HOPE SUNSHINE CLUB CONSTITUTIONArticle I – Name, Purpose The name of the organization will be the HOPE Sunshine Club of (Name of School) This organization will have its purpose to educate, support, and develop problem solving, coping and leadership skills, while fostering the prevention of suicide, bullying, and substance abuse, as directly approved by the student council and indirectly by the school principal and governing board of the School District. Article II – Membership All students enrolled in (Name of Middle or High School) are eligible for membership. $10 fee for FISP HOPE T-Shirt and bracelet shall be paid by each member to The Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention, annually. If a member cannot pay this fee it can be subsidized by the club, fundraising or a sponsor. Article III –Meetings Meetings will be held after school unless specified at other times when a special meeting is called. (State day and time, such as Wednesday 2:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M.) Article IV –Club Officers The club shall consist of the following: President or Co- Presidents Vice-president Hugs-for HOPE Hug-A-Thon Vice-president Treasurer Secretary Historian Publicity Chair and any other Committees or Chairs specified by the Club as needed Article V – Duties The club president or Co-Presidents will have the following duties: To preside over meetings of the club To call special meetings of the club To plan and prepare an agenda for the club meetings Attend or assign a member to attend FISP teen board meetings at specified schools The club vice president will have the following duties: To serve as club president if the president becomes unable to fulfill his or her duties either temporarily or permanently To support the club president The club treasurer will have the following duties: To maintain complete and accurate record of all club receipts and disbursements To oversee club fund-raising efforts To supervise the preparation of the club budget The club secretary will have the following duties: To maintain accurate minutes of each meeting To carry out all correspondence for the club The club historian will have the following duty: To supply all information and photographs to be published on the school’s page on the www.fisphope.org to the FISP Office for placement on the site. The publicity chair will have the following duty: To publicize all club activities and fund raisers through the school bulletin, school marquee, posters, and www.fisphope.org website. Article VII – Elections The club will hold the election of officers once a year. The voting will take place by secret ballot. Names of the officers will be recorded with the student council. Article IX – Amendment A two-thirds majority vote of the members in attendance is required to amend this club constitution.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 In a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving among teenagers is a much bigger problem than originally thought. The group says it analyzed nearly 1,700 dashcam videos capturing the actions of teen drivers in the moments before an accident. Alarmingly, distracted driving was found to be a factor in 58 %, or nearly 6 out of 10, moderate to severe crashes. The most common distractions were interacting with other passengers (found in 15 % of crashes caused by distracted driving) and cellphone use (12 %), AAA said “Keep your eyes on the road, kids.” It’s hardly a new warning, but according to a new study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving is a much more serious problem among teens than previously thought. The group says it analyzed nearly 1,700 dashcam videos capturing the actions of teen drivers in the moments before an accident. Alarmingly, distracted driving was found to be a factor in 58 percent, or nearly 6 out of 10, moderate to severe crashes. The most common distractions were interacting with other passengers (found in 15 percent of crashes caused by distracted driving) and cellphone use (12 percent), AAA said. The infographic below is said to show the most common distractions involved in cases where distracted driving was a factor in a teen crash: As the Los Angeles Times notes, the 58 percent figure in the study is significantly larger than earlier findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has said previously that distraction is a factor in just 14 percent of all teen driver crashes. The federal agency says it’s “looking at the report,” the Times writes. “Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation, per a news release. The crash videos, some of which can be viewed above, were provided to AAA by Lytx, a company that offers programs which use video and other data to train drivers about safety and collision reduction. By analyzing these videos, AAA said that teens using cellphones while driving were found to have their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 seconds out of the final 6 seconds leading up to a crash. The group said that teen drivers using a cell phones also “failed to react more than half of the time before the impact, meaning they crashed without braking or steering.” “The findings of the AAA Report confirm what safety groups have suspected for a long time -- distraction is more severe and more common in teen driver crashes than previously found in government data," Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told the Associated Press. According to AAA, teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any age group in the U.S. “About 963,000 drivers age 16-19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013, which is the most recent year of available data. These crashes resulted in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths,” the group said in the release. "It is our hope that these findings serve to remind drivers of all ages that distracted driving is dangerous and sometimes deadly,” Brandon Nixon, CEO of Lytx, told the Times. “Practicing safer skills behind the wheel can save lives.” Original Huff Post Article
Original Article Mon, Mar 16, 2015, by Adam Strassberg, M.D. What can parents do right now to decrease the risk of suicide in their children? Adam Strassberg, M.D. Photo by Veronica Weber/PaloAltoOnline. Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of being a lunchtime speaker during Career Week at Palo Alto High School. I love my profession, I have a son at Paly right now, and there is a severe national shortage of people who do what I do -- so I was excited to see nearly 150 students crowd into the hall. I am a psychiatrist. Specifically, I am a private practice outpatient adult psychiatrist in our local community. I studied and trained at Stanford and have spent the entirety of my near 20-year career practicing right here in Palo Alto. Innumerable college students, local parents and teachers have been and continue to be amongst my patients. I am also a parent of two teenagers here in Palo Alto right now. After the tragedy last week, a completed teen suicide in a recent cluster of such suicides, my phone has not stopped ringing with calls from concerned fellow parents. Psychiatry by its very nature is a private profession, and psychiatrists as a whole are very private people. We are typically listeners, not speakers, and so it is only with a certain awkward reluctance that I feel compelled to join the public conversation. I am not an academic researcher. I am a poor statistician and no suicidologist. I am, however, a working psychiatrist right here, right now. I talk with local college students, parents, teachers and administrators regularly. I aid people suffering from all manner of psychic distress. I meet with adults who are suicidal on a near daily basis. What does one do? In the face of our recent tragedy, how does one "Keep Calm and Parent On"? There is no single cause of suicide -- the act can arise from any combination of multiple factors -- biological, environmental, psychological and situational. As a community, we agree that whatever can be done to mitigate these factors must be done; where we disagree, however, is where one might expect: What does "whatever can be done" entail? Our public debate continues -- in community meetings, in online forums, in newspaper letters, in school board and city hall meetings. But for me, on line at Starbucks, in the aisles of Safeway, at school campus pick-up or drop-off, this public debate echoes much more private and personal implorations. My fellow parents ask me in whispers: What can we do right now to decrease the risk of suicide in our children? The following is a list of direct suggestions to help us all "Keep Calm and Parent On": 1. Make your teen sleep Depression is a major factor in most suicides. Depression causes significant disruptions in sleep patterns. However, an emerging body of literature shows that sleep disruptions seem to precede and even precipitate depressive episodes. Our children need to be sleeping more than us, not less than us. They need to be sleeping regular hours. Sufficient sleep must take priority over homework, athletics, social life, work, etc. I cannot overemphasize the importance of proper sleep hygiene. Poor sleep is just one of a great many contributing factors to depression, but it is such an easily controllable and preventable factor. Make your teens sleep. 2. Talk with your teen Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of suicide. Asking about suicide will not implant the idea of suicide into your teens. Asking about suicide decreases the risk of suicide. So please do ask your teen directly about suicide. There is a myth that suicide only can happen to "somebody else's" child. Academic stress, family dysfunction, violence, drug abuse -- these factors increase risk, but suicide crosses all social boundaries, and no family is exempt. Suicide is an uncomfortable topic, and so it is important to talk about with your teen openly, honestly and calmly. If you child reports any suicidality, do not leave him or her alone. Contact your doctor or other trained professional, go to your nearest emergency room, or call 911. 3. Model mental health treatment for your teen In my many years as a psychiatrist here in the Bay Area, I have observed so much success, and yet so little happiness. My refrain to my patients is that I am "in the happiness business, and not the success business." Sadly I have seen the two more and more at odds over the years. If you want your teen to find the happiness of a balanced life -- to sleep properly, eat well, exercise, study, work, play, date, hang with friends, have community, enjoy nature, gain autonomy and competence, adventure, find purpose -- you must model these things in your own lives. Children imitate the behaviors of the adults around them (even teens). If you are sad, if you are unhappy, talk with your spouse, friends and family about your feelings. Let your children see you cry, let them see you laugh, let them see you touch and hold and comfort one another. Most of all, if you are suffering from depression or any other psychological difficulties, let them see you seek appropriate professional treatment. If you and your spouse are having marital difficulties, let them see you both enter couples counseling. Create a life worth living for yourself first. Make it optimistic, wonderful and balanced. Model onto yourself the attention to mental health you aspire for your teens. 4. Want the best for your child, not for your child to be the best Our community is so intelligent and so educated, and yet the basic sociological concept of "regression to the mean" is misunderstood so widely. The "more" of a quality any parent possesses, the less likely their child will equal or exceed them in that quality. If you are very good at mathematics, your child is unlikely to be as good or better than you. If you are a great musician, maybe they will manage to be a mediocre musician. If you are a polyglot, they may stammer in English alone. And then there is that most damnable anxiety: If you attended an Ivy league college, your child is unlikely to attend an Ivy league college. This hard reality is anathema to all. We are so many of us wealthy and secure beyond imagining, and yet we have such enormous anxiety. We fear the future harm that we will lose our wealth and privilege and be unable to pass it on to our future generations. Maintaining and advancing insidiously high educational standards in our children is a way to soothe this anxiety. But it harms our children. Be brave. What a strange world we have when having your child only take the SAT once, not take advanced math, not play a varsity sport, not have a college coach, not take an AP class -- what a strange world indeed when this is a type of bravery? Since when does it make sense that a 16-year-old's weekly schedule should be twice as packed with meetings and assignments than his middle-aged parents? This is not normal. This could never be normal. As a psychiatrist, I will never be neutral on this issue. The "Koala Dad" is the far better parent than the "Tiger Mom." 5. It's you and the teachers versus your teen, not you and your teen versus the teachers Teachers are professionals who are supposed to be our allies in raising our teens, not our enemies. Please know that amongst our local teachers, being labeled a "Palo Alto parent" is not a compliment. This needs to change. If a teacher approaches you with concerns over your teen's behaviors, emotional health, suspected substance abuse, possible cheating or other academic issues, the teacher is not your and your child's enemy. Your job as a parent is not to "defend" your child against this teacher, it is not to keep your child's record "perfect" so they can be accepted to a "good" college. Rather, your job as a parent is first to allow yourself to be sad or anxious or disappointed or all three but then to open your heart to the teacher and work closely with them as a team in order to help your child. When did this change? When we were young, it was always teachers and parents "against" the children; now somehow it is normal to have parents and students against the teacher? This is not normal. This could never be normal. 6. Get a pet For adults, having children is a significant negative risk factor for suicide. In childless adults, I have seen this effect mirrored quite dramatically via pet ownership. Over the years, I have lost count of the number of my suicidal patients who report their lives having been saved by love for their dog or their cat. Our mammalian companion animals are literally "bred" to be perfect therapists: accepting, great at listening, warm, cuddly, always attentive, ever present, ready for petting. Before my own teenagers slam the door on me, they always take one of our cats into their bedrooms. They could be angry at their parents, at school, friends, the world, but their pets always understand them. It may seem trite, but the effect is real, so if you have the resources and room in your family, please consider the joy of pet ownership as an aid to overall happiness and mental health. 7. Keep Calm To be expansive, we must acknowledge the null hypothesis: Perhaps "whatever can be done" to lessen our suicide rate has been done. Suicide is a rare event, but it is also a leading cause of death in teenagers, and statistics over the phenomenon of suicide clustering remain obtuse. Our town is blessed but now also "cursed" by a train. Our Silicon Valley culture wants to "fix" this, with a premise that all things are "fixable." Public debate continues over train-related barriers and policies to make the train less immediately attractive or available, the premise being that "inconvenient" time delay will save lives; the counterargument is that people then will just find some other means of dying by suicide. This is an important debate to guide the use of our limited resources; however, I fear that it misses the forest for the trees. Why does it need to take a suicide, or worse yet this cluster of suicides, to justify and invigorate public conversation over improving the mental health, happiness and quality of life for our teens?! More sleep, more free unscheduled time to play and to grow, less homework, more balance, better stress tolerance -- these are inherent goods and worthy continual goals for our school district and community. These goals should be active and ongoing and not be predicated upon any "crisis" in student mental health, "perceived" or "actual." Is there a spike in suicides? Boys typically choose more violent, and thus more lethal, methods of suicide than girls. But three times as many girls attempt suicide than boys. This would suggest that our total number of teenage suicide attempts over the last many months likely is much larger than the four public suicides covered by our news media. How many occur here each year? We cannot know: Suicide attempts are not reportable events. We need to live with this uncertainty, and tolerating anxiety is a challenge for all of us. We must "Keep Calm." But that does not mean we must do nothing. Do not overreact -- please do react. Please "Parent On." Dr. Adam Strassberg is a psychiatrist in local private practice who has two teenagers in the Palo Alto Unified School District.
Imagine Middle School visited for the second time the Broward Outreach Center. Their HOPE Club brought bags of donated baby items, school supplies, and personal hygiene items for the residents. The kids made a gigantic birthday cake and sang happy birthday to all the March birthday residents. After Spring break a woman who lost 3 kids to drug overdose and is now an advocate for drug prevention is coming to speak to their club. The principal may want to include all the middle school in this valuable talk.