Data from schools and organizations serving children show low levels of resiliency among youth and a feeling of being undervalued in their communities which is undermining their belief in themselves and their ability to handle life’s inevitable challenges. Addison County Parent Child Center, Building Bright Futures, the Counseling Service of Addison County, the Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Department of Children and Families, all three Addison County school districts and many other groups and individuals are joining together, launching a public awareness and education campaign for youth resiliency.
In October the Addison BBF Council used its regular monthly meeting to introduce the Resiliency Campaign to local professionals. The campaign now called “Ok, You’ve got this” was met with great enthusiasm. We know that there are many organizations who are doing similar work. By giving everyone a common platform and a space to promote their work we hope to empower Addison County and beyond with the tools to support youth, from the very youngest to teens.
The “Ok, You’ve got this” programming uses the 7 C’s model for building resiliency developed by professor of pediatrics Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg with the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Every C is a different layer or individual piece of a total approach to blanket our children with protection, while reinforcing their own strengths.
Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Contribution Coping and Control
Parents’ protective instincts want to steer children far away from dangerous outcomes and toward safer, immediate solutions. Our challenge in building resilience is to give our children the opportunity for growth, to make a mistake and find the answer on their own, to a take a risk and feel accomplished, or to know defeat and that it does not need to define them.
At the public roll out on November 8 at the Vergennes Opera House, the campaign held a storytelling event called “Let’s Talk About It” with comedian and local school counselor Susan Schmidt. Sue worked with several area teens to tell their humorous, sometimes serious but always heartfelt stories about resiliency. The evening was full a laughter and a few tears. Attendees were introduced to the program website and the Facebook page, where you will find resources for parents and professionals ranging from tips on how to ask open-ended questions to engage in meaningful conversations, information about the connection between screen time and children’s health, guidance on when to step in and help out and when to let kids work things out on their own. There are tips and tools for parents of toddlers to teens.
As part of the OK project a resilience themed parenting group was formed in Vergennes. The group, which met at school after drop off for several weeks, was led by Counseling Center of Addison County staff members. Parents had the opportunity to learn about the Ok program and how they could use elements in their parenting. They also had the opportunity to share insights from their own families. More of these groups will be taking place in other towns throughout Addison County.
The “OK” project will continue in many forms over the next year. Please visit the website and Facebook page for updates.