Community Prevention Efforts Can Trump ACEs

By Carol Hopp |

If you had the opportunity to make a difference in the future health and behavioral outcomes of children in your community, would you? Of course! That is why understanding the ACE Study is so important. It shows how experiencing trauma as a child can lead to behavioral and health issues as an adult. With this knowledge, you can recognize, respond, or even prevent a possible traumatic situation, making a difference for your child and their friends.
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Child Well-Being: Communities Must Do More

By the Child Abuse Prevention Team |

We all want children to have great childhoods, to succeed in school, and to grow into healthy, productive citizens. Yet, recent studies suggest that we are far from achieving this vision.

According to UNICEF, the United States ranks 26 out of 29 wealthiest nations in the world in terms of child well-being, and 32 out of 34 industrialized nations in terms of children living in poverty. In Iowa, 55 percent of adults experienced at least one traumatic event, such as abuse or neglect, as children, and 14 percent had four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Recent research suggests that our children are growing up with largely the same rate of ACEs as previous generations. Continue reading

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Celebrating 29 Years of Alcohol Awareness

By Katie Kust, Substance Abuse Prevention Intern |

Every April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month to increase the public’s awareness and understanding of alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. The theme for this 29th year of awareness is, “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction. This year, Helping Services and Northeast Iowa Behavioral Health want everyone—especially youth—to understand the importance of treatment and prevention of alcoholism. Early education encourages individuals and their families to remain aware of the issue and empowers them to take action to prevent alcoholism.
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Underage Drinking—Not Just a Minor Problem

By Katie Kust, Substance Abuse Prevention Intern |

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Underage drinking is a big deal all across the country. Today, estimates from a National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that there are currently 10.1 million underage drinkers in the United States. Alcohol is still the most commonly used drug among young people, but underage drinking is not just a minor problem. Many adults turn a blind eye to underage drinking, citing their own use as a teenager. But even back then, drinking underage was dangerous, and many adults were lucky their youthful drinking did not lead to addiction or death. Continue reading

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Handling the Beast We All Face: Stress

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Mentoring Guides Youth from Stress to Joy

April photo credit Mike VanSickle Fayette County UnionBy Kathy Schwartzhoff, Mentoring Coordinator |

Looking at the picture above, the first emotion that comes to mind could be joyful! April Wilker (second from the left) is indeed that type of person—happy, energetic, and positive. And she is the first to say that these characteristics were greatly influenced by her mentor when she was growing up. You see, April is a former mentee in the Winneshiek County youth mentoring program, and she has quite a story. Continue reading

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How I Perceive and Respond to Stress

By David Runyon, Executive Director |

Everyone deals with stress in different ways. As Executive Director of Helping Services, I have experienced many periods of intense stress. These have included times of long hours with too many tasks, uncertain funding, personnel concerns, service delivery issues, and much more. That said, I can think of only a few events that left me feeling distressed. Mostly, I experience stress as an opportunity and challenge which leads to an energizing and positive experience. Among staff, these times have often led to amazing periods of creativity—a kind of stepping up to the plate and hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the game! Continue reading

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Coping with Present Demands and Past Abuse—a Survivor’s Story

Altered Kris Krug Untitled 9.27.05 on Flickr

By Chrisann Zuerner and Viktoria Stockman |

Each day presents its own set of worries and concerns with which we must cope. While we all have means of dealing with and reducing levels of stress, individuals in relationships fraught with domestic violence must deal with huge, additional stressors. They live in constant fear of their abuser hitting them in front of the children, or worse, the children being harmed. They struggle to contain their partner’s violence, while attempting to maintain the image that they are in control of their lives and that nothing bad is going on at home. Or maybe it is not that they are struggling to prevent violence from happening, but rather trying to cope with their ex-partner and past abuser, balance parenting responsibilities, and deal with their past, present, and future. Continue reading

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Navigating the Roads of Life—Helping Teens Learn to Manage Stress

Teen-article-imageBy Jen Stolka, Certified Prevention Specialist |

“My chest feels tight. My mind bounces from one thought to another. My palms are sweating, and I cannot seem to shake these feelings of being overwhelmed,” shared a local teen when asked what happens when she is stressed out. “Make good decisions.” “Do not fail that test on Friday.” “Do not be late for work.” “Pick up your little sister after school.” “Beat the Warriors on Friday.” “You are coming to my party on Saturday, right?” “Do you like my new outfit?” These are just a few phrases that teens hear on any given day. Our youth are pulled in so many directions, they often feel themselves coming, going, and never truly enjoying the moment. Continue reading

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Adding a New Family Member

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By Lori Barry, Family Educator |

Stress can come from many different sources—even from happy, exciting sources such as a new little member of the family.

Adjusting family routines after a baby’s birth can be stressful. A new baby involves many changes physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally. Most families will experience normal ups and downs for the first few months. Each person has a different tolerance level. What is important is to know how to calm yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed because your emotional health affects your infant’s social, emotional, and intellectual development. Continue reading

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