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Keeping Wisconsin Families Safe Online

Technology allows us to be constantly connected, and no age group knows this better than our children and teenagers. In fact, a recent Pew Research study showed that 95% of U.S. teens have access to smartphones and 45% are online almost constantly! It can seem overwhelming to think about how to manage the devices, the safety, the screen time, as well as all the other things happening in life. Start with the basics! We’ve put together a few ideas and resources below that can help you set a solid foundation for online safety in your home.
Set rules, and stick to them.

Maybe this looks like a contract whenever there’s a new device or at certain intervals, like starting a new grade. Discuss appropriate screen time limits (school vs personal), appropriate consequences for breaking rules, and stick to those limits and rules. The rules apply to us, too – make sure you are setting a good example and following screen-time limits yourself, as well! If you can’t, explain the reason: “I’m expecting an important work call this evening, so I need to be keeping an eye on my phone during dinner.”

Utilize built in (FREE) safety options!

We mentioned screen time limits above. Great news! Your phone has built in options for screen time limits, limits on certain apps, and even the option to approve the apps your child downloads. Set up parental approvals with Family Link for Androids and Family Sharing for Apple devices. On the devices themselves, you can set parental controls to help create appropriate boundaries.
How do you know if an app is appropriate to approve? There are great resources out there to help you learn about popular apps and games! One of our favorites is; they provide parent and kid reviews of popular apps, as well as summaries and talking points for discussion.

Teach them what to do.

We teach our kids what is appropriate and inappropriate activity; this is no different. Set the standard for appropriate online interaction and activity and teach them what to do if something makes them feel uncomfortable or “funny.” It could be as simple as having them tell you, but you may want to teach them how to report abuse through the app or game, depending on age and understanding of your child.
In addition to reporting abuse through the app or platform, you can also report incidents involving technology-facilitated crimes against children through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline at

Remember, technology is very beneficial, and we can even use technology to help us manage technology! Also, remember that our kids are not doing anything new…they’re exploring and learning. They’re just doing it on wider-reaching platforms, with potential for a wider audience. Check out resources, like our biweekly Protect Kids Online podcast and our interactive parent/child e-module to learn more about safety info on the go, and when it works for your schedule:
In the end, the biggest influence on a child’s online behavior is frequent discussions with their parent or guardian about their online lives.  Technology isn’t going away, so start asking your kids to teach you about their tech – who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new app or game that you can’t put down. Stay safe!

Dana Miller is an Advanced Program & Policy Analyst with the Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation in the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  Dana holds a B.S. in both Criminal Justice and Biology and a M.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin -Platteville, and has worked extensively in education and harm prevention surrounding technology throughout the state of Wisconsin.
The post Keeping Wisconsin Families Safe Online appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
Keeping Wisconsin Families Safe Online

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How to Find the Right Amount of Screen Time for Your Family

Everywhere you turn, there’s a screen, many directly in your child’s line of sight.  And everywhere you turn, there’s also a list of warnings about the dangers of screen time for kids. Physical inactivity. Obesity. Digital eyestrain. Disrupted sleep. Heightened stress hormones. Impaired social skills. Developmental delays. Brain damage. It’s a frightening prospect since a child is a child only once.  There’s no do-over with child development.
The potentially grave consequences have led both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization to publish guidelines on screen time limits, based on the age of the child.  The recommended limits, which include just 1 hour of high-quality screen time per day for children ages 2 to 5 years old, are far lower than most families’ actual usage.
On the flip side, dissenting opinions question the growing moral panic over screen time use and point out the benefits of screen-based technology.  What about face-time with far-away relatives? What about educational apps and programs? Is the real problem the quantity or the quality of kids’ screen use.
What’s a parent to do?
Here are three suggestions to find a realistic, reasonable solution for screen-time concerns:
First, read the actual policy statements from the AAP. There’s one for children ages 0 to 5 and one for children and adolescents ages 5 to 18. The full policy statements provide much more thoughtful discussions than simple hour-limits, with helpful considerations for concerned parents. They even provide guidance about specific brands of educational apps that may be beneficial.
Second, check out the AAP’s Family Media Plan, a nifty online tool to help you customize individual screen time limits for each child in your home.  The tool provides a 24-hour ruler that includes all the categories of time-use in a child’s day, such as sleep, school, homework, chores, and screen time.  It’s a great interactive visual to get a complete picture of the child’s day, which can help parents make better decisions about kids’ screen time and other activities.
Finally, look in the mirror and double-check the example you’re setting.  Parent media use is a strong predictor of child media habits.  Research also shows that parents’ use of both TV and mobile devices is associated with less parent-child interaction.  Decades of research confirm that those parent-child interactions are some of the very best supports for kids’ learning, communication and social-emotional development. Parents, never let screens get in way of the most effective parenting tool of all – YOU.
Dr. Pam Lano is a developmental psychologist who directs staff and family training at FamilyPath Autism Services. Pam’s two decades of experience working with families with autism has always emphasized educating and equipping parents so they can effectively support their children.  As a parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum, her parenting experiences always keep her humble and grounded in the reality that parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love. For additional reading, see CNN’s recent article on the relationship between screen time and brain development.

The post How to Find the Right Amount of Screen Time for Your Family appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
How to Find the Right Amount of Screen Time for Your Family

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How You Can Help Wisconsin Teens Dealing with Alcohol and Substance Abuse

It’s no secret that Wisconsin is a state where people consume alcohol. A lot of alcohol. The 2016 ranking released by 24/7 Wall Street of the top 20 drunkest cities in the U.S. further confirmed this, with 12 of the top 20 cities and 6 of the top 7 cities, located in Wisconsin. And it’s not just adults doing the consuming. A 2009 CDC survey of Wisconsin teens in grades 9-12 found that 25.2% of teens reported having 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row in the past 30 days.
Not everyone who drinks alcohol, and not even everyone who binge drinks alcohol, ends up having serious consequences and problems with their use. This can make it very difficult for the young people who are having issues with alcohol and substance use to accept that they have a problem. Continued binge drinking that has been normalized by Wisconsin drinking culture, can lead to teens being isolated from friends and family and finding themselves in increased risk of harm in many areas of their lives.
This often results in feelings of shame and hopelessness for teens and their families, and can further increase the barriers to teenagers receiving the support they need to start making positive changes in their relationships with drugs and alcohol.  The good news is that there is hope, and there are many support services for teens and their families in Wisconsin. The Three C’s help parents to understand that they didn’t Cause their child’s alcohol and substance use issues, they can’t Cure the issues, and they can’t Control the issues. Therapists with substance abuse training and treatment experience, provide safe places for teens and their families to seek information and treatment without being judged or shamed for the challenges they have faced.
Recovery is possible! Even for young people living in and navigating Wisconsin’s culture of heavy alcohol use. Inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment services, non-profit organizations like Parent Addiction Network (, and peer support groups such as YPAA (young people in alcoholics anonymous) are just some of the examples of services that are available for teens dealing with substance use issues. Recovery is possible and happens through positive relationships and connecting with others who are dealing with the same struggles. Together we recover, and together we can continue to strengthen Wisconsin’s youth recovery community.
Alex Kress is a mental health and substance abuse therapist at Connections Counseling who brings enthusiasm and compassion to understanding and working with individuals with mental health and substance use concerns. Alex’s practice emphasizes working with college students, adolescents, and young adults, and supporting people in finding their path to recovery. Alex is an avid musician and a member of the Connections Music Group.
The post How You Can Help Wisconsin Teens Dealing with Alcohol and Substance Abuse appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
How You Can Help Wisconsin Teens Dealing with Alcohol and Substance Abuse

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Tips for Cooking Organic Meals with Wisconsin Products

Many whole, natural foods do not necessarily require cooking. Raw fruits and veggies, canned wild-caught fish, grass-fed cheese and uncured natural deli meats, organic additive-free rotisserie chicken, grass-fed organic yogurt and kefir, etc. all make fabulous light meals and snacks and can often be consumed on-the-go. For meals that require a little more attention, today’s array of slow-cookers, pressure-cookers, Vitamix models, convection ovens, food processors, semi-vacuum cookware and induction cooktops can really speed up the process.
I own a Saladmaster machine that enables me to create a 7 veggie chopped salad providing 6 to 8 servings, in 6 minutes. Many salads and soups can be prepared today, from scratch, within minutes. Modern thermos and insulated food containers enable foods to remain hot or cold while being transported to work, sporting events or elsewhere.

Include your kids in the meal preparation process

Teach them along the way
Help them to create recipes and have fun experimenting

Invest in small food appliances to make the cooking process faster and easier
Invest in portable and insulated food storage containers to transport cold and hot dishes
Don’t make your kitchen a “showpiece only” room. Use your appliances on a regular basis to make food preparation fast, easy and a natural habit

Fast Ideas for Slow Food
Again, the term “slow food” (a popular term for whole, natural foods) denotes a long and lingering process to preparing meals, desserts and snacks with whole organic ingredients, from scratch. This doesn’t have to be your process. For example, try my “generic” Meat Sauté recipe below:
“Fast & Easy Main Meat Sauté”
Serves 4. Total time with prep and cleanup: 15-20 minutes

1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
(4) 6-8 oz cuts of meat (beef, poultry, fish, pork)
Splash of reduced sodium Tamari sauce
Splash of red or white wine
Pat of butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Prep time–approximately 3 minutes

Heat pan
Mince garlic

Cook time–9 to 15 minutes

Add oil to pan
Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute
Add meat to pan and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes
Turn meat and add splash of Tamari
Sauté for an additional 2 to 8 minutes
Remove from pan and turn up heat
Add wine and reduce, approximately 1-2 minutes
Turn off heat and add butter
When butter is melted, pour over meat and serve

While meat is cooking, simply prepare a 3 veggie salad or stovetop veggie combo. With little practice, this dinner can be prepared and served within 15 to 18 minutes and is a fabulous weeknight system.
Three-Ingredient Recipes
Preparing whole, natural and organic dishes does not require numerous ingredients. Here are a few ideas from my website at, for fast, easy and delicious 3-ingredient dishes:
3-ingredient “Sweet Potato Chips” (Vegetarian)

1 lg organic sweet potato (scrubbed and unpeeled)
2 tsp melted organic/pastured ghee (clarified butter)
1/8 tsp (or to taste) Celtic sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice potato thinly, in food processor. Toss with ghee and sprinkle with salt. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until browned. Cool on rack and serve with your favorite dip.
3-Ingredient “Grilled Coconut Aminos Wings”

8 organic chicken wings, halved
Organic coconut aminos sauce (or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
1/2 tsp raw organic sesame seeds

Grill wings over medium-low heat, turning occasionally and brushing with coconut aminos for approx 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with additional sauce for dipping.
3-Ingredient “Breakfast Cookies” (Vegetarian, Vegan)

1 cup organic flax meal
2 very ripe organic bananas
1 tbsp Arrowhead Mills organic peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mash all ingredients together. Drop by the spoonful onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Go to for more fast, easy & delicious ideas and recipes
Increase the ingredients in your dishes to create easy leftovers

Use leftovers for easy breakfasts and lunches
Use leftovers to reinvent another dish

Freeze or store leftover food items in BPA-free glass containers

These ideas and tips will help you to better understand the Simplicity of Organic Cooking. By creating new habits and with a little practice, you’ll find that your palate will prefer the fresh living flavors of organic foods and ingredients while supplying your body with optimal health benefits. You will also find, as I did, that cooking with organic foods often requires fewer ingredients and less fuss due to the enhanced freshness and flavor of the foods.
KC Thorson is referred to as Wisconsin’s Premier Organic Cooking Coach and has been coaching individuals, groups, and businesses on her fast, easy and delicious concepts for preparing organic foods, for the past 14 years.  In her 14-year career as an organic cooking instructor, educator and recipe author, she has specialized in digestive-friendly, diabetic-friendly and gluten-free organic cooking tips and processes that she has passed on through group and private classes, small business wellness programs, cooking workshops and gluten-free presentations.  Her experience includes co-producing and hosting a local cable TV show ,“What’s Cookin’ with KC,” for over 10 years, 4 years as culinary instructor on an organic farm, including 4 years as a Board of Director, 2 years participation on a project team for a leading cookware company, 2 + years offering personal chef services and creating organic confections for local coffee shops and businesses.  KC enjoys helping others employ simple and healthy ways to include home cooking and fresh, clean foods into their busy lives.
The post Tips for Cooking Organic Meals with Wisconsin Products appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
Tips for Cooking Organic Meals with Wisconsin Products

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Bullying Prevention Starts with Student Action

As parents, we are both fortunate to be able to work in the same district where our children attend school. It’s a blessing that not all teachers are afforded. Teachers, as a whole, want a safe, nurturing, and rigorous educational environment for their students, and this is doubly true in our case. We want a place where we feel safe and excited to send our children, and we want that place to be Adams-Friendship High School.
Four years ago, thanks to the AWARE grant, our district invested in the social-emotional and mental health of our students. One of the ways they did this was by implementing Safe School Ambassadors (SSA).
Our students participate in an anonymous Youth Risk Behavior Survey to analyze the changes in student culture. The district uses this data to drive the direction for upcoming years. It focuses on a range of things from bullying, to attendance, and more. Not all of our data over the past few years has shown improvement in these areas, but we do have bright spots, including the fact that the percentage of students who report that bullying and harassment is a problem on school property has decreased by 10% since 2015. This is something to celebrate and, in part, is due to our SSA.
Watch this video to learn ways to give students the tools they need to prevent bullying and spread positivity in schools.
Students are a powerful force for change
However, the work isn’t done. Although we saw an 11% increase in students reporting a sense of belonging in their school from 2015-2017, in 2018 we saw a 7% decrease. This means that our ambassadors are making changes, but need more help. Our goal is to train more students in the upcoming years so that our reach is larger.
What most people don’t realize is that students are the biggest and most powerful force for change in our schools. And yet, we often make them the most underutilized resource. They see, hear, and know things that teachers and other adults in schools do not. They can intervene in ways adults can not. Kids decide what’s cool in school, so why not train them with strategies to make being kind cool again.
Kids are the future; SSA gives them the power to make positive cultural change in their school and it does it in a safe way. Kids might be reluctant to step in and stop an aggressor if they don’t know them well, but SSA allows kids to start first with themselves and next with their social group.
Strategies to empower action
The beauty of SSA is the training process. It’s an intense, interactive, two day training. Students and staff reflect upon personal experiences and participate in collaborative learning activities that build trust. We train the adults to become family group facilitators with the students as they become ambassadors.
During the training, students develop skills in observing, negotiating, interviewing, and reporting while staff learn to facilitate small family group meetings of 8-12 students. Throughout, we continually circle back to the seven strategies our ambassadors will use to intervene in student altercations. The power behind the strategies is that of the seven, only one requires adult intervention. The students use these simple strategies to tackle the different types of mistreatment: put downs, unwanted physical contact, acts against campus, exclusions, and intimidation. Many students who start SSA aren’t even sure what they’re getting into during training, but by the time they leave they’re ready to make the change they want to see in our school.
Ambassador Dallas King said, “I had no clue what SSA was until I was asked to join, and I am so glad I am able to have the opportunity to make a difference in my school and work with a great group of people on some amazing projects.”
Working from the inside out
With the rise of school violence (emotional and physical), schools have taken an outside-in approach. Since Columbine, schools have spent nearly a billion dollars to keep schools safe from outside threats. These are all important things, but we also need to work from the inside out.
Rick Phillips, the founder of Community Matters said, “Here’s what we’ve learned. You can most often keep the guns out, but you can’t keep the student out, and they bring in other types of weapons that get past adults and machines. Those are weapons of prejudice, stereotypes, and grudges from their neighborhood and values from home. And, it is these weapons that contribute to the many incidents that [teachers] have to deal with everyday.” We need to work with our students to change the climate. If we change the climate, we can directly impact other things like attendance, graduation rates, and academic success. Students who feel safe and welcome in a school come ready to learn.
Building a positive school culture
We make this a reality by running the meetings, but also by implementing projects for the school. We’ve started projects to help welcome our students; one of them is the “Sticky Note Project.” Ambassadors write positive affirmations on sticky notes such as “you’re wonderful.” Then, we anonymously cover the school with these notes, placing them on every locker. Students are greeted with a positive message just for them. It’s just one small thing to make our school a better place.
This process of building a positive school culture is a journey. There are no perfect systems and no perfect people. Our ambassadors aren’t perfect and aren’t disciplinarians. They’re just kids, stepping in to diffuse tension and trying to make their school better.
We know we have a long way to go, but we know that we’ve made progress. We see it in our ambassadors who step into situations they might have once just ignored. We see it in students who might walk away from a fight because their friend reminded them of the consequences. We see it in sticky notes on lockers instead of on the floor. We see it in teachers who facilitate family groups and share positive stories from their groups. And finally, we see it in the future of our school our own kids will attend.
Watch this video to learn ways to give students the tools they need to prevent bullying and spread positivity in schools.
Kimberly Etter is an English Teacher, Spectrum Academy Teacher, and yearbook advisor at Adams-Friendship High School. She earned her English BSE from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2007.  She enjoys working with high school students and helping them reach their potential and become critical thinkers who want to change the world. Mrs. Etter enjoys spending time her her husband and three children.  She co-manages Safe School Ambassadors with Mrs. Tissen. 
Emily Tissen is a Special Education Teacher of students with Intellectual Disabilities at Adams-Friendship High School and co-manages the Safe School Ambassador program with Mrs. Etter as a Trainer of Trainers. She has earned a Master of Arts in special education cross-categorical ages 5-21 from Rockford College in Rockford, IL, and a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, from Rockford College. She enjoys working with high school students and helping them to achieve their individual goals to become compassionate, honest and productive members of society. She is the proud mother of two high school students, Andy who is a sophomore and Jayme who is a freshman, both at AFHS.
The post Bullying Prevention Starts with Student Action appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
Bullying Prevention Starts with Student Action

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Four Tips to Quit Smoking from Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation

It’s hard to quit smoking – no doubt about it! But it is possible, and a good support system can make all the difference. Just ask the thousands of pregnant and postpartum women who have worked with Quit Coaches through the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation’s First Breath program:
“[My Quit Coach] was the friendship I needed in order to make me quit smoking. I feel that I would not have stopped smoking if it wasn’t for [her].”
“She makes me feel accountable. I get stuff done when I know someone’s depending on me.”
“Working with the Quit Coach, I felt better. I felt good when she would come visit and make me feel like she was proud of me that I didn’t smoke.”
Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation Quit Coaches
When working on a task as difficult as quitting smoking, success is more likely when people have someone there they know and trust – someone they can call when they have questions, who knows their situation, and who can help them with their quit plan. For the women of First Breath, that’s their Quit Coach—a trained Tobacco Treatment Specialist who does home visits, makes phone calls, and sends text messages—but it could also be a good friend or a family member who cheers you on and keeps you accountable!
“’Everything’s fine. You can do this. I got your back.’” Having someone there that’s willing to drop everything and go, ‘Hey listen, it’s alright. I’m here for you. Do you need to talk?’ Having that access is great.”
Having that access and being able to successfully cut back or quit tobacco use has some pretty awesome benefits too:
“We saved a lot of money from me not smoking.”
“My son doesn’t get the bad side effects of second-hand smoke.”
“I can sing really hard in the car now, and I have a lot more energy at the gym.”
“My kids are proud of me, and that I know I’m making my family proud.”
What else can you do to quit smoking?:
Write down what motivates you to quit
Why do you want to quit smoking? How will your life improve after you quit? Write your answers and post them somewhere you will see and be reminded of them often (e.g. bathroom mirror, refrigerator, etc.).
Make it harder to smoke
Throw away all your cigarettes (even your “emergency pack”), but also remember to throw out your lighters and ash trays. If you take steps now to make it harder to light up, you are more likely to make it through that next big craving when it hits.
Change how you respond to your smoking triggers
Every smoker has unique triggers (activities which are associated with smoking a cigarette), and it’s probably not realistic to completely avoid them. However, research has shown that replacing smoking with another habit when faced with triggers leads to greater success. So, instead of lighting up after a meal, try going for a short walk or calling a friend.
Try a practice run
Does the idea of quitting smoking altogether make you feel overwhelmed? Why not ‘practice’ quitting smoking instead? Treat it as an experiment or a challenge and give yourself a deadline. Try to make it through a day, a weekend or even a full week without lighting up. Make note of challenges that you encounter and need to figure out before you quit for good. Who knows? Maybe you’ll make it a week and feel like you want to keep going!
Beyond these ideas, remember that you are more likely to succeed when you have a plan, as well as the support to make this change. Pregnant women in Wisconsin can contact the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation to participate in the First Breath program, and all Wisconsin residents can get help from the WI Tobacco Quitline. Both services are completely free!
Watch this video to learn more about the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation and its various programs, or visit
The post Four Tips to Quit Smoking from Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
Four Tips to Quit Smoking from Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation

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Retired Wisconsin Police Officer Talks Openly About Suicide Prevention

My husband tells me we would be invited to more parties if I was content to tell people that I retired after 26 years of being a police officer. But, instead I feel compelled to tell people that, in my retirement, I am working hard and fast on suicide prevention; and would they like to talk about firearms, suicide, hopelessness and what can be done about it all?  I believe that suicides are preventable, that lives can be saved and that what is needed is neither high tech nor particularly hard.
Watch this video to learn what gun retailer, Chuck Lovelace, is doing to help reduce the risk of people committing self-harm during times of crisis.
Collecting data on violent deaths like suicide, homicide and overdoses isn’t morbid, it’s a public health roadmap of what contributes to a significant number of deaths, and we need to know these risk factors. To shrug and say there’s nothing that can be done to stop these deaths denies the known risk factors and clouds suicide in mystery. In reality, suicide isn’t a mystery. It is often the result of treatable mental health disorders, like depression, addiction and substance abuse disorders.
However, if we look squarely at the most common method people use to kill themselves, it’s firearms. Of the over 47,000 people in the US who die by suicide, about half use a firearm.
If I told you that keeping a firearm away from someone who was in a temporary suicide crisis could save their life, you might argue that person would still find another means to die. The truth is, if the method they planned to use—in this case a firearm—isn’t available, they will likely retreat. Even if they substitute another method, let’s say an overdose of medication, it still takes more time to prepare and execute the plan, is far less lethal and it allows time for an intervention or for the person to change their mind.
Gun retailer, Chuck Lovelace, reveals interior of the safe where he keeps his customers’ firearms on request.
Let’s say a person has too much to drink, and a friend takes away their car keys, we don’t taunt that friend as being anti-car. At that moment in time, the car was more dangerous to the drunk owner than it was helpful. If you knew someone was facing known risk factors for suicide (a relationship crisis, depression, financial or job problems, addiction, feeling like a burden, facing a medical crisis, etc.) why not step in and tell that friend you would be willing to safely store all of their firearms until they were better? At that moment in time, firearms are more of a risk than helpful.
Temporary safe storage it isn’t anti-gun, it’s anti-suicide. If you’re not sure you know enough to recognize suicide risk, attend suicide prevention training or go online to learn more. The crisis line, 1-800-273-TALK, is there to help you help a friend. Next, reach out to someone in a crisis and tell them you care about them. Make it clear to them that you can’t solve all of their problems, but you can help them find safe storage for their firearms. If you can’t be that safe storage, ask a local gun shop for assistance. Let the individuals at that shop help you find a way to safely store a firearm.
Openly talking about suicide and finding a safe temporary storage of a firearm can save a life.
Author: Jean Papalia, Suicide Prevention Trainer for Safe Communities Madison-Dane County. Watch this video to learn more about ongoing efforts to reduce the risk of people committing self-harm. 
The post Retired Wisconsin Police Officer Talks Openly About Suicide Prevention appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
Retired Wisconsin Police Officer Talks Openly About Suicide Prevention

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Students Join the Conversation About e-Cigarettes and Vaping in Schools

I was on a conference call with the members of our program’s Youth Board a few years ago when I first learned what a hookah pen was. Still new to youth tobacco prevention, I was reading everything I could find about flavored cigarillos, little cigars and other tobacco products that kids might try. But, I didn’t learn the term “hookah pen” from the literature. I learned it from one of the high school students serving on the FACT State Youth Board.
FACT is Wisconsin’s youth tobacco prevention program. Members of FACT are in grades 7-12 and work to spread the truth about tobacco in communities throughout the state. The program is managed by the American Lung Association and we rely heavily on guidance from the program’s Youth Board. Their valuable insights help us develop informed prevention strategies that resonate with teens. Without the Youth Board it would be nearly impossible to keep up with how youth tobacco use is changing.
That high school student gave us a crucial reality check: Kids were using the term hookah pen to describe colorful e-cigarettes that looked more like a pen than a cigarette. Many of the kids trying these things didn’t realize they were actually e-cigarettes. The e-juice in devices like these is flavored like fruit, candy and other treats that appeal to kids. They don’t look, taste or smell anything like a traditional cigarette. Kids using them often have no idea they could be inhaling highly addictive nicotine and other harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and acrolein.

Because e-cigarettes aren’t regulated, there are no rules about how they’re made and no way to know exactly what is in them. Some of the chemicals that have been found in e-cigs can cause irreversible lung damage. We also know that nicotine exposure in adolescence can harm the developing brain, and youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to go on to use other tobacco products. The aerosol that e-cigarettes produce isn’t just water vapor and it isn’t harmless.
Today, we regularly hear stories about the problem of youth e-cigarette use from Wisconsin students throughout the state. The popularity of colorful hookah pens has faded among youth in favor of sleek e-cigs that resemble flash drives. These newer devices can even be charged in a USB port. They look like an innocuous tech item that a student might store files on and they’re easy to hide in plain sight. Sometimes kids are using them right in the classroom, discreetly puffing the cloud of scented aerosol into their shirt sleeve. We initially learned about these newer devices, too, from the students on our program’s Youth Board.
Watch this video to learn more about how members of FACT are getting involved in the conversation about e-cigarettes.
To effectively address youth health issues, we need to invite youth to the table. Collaborating with youth as equal partners is the best way to learn about the realities of any issue impacting this population. Youth-adult partnerships are valuable to everyone involved. Adults gain insight into what young people are really experiencing, and youth gain skills and experience that can be transferred to life beyond school. When youth know that their thoughts are respected they are very willing to contribute. Often, all it takes is for an adult to ask what they think.
“Vaping is such a huge epidemic among Wisconsin’s teens. It started at my school a couple years ago with some kids using the big bulky types of flavored vapes, then came the hookah pens. Now the e-cigs that look like flash drives and taste like candy have become very popular with teens. E-cig use has increased rapidly at my high school. It seems like more teens are becoming addicted to nicotine by the minute. We all need to realize that vaping isn’t harmless or there will be another generation addicted to nicotine.” – Nick, Lodi High School FACT
“Many kids are using e-cigarettes at schools, especially in the parking lot and the bathrooms. I’ve seen kids post photos of themselves vaping on Snapchat and Instagram and then asking if their friends would like to buy e-cigs or e-juice from them. This is also happening on a newer app for photo-editing and social media called VSCO. It’s all over the place right in front of us. This really needs to stop.” – Alyssa, Oregon High School FACT

“We wish adults understood how e-cigs are impacting our generation. Marketing to teens is a problem with e-cigs just like it was with cigarettes for the generations before us. Because of the misleading marketing, even kids who would never consider trying other tobacco products are curious about e-cigs. The most popular e-cigs in our school look like USB thumb drives, are easy to conceal, and come in kid-appealing flavors. They’re being used in school bathrooms, locker rooms, and even during class. E-cigs are very common now and kids are becoming addicted. They’re not just water vapor and they’re not safe.” – Allie and Sammie, Wrightstown High School FACT
New data is now available that backs up what the FACT Youth Board members have been warning us about. E-cigarette use among Wisconsin youth has increased dramatically. The 2018 Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey found that 1 in every 5 of our state’s high school students are now using e-cigarettes. This increase is so concerning that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services recently issued a public health advisory on youth e-cigarette use.
Members of FACT groups all over our state are working to spread the truth about e-cigarettes and other tobacco products to their peers. Peer-to-peer advocacy is an effective approach to achieving social norm change. It is also important for adults to learn about this growing problem. Asking youth if e-cigarettes and vaping have become a problem at their school can be very enlightening. Also, the American Lung Association has resources on what parents should know about e-cigarettes and what schools should know about e-cigarettes. Increasing awareness of the problem and clearing up misconceptions about these products are essential steps to preventing youth tobacco use.
Renee Wadzinski is a youth program specialist at the American Lung Association and manages the FACT movement. She has earned a Master of Science in school counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She enjoys helping young people actualize their potential and make a positive impact. Watch this video to learn more about how members of FACT are getting involved in the conversation about e-cigarettes.
The WCA Group Health Trust was created when county officials joined together to create an employee benefit program that would meet the unique needs of local governments. Today, their founding principles still remain at the core. WCA Group Health Trust is governed by officials from participating units of government and school districts, making the organization more responsive to local healthcare needs.
The post Students Join the Conversation About e-Cigarettes and Vaping in Schools appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
Students Join the Conversation About e-Cigarettes and Vaping in Schools

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How Pilates Helped One Wisconsin Woman Find Her Passion

I often get asked how I got into Pilates. The question always brings me a bit of discomfort, because the answer reminds me of my ex-husband.
“Go get a hobby” is what he told me, “get a gym membership.”
I had just moved to Texas with my new husband–young and ready for a new adventure. I was excited, even though Texas was never on my ‘need to visit’ list. My husband and I found great jobs and we were getting along just fine. I started to gain some great friends through work, but still felt a bit on the lonely side. This was especially true when my husband came home and told me he got another job. I asked him what I was supposed to do. I had moved to Texas because of his situation, and didn’t have much in terms of friends and family in the area. That was when he told me to “go get a hobby” or “get a gym membership.”
Of course, my own worst critic came out and said, ‘see I told you you weren’t good enough for him…you’re not pretty or fit enough…’ and on and on she went.
So, I took his advice and became a member at a local gym and started taking spinning classes. The instructor of the class was amazing. She really focused on the right alignment of your body on the bikes and continued to cue this throughout the hour.  She was a competitive racer and had a lot of quality information for the members of the class. Then she said the one thing that has truly changed my career and life.

She said if you have never taken a Pilates class, you should try one. So, I did. She was the instructor and she said that in order to reap the benefits of Pilates, you should try to practice three times each week. I had the time, so I followed her suggestion and attended all three of her classes. After the third lesson that week, I could tell there was a subtle difference in my body. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but there were definitely some changes happening. I soon became a Pilates enthusiast.
Her class was amazing.  It was a mat class with no equipment except for the Pilates Magic Circle. She had all levels of strength, age and body type in a class of 30+ people. The class ran smoothly and everyone got a challenging, yet safe class no matter their level or experience.
I continued to go to classes and do high-intensity exercises, trying to gain my husband’s approval. I ran hills, did burpees, ran two mud runs; it was a good challenge, but I didn’t care for that type of demand on my body. It just didn’t seem sustainable. During the second mud run, I injured my sacroiliac joint. It was pretty much a life-long injury that will linger and linger. That moment was the end of my hard workouts, but not the last of my Pilates practice. Pilates fit well with my physical therapy exercises and helped me strengthen and stabilize my S.I. joint. The ability to continue practicing despite my injury made me even more of a Pilates enthusiast.
I soon left Texas and took a long road trip with my dog, Jack. It was a nice breather for myself. Once I got back home to Wisconsin, I searched for Pilates in Madison. I found a studio that did full Pilates classes on crazy apparatuses, and taught a Pilates instructor training program. After over 500 hours of studies through the Midwest Pilates Institute, I became a Pilates instructor. I love my career. It’s not only sustainable and healthy for myself, but I truly get to help people everyday.  I get to work with people who are hurt like I was, and do my best to figure out why and how to make them feel better.
From a huge disappointing statement to a new career that fulfills my desire to help people, Pilates has been a constant source of joy and motivation for me.
Watch this video, featuring Haley, to learn simple ways to stay active and bring more movement to your day. 
Why would you choose to do Pilates?
I am now a Lead Instructor at a Club Pilates studio and I am still in constant awe of the practice. Absolutely everyone can do Pilates, because practice looks different for everyone.

Most people incorrectly assume that they need to be more flexible and stronger to participate. But, one thing that gets overlooked in all of the beautiful Pilates videos and photos out there on the web, is the beginning of the practice. Where do you start? In Pilates, we start building your core with breath work. If you know how to properly breathe, you’ll be able to ‘work’ your core simply by exhaling. So, if you can breathe, you can do Pilates.
With proper training and the scrutiny of a trained Pilates instructor, you will build your strength safely in the proper postural alignment. Pilates focuses on the inner core group of muscles more so than the superficial ones. We want to help stabilize, build strength and mobility throughout your skeletal system. The targeted inner core muscles attach bone to bone and help hold your joints and spine in a more open, free and natural position. We tend to focus on muscles that are smaller and take lighter resistance, fewer repetitions and often times a smaller range of motion. It’s possible to have a really strong looking core, like a ‘6- or 8- pack,’ and also be weak in the inner core and still deal with back pain or slipped disks. Pilates helps you target very important parts of your body that other workouts often miss.
Aside from the typical parts of the body that one focuses on, we will also get very detailed and work on your toes, feet, and ankle alignment as well as make sure your wrists, elbows, neck, jaw, and eyebrows are all doing what they should be doing.
It’s so critical to take care of your body—all of it. Pilates is a sustainable type of movement that can be continued well into your elder years. It’s not ‘go big or go home, or no pain no gain.’ It’s about smart, purposeful movements.
Haley New is currently a lead instructor at Club Pilates in Sun Prairie.  She has been practicing Pilates for about ten years and enjoys helping people feel their best through smart movement. To learn more about how movement and staying active can help you build strength every day, watch this video.
The WCA Group Health Trust was created when county officials joined together to create an employee benefit program that would meet the unique needs of local governments. Today, their founding principles still remain at the core. WCA Group Health Trust is governed by officials from participating units of government and school districts, making the organization more responsive to local healthcare needs.
The post How Pilates Helped One Wisconsin Woman Find Her Passion appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
How Pilates Helped One Wisconsin Woman Find Her Passion

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Takeaways and Lessons Learned: A Wisconsin Woman Shares Her Cancer Story

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Ferris Buehler, “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off”

By Michelle Gormican Thompson 

Work, kids, an insanely packed calendar with seemingly not a moment to spare, you roll along everyday, thinking about the next thing you have to do, the next place you have to be, that next vacation you really want to take, where your kids will go to college and when you can retire…the list never stops.  Until it does.

“You have breast cancer.”  These words, which came to me ironically in the middle of another really busy workday, made my heart stop, took my breath away and made my arms literally go numb. You see, I come from a long line of hearty Irish and Lebanese stock.  All my grandparents lived into their 90s.  My Lebanese great-grandma smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes and she lived to be 102 years old.   I’m not kidding.  102.  There was not a chance in hell they had the right person.  They, of course, did.

Game On
The next few months were excruciatingly slow, terrifying and brought about a sensation of hovering above a life that was no longer mine.  I went about my life, with a smile on my face and fabulous shoes on my feet, when on the inside I was pretty sure I was losing my mind.  I kept working, I kept moving forward.  I was my usual chatty self – because if I stopped, it would be acknowledging the truth going on in my life.

When the dust settled eight months later, I had gone through surgery, chemo and six weeks of daily radiation.  Oh, and I was bald with a pretty nice case of PTSD.  But that’s another story for another time.

Out of the Darkness, Light
Looking back a year out, my story isn’t one of sadness, but incredible light.  The cancer was found by a radiologist who was tenacious in finding it, so it was caught early. My prognosis, God willing, is good.  That’s right, my mammogram saved my life.  That I believe to be true with every inch of my being.

I had good health insurance and medical professionals who were nothing short of spectacular. I have friends and clients who are like family, and a husband, kids and family that were my reason to keep rolling on days I wanted to hide under the covers.  People connected with me, performed incredible acts of kindness and were amazing.

If there are any take-aways from my experience, I would say take good care of yourself, eat well and be active. Schedule that mammogram, or colonoscopy, or prostate exam.  Don’t wait.  Don’t put your head in the sand. Please do it now.

Oh, and stop complaining about the mundane details of your life.  Have patience with the world and be kind to those you encounter. And live every single day of your life, because each day truly is a gift.

The WCA Group Health Trust was created when county officials joined together to create an employee benefit program that would meet the unique needs of local governments. Today, their founding principles still remain at the core. WCA Group Health Trust is governed by officials from participating units of government and school districts, making the organization more responsive to local healthcare needs.
The post Takeaways and Lessons Learned: A Wisconsin Woman Shares Her Cancer Story appeared first on The Bobber.
Source: The Bobber – Discover Wisconsin
Takeaways and Lessons Learned: A Wisconsin Woman Shares Her Cancer Story