By Jordan Beach, LSW – May 28, 2019

Summer vacation is here! If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start planning summer activities for your children.

We perceive summer to be a laid back, more relaxed time, but parents know this is actually a time that requires a lot of forethought. With more hours of the day becoming your responsibility, the pressure to find fun, enriching activities is definitely on.

Have you resolved to limit your child’s screen time this summer? If so, great!  But now how will you fill their time? You don’t have to be a Pinterest-perfect parent to create a memorable summer for your children.

Summer camps are the obvious first option, but they can be pricey. There are summer camps and programs offered all over the area that range in price and provide children with ample opportunity to have new experiences.

Camps are also helpful for working parents. However, keep in mind that this option comes with a price tag that might not be reasonable for your family.

There are a lot of ways to have fun and create memories for your children at home without spending a lot of money. If you’re looking to have more of a “Do-it-Yourself” summer with your children, there are a lot of options to spark their creativity and nurture their imaginations in your own backyard.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Build a fort. A fort can be left up for days. All you need is chairs, blankets and a little imagination. This can be used as a reading nook or expanded into imaginative play for younger children.
  • Create a breakout session in your house. There are many ideas online that can help you design an escape room for your kids. This is a good way to mix in some academics with the fun. Topics range from math to conflict resolution. Your options are really limitless.
  • Put all of those Amazon boxes to good use. Cardboard boxes are gold in the world of imaginative play. You can create a living room “drive-in” where your kids sit in the cars they’ve designed while watching a movie or reading a book. You can make instruments using cardboard and rubber bands. Also, free drawing on boxes with markers or paint always seems to be a good time for little ones.
  • Help your kids expand their culinary skills. Let them pick out recipes and help you shop for the ingredients. This is a great activity to help your child become creative in the kitchen while also teaching them planning and budgeting.
  • Go for the classics – water balloon fights, running through the sprinkler, washing the car. It gets hot in Indiana during the summer months, so cool off in fun ways!

This is in no way an exhaustive list of summer activities. A little creativity and planning can really help you and your children stay busy while bonding this summer.

By Heather Hudson, LCSW – May 21, 2019

One of the things we can all count on in life is that it does not remain constant and change is inevitable.  Many of us struggle with change, either a little or a lot. Most of us have learned how to navigate life changes through our previous life experiences. 

As children we were often guided by our parents, and as we grew we also received guidance from friends and mentors. Sometimes we can get so preoccupied with the changes we are going through that we forget those around us are also experiencing change. As adults, this can include our children.

There are changes that happen to most children, like beginning a new school year, making new friends, growing up, and bodily changes like puberty. There are general ways to handle those common changes, but the emotions of each child should be taken into consideration.

There are some changes that not everyone experiences in childhood such as moving, the death of a loved one, the birth of a sibling, or parental divorce. These life changes need to be handled very personally with as much conversation and openness as possible.

While a life change may even be a positive one, it is still a change and requires adaptation. Transitional periods are often times when children and teenagers may experiment with risky behaviors to cope with their emotions. Recognizing and guiding our children through these life changes can help them successfully navigate these changes and adapt positively while avoiding risky behaviors. 

The following are some ways to help your child deal with changes:

  • Encourage open dialogue. Try to talk to your child about their feelings and validate them. Say things such as, “I know this must be a scary/hard/confusing/sad time for you. I would like to know how you feel.” Let your child know that you are there to listen. Recognize that some of their negative feelings may be directed toward you, but do not take this personally. Allow your child to express his or her feelings without judgment; this will help your child’s trust in you grow. 
  • Set aside one-on-one time to be with your child. Showing your child that you are interested in them as an individual and what is going on in their life makes your child feel important. It also shows your child that you are paying attention, regardless of what changes are happening. 
  • Allow your child to be involved with decisions about the change. Children often feel out of control over decisions in their life. Allowing them to be involved in some of the decision-making allows them to feel they have a sense of control. If you are moving, let your child decorate their rooms and pick out new things for the home. Ultimately, you as the parent have the final say in decision making, but listen to your child and involve them in the process. 
  • Care for yourself and model this for your child. Allow your child to see you taking care of yourself in times of change, whether it is eating well and exercising or reaching our for support.  

Your child takes cues on how to navigate the world around them from you. If you are honest about your feelings but express a positive attitude, your child is likely to adopt that attitude. It’s acceptable and appropriate for you to admit you are scared or sad or worried, but remind yourself and your child that this situation is temporary and there will be better days ahead. Make sure you are doing the necessary things to care for yourself to assure better days ahead. 

By Deena Bodine, LCSW – May 14, 2019

Life can place many demands on us: work obligations, financial pressures, health issues…the list goes on. These life stressors can make it difficult to be at our best as parents, especially when we feel overwhelmed, frustrated, discouraged, or defeated.

During this time, we may even begin second-guessing our parenting decisions. But like so many other parenting moments, we have an opportunity to turn our stress into a teachable moment for our children. 

We know that kids learn from watching us even more than they learn from listening to us. This reinforces the idea that in order to be the best teacher for our children, we must learn to better regulate our own emotions and set a better example for our children.  

One important step in teaching emotional regulation is acknowledging our own emotions.  Acknowledgment teaches our children that not only do adults also experience big emotions, but we can respond to these emotions in a healthy manner.

Acknowledgment of emotions can be as simple as identifying the feeling. For example, “I am feeling overwhelmed because I can’t find my keys and I need to leave for a meeting.” When we label the feeling, we not only teach our children that adults experience frustration, but they are also primed to watch for our response to the situation.

Our children watch and learn from us, and if we respond to anger or frustration by losing our cool, we lose the teachable moment and send the wrong message on how to manage our anger effectively.  Instead, take a moment, take a breath, and then focus on finding those keys calmly. 

As we work to manage our emotions it is important to recognize the core of our emotions and the beliefs that drive them. Have you ever wondered why certain people get very worked up about something that seems very insignificant to you?  It is due to the beliefs they have attached to the event that is stressing them.

Perhaps we attach certain meanings to a name we were teased about as a child, and when we hear that name as an adult it releases a flood of emotions and memories that linger years later. Trying to gain insight behind our emotions is no easy task, but understanding those beliefs can be a game changer.  

The final step in emotion regulation is remaining in control of your response. This can be done through deep breaths, closing your eyes to remain calm, and taking a few seconds or minutes to pause. This can help change our perspective or at least prevent us from acting on an emotional impulse. Saying or doing something we will regret certainly sends the wrong message to our children in those teachable moments.  

While it is a challenge to be at our parenting best when we are struggling to manage our own emotions, the reward of healthy emotion regulation can be great.  We are in the best position to teach our children how to handle life stressors every single day.  We owe it to our children and ourselves to be the best versions of ourselves we can be.

I CARE Awards Breakfast   

To be held Friday, May 10th, 8:30-9:30 am

Newburgh Chandler Public Library, 4111 Lakeshore Dr., Newburgh

The 6th annual Warrick County Cares (WCC) I CARE Awards Breakfast will be held to honor organizations, youth and individuals that go above and beyond to serve the Warrick County community and contribute to the well-being of its citizens.

Nominees were collected from around Warrick County in three different categories: Organization, Individual, and Youth, along with Coalition Member of the Year.  WCC coalition members chose the awardees. 



  • Castle High School Riley Dance Marathon
  • Logan’s Promise
  • Optimal Rhythms, Access Academy


  • Mayce Wangler, Boonville Middle School student
  • Hadley Mayes, Boonville High School student


  • Michael Perry, Warrick County Prosecutor
  • Brad Schneider, Superintendent – Warrick County School Corporation
  • Carrie Roelle, Volunteer – Sharon Elementary School, Attorney at Kahn, Dees, Donovan, and Kahn
  • Jeff Valiant, Elberfeld Town Councilman

County youth will present “Through The Eyes of Youth,” A Photovoice Project, in conjunction with Purdue Extension.

The media is invited to attend the breakfast and awards ceremony.

By Sarah Laury, LCSW – May 7

Growing up, one of my favorite parts of summer was going away to summer camp. I counted down the days until school was out and I could start packing for camp. I loved meeting new friends, singing camp songs, learning about nature, and all of the camp games and activities.

I enjoyed returning summer after summer to see the friends that I had met the previous year and the camp counselors that I had gotten to know over the years. As a kid, I loved camp because of the friendships and experiences it offered. I had no idea that I was gaining important life skills that would benefit me throughout my adolescence and into adulthood. 

Most kids today spend around 180 days a year in a structured school environment. Many schools offer 20 minutes or less of recess per day, and most middle schools don’t offer recess at all. Kids are going home to a heavy workload of homework and then sitting in front of the television or playing video games.

According to a study by Common Sense Media, kids between the ages of 8 and 12 spend nearly 6 hours a day on some type of technology. In contrast, the average kid spends only 4-7 minutes playing outside. These numbers show a dramatic shift from the way time was spent by kids a couple of decades ago. 

The number of kids diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and ADHD has skyrocketed over the past couple of decades. Some experts believe that there is a correlation between the amount of screen time that kids are exposed to as well as lack of time spent playing outside and the rising rates of mental health issues among kids today.

Kids are stimulated by nature in ways that can never be replicated with screen time or video games. In nature, kids are generally more active and are using their imagination to engage in creative play and exploration.   

Another benefit of summer camp is the opportunity to be part of a community and develop social skills and relationships. In our society, much “socializing” among adolescents and teens is done over social media. At camp, kids are forming relationships and practicing social skills with their peers face-to-face in a community setting.

Most camps focus heavily on relationship building through ice breakers and team building activities. These activities allow kids to develop social skills, work cooperatively with their peers, feel a sense of belonging, and increase self-esteem.

As parents, we have to decide how much freedom we are going to give our kids to make their own decisions and solve their own problems. Decision making and problem-solving skills are both invaluable life skills.

At camp, children are presented with many decisions every day. Most importantly, kids are also exposed to the consequences of the decisions they make. For instance, if they choose to wear their wet socks from yesterday instead of the clean socks in their duffle bag, their feet will probably hurt. Do they try the high ropes course that they have repeatedly fallen off of one more time or do they give up? 

Trying new things (and trying again when they don’t succeed) is what builds resiliency and self-confidence in kids.  Summer camp is the perfect venue for developing these important life skills.   

This school year, 1,339 students have benefitted from a new partnership between Youth First and Orleans Community Schools and Springs Valley Community Schools. Both Orange County school corporations have welcomed a Youth First Social Worker in their buildings to serve the social and emotional well-being of students. Youth First also launched two Family First programs for students and families in Orange County.

Youth First embeds Master’s level social workers and prevention programs in schools to help increase the hope and resilience of young people and their families. Youth First Social Workers are specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Their presence also contributes to a healthier and safer school environment. Youth First currently partners with 76 schools across 10 counties in Indiana.

At Orleans Elementary School, Youth First Social Worker Brandy Terrell works hand in hand with students, parents, teachers, and school administrators to help youth develop a mindset, a skill set, and a social support system that builds resilience in all areas of life. Principal Jimmy Ellis says the value of having a Youth First Social Worker in his building is immeasurable. “We feel very fortunate to be partnering with Youth First to place a social worker in our elementary school. Having Brandy Terrell in our building working with students has greatly benefited our school. She has provided services to students to enhance their emotional well-being and to help improve their academic performance. We look forward to continuing this partnership with Youth First for years to come,” says Ellis.

Youth First Social Worker Kacie Shipman serves students at Springs Valley Elementary School and Springs Valley High School. By working with Ms. Shipman, young people are learning how to manage emotions, cope with challenges, and motivate themselves to achieve their goals. Superintendent Dr. Trevor Apple says, “Our partnership with Youth First has been such a blessing to our students, families, and teachers. Our social worker, Kacie Shipman, has made a positive impact on the social and behavioral well-being of our students. Teachers and administrators are thrilled with the partnership we have developed with Youth First!”

Youth First launched two Family First programs this spring for Orange County families. Family First is a 10-week group program designed for parents and caregivers along with their children and teens. Families build on improving family relationships, parenting skills, and youth social and life skills. The program welcomes single-parent, blended, and traditional families. Both Orleans Elementary School and Springs Valley Elementary School were excited to offer the Family First program for the first time this year to their families.

With a mission of strengthening youth and families, Youth First celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black states, “Our children are growing up in a complex and challenging world that puts them at greater risk for substance use, suicide, violence and harmful behaviors. Youth First is here to help, listen, and provide a systematic approach to prevention in partnership with educators and parents.

Our school partners, along with the support we receive from the community, are critical to achieving Youth First’s mission.”

The launch of the Youth First prevention model was the result of the Lilly Endowment’s Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 students awarded to eligible school corporations. Sustaining the services into future years will come from school partner fees and the community supporting Youth First with donations and private investment. Youth First will need to raise $90,000 annually from Orange County citizens to support its school-based social work program.

Black explains there is more interest for Youth First beginning with the 2019-2020 school year: “We are thrilled that Paoli Community Schools are prepared to partner with Youth First if we are able to secure the funding. To fulfill their desire for a Youth First Social Worker embedded in Paoli school buildings, we will need to raise another $45,000 annually. We invite anyone who cares about the healthy development of young people and Orange County schools to support Youth First.”

To make a donation to Youth First, visit and donate online.

Gift Supports the Social and Emotional Needs of Evansville Christian School Students

Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park has awarded a multi-year gift to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of pre-school – 5th grade students at Evansville Christian School.

Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park is committing $10,000 a year for three years as a challenge gift to help launch Youth First Social Work services at Evansville Christian School (ECS) for pre-school to 5th grades. The school is also paying a fee that covers a portion of the cost, but Youth First must still raise another $35,000 a year. Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park challenges anyone who cares about the healthy development of young people and Evansville Christian School to support Youth First, too.

United Companies President & CEO Ron Romain stated, “Youth First provides an invaluable service to this community. United Companies and Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park are proud to align with an organization that does so much good for young people in our region. Having social workers inside the school is important to the health and well-being of our students. It is our pleasure to announce a three-year commitment to Youth First that will aid in bringing a social worker to Evansville Christian School. It is our hope that this gift inspires others to contribute to make this new service sustainable for years to come.”

According to ECS Elementary School Principal Susie Masterson, “Evansville Christian School partnered with Youth First to provide a masters level social worker for our preschool through 5th grade students in January 2019. The impact of the support to our students, classroom teachers, and families was immediately evident.  We love our social worker and the positive impact she has made on our school by providing another caring adult who stands in the gap for children!”

Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black stated, “Youth First is thrilled to accept Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park’s generous multi-year gift to boost the well-being of more young people in our community,” said Parri O. Black, President & CEO of Youth First, Inc. “We are also grateful that this challenge gift from Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park encourages more donors to support our new partnership with Evansville Christian School.”

Youth First embeds Master’s level social workers and prevention programs in schools to help increase the social and emotional well-being of young people and their families. Youth First Social Workers are specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Their presence also contributes to a healthier and safer school environment. Youth First currently partners with 76 schools in Indiana.