordia and the 3 to PhD program.


The new Faubion + Concordia building houses Faubion K-8 classrooms and Concordia’s school of education. It includes:

  • An early childhood education center for up to 120 children,
  • A 2,500 square foot Kaiser Permanente 3 to PhD Wellness center serving Faubion students and Concordia students;
  • Wraparound mental and behavioral health services by Trillium Family Services;
  • And a food club with healthy, organic foods by basics.

At the grand opening I heard District, City and State leaders and parents stand up at the podium and speak about the importance of health for students to succeed. I heard them say that if we are to close the achievement gap we need to address the needs of the student, family, and community. This is returning the school as the heartbeat of the community.

Partnership. Addressing the needs of the whole child. Involving community partners (parents, business, higher education, health care providers). Preparing the new generation of educators and education leaders to look beyond curriculum and teaching strategies to educate our young people. These are things experts in school health consistently site as the factors that lead to institutionalizing health in education.

So while the new building is truly amazing (the playground! It has a zip line!) it’s these other factors that inspire and excite me, as a professional, parent, and community member.


Health and Physical Education Teacher, Angela Stark shares her experience Attending SHAPE America

Written by Cairn Guidance in partnership with the Dove Self Esteem Project

Angela Stark was thrilled to hear that she was one of two national educators to win the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) incentive opportunity. Angela, a health and physical education teacher in Lexington, Kentucky, won an all-expense paid trip to the SHAPE National Convention in Boston in March of 2017.


Angela talked with us about her school demographics. The School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) has a lot of students who dance. Dancers can feel pressure to look a certain way, so she believed that the Dove Self-Esteem Project might be able to help her dancers and all of her students with their self-image. DSEP tools and resources can provide students an opportunity to not only focus on their physical appearance, but to see the value in their talents, skills, and attributes. The curriculum, with two options – a single-lesson or five-lesson program, helps students hone their skills in analyzing influences to reflect on the impact of unattainable appearance ideals seen in media.

Angela piloted the program in a co-ed classroom with her 6th graders. All youth appreciated hearing from different perspectives and viewpoints on how they feel impacted by appearance ideals.

Angela delivered the lessons in both fall and spring to cover all of her students. She started with the single-lesson in fall and continued using the five-lesson program as a booster and an opportunity for students to practice skills-based instruction around communication, assessing information and analyzing influences.

We asked her what her experience winning an all-expense paid trip to SHAPE America was like and she said, “Awesome! It was great to promote things that I believe in and trust as I do with the DSEP. In addition, growing as an educator to benefit students is essential to being a great educator, so attending the SHAPE convention allowed me to do that.”

Angela shared with us that the connections she made and the information learned from this experience have been priceless! But more importantly, she is thankful for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, which impacted her students in such a positive way.

Thank you Angela for sharing your insights on the Dove Self-Esteem Project!

To find out how you can attend the 2018 SHAPE America Convention, or the national or state conference of your choice, please email for more information.

American School Counselor Association and the Dove Self Esteem Project

Written by Samantha Lowe of Cairn Guidance in partnership with the Dove Self Esteem Project

Cairn Guidance recently represented the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) at the American School Counselor Association in Denver, CO. In attendance was myself, Heather Deckard and over 3,000 school counselors from around the globe. This trip was AMAZING! My boyfriend (Brandon) and I used this as an opportunity to take a road trip, so we loaded up our rental car and drove from Kentucky to Colorado. We arrived in Colorado after about 20 hours of driving. Normal people would want to sleep, but since we arrived early in the day we had to check out the Denver Zoo and the wonderful places to eat!

Before the conference we were slightly skeptical how the program would be received with school counselors, as we had mostly been attending Health and PE conferences such as SHAPE/AHPERDs. This skepticism quickly dissipated as within the first hour our booth was flooded with excited attendees eager to find a comprehensive program focused on supporting the self-esteem of their students.  Many school counselors had utilized aspects of the program before, such as the “Evolution” video. This powerful video was mentioned by counselors from Hawaii to Maine, who expressed what open/meaningful conversation it sparked between adolescent students. School counselors supported our message 100% and were excited to lead by example and join our social media movement! We also interviewed LaKesha Grooms, a school counselor from Georgia who won an all-expense paid trip to ASCA by implementing the DSEP lessons in 2016.

Read LaKesha’s interview and check out the pictures of conference attendees who participated in our #DoveSelfEsteemProject positive social media movement focusing on the attributes that make us unique!

Meet LaKesha Grooms, the School Counselor working on Body Confidence Issues at her school!

LaKesha Grooms is a School Counselor at Henderson Middle School in Jackson, Georgia and one of our 2016 incentive winners for the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP). LaKesha won an all-expense paid trip to the American School Counselors Association’s (ASCA) National Conference in Denver, Colorado in July 2017.

LaKesha spent some time looking for resources to support students that struggled with their self-esteem. She noticed many of her students were struggling with body confidence issues and she happened to find the Dove Self-Esteem Project online.

LaKesha believes the curriculum, which includes a single-lesson and 5-lesson program is a great fit for students taught by school counselors. The program provides resources for students by providing skills-based instruction and learning; guidance on how to implement the program; and how to align the content with the American School Counselor Association standards.

When asked what she thought the impact on her students was, LaKesha said, “Identity! Many kids struggle with their identity. That goes hand in hand with a healthy self-esteem and being comfortable with who they are.” She loved how the program encouraged awesome discussions in class. Her groups really flowed and the kids were able to express themselves by sharing some personal things that they struggle with, such as the need to fit in with a certain group. The impact for her was getting them to start talking about themselves and acknowledging the fact they are different and unique.

She facilitated the program in small groups with about 10 students per group. The students were carefully selected since they were students that were struggling with self-esteem. LaKesha suggests that if implementing with groups versus in a classroom setting, capitalize on the program! Make it grow! You can use it in a variety of ways. They have clubs/flex groups at the end of the day during the last day of the month where students get to go to the class of their choice. You could embed this program into some of your current programs. You can get your science, health and PE teachers involved. She believes that when everyone is involved using the program it spills over!

LaKesha believes implementing the program is worth it and it is worth it for the kids!

Now for the best part, DOVE SELF-ESTEEM PROJECT WAS VOTED BEST BOOTH AT ACSA 2017! Winners were decided by conference attendees voting on the ASCA app, and we were extremely honored as this was the first year Dove Self-Esteem Project was in attendance! Cairn Guidance and DSEP wants to thank ASCA and its attendees for welcoming our mission and we look forward to working with more eager school counselors to help students achieve their full potential!

Now for the best part, DOVE SELF-ESTEEM PROJECT WAS VOTED BEST BOOTH AT ACSA 2017! Winners were decided by conference attendees voting on the ASCA app, and we were extremely honored as this was the first year Dove Self-Esteem Project was in attendance!

Cairn Guidance and DSEP wants to thank ASCA and its attendees for welcoming our mission and we look forward to working with more eager school counselors to help students achieve their full potential!

LGTB Center at University of Louisville

Mike Miller and Jamie Sparks

Mike Miller and Jamie Sparks

Jamie and I were invited by Mike Miller, a former colleague of Jamie's at the Kentucky Department of Education to a beautiful reception at a private residence in Louisville last night to celebrate 10 years of growth for the University of Louisville's LGBT Center. It was an honor to be invited among 150 other guests celebrating the support of sexual minorities on campus.

Over the years, the Center has been ranked as the most friendly campus for sexual minorities in the South. The event hosted at Steve and Karen Hall's home was a celebration of the work the Center provides, an opportunity to connect with others advocating for all young adults and an opportunity to bring awareness of the Center and funds to sustain and grow the work its doing.  The Center works to create a safe, supportive environment for all students including hosting an Ally Campaign in which allies wear a pin demonstrating their commitment to creating a safe environment for all, safe zone training events, and opportunities for healthcare providers to add their names as LGBT-friendly. The Center works to educate, advocate, create healthy and safe learning environments where students can thrive, improving patient care at UofL affiliated healthcare settings and partake in research of LGBT health.

The LGBT Center works to strengthen and sustain an inclusive campus community at the University of Louisville, one that welcomes people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions through support, educational resources, and advocacy. The Center works in partnership with other diversity efforts on campus supporting the Vice Provost for Diversity and International Affairs.

One of the most impressive components of this work is a national model to educate the medical students at UofL on LGBT health cultural competency and responsiveness. The program is called eQuality and you can learn more about it here. This means that when a patient is working with medical staff, of any kind, that staff has had training on how to best support their patients needs. 

This brings me back to our work in K-12 schools. As an Oregon educator, I received multiple training opportunities that built my knowledge and skills around creating a culturally competent classroom and school environment for all students, including the LGBTQ population. I know this isn't happening in most school communities around the US, but there are multiple non-profits working in this area. Teen Health Mississippi, SHIFT NC in Durham, Answer and TransActive are a few of the many organizations providing sexual health support, information, access and education to our sexual minority youth, parents and educators for the K-12 setting. 

It was great to see Stacie Steinbock, our good friend and Director of the LGBT Center Satellite Office on the Health Sciences Center Campus

It was great to see Stacie Steinbock, our good friend and Director of the LGBT Center Satellite Office on the Health Sciences Center Campus

Last night, a few people had the opportunity to talk about why they support the Center. Medical staff shared their experience and growth due to training opportunities. Kim Griffith Diamond, a parent boldly and courageously shared her story of losing her son to depression as a result of the pressures and lack of societal support of being gay. People had the opportunity to speak about why they are allies and how in truth, this all comes down to caring for all human beings, no matter who they are. It was an amazing evening of food, drink, celebration and coming together. 

There are numerous ways to show your support of the programs and policies of the LGBT Center. One way is, of course a donation. There is more information here

As a national leader in LGBT healthcare, the LGBT Center is proud to offer cutting-edge training for health care students and professionals. Our LGBT Health Certificate provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to interact successfully with LGBT patients, and demonstrates to employers and patients your commitment to serving diverse patient populations. It is free to members of the UofL community as well as all community members in Louisville and beyond.

Supports to Teaching Skills-Based Health Education

By Brian Griffith, Health Educator and guest blogger for Cairn Guidance

Skills based health education has been around for years but has really gained support and steam over the last few years. Many state, district, and national conventions are hosting presentations that focus on integrating skills based health. Classrooms are shifting from “let’s do a fun project” to “let’s do a fun project that allows students to practice a skill aligned to content that will promote health literacy.” Simple projects, lessons that are embedded in PE or other content areas, or lessons that are done sporadically throughout the year do a good job with presenting what students should know, the what of the lesson. In order to develop health literacy, we also need to share the why and how. Why do they need to know this information and skill and how does it connect to wellness? What are you going to do with the information and how does it support a lifetime of health literacy?

Many teachers were trained on basic health topics and how to teach those independent topics. We know students learn best when they are shown the bigger picture of health (holistic approach) and how all aspects of health are connected. Shifting the classroom focus to skills based health isn’t difficult, the students will still be learning familiar topics. The difference is now the lesson will focus on a skill while teaching the content. Students will be learning about decision making while learning nutrition content, accessing information and mental health, analyzing influences and drug prevention, or one of the other skills with a content that has been identified by your state or local school system.

There are many resources available to teachers to support them shifting to a skills based health classroom.
I suggest reading these two books:
Skills Based Health Education” by Mary Connolly and

The Essentials of Teaching Health Education” by Sarah Benes and Holly Alperin

Jeff Bartlett, a great health educator in MA compiles a weekly Health Education blog here.

And, SHAPE America has been adding resources to the health education teacher’s toolbox.

RMC Health, located in Colorado, is another great resource that supports quality health education. From their website, “RMC Health has promoted the health and success of children and youth across the United States, and helped to transform the organizations that support them.” RMC Health has created skills based health models that provide guidance and skill cues by grade band/span. These health skills models have resources on how to teach the skills effectively to students.

Remember to always teach your local and state requirements. You don’t want to teach something that could get you fired or removal of your teaching certificate. Many requirements can be adjusted to address skills. If you know your curriculum, use CDC's Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) to evaluate your information to see if you are covering items that CDC believes is critical to health education. The HECAT shares outcomes that students should reach based on grade bands/spans. The outcomes are divided into the National Health Education Standards. A teacher can identify a topic they want to teach (tobacco prevention), identify the grade band (6-8), identify the skill (accessing information), and then identify an outcome that matches their local curriculum (access valid and reliable tobacco-related prevention and cessation information from home, school, or community.) I might replace tobacco with nicotine because of vaping and e-cigarette use. I would use:  “Access valid and reliable nicotine-related prevention and cessation information from home, school, or community.”

For example, when a health literate person accesses valid and reliable information, we want them to identify sources of health information, explain how to find the source, and explain why it’s a good source. For example, RMC Health has identified six steps to access reliable information:

Step 1: Identify the Question
Step 2: Locate Accessible Resources
Step 3: Analyze for Validity
Step 3: Analyze for Reliability
Step 5: Determine the best Answer
Step 6: Reflect on your Answer

How do you “Analyze for Validity” or “Analyze for Reliability”? RMC Health has a resource students and teachers can use to evaluate websites here. Librarians at CSU Chico created a tool called the CRAAP for evaluating resources. CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.

Health on the Net has been evaluating health information on websites for twenty years. They have a search tool individuals can use to locate valid and reliable information. The site is designed to support patients/individuals, medical professionals, or web publishers. Anyone can access the resources on their site. The site also shares the tool they use to evaluate information and students can use the tool to evaluate a website.

Health on the Net also create a quick guide on eight questions a person should think about when accessing a website.

The lesson will ask students to look for nicotine prevention and cessation services and evaluate those resources with one of the tools the teacher selects. What will the student with that information? The students could simply create a list of quality resources. Is that very engaging for your students? Does creating a list engage higher order thinking skills? If your school is tech focused, you could use google maps to pin key locations in the community. Students could also identify the barriers to health on that same map. Our main goal is to have them analyze these sites and identify ones that would provide valid and reliable information. Both of these activities meet that original objective. Should we provide a more engaging environment though? Students could work on advocacy by developing resources to be distributed at the local health department, hospital, clinic, PTA meeting, or health fair. This lesson could connect to environmental literacy by researching high pollution points of cigarette butts or vaping devices and organizing a student service project to clean up the area. Once the locations are identified, receptacles could be placed with signs about quitting smoking.  

Skills based health education means students are practicing skills and learning how to apply those skills in multiple settings. Teachers need to introduce the skill, allow students to practice the skill with multiple content areas, and then allow the students to be given a scenario where they have to identify the skills to use and successfully apply those skills. Then with any skill, those skills must be practiced over time. We all know having healthy citizens makes our communities and businesses more productive and better places to live.

What are some of your skills based health lessons?

I hope you make today a healthy day for you and all those you meet!


Today, I Cried While Facilitating

Today, I cried for the first time while facilitating. It came from holding in the fear, sadness and disappointment of the events of this week. It came from watching the images of Neo-Nazi’s and white supremacists march in the streets. Reading articles and editorials about where we are as a country.

I cried because it felt safe to cry. Among 25 strangers. 25 professionals that work all over North Carolina to promote adolescent health, sexual health among teens, teen parenting support and teen pregnancy prevention. I had never met any of them prior to today.

I facilitated a break-out session on Creating Buy-In and Addressing Resistance for your Adolescent Health Initiative. This is a workshop I’ve facilitated before that allows participants to talk about how they’ve created support, trust and buy-in among their community members, faith-based organizations and schools to support parenting teens, and teens that choose abstinence and teens that are sexually active. We discussed the continuum of passive resisters and sabotagers and why people resist sex education and prevention programs. As they participated in carousel and gallery walk activities, I feel safe among these people that are so passionate about youth in urban and rural communities across the state. I see all shades of skin in the ethnically diverse room, not knowing the invisible differences in each other that don’t show visibly, but aware they are there. Those differences are valuable and make our lives rich. But, we do have one thing in common- we want youth to thrive, be healthy, access information, product & services to advocate for their own health.

I don’t mention politics often during my facilitation events and keynote addresses. I know there are a variety of beliefs in audiences and I respect people’s values and life journeys. But, today, I was asked a question. One simple question. It came at the end when a woman raised her hand and said, “This isn’t about the content today, but I’m intrigued to ask you what you love most about your work.” I’m never asked questions like this in these settings. I wasn’t prepared how to answer. It honestly threw me off guard.

But, after a deep breathe, from my heart, I said, “The opportunity to work with communities all over the United States.” And, in that moment, I knew they heard my voice quiver. The events of this past week came up from my stomach into my tearful eyes and wavering voice. I could have stopped there, but I didn’t. I shared that 4 years ago I successfully completed a bike ride across the US solo and in that experience, I never once experienced a negative interaction with a human being. For 90 days. Across cornfields, and mountain ranges. Through incredibly rural communities and small cities. And, as I shared this, tears fell down my face. I didn’t apologize, but rather, said, “In light of this week’s events, I feel the need to share with all of you that my experience is that most Americans are good. Most Americans are genuine and care about each other- no matter who you are. And, that is why I do this work. I do this because of communities like yours, people like you who are passionate and willing to dedicate their professional lives to youth.” And with that, we ended. I saw heads nodding, and smiles and tears in that audience. I had many more people than usual come up to me after and give me hugs.

This is what life is about. Faith in others. Trust and vulnerability. Connection. That's why I do what I do.

What Do We Value?

By Liz Thorne

I have always worked in a job dedicated to service to others that is mission-driven. Here at Cairn Guidance, our mission is to create places of health and well-being where all youth are healthy, connected, educated and reaching their full potential. I’m willing to bet most people would agree this is a shared value. But how we get there is where we see so much divergence.

The recent decision by the Administration to cut $213 million dollars in programs and research to prevent teen pregnancy is a recent example of a policy that is not based in evidence or reason, and moves in the opposite direction of what we know works in preventing teen pregnancies. Here’s what we know.

Most young people will have sex before they are married. Regardless of whether you talk about it or not, young people will have sex before they graduate high school. Nearly half (41%) of high schoolers in the US have had sex.[1]

The teen pregnancy rate has been dropping for years. While rates of sexual activity have been stable, the teen birth rate has dropped precipitously for years. So what has changed? Studies point to increased use of contraception, including more effective methods like long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs).[2] The American Academy of Pediatrics put out a policy statement in 2014 recommending LARCs as the first line contraceptive choice for youth who choose not to be abstinent. Another policy support- the Affordable Care Act required that insurance companies cover contraceptives like LARCs to make them more accessible and lessen the burden on publicly funded family planning programs.

Learning to navigate relationships, intimacy and romance is part of growing into an adult. Being in a healthy relationship takes skills and skills take practice. Plus, too many young people find themselves in unhealthy relationships that can derail their potential. Many of the programs funded through the Office of Adolescent Health focused on helping young people identify healthy relationships, including consent and how to make healthy choices aligned with their values.  Quality comprehensive sexuality education covers healthy relationships (including consent and how to get help if you are in an unhealthy relationship); abstinence as a healthy choice for our young people, contraception and building skills (like communication and negotiation). However, many young people in schools across our country do not have access to comprehensive sexuality education.

We have too far to go to head in the opposite direction. Even as teen pregnancy rates declined for all populations, there are still differences based on race and class that must be addressed. At least 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college. Young people must have access to information, health services, and opportunities to develop skills to keep themselves safe, healthy and able to learn.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2015.

[2] Lindberg L, Santelli J, Desai S. Understanding the decline in adolescent fertility in the United States 2007-2012. Journal of Adolescent Health

From Evidence to Action

By Heather Deckard

The theme of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) Annual Conference in San Diego, CA June 30- July 1 this year was From Evidence to Action. It was a great experience to represent the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) as an exhibitor to share a range of curriculum-relevant teaching resources, developed in collaboration with educators and students. The DSEP tools take evidence to action and are proven to make a positive impact in body-confidence.

The DSEP Teachers program Confident Me[1]  has been proven to:

·      Improve body image

·      Boost self-esteem

·      Reduce social impairment (likelihood of opting out)

The DSEP lessons and materials were well received by school nurses from all over the US – many of whom shared they could use this project to augment their puberty lessons. Research shows that one in five high school students reported being bullied on school property. [2] We know that young people are bullied for a number of reasons, but appearance, including body shape, weight, and skin, are common. The school nurses we met with reported needing something on this topic for their middle school and high school students, as bullying, low self-esteem, and access to social media can impact student’s health and ability to learn. Those that do not teach were happy to pass the information onto their Health or Physical Education teachers.

The Evolution and Change One Thing films created by DSEP are engaging and impactful assets shared through the Confident Me! Toolkit, well-liked by educators and teachers, alike. Remember, the program is absolutely no cost! Find the programs here:

Cairn Guidance has partnered with the Dove Self-Esteem Project to reach young lives with self-esteem curriculum across the country.


[1]  Diedrichs, P.C., Atkinson, M.J., Steer, R.J., Garbett, K.M., Rumsey, N. & Halliwell, E. (2015). Effectiveness of a brief school-based body image intervention ‘Dove Confident Me: Single Session’ when delivered by teachers and researchers: Results from a cluster randomised controlled trial. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 74, 94-104. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2015.09.004

[2] Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. High School Survey, 2015. Retrieved from