Posts By Kelley Edwards
REACT, which stands for Reality Even Affects Clinton Teens, is substance-free group for Pierson, Eliot and Morgan students that focuses on fun, leadership skills, and peer support for positive decision making. Read on for more information about each group.
Morgan REACT is a club for any Clinton 9-12 grader, whether they attend Morgan or another high school.
Morgan REACT meets twice per month in the evening and focuses on leadership skill development, identifying personal strengths, peer support, and substance abuse prevention.
Morgan REACT’s major project is Haunted Hallways which raises funds for Clinton Social Services. Haunted Hallways is always held the Sunday evening before Halloween.
Morgan REACT also participates in Christmas in Clinton, Family Day, and many other Clinton town events. All members are offered community service opportunities throughout the school year. Some members attend state and national conferences and trainings, and have also testified at the state capitol.
Eliot REACT includes Eliot 6-8 grade students in fun, engaging meetings once per month. Every other month, parents are included in the monthly meetings. Students and parents are educated on the 40 Developmental Assets, which are the building blocks of positive decision making, through group games, individual challenges and other fun activities.
Eliot REACT members offer the Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt game at Christmas in Clinton and attract a lot of attention at the Medication Take Back Days at the police department. They also complete peer education programs in school on topics such as marijuana, underage drinking, and overall health.
Morgan REACT members assist with all Eliot meetings, serving as positive role models for the younger students.
Pierson REACT involves 4th and 5th grade students and their parents in monthly meetings from October—June. Similar to Eliot REACT, the focus of the meetings is learning about the 40 Developmental Assets as well as positive family communication. Behavioral research has shown that the #1 deterrents of underage substance use are positive family communication and clearly stated parental expectations.
Pierson REACT members enjoy group games, team building, role playing and challenges to learn about the assets. Pierson students are also involved with community service projects, including Christmas in Clinton. Giving young people opportunities to be leaders in the community strengthens self esteem and assists youth in making healthy decisions.
Morgan REACT members mentor the Pierson students and provide positive peer role models throughout the school year.
Parents are given information on drug use trends in Clinton, tips for communicating with their young people, and can connect with one another for their own peer support network.
Starting REACT at the Pierson level gives your young person a club to “belong” to throughout their Clinton school experience! REACT can be that bridge between schools that helps them transition with a group of friends and older peers.
For information on any of these clubs please call 860-664-1142.
This school year on the first Wednesday of every month, teams of therapy dogs and their handlers from Connecticut’s Pet Partners visit Morgan during the X-block period. The dogs come in and are available throughout the upper hub, the lower hub, and in the faculty lounge for students to sit with, pet, and just generally spend time around during their open period. The canine program is being offered to students this year in response to student focus group feedback indicating that stress levels are very high at Morgan. Research studies indicate that interactions with therapy animals can decrease stress in humans. “Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.” claims Animal Smart , a website offering science-based information about animals to kids. A research study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information finds that “just being in the presence of a companion animal, is associated with health benefits, including improvements in mental, social, and physiologic health status”.
All Pet Partners teams are insured, and risk management is very high, as Pet Partners requires the highest of standards from their teams. Pet Partners licenses the teams of dogs and handlers, requiring examinations, testing and recertification for the animals and the handlers every two years. It is an extremely safe program and best of all- is offered for no cost at all to the students. The handlers volunteer their time to be with the students, a genuine gift that benefits all parties!
Some examples of the dogs visiting include: an English Setter named Charlie, a German Shepard named Vago, a Rottweiler mix named Roxy, a Golden Retriever named Ares, a small Japanese Shih Tzu named Cocoa, an Australian Shepard named Gus, and numerous others!
Feedback from the students has been very positive about the visits. Some students really look forward to the first Wednesday of the month, knowing that their school day will include some dog time. From an informal survey taken in December 2016, PiC found that 36 of 36 students questioned felt that the dogs were a good idea to have at school. 33 out of 36 respondents stated that they experienced decreased stress from interacting with or viewing the dogs (29 reported that they had actually pet or interacted with the dogs personally). Some personal comments included: Cool Idea
Keep the dogs! They are great. I wish they came more often.
This is a good program to have.
Be wary of people with allergies, but it is a wonderful thing to have the dogs visit.
Bring the dogs all the time.
I would like them here every week!
Another informal survey done by the Morgan Paw Print staff found that “35 of the 40 students interviewed said that the dogs benefitted the students and that bringing them here is a great idea. 4 of the students interviewed were unsure, and only 1 of the interviewed students out of the 40 believed that the dogs were not a good idea, [citing reasons such as allergies].”
The canine program at Morgan serves as a reminder to students to make stress reduction a priority. Some students have shared that their peers make “having stress” into a competition sometimes, fighting for who has more to do, or who has more stress overall. They agree that it can lead to a very unhealthy environment! Pressures from self, parents, coaches, teachers, peers and college drive students to not sleep, over commit, and not make healthy choices, which leads to stress and ultimately physical and/or mental illness. From surveys completed recently by PiC, we have seen that depression and even suicidal ideation are factors in roughly 1 out of 5 Morgan students; substance use in response to stress (self medication) occurs in roughly 1 in 4 Morgan students. The need to develop smart, healthy stress reduction techniques is essential!
PiC is also planning individual workshops on stress during X block in the next couple of months. Students will be able to learn about their own stress responses, outline sensible plans for combatting stress, and even create small stress reducing accessories that they can use during the school day.
Six Morgan teens travelled with five Daniel Hand (Madison) students to Bryant University in Providence, RI.
From July 28-31, 2017, six Morgan students took part in Youth 2 Youth International’s Eastern States Conference at Bryant University in Providence, RI. Along with 560 fellow students from the tri-state area and as far away as Minnesota and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Morgan students learned essential information about preventing marijuana and opioid use, underage drinking, and making a positive impact in their communities and schools.
The keynote speakers at the conference challenged the attendees to expand their self awareness and advocacy. One speaker watched her twin sister perish as a passenger in a reckless driving accident as a teenager. Her message reminded youth to put their own comfort and safety first, and offered creative ways to escape uncomfortable situations. Another presenter acted out numerous versions of himself and challenged the audience to try to guess which character most represented the “real” him. Most were surprised to learn which one it actually was! His message brought forth the importance of realizing ALL people are real, are never just a stereotype, and have valid and moving stories that make them who they are.
The Clinton teens returned to town feeling armed with new information and motivated to educate their peers. Following the conference, several of the conference attendees met to plan out a new calendar for Morgan REACT. This school year, look for mental illness and health information, education about vaping and related dangers to your health, more marijuana “truths”, as well as an honoring of Suicide Awareness Month in September. Haunted Hallways will still be offered in October, and the club members will host topic and issue discussions throughout the school year. Morgan REACT members will continue to be involved with the younger Eliot and Pierson REACTs as well as PiC!
Clinton is fortunate to have pharmacist Tracey Leary as both a resident and employee of ShopRite pharmacy. Tracey is the Pharmacy Supervisor for Shoprite Pharmacy in Clinton, Norwich and New London. When the State of CT made an online certification course on prescribing Narcan available, Tracey jumped at the opportunity. Certifying herself as well as all of the Shoprite pharmacists, Tracey has made Shoprite the first pharmacy in Clinton to offer a life-saving medication to individuals coping with opioid or heroin addiction- Narcan.
Narcan instantly reverses the suffocating effects of heroin and opioids, and permits the individual to breathe on their own until medical assistance arrives. With over 440 deaths in Connecticut last year, heroin and opioid overdoses are at epidemic proportions, and Narcan can be key in providing these persons with another chance at life.
Partners in Community is thrilled to have Tracey as a partner in our efforts to empower Clinton residents and promote the health of young and old. For more information on obtaining Narcan, please call Shoprite at (860) 669-0107.
Here’s more on Tracey:
Your Name and Title: Tracey Leary RPh – Pharmacy Supervisor for Shoprite Pharmacy – Clinton, New London and Norwich
How are you a Partner in Community:
Shoprite Pharmacy is your community drug store – we are locally owned and operated by the Capano Family. My pharmacists are all Narcan certified. This means that we can dispense Narcan to those individuals who have a need or want to have Narcan on hand. Patients do not need a prescription, they can simply come into one of our 3 stores and ask for Narcan. My pharmacists will dispense a life-saving narcan kit and also personally train each individual on how to use the kit.
Why is it important to be involved?
Growing up in Clinton and also raising a family in this town, makes me feel very proud to be part of an organization that is helping today’s youth. I want people to know that at Shoprite we care about our community and we will do what it takes to make this town great.
What do you hope to accomplish?
What I hope to accomplish is that people in this town realize that there is an opioid problem. We need to work together to combat this problem, but also I want people to know that they can come into Shoprite and receive a Narcan kit that someday may save someone’s life.
If Ben & Jerry’s named an ice cream after you, what would it be called?
Community Care Crunch!!!!