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Quotable Words on Play from Counselor Jake Lawrence

September 17th, 2014

“Game time is important. We throw the football, talk about video games, or play games. Connect Four, Tumbling Towers, dominoes—I use these with all ages. It’s a great opportunity to transition from hanging out to talking about something important. “What does it take to win the game?” becomes “What does it take to win in life?” Games are like minilives—you just expand them.”

– Jake Lawrence, licensed professional counselor

Three Dynamite Ways to Power Up Your Work with Youth – Webinar Invitation

September 16th, 2014
 
 
Join us for a Webinar on September 24
 
 
Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/758236447
 
Are you curious about what it means to truly share power with young people? Then join us for a free webinar presented by youth development experts Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor. This webinar will feature highlights from these bestselling authors’ new book, “Groups, Troops, Clubs, & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.” This webinar will discuss
• understanding what a strength-based approach means  • activating young people’s sense of power and putting their strengths into action • sustaining your own sense of power through self-care
Webinar participants will discover motivational activities that young people love and practices that can transform a program or classroom.
Title: Three Dynamite Ways to Power Up Your Work with Youth
Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements         PC-based attendees         Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
 
Mac®-based attendees         Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
 
Mobile attendees         Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

Summer Days 7

September 15th, 2014

Summer has been the one teacher in my life journey who has taught me the most about valuing life’s moments, expressing gratitude and being happy. Of everyone I’ve encountered in my life, from strangers to those who know and love me, my 12 ½ year old black and white border collie/lab, girl’s best friend and canine constant companion, Summer, is the one who has taught me my most valuable learning in life.

Of all the lessons she has tried to convey in her special doggie way – show love first thing each morning; be joyfully exuberant when doing what you love; delight in the now; always show appreciation to others; work and contribute; and, presume friendshipit is lesson #7 that could just possibly be the most meaningful teaching of all; the one that may very well change my life.

For my life, “being” is not something I’m very good at. Staying busy? Yes. Doing? Achieving? You betcha. Doing for others? Absolutely. But “being”? Not so much. And “being Susan”? Whoa! Now you’re talking crazy. I can only do that with a few people!

The one constant that Summer has exhibited in attitude and actions over the years is that Susan is good enough just as she is. Summer has never expected me to keep her entertained for hours; she hasn’t looked for me to put into action a five-year business plan. I haven’t had to set, meet or exceed a goal; she’s never asked that I put on a smile or pretend interest for the sake of furthering a cause or making nice. I haven’t ever had to put on masks or be anything I’m not. I’ve always just been me.

For Summer, “me” is enough.  She is happy to simply be in the same room with me. She is content to be near me whether we’re interacting or not. With her simple presence, she has communicated:

Lesson #7: Just be yourself. 

IMG_6033As I’ve pondered this lesson over the past month, I’ve realized what a great truth Summer has tried to convey and demonstrate. I’ve repeated the words “Just be Susan” often in my head when faced with moments where I might want to act differently in order to please someone else or put their desires above mine. “Just be Susan”, I’ve come to realize, holds a key to tell me how to live freely. It begs me to be confident that who I am is a gift – as is. Summer has challenged me to trust “me,” to trust myself that I am good. I am enough.

And this unbelievably wise, four-legged, tail-wagging guru – who has the brain of a four-year-old, I might add – has passed on this most valuable, personal lesson by simply embracing and enjoying my presence without me having to do anything to earn her affections and friendship except being myself.

Today, be grateful for the gift you are. Journal about the things that make you uniquely you and that you appreciate and enjoy about yourself. Be proud of who you are. When challenging situations arise and you start to get anxious over how to respond, remind yourself to “Just be you” and then trust that you are enough. Then act from who you are and see what happens. You are good. You are enough.

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude, so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.

Free Service-Learning Curriculum

September 12th, 2014
This week America’s ToothFairy released its 2014-2015 Project Plan and Fundraising Guide for Students.  This year we are tackling Health Disparities, Health Professional Shortage Areas, Community Water Fluoridation, and Collaborative Approaches to Oral Health Outreach.
Please visit; http://issuu.com/amertoothfairy/docs/projectplans_packet_v2 to review the Project Plans.  If you would like a pdf copy, email youth@ncohf.org.
Visit: http://issuu.com/amertoothfairy/docs/msm_fundraisingpacket_v2_lr_ab1e7c0d58f0d5 for the Fundraising Guide.  As with the Project Plans, email youth@ncohf.org for a pdf copy.
Everything bolded in the Project Plan book is available on a password protected portal available to program registrants.
Our resources are free of charge, and all organizations/schools receive a free Community Education Kit in the mail and the opportunity to apply for scholarships, prizes, and product donations.
We also offer a Girl Scout and Boy Scout patch for $1.50 per patch (inc. S&H).  More information can be found at: http://www.ncohf.org/our-programs/youth-mentoring-program/scouts
Thank you, and have a great school year!
Katharine Shuster Correll
National Director, Youth Programs
National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s ToothFairy®
4108 Park Road, Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28209

What Experts Say about “Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth”

September 10th, 2014

We promised to share more about our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  This is what the experts from youth development and educational fields are saying…

This book is inspiring, well-researched, and immensely practical. I love how it views young people as leaders to be empowered rather than problems to be fixed. A highly useful tool for people who work with youth.”—.” Dr. Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core

An invaluable guide to bringing out the best in all young people. Whether you work in a school, a youth program, or are an engaged neighbor or family member, this book provides tips, tricks, and insights on how to help all young people thrive.” John S. Gomperts, President and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance

Everyone who cares about youth knows that connecting with them is critical. Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor have written the book that shows how. This indispensable resource, brimming with practical ideas, will be read, re-read, and dog eared by teachers, coaches, youth workers. and anyone working with youth.” David Walsh, Ph.D., author of Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen

In order for young people to thrive, they need three champions: family, school, and community.  This book is a valuable, practical guide to help youth thrive over time.” Cathy Tisdale, President and CEO, Camp Fire National Headquarters

If you are ready to truly adopt a strength-based approach in your work with young people, this book will help you lay a solid foundation.” Dan Dummermuth, President and CEO, YMCA of Middle Tennessee

The tools and resources in this book provide adults with concrete approaches to support young people as they become leaders and thriving community members.

Elizabeth Kaeser, Senior Manager, generationOn

Sneak Peek into our New Book: Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: An Essential Handbook for Working with Youth”

September 8th, 2014

We are so excited about our new book which should come in the mail any day!!  It’s called “Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: An Essential Handbook for Working with Youth“.

This inspiring guide is for teachers, volunteers, group leaders, youth counselors, coaches, and anyone who works with young people. Readers will learn about how young people are wired, how to create inviting classrooms and meeting spaces, and how to connect with students in meaningful, lasting ways. Find dozens of strategies to help young people discover their inner strengths and passions. Dozens of games, activities, icebreakers, and quizzes will keep you and your young people engaged and motivated.

We thought you might like a sneak peek into the content, so here are the section titles and chapter titles.  More to come…

Part One: Youth, Strength, and Power

Chapter One: A Strength-Based Approach to Positive Youth Development

Chapter Two: Putting Positive Youth Development to Work

Chapter Three: Understanding How Young People Are Wired

Chapter Four: How Young People Think and See the World

 

Part Two: Activating Power

Chapter Five: Preparation: The Work before the Work

Chapter Six: Connect with Them

Chapter Seven: Know Them

Chapter Eight: Engage Them

Chapter Nine: Stretch Them

Chapter Ten: Challenge Them

Chapter Eleven: Power Up

 

Part Three:  Sustaining Power

Chapter Twelve: The Practice of Self-Mastery

Chapter Thirteen: The Practice of Gratitude

Chapter Fourteen: The Practice of Recharging

Summer Days 6

September 8th, 2014

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude, so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.

My ever-loving canine teacher on how to live well in this world, Summer, didn’t believe in strangers and thus her on doggy version of friendship expressed in her very doggy way was this lesson:

Lesson #6: Lean into strangers or nose them.

IMG_6342

You’ve probably seen it or experienced it. Think: Have you ever taken a dog for a walk or met a dog on a walk? Your dog or the one you met often pull said human to the new person to meet them. Assuming the dog is friendly, there is this built-in wiring to know another. Unfortunately, this knowing can be presumptuous at times (embarrassing the owner) as medium to large dogs head straight for the crotch of the new friend. (Note: if you want to avoid said embarrassment, get a small dog.)

Summer sometimes headed straight for the crotch but more frequently, she went over and leaned into the “potential new friend” with the whole side of her body. What else can you do if a dog leans into you but pet her? Summer’s theory was that by giving body hugs, said “stranger” was no longer a stranger but a new friend, one worthy of sharing affection with.

Summer presumed friendship and made it so. What would our days look like if we presumed welcome, friendship or acceptance? How different would our days look if we presumed that the universe was FOR us and not against us? Or if we presumed that others wanted to connect with us as much as we want to connect with them?

Today, presume friendship, presume welcome and make it so. I don’t suggest you express it in a doggy version, but that you do so in a very human way. Offer a smile, thanks, an expression of appreciation or a sincere compliment. Give a hug, pat a shoulder, look someone in the eye and listen. Presume goodness, send it out and watch it come back to you.

Practice all the lessons of Summer Days: show love first thing each morning; be joyfully exuberant when doing what you love; delight in the now; always show appreciation to others; and, work and contribute.

Summer Days 5

September 2nd, 2014

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude, so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.

One of the unexpected lessons that my canine coach in gratitude taught me had to do with work. Summer is part border collie and as such she likes to work. Since we live in the city and not on a farm where she could herd cattle, early on she created for herself jobs to do.

It’s been a struggle to exactly name this particular lesson in happiness so I’ll give it two and you can pick the one you like:

Lesson #5: Get a job! Work is good.  Or Always contribute to the pack.

As Summer’s student, I’m still working on which of those two lesson titles is the real lesson she’s been trying to convey. Or maybe it’s both.

Regardless, early on in Summer’s 12 ½ years, she decided she had to have a job anIMG_0467d contribute to the pack. Her first job was on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30-8:30 p.m. every week. She created and chose the job for herself. On those evenings my husband left the house at (can you guess?) 5:30 to go teach a martial arts class. Summer would go to our workout room and sit where she could face the door that went outside and the door that opened out to the backyard. She guarded. And when he returned at 8:30 p.m., she’d leave the room and return to the family.

Her job changed when Pete let that class go. She then rolled with the change by going out into the backyard every night, announcing vocally to the neighborhood that she was on shift and she continued said announcement until her shift was over. (Thankfully her shift of barking only lasted an hour every evening, but she did change from 2 nights a week to 7 nights a week . . .)

She wasn’t asked to do either of these jobs. She just did it. She contributed to the well-being of the family and was happy to have work to do.

When you combine this lesson with the other ones she’s taught:  show love first thing each morning; be joyfully exuberant when doing what you love, delight in the now and always show appreciation to others, you begin to see a pattern of appreciating the gifts each day brings – whether that’s loved ones and others around you, the current moment, doing what you love or even the ability to contribute to make this world better for others. You take it ALL in and embrace it all. It’s all good.

Sometimes a job may seem like it’s just a job. Can you, today, find reasons to be thankful for the job you have? Can you see its value for helping others? Can you see how what you do makes a difference to someone? Identify ways what you do counts and give thanks.

Financial Literacy: Let’s Hear It For The Girls

August 28th, 2014

According to singer Beyonce’s hit song, girls run the world. If that’s the case, they are going to need a strong grasp of finances in order to remain in charge. Fortunately, a number of options exist to help girls learn financial literacy.

Click here to read the whole article.

Kelso’s Choice Wheel – Solving Conflicts

August 26th, 2014

According to the Kelso website, “Kelso the frog teaches students how to solve “small” problems on their own. “Small” problems include conflicts that cause “small” feelings of annoyance, embarrassment, boredom, etc. “BIG problems” always need to be taken to an adult. These are situations that are scary, dangerous, illegal, etc.”  Here’s a picture of the wheel, but check out the site to learn more.

Kelso_Wheel

Summer Days 4

August 25th, 2014

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude -  so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.

As I think about the things that Summer, my rescued border collie/lab, has taught me, I realize that her bright soulful spirit really showed up in this world to be a Gratitude Guru. Her job has been to show us over and over, how to be thankful and express thanks.

From her we’ve learned to show love first thing each morning; be joyfully exuberant when you get to do the things you love and to delight in the now.

As I reflect on a typical Summer day, I have seen how she expresses big love on two very different occasions every day. She first expresses love for taking walks (see Summer Days 2) in a very exuberant, happy dance way. When we return from said walk, she waits patiently to gently express love and gratitude for me, her human.

It is in this constant action that she has taught me lesson #4: Always show IMG_6040appreciation/affection when you get to do what you love with the one you love.

Every single day, this is how the lesson plays out after we return from a walk: Summer follows me around the house, keeping me in full eyesight until I am done with tasks and the opportunity presents itself for her to express affection and appreciation. Literally, daily, the routine follows that pattern. After the walk, I get a shower. Summer sits and guards the bathroom door until I come out. I walk to another room when she positions herself across the hall so she can watch me as I get ready. She then follows me to the kitchen for breakfast and then to the living room where I sit to meditate. Once I sit down and have quit moving, she comes over, leans into me, gives me a lick on my hand, receives a pat on the head, her tail wags a “thanks” and then she finally goes to her bed to settle down . . . but still with me in eyesight.

No matter how long it takes me to get to that chair, she follows me around and waits for the moment when she can say thanks. She never neglects her job to say thanks. And, she never forgets.

How faithful are you in remembering to say thanks when someone has done or said something kind to you? Have there been times when you meant to but life happened and next thing you know, time has passed and it seems too late to express appreciation?

Today look for opportunities to show appreciation to others for who they are and the nice things they do. Maybe it’s the coffee barista who remembers what you drink before you ask. Or, the receptionist who makes copies for you all the time. Or maybe it’s a stranger who lets you go through the door first. Look for ways to show appreciation and kindness to your colleagues and family. You never know what they’re going through and a word or act of kindness may just possibly make their day.

36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits By Leo Babauta

August 21st, 2014

If you are trying to set new habits for yourself (rest, intentional living, healthy eating, exercise, patience…), or trying to teach young people how to achieve goals that require changing habits, check out this article from Leo Babauta36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits.

Kid President’s Letter To A Person On Their First Day Here

August 19th, 2014

Kid President videos always make me smile.  Check out this one that he made:  Kid President’s Letter To A Person On Their First Day Here

Save the Date: RAGSDALE & SAYLOR AUTHOR EVENT

August 19th, 2014

Join Susan & Ann, best-selling authors of Great Group Games for their new book release

Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms:

The Essential Handbook for working with Youth

October 4, 2014

2:00 p.m. at Parnassus Books

3900 Hillsboro Pike.  Nashville, Tennessee  37215

Find other books by Susan Ragsdale & Ann Saylor at www.TheAssetEdge.net

Summer Days 3

August 18th, 2014

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude -  so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.

 

In the previous two blogs, the life lessons taught by Summer, our beloved canine Happiness Teacher, were to show love first thing each morning and be joyfully exuberant when you get to do the things you love. Closely connected to her teaching of lesson two is lesson three which is:

Delight in the now.IMG_2467

Now, I have to admit that I’m a poor student at times with this particular lesson. I think my husband does a much better job at this one. I too often am thinking about what needs to be done for tomorrow, next week, next month – and I’m ashamed to say – even next year. I often miss the importance of now.

But Summer? She has the “now” down pat! When we’ve gone on walks, it isn’t just a walk. It’s an adventure. On any given said walk, there is a constant shifting of how she stays in the now by sniffing, exploring, showing curiosity toward sights, cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, birds or humans. She has always been on the move engaging all her senses to see what can be seen, smell what can be smelled and play with what can be played with.

IMG_3957Summer has shown a tendency for creating her own form of “play” while we walk. She has stalked the path’s edges to catch or sniff out crickets; she’s hunted for bunnies; she’s stuck her nose in water holes to push at frogs and has even pounced on water to make waves.  All games – never for harm. (It’s true! No bunnies have ever been hurt in the making of our walks. She catches and releases.) Her choice of play has depended on the season of the year.

And all of her actions she repeats every single day, every single walk. Every day that walk is fresh, new, delightful and well, now. It never gets old to her and she approaches each one with the same joyful exuberance and appreciation.

Do you find that you tend to think about the past or the future instead of the now? Are you able to take any given moment and be fully present in it savoring all the sights, smells, tastes and feel of the present moment? What happens when you do? How do you feel inside when you fully immerse yourself in the present moment?

Pick several moments today and try to be as open as you can to everything that’s going on in those moments. Savor them. Experience them fully. Give yourselves to now and live your life in this moment. Make it count.