Posts By Kelley Edwards
While school is closed down and many are grieving the losses or postponements of theater shows, sports, proms and possibly even graduations, PIC and REACT have decided to share the good news behind it all! We are interviewing our Morgan REACT members to give you some insight to their involvement, interests and passions. Clinton is very fortunate to have the youth involvement that we do. We hope you will agree after meeting these great young people!
Clinton has been very fortunate to have Asif John Hussaini as a resident and businessman for many years! John is known for his generosity and desire to give back to the community during the most trying of times. John is always a friendly face, a warm smile, and the most steady of optimism for the Clinton community. PiC thanks you, John, for being an a leader in making Clinton a great place to live and work!
Name: Asif John Hussaini
Title/Company/Business/Office held: Subway – Eat Fresh
How are you a partner in community? Clinton Red Cross Disaster Volunteer, Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, Economic Development Commission, Clinton Placemakers, Clinton Democratic Town Committee, Former Chamber of Commerce Board Member
Why do you feel it is important to get involved?
Community service is the most effective way to serve my fellow man and to give back for the abundance of opportunities from which I benefit.
What do you hope to contribute or accomplish?
To alleviate pain and suffering for people who have experienced a disaster. To promote Clinton businesses and to help attract more commercial development for a more prosperous place to live and to do business.
If Ben & Jerry’s named an ice cream after you, what would it be called?
HumaniHussaini- Scooped together it makes Rocky Road smoother.
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.
Perhaps you have seen the tee shirts on young people around town? Maybe you recall seeing a REACT member at Christmas in Clinton, running the Elf on the Shelf game? When reading the Harbor News, your eyes caught “REACT” in the byline of a photograph? What exactly is REACT and what do they do?
REACT stands for Reality Even Affects Clinton Teens, and is a youth leadership club for Clinton students in grades 4-12 run by Partners in Community. With a substance free foundation, REACT teaches all ages of students about the 40 developmental assets (as identified by the Search Institute in Michigan) and empowers them with skills and opportunities to become leaders. Younger students in Pierson and Eliot meet monthly and learn about topics such as peer pressure, resistance skills, conflict management, social media, media literacy, and role models. Morgan REACT meets two times per month and students plan community activities such as the annual Haunted Hallways fundraiser, Christmas in Clinton, and a drug-free overnight at school called Spirit Night. All REACT students are given opportunities in the community to serve and represent their peers. REACT members serve on boards such as PiC, Planning and Zoning, and the Board of Education. They give important information on peer norms and behaviors that assist PiC in creating effective action plans to decrease substance use amongst teens. As Morgan students, REACT members can apply to attend local and national conferences in locations such as Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Colorado and California!
Morgan REACT students assist in the facilitation of the Eliot and Pierson REACT meetings, forming meaningful relationships with the younger students. This provides the older students with an opportunity to practice skills such as communication, role modeling, and organization. The younger students learn from their older peers in an active, experiential way, and the relationships that are formed act as “positive peer pressure”. The older students are great role models for the younger ones, and then are great mentors as the younger ones move up to Morgan. The fears of “not knowing anyone” as students move from one school to the next are lessened by these established connections with older mentors.
REACT’s goals are the following:
1. Students will understand the developmental assets and how they relate to healthy lifestyles and choices.
2. Students will be aware of the role of each asset in their life, family, school and community.
3. Students will recognize how they have influence within each asset, and how they can actively influence change for the better.
4. Students will develop and sustain positive relationships with Morgan REACT students and PiC staff.
5. Students will leave group able to have meaningful discussion with their families about assets and healthy choices.
There is also a REACT component for parents! Pierson and Eliot parents meet every other month and learn about Clinton adolescent alcohol and drug use trends, communication techniques to talk with their children, and developmental asset information. Parent REACT empowers adults to speak with youth about difficult topics. In addition, parent and students meet at the same time every other month and often will enjoy the same activity so that they have a common experience to process after each meeting.
The parent component of REACT realizes that parents are the #1 prevention strategy! The majority of teens say that their decision NOT to use drugs or alcohol was their parents’ well-communicated expectation that they not use as teenagers. Fear of disappointing their parents or receiving some other negative consequence remains the top reason teens choose not to use substances according to research in the U.S. REACT parents will be given information and opportunities to discuss and share techniques for communicating with their children.
If you are interested in any of the REACT groups, please contact Kelley Edwards are 860-664-1142 or email Kelley’s email.
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