Cairn Guidance is now part of the Innovation Launchpad!

Post by Samantha Lowe

Cairn Guidance has recently made the move into a co-work space in downtown Morehead, KY. A co-workspace in Morehead?! I know, I was shocked as well. But nestled down by the Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop on Main Street, there is a network of eager students and growing business owners. Since its’ creation, the Innovation Network has opened 13 locations throughout Kentucky, with the intent of "encouraging relationships, grow new and existing companies and create jobs". Each location is staffed by experienced and educated local business leaders to offer mentorship and support on entrepreneurial quests. Morehead's location also offers unique services to university students with workspaces, 3D printing services, and business creation mentorship.

The Innovation Network is partnered with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation and has assisted over 1,300 companies, helped raise $785 million in funding for said companies, and supported over 6,500 Kentucky jobs. With a strong focus on STEM technologies and businesses, this is the type of job creation and support that Kentuckians need for a brighter economic future. The Innovation Network is a progressive idea in a small town and Cairn Guidance is excited to support and engage in our community’s growth! Since college is currently not in session, the space has been quiet and comfortable, and I am excited to see how it changes when classes begin!

To find more information on the Morehead Location please visit:

To find more information on the Innovation Network please visit:

From Engagement to Partnership: How do organizations build youth-adult partnerships?

By Liz Thorne

Last week I had the pleasure to facilitate a school based health center partnership meeting in Deschutes County (central Oregon). County organizers wanted to focus on youth engagement and have young people be involved in the meeting. Partners from county public health, SBHC clinics, health systems, dental providers, mental health providers and the school districts were all in attendance.  Members from the Sisters High School Youth Action Council (YAC) sat on an expert panel and discussed how SBHCs have impacted their lives, the health issues facing young people, and the personal impact of being engaged on council. The youth helped me facilitate parts of the meeting and provided honest and insightful commentary on how to better leverage SBHCS and engage young people. Not surprisingly, the youth were consistently listed as the best part of the meeting in evaluations!

The day included conversations about organizational readiness and what it takes to institutionalize youth engagement in an authentic way (read: not just having a youth panel at an annual meeting!).  Based in best practice, we know that the structure and values of an organization have to clearly prioritize youth/adult partnerships. So, what does that look like?

·      Clear roles and responsibilities for young people.  With a variety of ways to be engaged (think communications and outreach, research, advocacy).

·      Clear recruitment and sustainability plans.

·      Resource dedication (time, funds, physical space).

·      Support and training for adults and young people.

·      Leadership buy-in.

Leadership buy-in was consistently cited as a challenge to doing this work. How can we build leadership buy in? Here are some suggestions on how to create leadership to effectively engage youth:

·      Connect youth engagement to organizational accountability measures.  Effective youth/adult partnerships lead to an increased sense of belonging and connection. Sense of belonging is consistently related to attendance at school, grades and likelihood of graduating.

·      Look for a way to stick a toe in. Deschutes County Public Health is in the process of making the Youth Action Council a class for credit during the school day at one high school. Students would have an opportunity during this class to work on and implement a Youth Participatory Action Research curriculum.  I have had the opportunity to experience this in other schools that require a service-learning project. It is an effective way to start to build youth/adult partnerships into the system.

·      Find a champion. Maybe it’s a parent. A young person. A supportive principal. Who will be the best messenger? Who will be a strong connector? Sometimes, it ain’t you.

What are other examples of how you have successfully built youth partnership into what your organization does? What was the tipping point? I’d love to hear more success stories from across the country and share them out! You can contact me at:



Dove Self Esteem Project National Cadre Introductions!

Cairn Guidance is proud to introduce the 2017 Dove Self-Esteem Project National Cadre members, representing thirteen states around the country. 

These educators participated in a rigorous application process to represent this national cadre. They are passionate about the health, well-being and academic success of youth. The cadre members were selected from many applicants across the US and comprise a mix of both new and experienced professionals that include health teachers, physical education teachers, public health professionals, school nurses and school counselors.

During their term, the cadre will play an essential role in providing FREE professional development to educators across their region. The cadre members will provide quality support, awareness and training on the Dove Self Esteem Project called Confident Me!.

Rachel Callaway, AZ

Rachel Callaway, AZ

Rachel works for the local county health department and they help give many resources to wellness coordinators at over 100 schools.  Rachel says the reason she is interested in being a Dove Ambassador is that, “I realized after researching the program that had I had this information as a pre-teen, I may have had more success during those troubling years.”

Angie is a middle school health and physical education teacher. Angie says “middle school is the most awkward stage of life and self-esteem can be made or broken during this time period. It is crucial to show this age group critical thinking skills about the media and social skills to deal with the pressures of puberty.” She also says, “Positive self-esteem is important because it creates humans that are more effective and productive. With positive self-esteem people respond to others and themselves in healthy and positive ways. IN the end this creates a better society.”

Brett Delaney, Iowa

Brett Delaney, Iowa

Brett teaches middles school students and coach softball. “Self-esteem, body image, and body confidence is something that is addressed on a daily basis. Finding a way to make a personal connection to the individual or situation is the most important step to the ability to teaching/ helping others. The opportunity to share the power of this program is very intriguing.  Most times when people think of body image, self-esteem, and body confidence they think of females.  Being a male I think I could bring a unique experience to influence others to address all parties present in a given classroom.”

Brandon Wolff, KS

Brandon Wolff, KS


Brandon Wolff, Kansas
Brandon is a Middle School Physical Education and Health teacher and coach of football, basketball and track. “Self-esteem must be the FOUNDATION of helping students understand themselves and their fitness.  My goal is for students to be physically active for a lifetime, but I must focus on EACH student's INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. Being a Dove Ambassador will help me become a better advocate for students.  This opportunity allows me to spread a message about the importance of self-esteem among kids especially middle schoolers.”

Danielle Petrucci, MA

Danielle Petrucci, MA

Danielle is a middle school Life Skills teacher giving students a chance to think about who they are today and what kind of adult they want to become socially, emotionally, physically, and academically.  Danielle said, “I was interested in becoming a Dove ambassador to help young girls and boys understand that their worth goes far beyond their body image. When they break through the barriers of negative body talk, they can begin to thrive in life where nothing holds them back.”

Monica Coleman, MS

Monica Coleman, MS

Monica works with school staff to reduce teen pregnancy and STDS. She is also counsels middle school students. Monica says the Dove Self-Esteem Project fits in nicely to the work she is already doing.


Kelle Carbone, NY

Kelle Carbone, NY




Kelle is a special educator and believes that discussions regarding body confidence and self-care are far and few between within the field. Kelle says, “I truly wish to promote holistic education to students who are often not considered regarding topics of sexuality and the body.” He says he became interested in being a Dove Ambassador because “as someone who identifies as a member of the LGBT community, I realized the dire importance of body confidence education in order to create inclusive and safe environments.”


Tara Cooper, NJ

Tara Cooper, NJ



Tara is a middle school health and physical education teacher. She is also a track coach, CPR instructor, personal trainer/ group exercise instructor and now a new mom.  Tara says, “Feeling good about yourself in body, mind and spirit is crucial at any age, but especially those in the middle school years. Working in a middle school I wanted to jump at the opportunity to share this powerful program and message to may students and colleagues.” 

Margaret Hornbeck, NM

Margaret Hornbeck, NM


Margaret is a middle school physical education teacher. She is also a coaches soccer and most recently finished her National Board Certification.  Margaret is excited for this adventure with the Dove Self-Esteem Project.



SHELLY KLUTZ, North Carolina
Shelly works as a school nurse in which they teach 5th grade puberty and reproductive health. Self image is part of there curriculum as well. She also works one on one with students who suffer from eating disorders. Shelly says “ I struggled with positive self-esteem as a teenage myself. Once of my reasons of going into school nursing (nursing in general) was to work with students and hope to be a positive influence in their lives. This school year we had a student with an eating disorder pass away. So this project cam at a good time for school system.”

Kylie Pybus, OR

Kylie Pybus, OR

Kylie works with high school students at Milwaukie and Rex Putnam High Schools every day. Kylie says “We have conversations about self-confidence, stress, mental health, and so much more. I am excited to collaborate with Cairn Guidance and the Dove Self- Esteem Program to further this work.”


Annette Fecera, PA

Annette Fecera, PA

ANNETTE FECERA, Pennsylvania 
Annette teaches high school health and loves every minute of it! She says, “As a female, I can definitely relate to having issues with self-esteem especially with the messages that the media sends. I want to help students who may have the same struggles!”

The Case for More Love in Education

By Liz Thorne

I was recently in Austin, Texas for the 6th annual Ready by 21 Annual Meeting. Organized by the Forum for Youth Investment, the meeting focuses on ensuring all youth are ready and prepared to meet life’s demands. It brought together folks in youth development, program quality, education, government and community based organizations all focused on ensuring youth are ready.

A major focus of the meeting was on promoting equity through the lens of readiness as a right. It’s not enough to help young people beat the odds but we need to work with the adults and leaders in communities to change the odds.

Research tells us that just one supportive adult relationship can help buffer young people against risk and help them overcome challenging life circumstances. But let’s zoom out and talk about supportive communities, or as Dr. Shawn Ginwright describes, radical healing.

In his keynote, Dr. Ginwright compared the idea of radical healing to experiments conducted on plants. Researchers would place one plant in a chamber of poisonous gas to test the plant’s response. As you might expect, the plant shriveled and died. But, when the researchers placed multiple, or a community, of plants they didn’t die. Rather, they cleaned the air of the poisonous gas. Together the community of plants garnered their collective strength to change their circumstances.

How can we harness the collective strength of communities to change the odds for youth? During Dr. Ginwright’s address on radical healing, there were three thoughts going through my head as this relates to our work in adolescent and school health:

  • We have to take care of the adults in schools. Youth are often placed at the center of our work. Resources, opportunities, and training must be made available to provide physical, emotional and professional support to the adults that show up every day. Particularly, educators and professionals working in economically disadvantaged schools or communities, and those who have faced generations of trauma and marginalization.
  • We need more opportunities for Participatory Action Research or experiential learning opportunities.  PAR is one way for young people to reach into their community, examine the context and begin to understand and garner their strength as an agent of change.
  • There is room in ESSA for a focus on readiness, but we need advocates in the states. ESSA provides an opening, but we will need to focus on state-level efforts to address social, emotional and physical needs of students and staff in schools. (Check out our ESSA State Plan Page for more information). 
Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Whether you call it a supportive relationship, radical healing or trauma-informed education, to me it all boils down to one thing. More love in education. Showing, not just telling our young people, that they are valued. Demonstrating they are valued by equipping them with the skills to harness their power and change their environment for the better. Dr. Enwright ended his keynote with a quote from Dr. King that I think sums up the relationship between love and power.





Lasting Clinic Standing

Written by Samantha Lowe

Born and raised in Kentucky, I have seen how difficult it is to persuade the population on the necessity of in school and community based health education, where 25.2% of adults smoke cigarettes, with the national rate ranging from 9.3% to 26.5% across all states. Overall, Kentuckians tend to be less concerned with their health.

Kentucky residents were large beneficiaries of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, but this did not change residents understanding of its' worth. Kentuckians then proceeded to keep red state traditions alive and vote for a president who promised to replace the system.  And, in 2015 the population voted in a Governor, Matt Bevin, who allows his conservative religious views to influence policy. Unfortunately, these decisions are beginning to elicit change, but not in the best interest of Kentuckians. Governor Bevin has described himself as “unapologetically pro-life” and is attempting to make Kentucky the first state to have residents without access to abortion services.

In the past year, the Bevin administration has impacted services offered to the community at two out of only three places in the state to receive women's reproductive healthcare. Planned Parenthood in Louisville no longer offers surgical services, while the administration forced theEMW Women's Clinic in Lexington to completely close its doors to the community.  Governor Bevin then ordered the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, KY (the last clinic available in the state to receive abortion services)  to close on April 3rd, 2017. Thankfully the ACLU and the EMW Surgical Center sued on the basis that the closure "will have a devastating impact on Kentucky women", while the ACLU has called the attempted action "an attempt to ban abortion in Kentucky." The clinic was granted the ability to stay open, but the fight for its longevity is not over. With two anti-abortion clinics on the same block the EMW Women's clinic in Louisville, KY has seen a lot of action, with volunteers lining up in orange vests to protect patients from harassment to protestors wearing the same vest attempting to redirect women into one of the pro-life clinics. The clinic has become the last battle ground for women's reproductive rights in the state.

Cairn Guidance believes that access to care, services and information is essential to all Americans. 

As the clinics license is up for reevaluation in May, the next few months are pivotal times of support.  If you are interested in expressing your voice please follow the link below:

Contact Matt Bevin here.

Source Articles:>


OEA Choice Trust's School Employee Wellness Conference

Kudos to OEA Choice Trust! Their sixth annual School Employee Wellness (SEW) Conference was a huge success. The conference, held in Oregon during spring break, attracts many public health partners, community based organizations, teachers, superintendents, principals, school nurses, human resource directors, and other types of educators that work in school systems. The event is up to 275 participants from 50 their first year!

Best part of the SEW conference is seeing colleagues that I've known for over 10 years!

Best part of the SEW conference is seeing colleagues that I've known for over 10 years!

This conference does an incredible job of walking the talk. It's held in Bend, a beautiful area of Oregon and each morning prior to opening sessions, group yoga, runs and walks are offered. Mid-afternoon, Zumba, walks, runs, essential oils and healthy snack learning boosts are offered. The food was colorful and nutrient rich. There were times to network, tell your story, connect and find opportunities to find intersections of your work with others. 

I facilitated two sessions, one on School Health Advisory Committees and their role in sustaining a school health initiative, and, Creating Buy-In and Addressing Resistance for your School Employee Wellness Program. Both were well attended with great participation in activities and rich dialogue. 

I love being asked to present at this conference for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, I love hearing the stories schools share to create a culture of health for their school staff. The examples of taking care of your employees so that they can do their best jobs with kids, so that they are present, so that they are healthy, and, so they stay in their position (retention). This event is a perfect example of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Framework in action. Taking one component- employee wellness, but using a coordinated, collaborative approach that engages public health, parents, internal educators, leadership, community partners, grocery stores, gyms, health care systems and policy makers to support one of the most important jobs in this country!

Every Student Succeeds Act: A Snapshot of State Plans

States are in the process of finalizing their plans for implementation of the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA gives states new opportunities to more fully integrate health into education policy and practices. Several policy and funding provisions in ESSA are aimed toward supporting student social-emotional, physical, and mental health and ensuring that all students attend school in a safe, supportive environment.

Cairn Guidance is launching a State ESSA Plan Webpage for educators, school health professionals, parents, students and other champions to use as a tool to quickly see what their state’s ESSA plan includes in key sections around supporting the whole child; comparing that to other states across the country; seeing the strengths of the plan; and sharing opportunities for improvement or continued advocacy.

The plans are dynamic and changing, as many states have opportunities for public comment or input in the coming weeks and months. We are also monitoring developments in state plans due to the release of modified guidance from the US Department of Education.Please continue to check back as more and more state plans will be added. Also, please reach out to if you have feedback, comments or suggestions to your state’s ESSA Plan overview.

Any interest in technical assistance related to these state plans? Examples of what to say at a town hall event? Need examples of specific content to email your Superintendent or Commissioner? Dr. Kymm Ballard is a proud partner of ours working on this project. Contact her for support and technical assistance at: 

The Energizer Bunny!

Written by Heather Deckard, our new Dove Self Esteem Program Coordinator.

Did you ever see the commercial with the energizer bunny?


The bunny kept going and going due to the amazing batteries it was running on. Well that’s me, Heather Deckard. I’ve been a tireless champion for physical education and wellness for over 20 years. I currently teach middle school physical education in the morning and in the afternoon I serve as the District physical education coordinator. I teach in an urban school district with 47,000 students and have been leading the charge to revive and standardize the physical education programming on the ground and among my peers. As a result, I’ve created systems change in my district that has elevated the importance of student physical education as a pillar of a complete educational experience and curriculum.

I’ve served in many leadership roles in the California Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD), including as President in 2014. I have served as a National Ambassador for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and I am a current Let’s Move Active Schools (LMAS) Physical Activity Leader (PAL) trainer. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento. Next stop was West Virginia University to obtain my Master of Science in Physical Education- Teacher Education. I chose to attend West Virginia University to see if there was a difference between west and east coast philosophy in physical education and health. Ask me sometime what I found out!

I am extremely excited to begin my role with Cairn Guidance. I first met Director Jess Lawrence at the very first Urban Physical Education Summit during her session on systems change. I will be serving as the Dove Self Esteem Ambassador Program Coordinator. Some of duties include providing support to the 18 selected Dove Ambassadors, representing 14 states, including coordinating travel for Ambassador training events; facilitating Ambassador applications to state conferences for exhibiting and presenting; technical assistance/support for training events, tracking of outreach for reporting purposes, social media engagement strategies; writing newsletter and blog posts even networking/building strategic partnerships with a variety of key associations.

On top of all of this I am a mom of two amazing boys, I play competitive slow-pitch softball and I’m part owner in a Nutrition Club.

Next week... SHAPE America, in Boston!

Next week, 5500+ health educators, physical educators, dance educators will be coming together for SHAPE America's annual convention, held in Boston this year. It's not only SHAPE's biggest annual event, but it's March Madness & St Patrick's Day. Let the craziness begin. 5500+ fellow educators creating, learning, facilitating, presenting, sharing, networking and advocating for the whole child. 

The Cairn Guidance team will be there in full force... we will be exhibiting for the Dove Self Esteem Project, booth #519, so come see us for free give aways! We are also thrilled to be sponsoring the General Session on Wednesday morning-

“Creating a Kinder and Braver World”
Maya Enista Smith will discuss Born This Way Foundation’s (founded by Lady Gaga) commitment to supporting the wellness of young people, and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.  Working together with SHAPE America members, the foundation wants to see a world of people whose decisions and conversations are driven by kindness, acceptance and compassion.

We are presenting the following sessions:
Tuesday, 8am-noon - Systems Changing; Systems Changing simulation: In an engaging skill-building team session, participants will be confronted with realistic decisions and experiences, be compelled to consider new ways of looking at their goals and their work, be challenged to review what they consider legitimate indicators of success, try proven methods for making system-wide changes in their school setting related to their health education, physical education or school health initiative/program, distill their experience into action-oriented learnings and have fun! 
Wednesday, 3:30-5:30pm - Facilitating Role Plays in the Health Education Classroom: Role Playing is an effective skills-based learning strategy in the health education classroom, as it aligns to most of the National Health Education Standards. This session will guide participants through a variety of activities to increase their comfort and confidence facilitating role plays as well as give ideas on how to overcome challenges. Scoring rubrics will be shared aligned to role plays if using as an assessment tool in the classroom.
Thursday, 3-4:15pm - Enhancing Assessment in Health Education: an update and history of the Health Education Assessment Project and how SHAPE America is updating/revising and supporting this resource for teachers.

We have some other commitments- we are sponsoring the health education track and will be doing a 20 minute Dove Self Esteem Demo on Wednesday from 2-2:20 in the Exhibit Hall.

Can't wait to connect with colleagues, friends, cadre members, clients and partners in Boston! 




The Power of Policy

By Liz Thorne

Last week brought two experiences that showed the promise of policy to actualize a positive change to support young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-24. Sexual minority youth are at increased risk of suicide attempts- in 2015 29% of LGB youth in the US attempted suicide in the last year, compared to 6% of their heterosexual counterparts (the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Surveydoes not ask about gender-identity).   

Schools are a really important setting to build protective factors against suicide risk, identify struggling students early, and support those who have attempted re-enter school in a safe and supportive way. Cairn Guidance is currently funded by the Oregon Health Authority to support schools to develop and strengthen their protocols around suicide, and connect staff to an excellent online training called Kognito.

What message does it send to young people when their state, their government, tells them their right to love and marry who they choose is the same as everyone else’s? That they are valued. That they belong.

Last week, I sat around a table with representatives from a large school district in Oregon. We were working through an inventory to assess the presence and strength of their school protocols, identifying gaps and action steps to address the gaps. Every professional sitting at that table brought a different perspective to the ways in which students are supported. Strengthening the systems and protocols will have a direct impact on the experience of students in this district who are struggling, and how they can access support they need. But we also questioned: What are the broader, whole school, whole community approaches to creating school environments that are safe where young people feel valued and loved?

That’s where this week’s second policy news comes in. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics this week found that found that state same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 7% reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt within the past year. The effect was concentrated among adolescents who were sexual minorities. For gay, lesbian and bisexual students in particular, the decrease was more pronounced. Rates of suicide attempts decreased from 28.5 percent to 24.5 percent (a 14 percent reduction in suicide attempts). There was no change in states that did not legalize same-sex marriage before January 2015. The effect persisted for 2 years after legalization.

While there are limitations to the study, and the exact mechanisms by which legalization impacted risk of suicide attempt, these findings show the power of public policy to effect change on the lives of young people. One hypothesis is that marriage equality laws reduce stigma- an underlying factor. Reducing rates of attempted suicide were not reasons cited for passing marriage equality. But it makes sense. What message does it send to young people when their state, their government, tells them their right to love and marry who they choose is the same as everyone else’s? That they are valued. That they belong.

Having a sense of belonging is a key protective factor for a host of issues, like substance use, mental health issues, and even supports engagement in school. These early findings reinforce that all policies are health policies.