The Journey to Body Confidence

2019 DSEP Cadre Trainers

2019 DSEP Cadre Trainers

Written by Cairn Guidance, a Dove Self-Esteem Project Partner

 The theme for the Dove Self-Esteem Project’s (DSEP) 2019 Cadre Trainer Retreat was The Journey to Body Confidence.  Every human being takes this journey, most of which is probably not wholly conscious.  We become who we are by experiences, thought processes, and the significant lives that touch ours, amongst other things.  Does anyone just wake one day and know they are body confident?  It’s a process that probably ebbs and flows. 

A character in a movie, told another character who had just said something disparaging about themselves, if they didn’t like it, do something about it.  They weren’t seeing what the disparager saw, however, they honored where the person was and made a suggestion.  If there is something a person does not like within themselves, they have the power to change it.  Was the disparager basing their remarks on unfulfilled realistic personal goals or what they thought others expected or thought?  These were fictional adult characters.  However, how often do youth have this conversation and make changes based on the unrealistic expectations of others, such as their peers, or manipulated media images or messages?  How do adults, specifically educators, help students on their journey to adulthood? On their journey to body confidence and positive self-esteem?

The Dove Self-Esteem Project’s cadre trainers (cadre) came together in June for a day and a half retreat to focus on their role in this journey.  While some of the cadre provide direct services to students, they all focus on increasing awareness and implementation of the DSEP Confident Me! body confidence and self-esteem lessons, for 11 to 14-year-old students, to the educators who teach these youth.  The retreat was designed to recharge, increase knowledge and skills, and provide opportunities to network across cadre and within the cadre located in their region.  The cadre has grown to 25 professionals located across 23 states in each region of the United States.  They represent health and physical educators, school nurses, school social workers, school counselors, and prevention and wellness professionals.

To say they each understand the importance of the DSEP Confident Me! lessons is an understatement.  Being able to give educators tools to support the instruction of their students is a core of their mission.  They know there are students who are struggling with peer pressure, personal and professional social media issues, appearance ideas, etc.  They also know the DSEP Confident Me! lessons add value to the educator’s instruction.

Cadre share their message primarily via local, state and regional conference presentations and exhibits. They also write articles and blogs, as well as host webinars.  Many are an active presence on social media.  The retreat gave them the opportunity to learn from each other, collaborate and share ideas.  Their goal is to make The Journey to Body Confidence as positive and as seamless as possible for students through the educators who teach these students. 

How often do we as adults say something disparaging about ourselves to ourselves?  Learning about these lessons can remind us that we too may internalize unrealistic external measures regarding our appearance ideals.  We may offer compliments to other adults and our students based on how they look or how they dress, instead of honing in on those things that truly make the person who they are.  The DSEP Confident Me! lessons help educators adjust the way they offer recognition to their students, while helping students better value themselves and others and what makes them who they are as unique and contributing individuals.

The Dove Self-Esteem Project cadre trainers hope, when you learn they are present at your conference or meeting, that you stop by their presentations or exhibit booth.  If they write an article or blog, they hope you read it and take away some jewels.  If they host a webinar, they hope you attend.  Students do not learn as well when they do not feel the best about themselves.  They do not reach out and grow as well.  Students who do not feel the best about themselves may make poor choices.  Educators are there to help students become their best. The DSEP Confident Me! lessons are there as a support.  Visit Dove Self-Esteem Project to learn more about the no cost, researched, single and five-lesson curriculum.

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.

Wait. Systems change, from a board game??

By Liz Thorne, VP of Policy and Programs, Cairn Guidance

I don’t like board games. Even when I was young, not interested. I had friends who would play Monopoly for hours, DAYS even, and I just could not buy in. And Yahtzee. Just shaking dice in a cup and rolling them? How boring!

I had heard about the Systems Thinking Systems Changing™ Simulation from Jess for years.  Affectionately referred to as the “Systems Game.” I heard stories of her facilitating groups of hundreds of participants through the process, and stories of participants that would recall their experience from the process at a conference years later. How could a board game teach participants about the complexities of systems change? I was skeptical.

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in the Systems Game for the first time. In just under 4 hours and through my team’s simulated 3-year grant, we tried to implement a new school initiative in our community. We ran into barriers and made the mistakes that are so often cited in grant reports and peer-reviewed journals. We met resistance in the community that wasn’t expected. We tried to implement before we had gotten everybody on board. We didn’t link our activities to our long-range vision. At the end of our first virtual year, my team thought, “we are never going to get anything done.” How often have we uttered that at the end of a year of grant funding??

Participating in the Systems Game reiterated for me the importance of relationship building. This was a recurring theme in a recent grant application we just submitted focused on systems change in schools. It’s a one-year grant and our main focus? Building relationships and gaining community-buy in. Connecting the work of the grant with the vision of the community and connecting that to what schools are held accountable for.

We are looking forward to facilitating the Systems Thinking Systems Changing™ for grantees of the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Programs in Savannah, Georgia next week. The participants will participate in a two-day version that allows plenty of time for processing, reflection and action planning for their projects back in their communities. 

Cairn Guidance Work Updates

We have just been notified that we will be presenting two sessions in Bend Oregon at the School Employee Wellness Conference in March for OEA Choice TrustJess will share her information on creating sustainable staff wellness programs as well as moderate a panel of school health champions sharing they staff wellness success stories. 

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Health Education Student Growth Goals- we got it!

Those of you teaching in Kentucky have heard PGES, Program Review, Student Growth Goals multiple times in different settings. Even if you are obsessed with student achievement & assessment (like I am), the terms may make you groan, roll your eyes or have a stomach ache. It is not because you don't believe in clear criteria for accountability for yourself or your students. 

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Oregon Community Foundation; Studio to School Grants

A few months ago, my former employee, Maesie Speer, currently the Program Associate for Grants and Programs at the Oregon Community Foundation, asked me if I'd be willing to share the Systems Thinking Systems Changing simulation with her staff in hopes that they would see the value of facilitating the simulation for recipients of their Studio to School grant. Her colleagues were really excited about it and last Friday, I facilitated the game with 100 participants in Eugene Oregon at the Shedd Institute

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Supporting Sustainability

This past Saturday, I helped coordinate, facilitate and keynote an event with Prince Georges County Public Schools (PGCPS), the 19th largest school district in the country. We were fortunate to have three essential organizations represented.

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What Have We Been Up To?

Here is an update about what Cairn Guidance has been up to recently. We are so excited to be working in school health, community health and within the content areas of: tele-medicine, after-school programming for youth, school health policies, facilitation, keynoting, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly streets, sustainability, curriculum, systems thinking, suicide prevention, mental health promotion, and obesity prevention! 

Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky- Jess is a part time project officer for the Foundation, overseeing sub-grantee projects around Kentucky. These projects are funded through the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and focus on a variety of community health issues. Through the Foundation, Jess was invited to the White House this upcoming Friday for a SIF reception displaying some of the innovative projects being implemented around the country. She is honored to have been invited to participate in this great event!

Prince Georges County Public Schools (PGCPS)- We have just completed a review of PGCPS District Wellness Policy and all other related school health policies, including Bullying/Harassment, Crisis, Recess, Competitive Foods and HIV policies. We are also helping to facilitate a Health and Wellness Team Conference on September 27 for over 100 participants across their school system, representing school nurses, health education teachers, physical education teachers, cafeteria managers and school administrators. I will be keynoting the day to energize participants and helping facilitate school health related information, best practices and sustainability of their school health work. Both the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and ASCD will be present to help support the district’s commitment to being “Great By Choice” and choosing to invest more in health promotion, disease prevention, quality health care while in school for their students, health screenings for their staff and increased family engagement in school health and wellness committees in order to improve academic achievement for ALL students attending their public schools.

American School Health Association (ASHA)- ASHA is in Portland Oct 9-11! Jess will be facilitating the first-timer’s session at ASHA this year, on Friday morning. She is also presenting a workshop on “Creating Lasting School Health Programs,” focused on how to create sustainable school health initiatives. 

Alaska Department of Education- Jess will be traveling up to Anchorage in October to facilitate the Systems Thinking; Systems Changing Simulation for districts in Alaska working on chronic disease and school health, some CDC 1305/Quad Grant-selected districts.  Jess is excited that this trip falls right after ASHA’s conference in Portland and will allow a couple of days in Seward AK to ‘play’!

Alta Planning/Grand Rapids MI Transportation Project- Cairn Guidance is working with Alta Planning to create a safer, healthier city. We are working on a project funded by the transportation to create a more bicycle/pedestrian friendly city. Cairn’s role will be to create adult-learning modules to promote safe bicycling and walking around the city, during all times throughout the year. We are mentioned in this article on the project.

EVEN- EVEN is an initiative Cairn is helping launch around mental health. The project includes a High School suicide prevention project and will be expanding to address mental health within communities, specifically military and their families, K-12 schools and in work settings addressing employee wellness. More to come on this project!

HYPE Project- Eat Smart, Move More South Carolina partnered with the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to create the Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Project. It was created through funding from the Federal Community Transformation Grant Program as a part of the Healthy South Carolina Initiative.

The purpose of the HYPE Project is to motivate and engage youth in policy, systems, and environmental obesity change efforts throughout South Carolina. The HYPE Project will build the skills of youth so that they can become a greater voice in their communities. The HYPE Project activities focus on healthy eating and active living; however, youth are encouraged to use the skills they learn to be lifelong champions of positive change.

Cairn Guidance is reviewing HYPE’s student and facilitator guides in order to strengthen the program. Using their pilot and evaluation feedback and reviewing the program through the lens of the Health Education Analysis Tool, we will provide additions and revisions as needed.

Southern Obesity Summit- Jess will be keynoting this conference on Tuesday, October 7 in Louisville. Her “Do Something Extraordinary” keynote will motivate and energize participants to continue to fight obesity in their communities and set personal wellness goals to take care of their own health. 

 

Sugarloaf Maine; Schoolsite Health Promotion Conference

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I'm here! It's gorgeous. 4 months ago when Susan Berry at the Maine Department of Education contacted me about working with them again at the end of June at Sugarloaf Resort, how could I say no? I arrived at 2pm today, took a hike part way up a ski mountain I haven't been to since high school. No joke, this place is in the middle of Maine. It took about 4.5 hours to drive here from Boston this morning. The weather is perfect and it's nice to be here a little early. 

Since I'm here for the entire 3-day conference, Susan and I worked together to determine a few opportunities for me to participate in the conference. This conference has been held for 29 years (!) and focuses on school employee wellness. So, tomorrow is the first day and I'll be facilitating the opening energizer to get school teams acquainted and another activity to get the entire group of participants engaged in the topics of the week, including personal wellness, school site wellness and partnership development. Wednesday I will be the opening keynote for the day and Thursday I'll be facilitating a workshop called, "Honing your Stairway Speech" which allows participants opportunities to practice advocacy skills around school health issues. I hope to get some networking time in while kayaking, hiking and enjoying the amazing views from beautiful Maine! 

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