Youth 2 Youth Training

Over the summer, seven students from Irvington High School attended a Youth 2 Youth Leadership Conference in New England. One of our students, Natalie K., wanted to share her experience.

I loved my experience at Youth 2 Youth  (Y2Y) and am already looking forward to hopefully attending again next year! Y2Y was a brand new experience for me and at first it was overwhelming seeing how many people had already been coming to the conference for so many years. But the setup of the day and the activities immediately allowed for me to make amazing friends who truly helped make my experience even better. From having family group sessions where we got to know about 13 other kids well, to energizers that helped get the energy flowing in the room for the day. Everything was well planned, fun and happy.

The conference was a great combination of fun and learning without sometimes even realizing it. I had no idea what to expect at first and getting there I immediately felt such a positive feeling. People would just come up and start talking to me or introducing themselves which is something I wasn’t so used to but it gave me such a happy feeling throughout the whole conference. Everyone was there for almost all the same reasons and having that made the experience and environment very positive.

Besides meeting people and having fun, we all sat through some very emotional family group sessions and listened to incredibly powerful and moving speakers throughout the conference. One speaker, Cara Filler, left many in the room in tears and I constantly think about what she had told us relating to the effects of distracted driving and decision making. Her speech was incredibly emotional but also very informative as it made most people realize how much you can learn from others experiences I would love for her to come to Irvington as she was incredibly impactful and an excellent speaker. The other speakers at the conference were also great but I left the conference with different thinking and feelings after Cara and I still think about what she shares with us everyday.

Family group allowed for me to have 13 people that I knew and could always rely on while at the conference and from that I ended up making a good friend who then introduced me to more people. I liked that they had teenagers who were either the same age as some of us or older as youth staff because that gave a more welcoming and understanding feeling for some people when talking in family groups.

We had chosen workshops in the beginning of our arrival and I was so shocked to see how many options there were. All 4 of my workshops (2 each day) were different from each other and I came out of each having a different understanding about the topic. Whether it was talking about the effects of drugs on a person and their options, talking about stress, peer pressure, and being a team leader each had a well thought out plan, activity and/or discussion.

We met up twice with people from Westchester who were also at the conference and all contributed our ideas and listened to what others were hoping to bring back to their school. We came up with some great ideas for the Rivertown’s and also specifically for Irvington.

Everyone there was super nice and friendly and it was truly an awesome experience that I have already shared with some of my friends and family. It was a very busy 4 days and I am so glad I was able to attend and learn so much in that time frame. Thank you so much for all your support and for making it possible for us to go to this amazing conference.

Back-to-School 2017

It’s that time of year again and we can hear the school bells ringing! It can be hard to adjust from the dog days of summer to the busy and fast pace of the school year. Here are nine tips to get back into the school mode and start this year off right!

Tip #1: Have the Proper School Supplies that you need for your classes! 
During the first day of class most teachers will tell you everything they require for their courses. Make sure that you get the specified supplies so that you are able to keep up with the class work and stay organized.

Tip #2: Get an Agenda!
Between taking test, doing home work, attending activities, and school events it can be really hard to keep track of everything. By keeping an updated agenda you can better manage your time and know what you have to accomplish.

Tip #3: Know your Course Syllabus
Knowing your class schedule is so important for being successful in the course your taking. Teachers will typical hand out your syllabus in class or post it online. Knowing when you have papers and projects due is so important for passing the course and keeping up your grades.

Tip #4: Do Not Procrastinate
This is something that we have all been guilty of in the past and have learned the stressful repercussions. A habit is created in three weeks so if you study for every course your taking daily in 21 days that will be a new habit for you. Dedicating a little bit of time everyday to the courses you are taking is definitely going to positively impact your grades and make you a better student!

Tip #5: Know What is Expected of You 
Pay attention to what the teacher is saying about the workload of the class and what they are hoping for you to get out of it. Teacher want you to succeed and will provide you with what you need to do to thrive.  Always remember that communicating with your teachers is key for understanding their expectations.

Tip #6: Get Involved
Getting involved with your school community is great because you can pursue your interest and meet peers who have the same and similar interest as you. Many studies have shown that students who are involved in sports and school activities are able to achieve higher GPA’s.

Tip #7: Learn What Type of Leaner You Are 
There are three main types of learning styles which are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Knowing what type of leaner you are is going to help you be a better student and have better studying habits.When you are able to determine the type of learning style that is best for you, you will find better results when you are studying and it will result in higher test scores!

Tip #8: List of academic goals
Write out a list of goals that you want to achieve for the upcoming school year! Do you want to make the lead role in the play, get that varsity spot on the basket ball team, improve your grades? When you write down every goal you are able to plan and realize what you need to do to prepare for them. Having that list can be a driving and motivating force to help you work to achieve those goals.

Tip #9: Refusal Skills
You need ready-made comebacks to have in your pocket when friends and peers start putting on the pressure about trying drugs and/or alcohol. Power to the Parent shares these four ways to say “no”:

  • Compliment the person. Thanks for offering.
  • State the problem or consequence. The problem is that I can’t right now.
  • Offer an alternative that shows you value the person. Maybe we can just hangout instead.
  • Leave in a way that doesn’t offend. I have to go. See you another time.

Every new school year is a opportunity for a fresh start, new friends, and to make it count. You have the potential to make this year one of the best ones yet!

Source: Gabrielle Flank, Huffington Post

Marijuana & the Adolescent Brain


Marijuana is the most commonly used and abused illicit drug in the U.S., particularly among adolescents and young adults. In fact, teens’ perceptions of the risks of marijuana use have steadily declined over the past decade, possibly related to increasing public debate about legalizing or loosening restrictions on marijuana. Changes in marijuana policies across states legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use suggest that marijuana is gaining greater acceptance in our society. Thus, it is particularly important for people to understand what is known about both the adverse health effects and the potential therapeutic benefits linked to marijuana. Learn more.

Additional Resources

How to Talk About Marijuana: There isn’t one script for talking about marijuana, but here’s what you’re likely to hear — and a few suggestions for how to respond.
Spotting Drug Use: A few simple tips and guidelines can go a long way toward spotting issues with drug use earlier rather than later.
Prepare to Take Action if You Suspect Teen or Adult Drug Use: Is your child using drugs? Use these tips to prepare for the conversation ahead, and lay the foundation for more positive outcomes.

Alcohol & Your Child

As a parent, it is important to understand your role in protecting children from the problems associated with underage drinking, and the laws related to this issue.  Underage alcohol use is a serious issue impacting communities across New York State, including the Village of Irvington. Adults play a role when they sell of serve alcohol to youth under the age of 21, when they host parties where young people are drinking, and when they condone underage alcohol use.

Every community member should be concerned about alcohol use by youth under 21 because it is associated with the three most common causes of teenage deaths: accidental deaths, homicides and suicides. In addition, high levels of alcohol use are associated with unplanned or unprotected sexual activity among adolescents, posting increased risk for teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Alcohol use and higher levels of use among adolescents is associated with poor grades, absenteeism and higher school drop-out rates. In addition, children who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who  begin drinking at age 21.

The enforcement of the underage drinking laws requires an awareness and commitment from parents, schools, communities, clergy, healthcare and law enforcement professionals. The health and safety of our children, families and communities can not be compromised due to the devastating, and often fatal consequences of underage drinking. Everyone can play a role in reducing the use of alcohol in youth under 21.

Learn more about how you can make a difference as well as laws addressing underage drinking.

Why is heroin so addictive?

Why is heroin so addictive? 

Heroin use impacts the brain more severely than other substances and can create brain changes that lead to addiction. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria or “rush.” With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the person must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect. Learn more.

Marijuana: What You Need to Know

During the past year, many concerns have been expressed with the use of marijuana and the vulnerability of the teen brain. One of the concerns that substance abuse prevention professionals have about marijuana is that among students the perception of harm is declining in regards to this drug. “Perception of harm” is the benchmark for drug use and a decline predicts the probability of future drug use.

Professionals feel that the approval of marijuana for medical conditions in New York State and the legalization of marijuana in some states have been contributing factors to the decline of the perception of harm by teens.
However, the ongoing research into this drug shows a very different picture regarding marijuana’s harmful effects. As was previously reported, there is an association between marijuana and psychosis and depression. Researchers are learning more about the negative impact of marijuana on the cognitive skills of memory and attention. Marijuana also decreases motivation and there are short and longer term effects of marijuana on the ability to learn.

One can go to the website to read more about the negative impact that marijuana can have on the teen brain.

Source: Patricia Murphy Warble, LMSW, CPP, Parenting for Prevention June 2017

E-Cigarettes, Nicotine, & Vaping

Nationally, teen cigarette smoking has been decreasing for many years and after a dramatic rise in e-cigarette use between 2011 and 2015, ecigarettes use by teens fell from 16% in 2015 to 11.3% in 2016 according to a report by the OOC. The decline is believed to be due to a combination of tobacco restrictions, public education, and taxes. An ecigarette sometimes called an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS), e-cig, hookah pen, hookah stick or vaping device is designed to mimic smoking a cigarette.

In NY State cigarette smoking by high school students fell to a record low of 4.3% in 2016, down from 27.1% in 2000. But e-cigarette use nearly doubled in the last two years from 10.5% in 2014 to 20.6% in 2016 according to the NYS Department of Health. This underscores the need for New York parents to reinforce the harmfulness of these products. The device can resemble a real cigarette or look more like a pen or marker. The device delivers nicotine or non nicotine “ejuice” or other substances to the smoker in a vapor form. A battery powers a heating element that vaporizes the liquid nicotine contained within a cartridge in the e-cigarette so that what’s inhaled and then exhaled looks like smoke, but is usually odorless. They often come in colorful packaging and have flavors marketed to young people such as strawberry, apple, bubblegum, or watermelon. For some teens the appeal is being able to compete with peers on who can “blow” the best smoke rings.

It is hard for parents to identify all forms of ENDs but currently a popular brand of e-cigarettes is Juul. The device is usually filled with a flavored nicotine, however, it can also be used for marijuana. The device can be plugged into a USB charger in order to work to vaporize the nicotine or other substances a teen chooses to put into the device. There is usually no odor when one chooses to use this device so if a parent is not aware of what this device is, they may think it is a flash drive. The reality is that it is delivering a harmful substance into the lungs. Previous studies have identified some troubling trends. In the first analysis of the relationship between e cigarette use and smoking among adolescents in the United States, University of California at San Francisco researchers found that adolescents who used the devices were more likely to smoke cigarettes and less likely to quit smoking.

The 2015 report on ENDS in New York State found the following:

  • The prevalence of ENDS use among high school students (10.5%) and young adults (12.7%) is about twice as high as the prevalence of ENDS use among adults (5.7%).
  • There is no evidence that youth are substituting ENDS for cigarettes. In fact, more than half of high school students and young adults who smoke cigarettes also use ENDS, making dual use of cigarettes and ENDS the norm.
  • Among the 7.3% of high school students who are current smokers, 56.5% also use ENDS.
  • Among the 14.2% of young adult smokers (age 18-24 years), 54.9% use ENDS.
  • Among the 17.3% of adult smokers (age 25 and older), ENDS use is significantly lower, at 24.0%.

E-cigarettes can contain various levels of nicotine a highly addictive drug. People who regularly use nicotine and then suddenly stop experience withdrawal symptoms, which may include cravings, anxiety, depression, moodiness, irritability, and inattentiveness.

The American Heart Association says that nicotine from smoking is one of the hardest substances to quit. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, tests of e-cigarette samples found that they
contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in car antifreeze. The potential harm from exposure to secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes is unknown. Two initial studies have found formaldehyde and cancer causing substances coming from secondhand vapors (American Lung Association, 2011).

Source: Patricia Murphy Warble, LMSW, CPP, Parenting for Prevention June 2017

Page 1 of 812345...Last »