Officially Launching Do Something Extraordinary!

Three years ago, Jess, Director of Cairn Guidance, experienced her own call to action. During the summer of 2013, she successfully completed a 23-year-old dream of bicycling 4,197 miles across the country. Solo. In her keynote address, Jess shares the extraordinary journey of preparing and fulfilling a major life goal, and relates her experience to key lessons that empower leaders to create positive change within the public health, sports and education sectors. Jess is able to customize her keynote to benefit diverse audiences, and breathes life into her narrative by sharing photos and videos that incorporate the balance of work and play. She motivates her audiences to create personal calls to action, and has her participants up and moving throughout the hour-long presentation to provide an atmosphere that welcomes movement, connection,
and change. 

In sharing her story, Jess hopes to inspire give a voice to audience members’ own personally and professionally journeys, daring them to do something extraordinary to create lasting change. 

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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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RMC Health Board Meeting and Healthy School Leadership Retreat

It has been a fantastic week in Vail, Colorado! I feel incredibly fortunate to be on the Board of Directors of RMC Health, a non-profit that serves those working to improve the mental, physical, social and emotional health of children and youth. We had a great Board meeting that included both a business meeting and some strategic planning for the future. 

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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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Leadership Lou; Best of Leadership Summit Reflections

As a business owner and someone completely immersed in the school health field, I find myself straddling two incredibly different worlds. K-12 schools are a completely different beast as compared to the business community, but both are incredibly important to the work I do. 

-The core of a great city are its citizens and there's nothing more vital than education." -Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

-The core of a great city are its citizens and there's nothing more vital than education." -Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Nine years ago, as I found myself starting a business with a masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction, I realized I had a lot to learn in order to run a business. And, over the years I've learned an incredible amount about running a business, leadership, managing people and growing with intention. Nine years later, I've sustained a business in a world where most schools still don't prioritize the health and well-being of their students. But, I'd say we are making progress. 

Designed to replicate the energy and commitment to community that happens through our programs, the Best of Leadership Summit is a one-of-a-kind event offering professional and personal leadership development for all who attend. If you want to be on the pulse of current issues, reconnect with the region’s most dedicated and influential trustees, plan now to join us at the Best of Leadership Summit.

I attended an event by Leadership Louisville, an organization I heard about within my first week moving to the city. Yesterday's event was the first ever Best of Leadership Summit. It fulfilled my needs in many ways. Surprising to me, the event addressed both the education and business fields. Education came up in most of the presentations I viewed. I guess it's difficult to talk about our vision for Louisville and a thriving community without addressing education. I was thrilled to be introduced (by Mayor Fischer) to Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Donna Hargens and have an opportunity to not only share what I do and what I can bring to her school community but also advocated that healthy kids learn better. She said, "I agree." I commended her support of the JCPS Health Committee that I sit on and I'm happy to see that a value under the district's mission statement includes, 'partnerships among schools, families, and community are important for the health and well being of our students'.

We have to focus on educating the mother first.
— Family Scholar House, Cathe Dykstra

I had the opportunity to present "Do Something Extraordinary", a presentation around my 4,197 mile solo bicycle journey across the US this past summer and lessons learned that relate to being a strong leader. It appeared to be well received and many seemed inspired by what I said. 

In education, we have to invest in new teachings.
— JCPS Board Member, David Jones, Jr.

I left feeling inspired by leaders, educators and champions that live locally. I gained knowledge of what is going on in my new community (and why) and met amazing people from all different organizations, government agencies and businesses. From the technology world to media to venture capitalists to politicians. I ran into people I've met over my 5 months here, allowing that feeling of community I so want to be a part of my life. I commend Leadership Louisville for a fabulous event AND creating opportunities in a one-day conference for networking by scheduling 30 minute breaks throughout the day. What an idea! Bravo!

One of the most rewarding parts of the day was the post- celebratory/continuing the conversation meet up after the event at Sidebar with 6 of us. We had deep, meaningful conversations, literal handshakes across fries and drinks to collaborate on events, programs and local opportunities. A promise for UofL basketball game invitations next season and scheming on how to make this a stronger community; "The Best' as Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says!

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

For those of you in the right place at the right time, you may be able to attend one of these speaking engagements I'm speaking at or facilitating! Listed in order of occurrence.

1. Leadership Louisville's Best of Leadership Summit, March 17-18
I'm presenting a Ted-style talk during the 3-4:30 breakout session entitled, "Storytellers: A Next Generation Perspective". "Do Something Extraordinary" will focus on the six life lessons I learned on my 4,197 mile solo bicycle journey across the US this past summer and how those lessons related to being a leader in your professional field. Louisville's Mayor Greg Fischer will be speaking on his “Vision for Louisville” and CEO of Chrysalis Ventures, David Jones Jr will be speaking about “Innovating to Improve Education and Healthcare”. The three breakout topics for each time throughout the day are: Leadership, Community and Driving Change. Don't miss it. Register for the upcoming event here!

2. SPARK sponsored Webinar, March 19, 3pm PST/6pm EST
I'm facilitating an hour long webinar for SPARK called, Gearing Up for School Health: Riding the Path to a Comprehensive School Health Program. Anyone can register and be a part of this workshop I'm leading in a couple of weeks! To register and find out more (objectives and description) go here

3. National AAHPERD/SHAPE Conference in St Louis, MO, April 1
I will be co-facilitating a Let's Move Active Schools, Physical Activity Leader (PAL) training with Judy LoBianco, former PE Administrator of the Year Awardee. By participating in this training, you will become a PAL and have the knowledge and skills to go back to your school or district and implement school-wide change in the areas of PE, physical activity during the school day, before and after school, staff involvement and family and community engagement. To register for this all day pre-conference session, go here

4. School-site Health Promotion Conference, Sugarloaf Maine, week of June 23
As the keynote speaker during this week's staff wellness conference in Maine, I will be addressing a variety of topics through the lens of my bicycle journey across the US with a focus around employee wellness. More and more schools around the country are addressing the health and well-being of their staff and workplace environments. This not only models good health for students but increases staff attendance and productivity. My 75 minute presentation will be a call to action for the audience, mostly attending in district-level teams of 5-10 people. 

There are some other pending events I will be speaking at or facilitating that will be open to the public… potentially in Alaska, Kentucky, Oregon and Maryland. Stay tuned!



What does a National School Health Consultant do?

A lot of people ask me what a school health consultant does. Instead of abstractly communicating my mission, I'm going to share my current contracts and I think it will paint a clear picture of what we do!

  • I will be the content lead for a conference dedicated to health disparities and childhood obesity funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in partnership with Clinton Foundation's Health Matters Initiative. Being the content lead means I work with all the content for the conference- videos to speakers to the bios that go into the program. I have the opportunity to have calls to brief all the speakers, moderators and strategic partners making commitments. It's a fabulous role that connects me to great people! This event will be in Newark, NJ, May 9.
  • We are working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation on a project related to their Healthy Schools Program and sustainability. That work will take me to Portland, Indianapolis and a few other TBD locations from now through mid-summer.
  • We are completing a paper for the Colorado Legacy Foundation on school health supporting education accountability measures… how does addressing the health and well-being of students and staff increase test scores/grades, graduation rates and attendance? This work will be completed very soon and available. I will share once the document is public. 
  • Maine Department of Education has hired me to do a keynote presentation at their School-site Wellness Conference late June at Sugarloaf Mountain. Looking forward to addressing a large audience of school teams. More to come on my speaking objectives and content!
  • I will be facilitating the Kentucky Youth Health Network through a strategic planing process late March. This group, formerly called the KY Teen Pregnancy Coalition works on sexual health promotion and risk behavior prevention among youth in Kentucky. We will be reviewing state level sexual health and risk data among youth, developing a vision, bold steps and a 5 year blueprint for action. The hope is that with clear direction, more funding opportunities will be available to do work within the blueprint/strategic plan.
  • I will be facilitating a webinar on Comprehensive School Health Program/Coordinated School Health for SPARK on March 19th at 6pm EST. The objectives for the 75 minute webinar include:
    -Understand the relationship of health issues to education accountability measures
    -Understand the CSH model and how CSPAP fits into the model, and hear examples
    -Learn how to build sustainable school health programs
    -Be encouraged to set one next step goal around what they learned on the webinar
    More information on how to participate soon!
  • I'm co-facilitating a full day pre-conference at the National AAHPERD/SHAPE in St Louis on April 1 for Let's Move Active Schools; Physical Activity Leader Training with Judy LoBianco, 2013 AAHPERD National Physical Education Administrator of the Year 2013
  • Next week I head to Connecticut to facilitate a CDC School Health Guidelines Training for CT Department of Ed (DOE) and CT Department of Health (DOH) and their 1305 grantee school districts. I will be doing a similar training for Tulsa County Public Schools in June. 
  • Jamie Sparks and I will be traveling to Alaska in October to co-facilitate the Systems Thinking Systems Changing simulation for AK DOE and AK DOH for their 1305 grantee school districts. 

Yup- that's what we do! We have some pending work on the horizon. All our work is very different and very exciting. But, all related making schools healthier places for students and staff!