| Family Friendly Resource Guide
All kids should have family privilege
John Seita was removed from an abusive family when he was eight years old. He remembers as an adolescent, the idea of family seemed “mysterious yet wondrous” to him. He was confused by families, but he knew he wanted one and felt lost without it.
He grew bitter and distrustful of adults and ran away from, or was kicked out of, several foster homes and juvenile centers. He lacked what many happy, healthy, successful people take for granted and what he later came to understand as “family privilege.”
Seita was the keynote speaker at RISE U.P. for Youth, a recent convening of youth and adults who work with or care about youth, especially those who struggle and are most vulnerable. Great Lakes Center for Youth Development organized the event to raise awareness of the issues that face vulnerable youth in the Upper Peninsula, connect individuals and organizations that support youth and share promising practices for helping youth thrive.
Defining family privilege
Seita, a nationally recognized expert on youth development and faculty member of the Michigan State University School of Social Work, defines family privilege as the benefits, mostly invisible, that come from membership in a stable family.
Seita describes family privilege as “an invisible package of assets and pathways that provide a sense of belonging, safety, unconditional love, and spiritual values.” With family privilege, he says, “children observe parents or older siblings to see the effort it takes to be successful in life. Family privilege provides the chance to hope and to dream.”
Unfortunately, there are many kids in the Upper Peninsula who lack family privilege. Some have been removed from their homes and others live with adults so stressed by factors such as poverty, physical abuse and neglect, substance abuse, mental illness or disability that they don’t provide the affection and discipline needed to nurture family privilege.
According to 2011 Kids Count data, 880 U.P. children up to age seventeen were victims of confirmed abuse and neglect. Almost a third of them had been removed from their homes. A quarter of all U.P. children were living in poverty.
What can communities do?
Communities share the responsibility of creating family privilege for those youth who lack it. The late Peter Benson, founder of Search Institute, explained in his book, All Kids Are Our Kids: What Communities Must Do to Raise Caring and Responsible Children and Adolescents, that all parts of a community, including schools, employers, places of worship, law enforcement and youth organizations, play a vital role in the healthy development of youth.
The book introduces forty developmental assets that all kids need to grow up healthy, competent and caring. These assets are a mix of external resources––such as adult role models, caring neighborhoods and safe places––and internal qualities such as integrity, resistance skills and a sense of purpose. Strong relationships are at the heart of the assets. By creating strong relationships with youth, the community acts like a surrogate family, providing those protective factors that come from family privilege.
Eventually, Seita had the good fortune of crossing paths with a few caring adults who provided him with some of the elements of family privilege. Combined with his own strong will and stubbornness, he was able to overcome obstacles in order to “find, and keep, his life.” Today, not only is he a respected professional, he is a husband and father in a loving, stable family.
That is what a community can, and should, do for its youth. To learn more, call Great Lakes Center for Youth Development at 906-228-8919 or visit www.glcyd.org.
–– Linda Remsburg, GLCYD
How to handle anger
Where does our anger come from?
Anger does not exist by itself; it always comes from other thoughts or feelings. In the few fleeting seconds before we feel anger, there is a thought or a feeling that often goes unnoticed. What are possible thoughts that come before anger? “She is so controlling!” “I wish he would help more around the house.”
Feelings are different than thoughts, and it can be hard to distinguish them from anger. Possible feelings that might precede anger are fear, impatience, frustration or resentment. The feeling or expression of anger is a mask for the thoughts or feelings that are at its root.
Once we pay attention to the thought or feeling that precedes the anger, we can better understand it, and then try to express that instead of anger. Expressing fear or frustration or resentment gives the other person listening to us a better opportunity to respond than if we show anger. We invite help and understanding by expressing the underlying thoughts and feelings of anger. Expressing anger usually shuts the door to positive communication.
“I” statements are a way to express feelings and needs without threatening the other person—statements that start with “I feel” or “I think.” While “I” statements don’t sound very natural to most of us, saying them slows our communication down, allowing us to identify more clearly how we feel or what we think, and allows the listener to hear us without getting angry or defensive.
“I” statements put the responsibility and ownership of the thought or feeling on ourselves, rather than blaming another person for our feelings or thoughts. They can also give possible solutions.
If “I” statements are too awkward to say, try writing a few down. When you feel angry about something or toward someone, write a statement that starts with “I feel _______ because/when________; what I need is_______. Once you write a few statements, it can be easier to talk about issues with less anger and more patience and understanding.
Anger affects all of us in varying degrees and in different ways. Sometimes it is more manageable than at other times. Alternatives to Anger is a four-session series offered by MSU Extension that can help you to improve understanding anger, communicating in positive ways, relieving stress related to anger, and letting go of the past. A new series will begin in May or June if there are enough interested people. Call MSU Extension at 475-5731 or email email@example.com to register.
––Lynn Krahn, MSU Extension
News from Marquette schools
Marquette Area Public Schools
• A detailed sidewalk construction project has begun this week on Mesnard Street that will impact traffic flow for the remainder of this school year.
To help with traffic flow and safety issues, we are asking all parents to please avoid Mesnard Street when coming to and from Bothwell. We are asking parents to please use Craig Street when coming to Bothwell and Hampton Street when leaving.
School buses will use Hampton Street coming to and leaving Bothwell.
• The NMU Chapter of Sigma Xi and Marquette Area Public Schools chose Mary McKinney of Bothwell and Jesse Kainulainen at MSHS as the Best Science Teachers from the U.P.
Sigma Xi is a national society of science, math and engineering. Each year their chapter selects from nominations a Best Science Teacher award to a deserving high school and middle school teacher from the U.P.
Honorees received a plaque and a check for $100 at an April banquet at the NMU University Center.
North Star Academy
The North Star Academy Board of Directors announced the Marquette public school academy will offer a new developmental kindergarten class this fall.
The class will be in a newly-opened second kindergarten classroom, maintaining the class size limit of 20 students per class.
Both kindergarten teachers have earned the designation “highly qualified” and have significant experience with early elementary students.
Pre-kindergarten screening will determine whether students are placed in the developmental class.
For more information, contact Tina McNeely, elementary principal, at 226-0156, ext.19 or Karen Anderson, superintendent at 226-0156, ext. 12.
Crossroads Christian Academy
• Crossroads Christian Academy’s first and second graders have been chosen to lead poems and introduce the author in Wednesday’s session of the Young Authors’ Conference, May 6 to 9, at Northern Michigan University.
The first and second graders have spent the latter part of April creating and practicing an introduction inspired by Kristine O’Connell George’s book, One Mitten.
George, a poet and author from California, will talk to the students about writing stories and being a writer. Her books include Old Elm Speaks, Emma Dilemma, and Fold Me a Poem.
• CCA would like to thank the many community members and other supporters who helped make its annual silent auction a huge success as well as great fun. Ms. Janofski’s fifth and sixth grade class teamed together to create a quilt.
The students each designed a flower, chose colors for it, and then crafted the flower with fabric crayons and fabric. The students then arranged the pieces and assisted in assembling the quilt by “tying” it together.
Be a youth asset builder
There are small things that you can do with the young children in your life that can benefit them in the future.
Great Lakes Center for Youth Development collects data that measures the state of the youth in the Marquette community, as well as in communities across the Upper Peninsula.
In the fall of 2012, the center administered the Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors Survey and the Sidebar Survey to Marquette and Alger youth in the eighth, tenth and twelfth grades.
The PSL: A&B is developed by Search Institute and measures forty developmental assets, a powerful tool for communities because it defines community strengths and needs based on relationships among youth and adults in the community.
The Sidebar Survey is developed by Great Lakes Center for Youth Development and a committee of community stakeholders to collect hard-to-find data.
This was the eighth time the PSL A&B survey and the fifth time the Sidebar Survey was conducted in Marquette and Alger counties, and 1,774 youth participated.
Overall, youth in Marquette and Alger counties have 19.6 assets compared to 17.4 assets in 1997.
Since 1997, twenty-three assets have increased a statistically significant amount (five percent or more).
Only three assets have decreased by five percent or more.
Search Institute research has consistently shown young people who have more assets engage in fewer risk-taking behaviors and are more likely to report thriving indicators.
This means the more assets a youth experiences, the more likely he or she will choose a healthy lifestyle, regardless of age, gender or region of the country.
As we continue to build assets in our youth, we see the impact assets have on rates of alcohol and drug use, health and school performance.
To view the whole report, visit www.glcyd.org.
Although the youth surveyed were older, assets are very applicable in young children. The sooner asset building starts, the more assets can be experienced in the child’s life.
Here are some ways you can build assets in young children with whom you come in contact.
As a parent, consistently model your family’s values and priorities for the young child.
Regularly include all children in your family in projects around the house, recreational activities and community service projects.
As a neighbor or caring adult, play with a young child. Ask to play a game with the child, visit a park to play outside or go for a walk together. Every time you see a child you know, greet him or her by name.
As an organization member or business person, highlight, develop, expand and support programs designed to build assets.
Develop employee policies that encourage asset building in youth, including flexible work schedules for parents and other employees, allowing them to volunteer in youth development programs.
Family assets are everyday actions that all families can take to become stronger. Everyone in the family, including young children, teens and parenting adults, play a role in building these assets.
There are twenty-one family assets in five categories: nurturing relationships, establishing routines, maintaining expectation, adapting to challenges and connection to community.
Like developmental assets, there are many things that individuals can do to build family assets.
As a parent, plan regular family fun nights. Recognize that everyone’s contributions make your family strong, and give back to people and organizations that are important to your family.
As a neighbor or caring adult, welcome new families to your neighborhood. Celebrate with families, even if it’s just by sending a card. Offer support when it’s appropriate.
As an organization member or business person, provide support to employee families, particularly during times of transition or crisis, and support school and community efforts to build Family Assets.
More information on the family assets and the results of the American Family Asset Study are available at www.search-institute.com.
Community members and organizations interested in having a presentation on the results of the 2012 survey or asset development can call GLCYD at 228-8919.
––Victoria Leonhardt, GLCYD
Zumbatomic for Kids
This Zumba class is geared especially for youngsters, ages four to twelve. Classes run throughout May and last eight sessions for a total cost of $30. Registration required.
Classes are Monday and Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. or Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 a.m. Call Alesia at 236-2061 for information or visit http://alesiamaki.zumba.com
Contra dance for families
Friday, May 10 will be the last contra dance of the season. Old time square and contra dance with All Strings Considered will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Dance Zone, 1113 Lincoln Avenue (at College).
Please bring clean dance shoes to protect the floor.
Call 236-1457 for more information. Fun for all ages. Donations are requested to help pay for the band and refreshments.
Author visits library
Author Kristine O’Connell George will be at the Peter White Public Library in Marquette at 6:30 p.m. May 7.
Students from Grades K-6 and their families are invited to meet Kristine O’Connell George, the author of children’s poetry books including Emma Dilemma, Old Elm Speaks, Swimming Upstream, Toasting Marshmallows, The Great Frog Race and Fold Me a Poem in the Community Room. A book sale and signing opportunity will follow a chance to meet the author.
There will also be several activities highlighting the author’s most popular books, such as origami originals, little dog bookmarks, shadow silhouettes, and chalk table poetry. George is visiting Marquette for the annual Young Authors Conference at Northern Michigan University and the event is free of charge. Call 226-4318 for more information.
FAMILY FRIENDLY COMMUNITY GUIDE MISSION STATEMENT
Helping busy families in Marquette County find simple, concrete ways to revel in our outdoors
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