CADY’s Youth Advocacy and Advisory Council (YAAC) graduating seniors were recognized for their work with CADY throughout their academic careers. (Ashley Finethy) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2012PLYMOUTH—On Wednesday, June 6, community members gathered in the Newfound Room of Prospect Hall at Plymouth State University for the 12th Annual Regional Prevention Summit hosted by CADY.
Several community members received awards and recognition for their help and efforts to work toward CADY's mission.
Doug McLane is the 2012 recipient of the John W. True Award for his mindful watch as a landlord who tried to enforce the moral foundation that CADY works to promote in the community.
Laura Sabo was awarded the Carole J. Estes Community Leader Award, and Plymouth Regional High School was recognized with the Community Partner Award for their efforts as a school to instill good morals and decision making. PRHS has worked closely with CADY to implement programs including TAP, Prom Safety, Move Up Night, Prevention Spotlight in the school wide news letter and most recently Convergence.
The morning began at 8 a.m. with a hot breakfast and networking opportunity before guests settled in to be welcomed by Michael Conklin, Chair of the CADY Board of Directors.
"It is a pleasure to welcome you to our 12th annual prevention summit," said Conklin. "In a world where so many goals are short term, it is rewarding to work with a coalition that recognizes long term goals."
Conklin recognized all of the elected officials attending the event, from county commissioners to school board members, selectmen, town administrators and everyone in between, and recognized the event's sponsors, O'Connell Foundation for People Care Inc., Plymouth State University, Woodlands Credit Union, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Oliver Drug, Speare Memorial Hospital, Granite State Glass, Mid-State Health Center, Newfound Regional High School, SAU #4, Plymouth Regional High School and SAU #48.
"We can only hold these events with the help of our grantors and our sponsors," said Conklin. "This is the first year CADY had to seek out sponsors."
After Conklin's opening, Executive Director Deb Naro highlighted CADY's key accomplishment and the goals and missions CADY aspires to achieve.
"We know that we have a major problem," said Naro. "It puts our kids at risk for not only short term, but long term problems."
Naro touched on some of CADY's key programs that engage youth and give them a purpose and responsibility that has been proven to keep youth away from drug and substance abuse.
"The solution is to engage our youth, and we do that with the LAUNCH Entrepreneurship Program," said Naro.
The Youth Entrepreneurship Program was recently recognized nationally by the White House for its skill building and real world experiences.
Naro also highlighted the Youth Advocacy and Advisory Council (YAAC) and the Restorative Justice program, a court diversion program for first time offenders that has helped 97 kids in five years, and has paid more than $11,000 in restitution to victims.
Emma, a recent PSU graduate who majored in Social Work, spoke about her work with the Restorative Justice Program and the work she did with student "David." "David" got in trouble for bringing a knife to school, and was accepted into the Restorative Justice Program. Emma saw growth and change in "David." He and Emma would go on walked with comfort companion, Bradley (a golden retriever dog).
Through his time in Restorative Justice, Emma and "David" celebrated his hard work making the honor roll at school and his birthday.
"He was shocked we knew and cared, and we got to see him happy," said Emma. "He cut the cake, and made sure everyone else had a piece before he took one. Through this program, we were able to restore the bond between family, school and community."
After the CADY update, Dr. Malcolm Smith provided the morning's keynote speech. Smith, a nationally renowned expert on peer victimization and bullying and finding a positive means to combat both, is a teacher, storyteller and advocate. A UNH Cooperative Extention Specialist on Family Education and Policy, he has authored several books and countless articles.
Smith began his address with a story explaining that a split second can change someone's life forever. Smith had several moments in his life that made him who he is today.
"With one moment in time, everything in a young person's life changes," said Smith.
The first moment that changed his life was meeting his best friend, who moved into town from Ohio and was "different" from the other kids at school, with braces, a different accent and different style of clothing.
"We all wanted to be her best friend and play with her," recalled Smith. "She was from a strange, exotic place we had only read about in our history book — Ohio."
The second event that changed his life forever was moving from a close-knit one room school house in a small Midwestern community to a large consolidated school more than 40 minutes by bus from his house.
At the large high school, Smith was a victim of bullying by the senior boys, who targeted the "country boys," throwing them down to the ground, kicking, spitting and forcing them to kiss the buffalo tile on the floor.
"They said two words that cut through my brain like a knife," recalled Smith. "They called me farm trash, farm trash."
Smith said teachers didn't do anything about it; they made excuses, saying boys would be boys, and that it was a rite of passage to be bullied.
"The teachers saw that I was in class crying and disheveled, and didn't do anything," said Smith. "My best friend brought me to class, got me to my seat and gave me a big hug, but that day, I learned to hate."
Smith pointed out that 189,000 kids don't go to school each day due to bullying and isolation, and that he was one of them. He felt he didn't belong, and skipped school to hang out with other "misfits" and abuse drugs and alcohol.
"We did all of the things you could imagine," said Smith. "Once my dad found out, he made sure I went to school. He decided to humiliate me further. He drove me to school and walked me to class."
At school, Smith recalls a man who said they had a "program" for him, and marched him across the parking lot to the SPED (Special Education) trailer, where he felt further isolated and humiliated. His junior year of high school, he was doing worksheets, learning to iron and watching "Captain Kangaroo."
Most embarrassing for Smith was being marched over in a line to have lunch with the rest of the student body in the cafeteria.
"Like a big SPED parade, she would march us into the cafeteria filled with 1,500 high school students," said Smith. "In my two years as a SPED, not one of those students or teachers asked me to sit at their tables."
Smith pointed out that his best friend, his blood sister, had his back even in high school. She would pick him up after school and take him to do normal things, and treat him like a normal person. Smith noted that as a SPED, he didn't get to walk at graduation, and his provisionary diploma was mailed to him.
With his future looking dismal, Smith's best friend had a surprise for him: she had gotten him into college.
"She came up to me and said, 'You're going to college,'" recalled Smith. "I laughed so hard that snot came out of my nose."
Truth be told, she had filled out the application, forged his parents' signature, and written an essay that won him a scholarship.
"I went to college thanks to plagiarism," joked Smith. "In college, they treated you like a person who wanted to learn. I loved it, and 30 years later, I am still in it."
Smith's best friend decided to become a teacher after working in the competitive world of finance.
"She decided what was in her heart was a teacher and a giver of life," said Smith. "She decided to give up her career ad go to teaching school."
She worked in the inner city, and one day, a gay student who had been bullied by a group of high school girls mistook Smith's best friend for one of the girls and shot her three times, the third shot piercing her heart.
"In her perfect mind, ninth graders didn't pack pieces," said Smith. "This morning, I had a nice chat with my best friend in my car."
After his touching and captivating biographical story, Smith explained some of his work with the students who were gunmen in school shootings.
"Those school shootings were, and are, a warning blast that has come from a future generation," warned Smith.
In looking at New Hampshire schools, Smith pointed out that in studies, 52 percent of high school students in New Hampshire feel like they don't matter, 19.3 percent of New Hampshire high school students get the help they need when they are hopeless, empty, angry or anxious.
"This world is a very different place for young people than the world you and I grew up in," said Smith. "There has been a significant decrease in empathy among U.S. children, placing us behind other countries, and we are losing the civility of our children. We are seeing the highest sense of entitlement; it's pure science."
Smith explained that these changes in children can be attributed to several different movements that we have seen in society. The first sprung from "The Hurried Child," where kids were pushed to learn and grow at a young age, while things like Baby Einstein rushed children into growing up.
"We pushed and pushed and pushed them," said Smith. "Baby Einstein turned kids into Baby Frankenstein."
The second movement that has aided in children's change of behavior is the era of self esteem in the 1980's as a response to the bullying epidemic, teaching kids to love themselves and be proud of who they are, which Smith pointed out only made bullying worse.
"We bombarded ourselves with the idea that self esteem would fix everything," said Smith. "Bullies aren't kids with low self esteem; they are the kids whose stuff doesn't stink."
In the 1990's, Smith noted that conflict resolution and peer mediators were said to be the end all solution to bullying, where the perpetrator and the victim could talk their problems out to resolve bullying.
Smith pointed out that bullying happens within a school in unsupervised spaces, including bathrooms, busses, halls and cafeteria's where perpetrators are able to create the imbalance of power that is required in bullying.
Smith explained the children who are bullies in school are more likely to have mental health, drug or alcohol addictions later in life.
"Bullies are people on the road to mental health issues and to drug and alcohol problems," said Smith. "You can get high on bullying and that is a conductive disorder, a mental illness."
Smith pointed out that there are three different types of bullies. First is the Narcissistic Bully, who thinks they know better, and whose bullying may become pathological without intervention. The second type of bully is the Pathological Bully, who is sneaky and indirect with their bullying, often working as a "mob boss," having other pupils do the actual bullying. The third type is the Retaliational Bully. This type of bully is often only noticed once it is too late because they are typically violent. The Retaliational Bully often becomes a bully due to isolation and lack of attachment.
Smith said to prevent bullying, society, whether it's parents or teachers, needs to teach kids about power imbalances, kindness, caring and empathy, teach kids to contribute to a positive school culture and climate, teach students to be "cueful," and be able to read the body language people are communicating, teach to be an upstander rather than a bystander, to have courage in a group and to practice civility in the cyber and real world.
Smith gave the room a test to determine if an individual is safe and effective by inviting everyone to join "The Party." Smith explained that there are five different types of party goers . First, there is the walking dead.
"If you are the walking dead, I want you to know that children avoid you because they don't like you," said Smith. "And you suck, by the way."
The second type of party goer is "The Can't Do People," who make up excuses not to go to the party. The third type of party goer is "The Whiner," who complains about everything related to the party before they even get there.
"If you're a 'Can't Do' person, you suck, too," said Smith. "If you're a 'Whiner,' you suck the biggest."
Party goers who are fours are the Party People; they're the ones that love to go to parties and love to have fun.
"They're crazy, they're early," said Smith. "Kids want to go where they're going; they inspire us. They also know a secret. They know what drives people, what makes them crazy. They know that this is a journey and that when the one you or I are on is over there isn't going to be a person standing there looking over you wondering how big your house is."
The final party goer is "The Party Thrower" who doesn't just attend the party but loves to put it together ad will invite everyone and scream it from the rooftops.
"We know Deb Naro is one of those," said Smith. "She's a number five, a party thrower."
To finish his keynote, Smith read a poem he wrote called "Angels Without Wings."
After the Keynote speech and awards, Timothy Keefe, the Treasurer of the CADY Board of Directors provided closing remarks.
Keefe told a story about Memorial Day with his granddaughter Hailey, and how she took to imitating Plymouth Police Officer Jen Frank as she directed traffic. He also explained how, as they walked together the moon was in the sky, and she said "la luna," which puzzles Keefe, considering no one in the family speaks Spanish.
"She's learned Spanish from 'Dora the Explorer,'" said Keefe. "She learned this by watching TV. TV offers great educational learning experiences. She is also going to see 100,000 alcohol advertisements. All the things TV brings that aren't so positive."
He also pointed out that Hailey asked why, if she can see the moon she can't see the stars. Keefe thought and said that though you can't see them all the time, the stars are always there.
"How do I help guide her and all my other grandchildren in the right direction? I can't do it alone," said Keefe. "You are the stars. We may not always see you or know what you are doing but you always have kids backs."
For more information about CADY, visit their Web site at www.cadyinc.org, like them on facebook www.facebook.com/cadyinc or call their Plymouth office at 536-9799.