Tag Archives: teens

Teen Story Slam is back! Write a story, read it aloud, get a prize

TeenStorySlam Oct2017The teen writers asked for it, so we’re bringing it back! On October 25, 2017, the Teen Story Slam returns to Westside Pizza!

Teen creative writers in grades 7-12 are invited to step up to the mic to read their own prose for 5 minutes. Anything goes: a short story, a scene from their novel or screenplay, poetry, or wild and wacky true stories. Just keep it PG, please. Every writer who participates gets a prize! No competition, no memorization, just pure storytelling awesomeness.

In partnership with Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN), the Kitsap Regional Library, and Westside Pizza, benefits from the event will support our Teen Writers Workshop afterschool writing program, and Teen Creative Writing Summer Camp.

Beloved Bainbridge High School English teacher Noah Barfield will serve as master of ceremonies once again. Mr. Barfield is known in the community for his achievements as a playwright, and among his students as a comedian.

At the inaugural Teen Story Slam we had 23 intrepid writers who kept the standing-room-only audience rapt. Teens, sign up now! Registration is encouraged. Family and friends are welcome to come cheer on the writers!

WHEN: Wednesday, October 25, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm

WHERE: Westside Pizza, 323 High School Rd NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

SIGN UP at the Reference Desk at the Bainbridge Library, or by calling 206-842-4162

*Can’t wait? Drop in to Teen Writers Workshop–it’s free! Facilitated by me and author Margaret Nevinski, MFA, students in grades 7-12 meet at the library on the 2nd Thursday of every month during the school year, from 3:30-5:00 pm.

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My latest on HuffPo: How Sharing Stories Helps Kids (To Help Other Kids)

Storybooth Worksheet

Want to write your own storybooth.com story? Here is the memoir lesson handout used at the creative writers’ camp for teens.

Please read my latest article on Huffington Post:

storybooth: How Sharing Stories Helps Kids (To Help Other Kids)

Seventh-grade student Carissa carried a painful memory around with her, but it wasn’t a secret. There were plenty of kids who witnessed (her now ex) boyfriend humiliate and verbally abuse her in the hallway at school. While the scene replayed in her head every day for the next year, she wouldn’t talk about it openly with anyone.

Carissa does have a secret, however. She’s a talented writer, and she explores her thoughts and personal challenges through short stories. This summer, she attended a free creative writers’ camp for teens at her local library. Every day, the students were provided writing prompts and mini lessons to create stories, poems, and scenes for novels-in-progress. This year, the students were introduced to storybooth (storybooth.com), a website that collects real stories from kids in their own words and brings them to life through animation. Kids of all ages are welcome to record their own personal experiences that made a lasting impact on their lives, whether positive, negative, or downright hilarious. It’s free, easy, and has the power to relieve a weighty burden – something that no other platforms for young people are doing. The act of recording a story is an effective means of letting it go, and not only that, the kids have a supportive community behind them.

The team at storybooth looks for stories that will make viewers laugh, think, and feel, and has a way of showing us how we are all connected through our shared stories. The award-winning site has over 100 million views, with multi-ethnic, compassionate and often humorous animations. But the most significant part of storybooth is the community response. As a digital platform unlike other social media sites, storybooth is an overwhelmingly supportive and safe place for kids to share their personal journeys. The peer comments are encouraging, understanding and uplifting.

When participants in the teen writing camp viewed several stories and took part in a short lesson on memoir writing, several felt empowered to put their own experiences into words. One student wrote about her family moving several times throughout her life and how difficult it is to say goodbye. Another talked about crashing a car through the family’s garage on his first day of driving school. (He’s still afraid to test for his license.) Carissa dared to read her story about the very public embarrassment that haunted her for months, discovering a sense of peace by dissolving the memory of its power. When kids reveal their authentic feelings, it can help other kids gain a fresh perspective on their own struggles.

What makes a good storybooth story?

  • The storyteller allows him or herself to be vulnerable. They’re not afraid to go into the details of an experience.
  • The storyteller looks at him or herself honestly. They expose their own truth, knowing they are anonymous and no one is judging.
  • The storyteller takes the fear out of telling their story because they know it will help others.
  • The storyteller comes across naturally. They are authentic, have dignity in owning their own mistakes, and just let themselves go.

For teens who are interested in visiting storybooth.com and sharing the story that’s been replaying through their head, simply visit storybooth.com, hit “record” – and then let it go. Those looking for some extra guidance can consider writing out the story ahead of time – the memoir writing exercise developed by the creative writers’ camp for teens is available here. If the story is chosen by the storybooth team, it’ll be animated and posted to the website. Other kids will have a chance to see the story and comment, and perhaps be inspired to write and record their own story.

See the article here!

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My HuffPo: Five ways Parents can Help Prevent Cyberbullying

Please read my latest article on Huffington Post:

Five ways Parents can Help Prevent Cyberbullying

barkIt’s difficult for parents to know if their teen is a victim of cyberbullying. Many teens choose not to tell, worried their device will be taken away. Instead, your daughter might complain of “drama at school.” Or maybe your son feels embarrassed or ashamed. Bullying makes most people feel weak and powerless.

Cyberbullying refers to internet bullying, an act of bullying through electronic devices such as smartphones and computers. Cyberbullying may take the form of sending aggressive or mean messages, or posting embarrassing photos or information about another person. Common platforms used for cyberbullying include text messages, social media and messaging apps.

According to Bark, an algorithm that scans for indications of cyberbullying, sexting, drug-related content and signs of depression, one in three children have experienced cyberbullying.

BullyingStatistics.org reports that cyberbullying affects many adolescents and teens on a daily basis. The Cyberbullying Research Center emphasizes that cyberbullying affects all races, and can be very damaging to adolescents and teens. Chad Rose, an assistant professor of special education in the MU College of Education found that bullying rates for teens with disabilities remained consistently higher than those without disabilities.

Worse, once an image or post is circulated on the internet, it may never disappear, resurfacing at later times to renew the victim’s suffering, or affect college or work applications. Cyberbullying can lead to anxiety, depression and even suicide.

 

Did you like this? Read my piece about how music lessons can help get your teen into college here!

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My HuffPo: Teens, Music & The Sober Curious Movement

Please read my latest article on Huffington Post:

Is the Sober Curious Movement the End of Teen Binge Drinking?

Created by JAVI_INDY – Freepik.com

For many teens, social activities never stop. With a smart device in hand, texts, posts, likes and shares are vital components of modern peer interaction. Parents often complain of adolescents glued to their screens, maintaining friendships, ironically, in a state of isolation.

When teens turn off their screens to join friends and peers for get-togethers and parties on weekends, many parents worry about the possibility of underage drinking – and for good reason. Social media has been linked to binge drinking, according to several new studies. On social media, young people can get unrealistic ideas about their peers’ seemingly “fabulous” lives, and posting of photos depicting drunken revelry serves to increase of the appeal of alcohol consumption.

Is underage binge drinking a problem? Let’s look at the statistics:

  • 1 in 6 teens binge drink
  • 90% of alcohol consumed by teens involves binge drinking
  • 4,300 underage deaths are caused by excessive drinking each year
  • Binge drinkers don’t drink alone. It generally requires peer pressure

“With neuroscience now showing that the human brain develops well into the mid 20’s, we can deduct that the introduction of alcohol into a teenage brain can cause permanent changes to its growth and function,” said Kristin Wilson, National Director of Clinical Outreach at Newport Academy, a teen treatment center. “Because of underdeveloped executive functioning, teens are often very easily influenced by peer pressure and are more willing to engage in high-risk behaviors.”

Dance Raves, Drinking and Drugs

The need to belong and experience social connections is a fundamental human characteristic, and while raves and teen parties have a long-held reputation for underage drinking, young people assert that the fundamental rewards of attending these events include meeting new friends and sharing one of the most highly valued aspects of teen life: music.

Fortunately, a shift toward a healthy lifestyle is trending. Over the last few years, there has been a decline in alcohol consumption for teens. Teens are experimenting with remaining sober while engaging in social activities that once highlighted alcohol use. The Sober Curious Movement includes day rave dances and juice bar crawls infused with the increased dopamine levels caused by up-tempo music and positive social interaction.

“If you’re used to hiding or escaping with alcohol, and then you discover that you can have genuine fun and make meaningful connections without it, that’s really empowering,” explained Annie Fabricant, coproducer of Morning Gloryville, a series of sober rave parties.

The Sober Curious Movement’s Impact on Teens

It’s all about building authentic relationships. “The Sober Curious Movement is a great step toward healthy living and overall wellness for teens. At fun, wellness-focused, sober events, teens can feel free to create face-to-face, authentic connections with one another, without the pressure to drink,” continued Kristin Wilson. “The relationships that are established within the Sober Curious community are based on mindfulness and a shared passion for healthy lifestyles.” The trend is proving universal among teens and millennials, building momentum across the US and around the world.

“Conscious clubbing” parties are popping up in cities all over the globe, encouraging dance fans to rave without alcohol, drugs or judgment. Parties are held in industrial clubs featuring mega sound systems and hipster DJs, and bars are stocked with raw coconut juice, water and green smoothies only. While many young people traditionally turn to alcohol to break the ice in social situations, today more teens are choosing to bust a move instead. The most common benefit cited by Sober Curious devotees: when sober friendships are formed, people remember making them.

Generation Z music fan Alexsys Chesnut has been in the Seattle rave scene since age sixteen. “A lot of my friends and I participate soberly. It’s about the music and losing yourself in dancing in an environment where you can be yourself, and dress like you want. It’s about all the new friends you make.”

Matthew Brimer and Radha Agrawal, creators of Daybreaker raves welcoming an average of 400 to 500 attendees said, “We want to take out all the bad stuff associated with raving – the drinking and self-destructive behavior – and just bring people together.” Healthy, sober fun translates into honesty at home. “There’s no guilt whatsoever here,” they added. “You can tell your grandmother about Daybreaker.”

Ready to Party Sober?

Here are Newport Academy’s tips for teens interested in creating positive social experiences without alcohol:

1. Surround yourself with friends who are living a healthy lifestyle, and like you sober.

2. Get outside. Plan a beach day, go on a hike, or try a juice bar crawl. Just being in the daylight helps increase serotonin levels, a brain chemical that boosts mood and creates feelings of overall happiness.

3. Listen to music. Music not only creates connection but can help you relax. Listening to music you love has also been shown to increase dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter that allows us to feel pleasure.

The more time young people use social media, the more likely they are to be depressed, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In fact, “engaging in activities of little meaning on social media gives many teens a feeling of ‘time wasted’ that negatively influences mood,” reported researcher Lui yi Lin. Music allows isolated teens to establish real friendships, crush the dangers involved with binge drinking and be their authentic themselves.

Did you like this? Read my piece about how music lessons can help get your teen into college here!

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My latest on Huff Post: Worried About Your Teen Getting Into College? Consider Music Lessons

The following is an excerpt from my article, Worried About Your Teen Getting Into College? Consider Music Lessons, published on HuffingtonPost.com on February 2, 2017:

pedrosimao

Courtesy: Pedro Simao

Gaining mastery over any challenge your teen may face – sports, travel abroad, or acing AP Math – results in feelings of being ready to take on the challenge of post-secondary education. But many high school students aren’t able to compete, or don’t have access to classes and experiences that improve their chances for getting into and succeeding in college.

However, music training begun as late as high school may help improve the teenage brain’s responses to sound and sharpen hearing and language skills, suggests a new study from Northwestern University.

Nina Kraus, senior study author and director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at the School of Communication recruited 40 Chicago-area high school freshmen in a study that began shortly before school started. They followed these children longitudinally until their senior year. The stable processing of sound details, important for language skills, is known to be diminished in children raised in poverty, raising the possibility that music education may offset this negative influence on sound processing.

“While music programs are often the first to be cut when the school budget is tight, these results highlight music’s place in the high school curriculum,” said Kraus.

Can Music Lessons Make a Difference?

The U.S. Department of Education recommends at least one year of visual and performing arts for college-bound high school students asserting, “Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them.” In addition, music education plays a part in improving “children’s intellectual development.”

According to the Children’s Music Workshop, a Los Angeles-area music education company specializing in school-site music instruction, music education advocacy, and custom-designed band and orchestra books. “Students taking courses in music performance and music appreciation scored higher in the SAT than students with no arts participation. Music performance students scored 53 points higher on the verbal and 39 points higher on the math. Music appreciation students scored 61 points higher on the verbal and 42 points higher on the math…

I invite you to continue reading the entire article on HuffPo, including resources for parents and teachers. Click here to continue.

If you have ideas for supporting music programs in American high schools, please comment below!

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Teen Story Slam 2016 is coming!

teenstoryslam2016

On Bainbridge Island, we have a wonderful bi-annual celebration of storytelling called Story Slam. Held at a local restaurant, The Treehouse Cafe, friends and neighbors dare to take the stage to tell a 5-minute true story, without props. Random judges chosen from the always-packed-to-the-rafters audience tally scores to determine three winners. The stories are always memorable; funny, heartfelt, or downright frightening. The slam events are organized by the multi-talented Wendy Wallace, and benefits go to our Teen Writers Workshop and Teen Creative Writing Summer Camp. Earlier this year I thought, “Wouldn’t it be incredible for our talented teen writers to have a turn? No competition, no memorization, just pure storytelling awesomeness.”

That dream is becoming a reality!

In partnership with Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN) and the Kitsap Regional Library, we’re hosting our very first Teen Story Slam at Westside Pizza on Bainbridge Island on Wednesday, November 2nd!

We invite all Kitsap-area writers in grades 7-12 to share a story they’ve written. All participants will receive a prize!

Teens are welcome to read from their pages for a five-minute (or less) time limit. We want to hear short stories, poems, a chapter from their novel, a true story–anything goes! We welcome any genre as well, from Sci-Fi to Fantasy, contemporary, comedy, and crime mystery. (PG content only, of course.)

Beloved Bainbridge High School English teacher Noah Barfield will serve as master of ceremonies. Mr. Barfield has braved the Story Slam stage, and won. He is also known in the community for his achievements as a playwright, and among his students as a comedian.

WHEN: Wednesday, November 2nd, from 6:30 – 8:00 pm (Come early and get dinner!)

WHERE: Westside Pizza, 323 High School Road, Bainbridge Island 98110
Interested teens can SIGN UP at the Reference Desk at the Bainbridge Library. (Say hi to Teen Librarian, Jenny Bloom!)
Registration is required to participate.

Family and friends are welcome to come cheer on the writers! Donations will support the Teen Writers Workshop at Bainbridge Public Library.

 

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My HuffPost: Teens can Improve Creativity, Relieve Anxiety by Meditating

Please read my latest contribution to Huffington Post!

Teens can Improve Creativity, Relieve Anxiety by Meditating

todaycreative thinking with our neocortex, the part of the brain that is concerned with problem solving, visioning, hypothesizing, and strategizing. Meditation can have profound effects on the neocortex.

Blogger Branain Radcliffe shows how meditation boosts your creativity and focus in seven specific ways. Meditation will:

Increase self-confidence. Teens who lack self-confidence often hold back from using talents. Gaining self-assurance means embracing your best qualities and skills

Ease anxiety. Being creative is a risky enterprise. By creating a safe space within, meditation provides a platform from which to take risks.

Allow you to be yourself. Meditation puts you in touch with your true and authentic self, which is what makes each person unique. Knowing your true self makes it possible to express yourself in creative ways.

Make you less vulnerable. Teens often face criticism from peers. Because meditation puts you in touch with what matters to you as an individual, you can become less vulnerable to other people’s comments, whether positive or negative.

Foster kindness to yourself. Sometimes the creative juices flow and sometimes they don’t. Being hard on yourself makes it even harder to connect with your creativity. Meditation makes you kinder to yourself (and others).

Change brain activity. Studies show that meditation increases brain activity in the areas of the brain that are associated with creativity, and focus.

Keep the world at bay. By learning to focus on the present moment, meditation increases concentration and makes you less distracted.

Doron Libshtein is a wellness mentor and author who’s worked closely with the world’s top creative luminaries, including Deepak Chopra, spiritual mentor Byron Katie, and Marcia Weider, founder of Dream University. He believes that “everyone should meditate and, oftentimes, creative people are the best meditators. Meditation can help you get ‘the quiet’ you need to help reduce stress.”

Libshtein says the number one benefit of meditation is “a state of stillness and calm. When you alleviate stress through meditation, it makes space for creative thoughts and inspiration.” Libshtein explains that meditation greatly improves attention disorders, and provides clarity. When anxiety and lack of focus dissolve, there’s more room for inspiring ideas. “Creative ideas can come from meditation,” Libshtein says, “and connection to the source of your inner voice and thoughts.”

Good-bye, fear. Hello, focus.

Twenty-One Pilots’ song Stressed Out speaks to the teen reality. Meditation is a way to get calm, and focused. It trains your mind to relax, turning anxious energy into inspired thought.

…Read the rest of my story on Huffington Post here to learn how to meditate, and find out how meditation compares to using prescription antidepressants.

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