By teaching our students to think, care, and act, we empower them to build a peaceful future.


Welcome to Think, Care, Act, where teachers and students can find rationales and resources to infuse required curricula with peace, character, global, and multicultural concepts throughout the year.

To act in a world whose problems seem overwhelming requires being able to use the powers of critical and creative thinking and compassionate and inclusive care. Employing these tools, adults and youth alike can work effectively and conscientiously to solve problems big and small, global and local.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

GUEST POST #3: IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH (EA/UNCW THINK-CARE-ACT PROJECT PARTNERSHIP 2016)

Changing the World…. One Project at a Time: Improving Mental Health
 EA/UNCW Think-Care-Act Project Partnership.
Introduction:
Dr. Elizabeth O. Crawford, an education professor at University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Susan Gelber Cannon, a middle school teacher, author, and developer of Think-Care-Act Projects, are pleased to present our second collaborative year of sharing Think-Care-Act-Projects [TCAP].  Our EA/UNCW Think-Care-Act Project Partnership allows Episcopal Academy sixth graders and Dr. Crawford’s senior UNCW pre-service education majors to consider personal qualities and talents, identify passions for social change, and act to change the world for the better.  Through video sessions, my students and those of Dr. Crawford have inspired and encouraged each other to make a difference.

Below, and for the next few blog postings, you will read future teachers’ guest blogs about their TCAPs, with links for research and teaching suggestions. 
Happy reading and thinking, caring, and acting!—Sue Cannon

Improving Mental Health: Think-Care-Act Project
By: Johnna Griffith, Morgan Meyers, and Kaitlyn O’Brien
University of North Carolina at Wilmington, May 2016

Twenty percent of youth ages thirteen to eighteen live with a mental health condition.

During our block semester we were asked to complete a Think-Care-Act Project, also known as TCAP. Everyone chose an issue somewhat personal to focus on. Our group members each focused on mental health in some capacity. We found that researching mental health and showing active support of organizations aimed at helping those suffering with mental illnesses would be the best use of our time. Our actions may have been different, but in the end our compassion was the same.

Kaitlyn: Mental Health in Children and Breaking the Stigma



According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI, 2016) twenty percent of youth ages thirteen-to-eighteen live with a mental health condition. NAMI also states that one in every five children in the same age range has, or will have a serious mental illness. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2015) lists the top five mental health issues affecting children ages three to seventeen as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, behavioral or conduct problems, anxiety, depression, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Who would have guessed that so many children are being affected by these serious illnesses?
        
We can raise awareness about these issues and help break the stigma against mental illness. I chose to take this on as a part of this project and raise awareness through a social media campaign. While I may not have as many “friends” as others do, the Internet is a powerful place to start. I posted various items on my personal Facebook account: from quotes, to resource pages, to first hand accounts of what it’s like to suffer from anxiety or depression. Over one month, I sporadically posted whatever I found and thought people could identify with. I knew starting out, if just one of my posts could help change a single person’s thinking or make them feel like they’ve got support, then I’ve done what I intended.

Morgan: The Mental Health of Veterans

Twenty percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] in a given year (Veterans’ Administration [VA], 2016).  Thirty percent of Vietnam veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime (VA, 2016).  Here is something even more startling: these numbers only account for veterans who are formally diagnosed and receive treatments.  What about the veterans who never reach out for help?  What about the veterans who are turned away because their symptoms are not “bad enough,” or the traumatic event could not be “proven?”  I will tell you what happens.  Those veterans fall through the cracks and become one of the twenty-two veterans who commit suicide in the United States every day.  That means that ONE veteran takes his or her OWN LIFE every 65 MINUTES.

My intentions for this project were to: 1) raise awareness for veteran PTSD and suicide, since the issue receives very little attention, 2) learn more about service animals, and how they benefit veterans, 3) directly benefit veterans by taking action.  I decided to raise awareness using social media, by participating in a campaign started by Mission22 (an organization that raises awareness and funds to end veteran suicide).  I also volunteered at a local 5K run/1 mile walk hosted by Paws4People (an organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with veterans for free. 

Johhna: Paws4People Foundation



Service dogs are very important, whether they are trained for help with physical disabilities, emotional support, or something that seems as simple as children reading to them for confidence. Dogs are smart animals. There are so many things dogs do for people just by simply providing company and support.

At a Humane Society in Missouri, they started a “Shelter Buddies Reading Program” (Messenger, 2016). This program is not only to help the dogs become socially aware and interactive without forcing them to play with people, but it also helps kids practice their reading to someone who cannot talk or correct them (Messenger, 2016). Human participants are also learning social skills and empathy (Messenger, 2016). By seeing these shy and fearful dogs, the students become more caring and careful by being aware of their surroundings (Messenger, 2016).
           
At Bellamy Elementary School and now College Road Early Childhood Center (CRECC) where they house Bellamy’s kindergarteners, they have a program where Tibbet the Dog comes in and the students get to read to him to practice their fluency. It was heartwarming watching a child I know gain the confidence in his reading, despite a reading disability. Dogs help build the confidence a child may need by offering a judgment-free reading zone.
        
If teachers took the time to advocate to obtain support dogs for their schools, there would be a huge increase in student confidence and an increase in school attendance. Many children love dogs. With a dog in children’s schools, they would want to be there to see the dog, to talk to the dog, and to read and do other subjects with the dog. The dog would provide a judgment-free zone where children could really work on their schoolwork and feel confident. They could read more fluently if they were not afraid of someone correcting them before they even got to try.
         
My intentions for this project were to learn how one obtains a service dog. I also wanted to find out what educational service dogs do for children. I wanted to learn how dogs were trained and how one became capable of training these dogs. Therefore, I worked alongside Mr. McCann this semester and learned a lot about his intentions for having a service dog in his classroom. He wants kids to feel that they have someone to talk to and without being judged. He wants the dog to be a motivator, to relieve stress and help kids to stop worrying about getting anyone in trouble. I watched PALMER come in and interact with the students and saw a glimpse of how she was trained and what she will be doing.


References/ Resources
Information on Think-Care-Act Projects:

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). (2016). PTSD: National Center for PTSD: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp

Mission22 organization: http://www.mission22.com

Paws4People Foundation: http://paws4people.org

Messenger, S. (n.d.). Something Truly Beautiful Is Happening At This Animal Shelter. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from https://www.thedodo.com/kids-read-to-shelter-dogs-1620612867.html

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Mental Health Facts Children and Teens. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/Children-MH-Facts-NAMI.pdf


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, November 12). Children’s Mental Health – New Report. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/features/childrensmentalhealth/


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