Support the Village at Ithaca!

Student organizations are participating in the 2020 “Cupcake Button” fundraising campaign organized by The Sophie Fund to aid the Village at Ithaca, an organization that advocates for excellence and equity in Ithaca and area public schools.

To DONATE, click here to contribute via GoFundMe. You can select a specific campaign team member to donate through. (100% of the donations will be delivered to the Village at Ithaca.)

Every October, The Sophie Fund along with students from Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Ithaca High School organize a fundraising campaign to support a local nonprofit focused on community well-being. Normally students fan out across Ithaca to collect donations in person, but this year’s effort is entirely online due to social-distancing needs during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Village at Ithaca strives to fulfill its mission by developing strategic community relationships, programs, and services to support all students, particularly Black, Latino/a, low income, and other underserved students.

Village Support Services include academic mentoring, tutoring, family advocacy, emergency outreach, youth employment, and recreation programs.  These services are the “village” it takes to raise a child, and are there to support historically marginalized families in accessing the opportunities they deserve.

The Village at Ithaca also serves as a hub for youth activities, from making music, creating rock paintings, and designing t-shirts to kitchen skills—where else can kids learn how to make pickles, create sauces, and dish up sushi, zoodles, and collard greens?

Click here for more information about the Village at Ithaca.

Previous “Cupcake Button” fundraising campaigns have raised monies for the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service, the Mental Health Association of Tompkins County, and the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County.

The symbol of the campaign is a “Cupcake Button,” because the fundraising takes place in the runup to the Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest hosted by The Sophie Fund. Click here for information on the contest and how to enter.

Student groups participating in the 2020 Cupcake Button campaign include:

—Active Minds at Ithaca College

—Active Minds at Ithaca High School

—Cornell University student organizations: Cornell Minds Matter; Alpha Phi Omega Gamma Chapter; Phi Sigma Pi honor fraternity; PATCH (Pre-Professional Association Towards Careers in Health); and Building Ourselves through Sisterhood and Service (BOSS).

2020 Cupcake Button (detail from Evolution, a painting by Sophie Hack MacLeod)

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Concerned about bullying? Why not make a point to educate yourself and others during Bullying Prevention Month?

Photo credit: michaeljung/shutterstock

The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic makes it challenging to organize observances or host other public activities, yet there are still lots of ways to join the movement to stop bullying.

Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center provides innovative resources for students, parents, educators, and others. Pacer recognizes bullying as a serious community issue that impacts education, physical and emotional health, and the safety and well-being of students.

The coordinators of the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force issued a page of Bullying Prevention Resources highlighting some of Pacer’s free online resources to engage students in social and emotional learning amid Covid-19 restrictions.

The resources include videos, art projects, role playing, pledge signing, and other activities that can be organized during Bullying Prevention Month.

Throughout October, the Tompkins County Youth Services Department and The Sophie Fund are hosting a social media campaign promoting bullying prevention awareness.

Designed by Ithaca College students Nicole Brokaw and Anna Moura, the campaign spotlights issues such as cyberbullying, preventing bullying, dating abuse, sexting, and smart social networking. The messaging is based on the work of organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Cyberbullying Research Center.

“I think a lot of bullying can stem from fear and misunderstanding,” said Brokaw, 21, of Forest Hill, Maryland. “Being bullied can exacerbate low self-esteem in students, or compound the effects of any number of factors, like depression or anxiety, that can cause students to miss school or isolate themselves. Everyone deserves to be happy and confident and to have a supportive social circle.”

Moura, 20, of Forest Hills, Queens, reminds that bullying is no joke. “People tend to think it’s child’s play or that kids grow out of it, but what they don’t understand are the brutal and long-lasting effects that it can have on the individual,” she said. “Bullying consists of many other types of harassment, including discrimination and sexual harassment, which people usually don’t consider.”

The success of young people is dependent on their feelings of safety and connection to others, according to Bridgette Nugent, deputy director of the Tompkins County Youth Services Department and co-coordinator of the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force. “It is important to bring awareness to the serious issue of bullying and the need for a community response to address its negative impacts on our county’s youth,” she said.

Nugent calls attention to the aspect of cyberbullying. “During this time of ongoing social distancing and virtual learning, we must not forget that bullying exists both in-person and via the internet. We hope that by raising awareness and energizing the community throughout the month of October, we can engage with students, families, and community members to work towards an end to bullying in our county.”

Click any of the links to check out the campaign’s social media posts and share.

https://www.facebook.com/ToCoYouth/

https://www.facebook.com/thesophiefund/

https://www.instagram.com/thesophiefund/

Additional resources, including A Brief Guide to Youth Bullying Prevention, are available at http://www.thesophiefund.org/bullying/.

Bullying Prevention Month Poster [DOWNLOAD]

Support Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca

Now more than ever, Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca needs the aid of the community to ensure that it can continue to be a place to turn when someone needs support for their mental health. Click here to donate to F&Cs’s Annual Cardboard Boat Race (Virtual Edition) fundraiser.

Scenes from the 2019 Cardboard Boat Race on Lake Cayuga

The Covid-19 pandemic prevented F&CS from hosting its fun-packed fundraiser on Cayuga Lake as usual. But boat “captains” are nonetheless flying their virtual flags high to collect funds to benefit F&CS.

This year’s goal is to raise $40,000 by September 13. Donations will support high quality mental health care that is affordable and accessible to anyone in Tompkins County.

More than 40 clinical therapists and psychiatrists at Family & Children’s Service help some 2,000 individuals and families every year by providing counseling and psychiatry services for depression, anxiety, and mental wellness.

F&CS also operates a range of social service programs, such as temporary housing for runaway and homeless youth and support for kinship foster families. F&CS’s Community Outreach Workers provide social worker support throughout downtown Ithaca.

Watch a short video to hear President and CEO Karen Schachere and board members discuss F&CS’s mission.

For Students, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Resources

Students, is Covid-19 getting you down? Your friends have the blues? If you are concerned about your own mental health or the well-being of others, resources are available on the website of the Suicide Prevention Center of New York State (SPCNY).

 

covidstudents

The center urges students to take care of themselves and to be alert to classmates who may be struggling.

“You usually know what is happening before the adults in your school,” says SPCNY. “You have your ear to the ground, you catch rumors, gossip, the buzz on social medial, and you are usually the first ones to know if a peer is in trouble.

“A lot of kids struggle with feeling down or sad that they sometimes are unable to participate in normal activities. Some kids feel so bad that they think about suicide or even make suicide attempts. Some kids actually take their own lives.”

SPCNY notes that young people might be the first to see WARNING SIGNS that indicate that somebody they know may be thinking about suicide.

Click here for a fact sheet to learn more about the warning signs and how to respond to them.

“It is important to take your observations seriously,” SPCNY says. “Do not ignore them or assume your friend is just being dramatic. If you notice any of these warning signs, tell an adult. What you see may be a signal that your friend is thinking about suicide, and that is not something you can deal with on your own.

“If your friend or someone you know makes a direct suicide threat, IMMEDIATELY tell a trusted adult. They might include someone from school like a teacher or a coach, or someone from your church, temple, neighborhood, or family. Whoever that person is, share your concerns and let them take action. If you have immediate concerns about your friend’s safety, before you speak with a trusted adult, call 911!”

What do you do if you are having thoughts about suicide?

“First, know that it is really brave to recognize that you are having suicidal thoughts. Next, do the same thing you would do for your friend—tell a trusted adult. Just as you can’t help your friend by yourself, you need to ask for help too.

“There are lots of resources and skilled professionals who can help figure out why you feel that your life may not be worth living. They will also be able to help you stop feeling that way. Suicide is not just a reaction to stress—something more serious is going on and it is important to get help as soon as you can!

“If you are unsure of what to do, you can call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “GOT5” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. You do not have to identify yourself if you would rather stay anonymous. Someone who has special training in helping people who have questions or concerns will be available to speak or text with you.”

Other SPCNY-recommended resources for students:

What Every Student Needs to Know: The Warning Signs of Suicide Risk

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline youth page

The Trevor Project is a resource for LGBTQ teens

JED Foundation

Suicide Awareness Voices for Education (SAVE)

Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]

For School Staff, Suicide Prevention Resources

Teens may have a tough time coping emotionally with the stress, fear, and uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. AAP says that feeling depressed, hopeless, anxious or angry are signs that they may need more support.

schools

For school administrators and teachers preparing to address student mental health challenges in the next school year, resources are available on the website of the Suicide Prevention Center  of New York State (SPCNY).

“Staff are uniquely positioned to identify warning signs and subtle behavior changes, and schools should plan for what to do if suicide risk is identified,” says SPCNY. The center urges school districts develop written procedures for staff to follow when warning signs of suicide are observed or suspected.

SPCNY cites a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey showing that 31.4 percent of New York State high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless, 17.2 percent seriously considered attempting suicide, and 7.4 percent reported a suicide attempt in the previous 12 months. “Because youth spend a large proportion of their time in school, schools play a central role in New York State’s effort to prevent suicide,” SPCNY says.

SPCNY’s website lists several suicide prevention training programs designed specifically for school staff. They include trainings on recognizing warning signs, helping at-risk students, and responding to a suicide or other traumatic death in the school community.

The website also lists resources for educators:

Crisis Text Line Marketing Toolkit

Kognito’s At Risk online modules can be accessed for free by New York City educators

Warning signs video

Warm handoff video

Act on Facts: Making Educators Partners in Youth Suicide Prevention – Three-minute trailer and full training modules

Sources of Strength is a suicide-prevention program that utilizes peer leaders to change unhealthy norms and culture and, ultimately, prevent bullying, substance use, and suicide.

Good Behavior Game is an evidence-based classroom program that improves self-regulation and co-regulation among 1st and 2nd graders. Longitudinal studies have found decreases in suicide, mental health problems, and substance use, among other outcomes.

JED Foundation provides resources and information for High School personnel

School Mental Health and High School Curriculum Guide

SPCNY also produced “A Guide for Suicide Prevention in New York Schools.” (Download PDF) The guide provides an overview of suicide risk factors, warning signs, and protective factors. It also outlines a wealth of information on prevention programs, targeting higher risk groups for support, and providing individualized intervention.

nys youth suicide guide

According to SPCNY, deaths by suicide in New York State have increased by 32 percent in the past decade, in stark contrast to gradual reductions in the death rate for other diseases such as cancer, heart disease or stroke. The rate of suicide in all age groups has continued to steadily rise in the last decade and the rate of suicide death among children 10 to 14 has doubled in that same time frame.

“Addressing the problem of youth suicide requires collaborative action across a variety of community agencies, but schools have logically assumed more of a leadership role in identifying, referring, and aiding youth with mental health needs,” SPCNY says. “Schools also play a critical role in promoting psychosocial competencies that reduce vulnerability to suicide.”

SPCNY notes that given that the developmental trajectory for suicide risk can begin early in life, schools are uniquely positioned for building resilience among their students and developing a caring community within a positive school climate and culture necessary for the prevention of suicide.

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]