The Total Child

On Their Terms: Expanding PrEP Access for Young People

(National Awareness) Permanent link

 By Kristina Santana, Senior Associate, Prevention & Health Care Access, NASTAD

Every December 1, we commemorate World AIDS Day, a day to honor those living with HIV, those who have died from an HIV-related illness, and the history of the fight. Rooted in activism, people living with HIV and grassroot organizations demanded to not only be a part of the conversation, but lead the conversations around HIV prevention, HIV care, and sexual health. As support strengthens and we continue to bring awareness to all communities, it is important to acknowledge the work still needed and who is still missing from the conversation. With a renewed spirit in HIV activism, we are seeing a wave of young people demanding to be included. 

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that of all age groups, young people are the least likely to get linked to care. This impacts their ability to receive treatment and ultimately reach a suppressed viral load. In 2012, only 44% of young people living with HIV had a reported suppressed viral load, which was the lowest of any age group. As a secondary method of prevention, viral load suppression is crucial to decreasing the number of new infections. When the viral load of a person with HIV can’t be detected, then there is no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative person. As research confirms, undetectable = untransmittable (U=U). In 2015, 22% of all new HIV infections were among young people (ages 13-24).1 When the data is further examined, we see that the majority of new infection cases are among gay and bisexual men. Representative of all age groups, this trend is indicative of larger lapses in prevention and care efforts for certain populations. Despite having a significant decrease in new infections since 2008, this disparity is unacceptable, as we know we have the tools and innovations to eliminate new cases.

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) could be one answer for many young gay and bisexual men. PrEP is a medication that works to prevent HIV by disrupting its ability to replicate. Without replication, acquisition is impossible. Research shows PrEP is up to 99% effective in preventing new infections when taken daily. Yet, to be a successful strategy, young people must 1) know about it and 2) be able to access it.

One of the biggest barriers to access to PrEP for young people is consent. As it relates to sexual health services, in all 50 states and Washington D.C. minors may consent to Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) services.2 Typically HIV prevention and treatment is included in such services, however, depending on the jurisdiction’s laws, PrEP may not be considered an STI service or as HIV treatment and prevention. Most states have a statute that indicates in the case of an actual or suspected HIV exposure, minors can consent when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. What is unclear is if PrEP is considered a form of treatment for those who were exposed, but did not seroconvert. Legislators and courts need to clarify if treatment will include a prophylaxis, which would include PrEP. If these ambiguous areas are not addressed or clarified, the lives of so many young people could be at risk of seroconverting to HIV.

In addition to consent, confidentiality issues play a central role in impacting young people’s decision to seek care and treatment. In some jurisdictions, when minors are seeking services, providers may be required to inform a caregiver. For example, in Iowa a minor can consent to HIV testing, but if the test is positive then by law a caregiver must be informed of the results.3 Depending on the home life or community of that person, this could potentially be frightening, stigmatizing, or even life-threatening. The ambiguity of consent laws, specifically regarding PrEP coverage, create confusion and additional barriers for all clients and providers. If we are going to continue to reduce new infections among young people, integrating PrEP services with existing prevention efforts (e.g., testing, condom distribution, treatment as prevention) is crucial. That is why it is important to examine how we are promoting access for all young people.

The voice of young people must be heard in the prevention strategies we implement, in the patient-centered care that is delivered, and in the policies that guide decisions. In order to have that voice, we must start holding conversations with young people about PrEP, educating them about its potential benefits, and listening to their experiences. Once we do, then can we truly start moving toward ending the HIV epidemic.  

National Runaway Prevention Month

(National Awareness) Permanent link

The following post is by Kayla Jackson, Project Director, AASA

November is National Runaway Prevention Month. Every year between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away. Young people runaway for many reasons: home is unsafe or unstable; they are asked to leave because of their sexual orientation; they are abandoned by their families or caregivers; they are involved with public systems (foster care, juvenile justice, and mental health); or have a history of residential instability and disconnection. (NN4Y, www.nn4y.org/learn 

Runaway and homeless youth (RHY) fall through the holes of society’s safety net daily. They fall outside of many of the societal institutions that provide vital links to programs and services that can help them overcome homelessness and become productive members of society. One such institution is schools. Schools – administrators, teachers, counselors, social workers, nurses, and other building personnel – working in concert with community-based organizations that serve RHY can have a positive impact on the physical and academic well-being of young people. Schools can play a vital role in linking RHY with necessary programs and services.

Families with children are by most accounts among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. More than 42% of those accessing emergency shelter are families, and, on average these families remain in emergency shelters for 70 days, longer than either single women or single men. The primary reason for family homelessness is the lack of affordable housing, though poverty, unemployment, low-paying jobs, family disputes, substance abuse, and other factors all play significant roles in family homelessness.

Findings from a three-year Head Start Demonstration Project reveal numerous challenges in serving homeless children and their families, including recruiting and enrolling homeless families; retaining homeless families and children in project services; involving homeless parents; and meeting the unique needs of homeless children and parents. Two subpopulations of children who face increased policy barriers to education are unaccompanied homeless youth and homeless preschoolers. Homeless youth are often prevented from enrolling in and attending school by curfew laws, liability concerns, and legal guardianship requirements. Homeless preschoolers also face difficulty accessing public preschool education. Less than 16% of eligible preschool aged homeless children are enrolled in preschool programs.

Not only are RHY at risk for poor academic outcomes, they are also at risk for poor health outcomes including the following: too early childbearing; improper care and treatment for pre-existing chronic conditions (e.g., asthma, allergies, diabetes); and mental health disorders that are exacerbated by living on the streets.

Homeless youth are a vulnerable population with high rates of sexual risk-taking behaviors, substance use, and mental health problems. Homeless youth are highly likely to experience early sexual debut, have multiple sex partners, engage in unprotected sexual intercourse, and use alcohol or other drugs prior to sex, resulting in a high-risk of acquiring HIV. Although there are no national data available on HIV among homeless youth, community studies have demonstrated a higher seroprevalence among homeless youth than among the general US youth population. Some homeless youth may be at additional risk because of a history of childhood sexual abuse and a lack of connectedness to trusted adults and family.

School administrators are focused on the bigger picture concerns of running a school or a district, but should note that student homelessness can show up as any of the following: student attendance at many different schools; increased absenteeism; poor performance on standardized tests; and/or behavioral concerns. The McKinney-Vento Act is federal legislation that is designed to address the problems that homeless children and youth face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. Under McKinney-Vento SEAs must ensure that each homeless child or youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as other children and youth. States and districts are required to review and undertake steps to revise laws, regulations, practices, or policies that may act as a barrier to the enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youth. Additionally, every LEA must designate a local liaison for homeless children and youth.

To increase awareness of RHY issues, schools can participate in the annual National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM). Sponsored by the National Runaway Switchboard, NRPM occurs every November to help increase awareness of the issues facing runaways as well as educate the public about solutions and the role they can play in preventing youth from running away. For more information, tools, and materials about NRPM, go to www.1800runaway.org/runaway-prevention-month.

Citation:

 Jackson, Kayla 2011: Toolkit for Meeting the Educational Needs of Runaway and Homeless Youth. Washington: National Network for Youth. https://www.nn4youth.org/wp-content/uploads/TOOLKIT.2.pdf

Grief Over the Holidays: Educators Can Help Students Cope

(Coordinated School Health, National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

The following is a post from the National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement. Learn more about ways to offer support to grieving students at the Coalition to Support Grieving Students website. AASA is part of the Coalition. 

All across the nation, Thanksgiving and the December holidays are a special time for families, schools and communities. Everywhere we look, we see signs of celebration. In schools, there may be pageants, food drives, decorations and parties. In stores, we hear familiar music. On the streets, people wish each other happy holidays and talk about getting together with extended family and close friends.

 
During these times, most of us also think about people we miss, including loved ones who have died. These memories can be especially acute for children and teens who have lost a loved one. They may experience periods of deep sadness, a renewal of their grief, or sudden and unexpected reactions of anger, despair or fear.

These responses may happen the first or second year after a death, or many years later. Educators spend a lot of time with students and are uniquely poised to observe grief responses over time. They can take steps to anticipate challenges. The support and understanding they offer grieving students over the holidays can be especially helpful.

Grief Triggers Can Be Strong

Grief triggers are sudden reminders of the person who died that cause powerful emotional responses. These can include smells or sounds, hearing a song, participating in a family tradition, or even imagining a lost opportunity such as a holiday dinner with the loved one.

 Our holidays are filled with these kinds of reminders, so grief triggers can be frequent and quite strong during these times.

Emotions Can Be Powerful

Grieving children may feel particularly vulnerable when they have grief responses to holiday events. They may isolate themselves from peers or celebrations in an effort to avoid triggers. They may be frustrated or disappointed that they can’t manage these responses. It’s common for children to feel, “I should be past this and able to stay in control now.”

Goals for Educators

By reaching out to grieving students, educators have an opportunity to promote several important goals, including:

  1.  Decreasing students’ sense of isolation. It’s common for grieving children to feel that others do not understand their experience.
  2.  Offering students an opportunity to talk. Students will be thinking about their loved one. They will be reflecting on memories, experiences and feelings.
  3.  Encouraging students to talk with others. In most cases, it is helpful for students to talk honestly with peers and family about their thoughts, feelings and memories.

Steps to Take

  •  Ask open-ended questions. Listen more than talk. For example, ask, “How are the holidays going for you? I wonder what thoughts you’ve been having about your dad lately.”
  •  Accept expressions of emotion. Students may express sadness, pain, frustration, anger or other powerful emotions. Avoid minimizing students’ feelings or trying to put a “positive” spin on their expressions. For example, saying, “It’s important to focus on the good times you had with your dad,” is likely to communicate that you don’t want to hear a student talk about painful things.
  • Reach out to grieving students at school events. The absence of a loved one may be especially noticeable during the classroom party or holiday band concert. Make a point to touch base in some way. Let a student know you’re happy to see her here at the party, or are looking forward to hearing her play in the concert. 
  •  Introduce class activities in a way that acknowledges absences and offers alternatives. For example, if students are making cards for members of their family, invite them, if they wish, to also include cards for someone who is no longer living, or who does not live with the family.
  •  Lead class discussions about holiday stories and experiences with sensitivity. Poems, stories and discussions may present triggers for grieving students. Open up the possibility during discussions (“Sometimes people have sad reactions to the holidays because they miss people. Have any of you ever had an experience like this?”). Consider reaching out after class to see how a grieving student is doing, or learn what he or she thought of the discussion.

 
Children experience grief differently over time. What is true this year for the holidays may not be the same next year. This is why one of the most important things educators can do is ask questions and then listen, with presence and patience.

*Share this flyer, which includes this information in this post.

 

Nominate an Ed Leader for the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award

(National Awareness, Equity Series) Permanent link

 10

 Please consider nominating a worthy candidate for the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award, who will be honored at a luncheon at the 2018 National Conference on Education in Nashville . This award honors leadership in educational equity and excellence. Those recognized must be AASA members who evidence commitment to the advancement and mentorship of women and minorities in positions of leadership and/or demonstrate a commitment to address social justice issues among children, youth and adults in schools.

Due Date: November 6, 2017.

Nominate someone today!

School-Based Approaches to Bullying Prevention

(National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Guest post by Becca Mui, M.Ed. Education Manager at GLSEN

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a perfect time to think about anti-bullying practices in schools. As a former school teacher, I remember how important the beginning of the year can be to setting up your classroom community. Now, in my role at GLSEN as the Education Manager, I get emails and messages every day from educators across the country asking how to support their students and address bullying and harassment.

Many of our supports are developed from our research on school climate. Our 2015 National School Climate Survey reported on the school experiences of LGBTQ youth including the extent of the challenges that they face at school and the school-based resources that support their well-being. This report found that anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination negatively affected the educational outcomes of LGBTQ youth, as well as their mental health.

In addition, From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, reports on the school experiences of all students to provide an in-depth look at the current landscape of bias and peer victimization across the nation. From this report we were able to determine that, compared to their non-LGBTQ peers, LGBTQ students are twice as likely to have missed school in the past month due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable.

It’s important that the adults in school systems take a proactive approach to bullying and harassment by setting up a culture of LGBTQ visibility and support. Based on the research, we recommend four major supports that schools can use to cultivate a safe and supportive environments:

Enumerated Policies
Anti-bullying policies that are comprehensive and specifically include protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression can help in addressing and preventing bullying and harassment. Check out GLSEN’s model policies for some examples. Read about the latest LGBTQ student rights and policies on The Leading Edge.

Supportive Educators
As GLSEN’s Education Manager, I’m constantly meeting and hearing about educators who are doing all they can to support their students. We are constantly teaching, in what we say and what we don’t say, in the people we include in our lessons and the stories we share. Having educators advocating for LGBTQ youth and amplifying their messages can take some of the burden off LGBTQ youth. Educators can use our Safe Space Kit for information and tips for how to become an active ally to LGBTQ youth.

Student-Led Clubs
GSAs (gender-sexuality alliance type clubs) often advocate for improved school climate, educate the larger school community about LGBTQ issues, and support LGBTQ students and their allies. LGBTQ students need a safe space where they can be themselves and feel a sense of community. GSA type-clubs can be this space, and can also center youth activism to continue to make change in a school. You can find GSA activities and ideas on our website.

Inclusive Curriculum
In any subject, having LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in your lessons and being mindful of gender-neutral language can be a tremendous support. LGBTQ students in schools with an LGBTQ-Inclusive curriculum were less likely to miss school in the past month (18.6% compared to 35.6%, National School Climate Survey, 2015). Inclusive curriculum ensures that LGBTQ students see themselves reflected in the lessons they are being taught, and also creates opportunities for all students to gain a more complex and authentic understanding of the world around them. Overall, inclusive curriculum can contribute to a safer school climate.

Implementing these four supports in K-12 schools can help to address and prevent bullying and harassment and work towards cultivating a school environment where all students feel welcome and ready to learn.

RESOURCES

ThinkB4YouSpeak Guide for Educators of Grades 6-12 - provided by GLSEN
“That’s so gay.”- Research shows that slurs like this one are incredibly common in our schools. The crazy part? Most students don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings – they’re just using everyday words and phrases. But as we know, they may be just three little words, but their power to hurt is huge. In order to address this unintentional-but-all-too-frequent harassment, GLSEN has partnered with The Ad Council to create the first national multimedia PSA campaign to raise awareness among teens and adults about the power their words have to hurt. With knowledge and a simple call to think before speaking, we hope to cut down and prevent the use of homophobic language in our schools.

GLSEN Safe Space Kit
Designed to help you create a safe space for LGBTQ youth in schools, this Safe Space Kit is GLSEN’s Guide to Being an Ally to LGBTQ Students. The guide provides concrete strategies that will help you support LGBTQ students, educate about anti-LGBTQ bias and advocate for changes in your school.

Gender Inclusive Schools Tool Kit - provided by Gender Spectrum
Gender inclusive schools and classrooms welcoming all children and teens are within any school community’s reach with our education focused resources.

GLSEN National School Climate Survey
The GLSEN National School Climate Survey is our flagship report on the school experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools, including the extent of the challenges that they face at school and the school-based resources that support LGBTQ students’ well-being. The survey has consistently indicated that specific school-based supports are related to a safer and more inclusive school climate, including: supportive educators, LGBT-inclusive curriculum, comprehensive anti-bullying policies, and supportive student clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).

Bullying Resources from the CDC
As bullying remains a serious problem among teens in the U.S., the CDC has developed a number of resources to help local education agencies better understand, prevent, and respond to bullying in their schools; some of which include: Understanding Bullying, Anti-Bullying Policies and Enumeration, Bullying and Absenteeism
 
Bullying and LGBT Youth
Visit www.Stopbullying.gov to learn more about:

  • Creating a Safe Environment for LGBT Youth
  •  Federal Civil Rights Laws and Sexual Orientation

 

Hurricane Relief Resources

(National Awareness) Permanent link

 Hurricane Irma

To help those most severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida and the U.S Virgin Islands and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, AASA has launched a national relief effort, in collaboration with our state affiliates, to assist the schools in these heavily-damaged areas. It is a role AASA began with Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Sandy (2012) and a tornado that ripped through the Oklahoma City area in 2013.

Below is a way you can donate to help those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as a clearinghouse of tools and resources regarding hurricane relief.http://aasa.org/hurricanerelief.aspx

How to Donate

Collected funds will be distributed to districts most in need of repairs and supplies, and to aid families impacted by the storm. Those wishing to contribute can send a tax-deductible donation to AASA. One hundred percent of your tax-deductible donation goes directly to the districts in need. Checks should be payable to AASA and mailed to:

AASA c/o Hurricane Relief
1615 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Green Apple Day of Service – A Local Springboard for Global Impact

(National Awareness) Permanent link

Guest post by Anisa Heming, Director, Green Schools at U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)

If you could do anything for your school or district, with limitless resources, money, and time, what would you do? Would you improve the school playground or building? Cultivate an impressive library of educational resources? Create new programming to enhance student health and wellbeing?  

For five years, Green Apple Day of Service has presented educators, parents, students, and community members with an opportunity to be creative and make measurable, positive change by engaging in service projects that address a school’s environmental impacts, student and faculty health and wellness, and environmental and sustainability literacy.

We’ve seen participation from almost one million volunteers in 73 countries since 2012, and our actions have impacted the learning environments of over seven million students. Providing students with a hands-on experience that both improves their learning environment and engages them with authentic and place-based learning is the best of what green schools offer.

 Healthy Schools: Be Well, Learn Well

We spend 90% of our time indoors, and one out of every six Americans sets foot in a school building every day. Students, teachers, administrators, and community members all interact with learning environments day in and day out. So it is critical that we address how our school buildings and their surrounding environs impact human health and wellbeing.  

Undertaking projects to improve indoor air quality, temperature and humidity, acoustics, access to daylight, and access to nature can have a real impact on how students feel each day, and how well they learn. A healthy indoor and outdoor environment is one place to start; another place to begin is in programming or education to support nutrition and healthy habits. A Green Apple Day of Service project is the perfect way to address health and wellbeing at your local K-12 school, wherever you choose to begin.

Project Profile: School Garden Planting Week  

“May in Minnesota is a bit unpredictable—it could be snowing, it could be 85 degrees, it could be raining for days on end,” says Steph Leonard, project manager with USGBC Minnesota. “After a bit of it all, the weather shifted and delivered mostly sunshine just in time for the second annual Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Planting Week. Nearly 100 people gathered in the newly built outdoor classroom at Washburn Elementary School to help plant their gardens and celebrate those who make outdoor learning possible.

 “The outdoor classroom will serve as a learning and reflection space for the students and as a gathering space for the community, who are welcome to come and learn about sustainable sites that incorporate things like vegetable gardens, native plants, and water management measures,” says Leonard. “As part of planting week, we track each project under the banner of Green Apple Day of Service to better understand need and impact.”

 Sustainability Literacy: Read, Write and Speak Green 

Schools educate and prepare students to be responsible and engaged citizens, and a crucial component of their success hinges on understanding the connections between the environmental, economic, and social structures that influence daily life. Education that uses the environment as a context for learning can help improve test scores in reading and math while teaching systems thinking, STEM subject matter, creative problem solving, resource management, and more, 

Environmental and sustainability education prepares students for the challenges they will inevitably face as adults. One of the most beautiful things about sustainability education is that it can be conducted next to any other subject matter being taught. For loads of ideas on environmental and sustainability lesson plans, check out all of the standards-aligned, bilingual, high-quality lessons on the Learning Lab platform for K-12 sustainability content.

 Project Profile: Sacramento Unified School District’s Green Week

In 2016, the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) used Learning Lab to help shape their Green Week, which used Green Apple Day of Service as a catalyst for a week of sustainability lessons and activities.

“Green Week was a huge success for us,” said Rachel King, sustainability director for SCUSD. “We partnered with community organizations and planned activities all week. Activities included a plug load audit, waste sorts, walk to school day, all green salad bar in cafeterias, and air quality flag program. We had 14 schools participating in various activities throughout the week with their classrooms, and even more participating in International Walk to School Day. We also had our Board approve a proclamation to declare the first full week in October Green Week every year.”

Low-impact Schools: Reducing the Footprint 

Arguably, a complete and effective education includes some measure of conscious character development. What better way to encourage students to take personal responsibility for their actions and decisions than to involve them in the hands-on improvement of their learning environment?  

Making changes that improve the classroom experience, both indoors and outdoors, is a powerful first step toward teaching students about their impact on the environment. By updating classroom lighting fixtures, conducting a water or waste audit, or establishing a recycling or composting program, students can have a hand in real changes for their schools and communities.

 Project Profile: Recycling in Georgia

Each year, Cass High School in Cartersville, GA, kicks off their recycling program as their Green Apple Day of Service project. The students’ project includes creating a video PSA that is used with the school throughout the year as they compete against the other schools in their district to be one of the top recyclers. Their Environmental Science AP students also spend time learning about and monitoring the school’s energy use to look for ways to become more efficient.

Elsewhere in Georgia, in Bartow School District, the Sustainability Programs Coordinator coordinated a successful Recycle Bowl last year that diverted .5 million pounds of waste from the landfill through the efforts of the district’s 26 schools. Green Apple Day of Service helps to kick off the district’s recycling program each year and inspires individual schools to take on other efforts.

 Do It Yourself: Green Apple Day of Service 

We know from experience that passion, dedication, and inspiration can go a long way toward making up for limited resources, money, and time. We also know that financial support, volunteers, and other resources can make Green Apple Day of Service projects go farther. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about this year’s events:  

This year, schools commit to a project at the beginning of the school year and name your own date. The projects themselves can happen at any time from August 2017 through May 2018. However, the projects can only receive official support with funding, volunteers, and other resources if they are registered on the website by the end of October.

Our web site, greenapple.org, provides everything you need to create a successful project, including flyers, planning checklists, and fundraising tips.

Teachers and school leaders know what’s most needed at their school, and they are the ones who will keep sustainability values strong after the day of action is over. We’re making it worthwhile to join in: matching funds are available for supplies through our corporate partners on DonorsChoose.org, volunteer assistance is available through our community teams around the country, and fun downloads and planning resources are given to those who sign up. Check out our FAQ for detailed information. And then join us by registering your project!

EQUITY SERIES: New Research Explores FLNE Student Experience in Massachusetts

(National Awareness, Equity Series) Permanent link

 FLNECover

 A new report from the Center for Promise, supported by Pearson, explores what it’s like to be a First Language is Not English (FLNE) student in Massachusetts. Despite displaying an eagerness and motivation to learn, FLNE students experience a complex set of factors—from language barriers to school climate—that keep them behind.

I Came Here to Learn: The Achievements and Experiences of Massachusetts Students Whose First Language is Not English highlights that being an English Learner does not have to be synonymous with being a low academic performer. Some FLNE groups graduate at rates on par or even substantially higher than their native English-speaking peers. Others lag far behind. Learn more: http://bit.ly/Here2Learn

Making Memorial Day Meaningful: Supporting Military-Connected Students

(National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

A guest post by Dr. Tom Demaria from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, who develops a number of topical articles on bereavement for the Coalition to Support Grieving Students

Memorial Day was established after the Civil War to honor those who had died while in military service. It is observed each year on the last Monday of May. While non-military families often see Memorial Day as the first celebration of summer, those connected to the military are likely to see it differently.

Military-connected students almost certainly attend your schools. There are nearly 2 million children of active service members—that is, with parents in active duty military, National Guard or Reserves. They live in communities across the nation. Over 80% attend public schools.

Things To Know 

 Here are some helpful things to consider if you are planning learning activities or other student events related to Memorial Day.

  •  Memorial Day is a solemn day for most military families. Many spend it visiting cemeteries to place flowers or flags on graves. They may attend special programs remembering those who have died in service.
  •  Children who have lost a loved one through a line-of-duty death often revisit powerful feelings of grief at this time of year.
  •  Memorial Day is not the same as Veteran’s Day. While Veteran’s Day honors all who have served in our military. Memorial Day focuses particularly on those who have died in the line of duty. This distinction is quite important to military-connected children and their families.
  •  The TAPS Good Grief Camp is a weekend experience offered over Memorial Day weekend to child survivors of service members who died in the line of duty.

 Things to Do

 To support military-connected children, especially those who are grieving a line-of-duty death, consider these steps. 

  •  Offer students opportunities to think about and discuss the serious and solemn qualities of Memorial Day.
  •  If active service members or veterans are invited to speak to students at this time of year, ask them to acknowledge and address the deeper meanings of Memorial Day.
  •  Support students’ efforts to attend events such as the Good Grief Camp.
  •  If you know military-connected students, especially if they are grieving, reach out as Memorial Day approaches. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask whether Memorial Day brings up any thoughts or feelings they’d like to talk about. Let them know you’re thinking of them.

 The Coalition to Support Grieving Students offers a range of free resources that can help educators learn more about supporting grieving students. They have just released a special module, Supporting Children and Family Survivors of Military Line-of-Duty Deaths. This will be helpful to any educator working with military-connected children. Our organization is a member of the Coalition.

 

Supporting Students After the Manchester Tragedy

(National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Monday night's bombing in Manchester, England has likely unsettled some of your students, especially because so many of the deceased and injured are school-age. As the school year comes to a close, many students are preparing for trips to amusement parks, vacations to new places and concert venues to see their favorite artists. Cowardly actions like those of  the suspected suicide bomber will make some students AND adults afraid to go about their normal lives. In light of this, AASA has pulled together some resources to help you talk with your students as they process their grief and fear. These tools can help you provide suggestions for coping with this event and similar events in a healthy way.

 With any questions, please contact Kayla Jackson, project director, AASA, at kjackson@aasa.org or 703-875-0725.