The way that you take care of your physical health is directly related to how you feel mentally. Things like diet, stress and exercise have a huge impact on the way we respond to life. The information that you’ll find here will give you advice on living a healthy life.


What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness?

How to talk to your teen! Conversation Starters …

How to talk to your teen! Conversation Starters …

Practicing Self-Care while “Safer at Home”

Practicing Self-Care while “Safer at Home”

Resources for Teens and Families

Resources for Teens and Families

Deadliest Mental Health Disorder: Eating Disorders

Deadliest Mental Health Disorder: Eating Disorders

What Kind of Communicator Are You?

What Kind of Communicator Are You?

What is Vaping?

What is Vaping?

Eat Healthy: Tips for Teens and Families

Eat Healthy: Tips for Teens and Families

Tips for a Happy Holiday Season

Tips for a Happy Holiday Season

Violence Impacts Teens and Adults

Violence Impacts Teens and Adults

  • What is Mindfulness?

    We are sure that you have heard of the term “mindfulness” but do you know the actual definition?

    “Mindfulness is the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment, which one develops through the practice of meditation and through other training.”

    Sounds easy enough right?

    Well, it actually can be with a few easy tips …. try a few and see if it helps!

    Don’t forget — these tips are super easy to do with EVEYRONE, no matter their age!


    Stand up and breathe. Feel your connection to the ground.

    Tune in to your body. Lower your gaze. Scan your body and notice physical sensations or emotions. Discharge any unpleasant sensations, emotions or feelings on the out breath. Notice any pleasant ones and let them fill you up on the in breath.

    Observe. Lift your eyes and take in your surroundings. Observe something in your environment that is pleasant and be grateful for it and its beauty.

    Possibility. Ask yourself what is possible or what is new or what is a forward step.


    Clench your fist and breathe into your fingers.

    Position your fingers and thumbs facing down. Now clench your fist tightly. Turn your hand over so your fingers and thumbs are facing up and breathe into your fist. Notice what happens.


    The raisin. (We do this in our Mindfulness groups, the kids love it!)

    First, take a raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb. Take time to really see it; gaze at the raisin with care and full attention. Let your eyes explore every part of it, examine the highlights where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and ridges, and any asymmetries or unique features.

    Turn the raisin over between your fingers, explore its texture, maybe with your eyes closed if that enhances your sense of touch.

    Hold the raisin beneath your nose, with each inhale pay attention any smell, aroma, or fragrance that may arise, notice as you do this anything interesting that may be happening in your mouth or stomach.

    Now slowly bring the raisin up to your lips, notice how your hand and arm know exactly how and where to position it. Gently place the object in the mouth, without chewing, notice how it gets into the mouth in
    the first place. Spend a few moments exploring the sensations of having it in your mouth, exploring it with your tongue.

    When you are ready, prepare to chew the raisin, notice how and where it needs to be for chewing. Then, very consciously, take one or two bites and notice what happens in the aftermath, experiencing any
    waves of taste as you continue chewing. Without swallowing yet, notice the sensations of taste and texture in the mouth and how these may change over time, moment by moment, as well as any changes in the object itself.

    When you feel ready to swallow the raisin, see if you can first detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you actually swallow the raisin.

    Finally, see if you can feel what is left of the raisin moving down into your stomach, and sense how the body as a whole is feeling after completing this exercise in mindful eating.


    Yawn and stretch for 10 seconds every hour.

    Do a fake yawn if you have to. That will trigger real ones. Say “ahh” as you exhale. Notice how a yawn interrupts your thoughts and feelings. This brings you into the present.

    Then stretch really, really slowly for at least 10 seconds. Notice any tightness and say “ease” or just say hello to that place (being mindful — noticing without judgment). Take another 20 seconds to notice and then get back to what you were doing.

    Loving-kindness meditation.

    For one minute, repeat ‘May I be happy, may I be well, may I be filled with kindness and peace.’ You can substitute “you” for “I” and think of someone you know and like, or just send love to all people.

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  • How to talk to your teen! Conversation Starters …

    questnsWe all know how hard it can be to strike up a conversation with our teens  … battling for their attention (oh, how the tables have turned from when they were toddlers!) can be very difficult and frustrating for some and often can result in no communication at all.

    And since we have all been adhering to the Safer at Home guidelines, we are spending a lot of time together; it’s possible we have reached our conversation quotas!  But don’t stop. This is a great time to keep connecting…keep your kids thoughts going…keep your questions (not interrogations) coming…keep the active listening as a top priority…and remember EVERY ANSWER IS A GOOD ANSWER!

    We thought it would be helpful to give you a head start and some easy going questions to spark conversation with your kids.

    We will keep adding this to list, so check back.  Don’t forget to follow us on FB and Twitter and look for #SparkChat

    • If you could be a teacher for one day, what class would you teach and why?
    • You are X age now, if you could go back in time or jump ahead, what age would you want to be?
    • What fictional character (movies, tv, books, etc) do you most relate to?
    • If you could have dinner with five people (living or dead), who would they be?
    • What is your most favorite family memory so far?
    • Do you believe in ghosts?
    • What song makes you want to get up dance?
    • What would be the first thing you would do, if you won the lottery?
    • What is your favorite season?
    • What is funniest gift you have given or received?
    • Who do you think you are most like, in our family?
    • Have you ever had to talk your friends out of doing something really risky or illegal?
    • What do you do when you think nobody is watching?

    COVID 19 Specific:

    • How are you holding up?
    • What kinds of fears/concerns do you have  when the Safer at Home restrictions are lifted?
    • How has it been not seeing friends/teammates/teachers?
    • What do you miss most about your daily routine, if anything?
    • What kinds of things have you discovered about yourself (or our family) that you didn’t notice before?
    • What kinds of things can I can do to make it easier at home?
    • Being separated or isolated from our “normal life” can provoke anxiety or increase depression. I am here for you, if you feel any of that … (sometimes long pauses, initiate a response)
    • Your mental health (as is your physical health) is highly important to me … if it isn’t me, I can find someone to help if you are feeling stuck, or sad, or angry … all of it is OK.  (Maybe come up with a code word that your child can say or text to you, that lets you know they need help, but can’t find the right words.)



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  • Practicing Self-Care while “Safer at Home”

    What is self care

    We’ve all heard or casually used the term “self – care,” but what does it really mean and how do we actually practice it?

    “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.”

    So, honest answer, do you do this?  It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves in the hustle and bustle of our everyday routine; we all manage to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom but we now know that self-care is a much bigger deal than we thought!  With all the extra stress around us these days, it’s incredibly important to make sure that we are taking care of our physical health and our mental health.

    Here are some easy reminders and tips that you and your family can do to practice healthy self-care:

    What is self care

    • Take care of our bodies

      • Drink plenty of water! Yes, we all thought there would be shortage of toilet paper, but now we know there is plenty to go around, SO DRINK UP!
      • Make sure you eat right. It’s easy to skip meals, but doing just that or not eating the right foods can lead to fatigue, low energy levels, or headaches. A proper balance of carbs (yes, carbs!), protein, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, can provide you with the balance your body needs to stay nourished and helps you stay energized and stabilizes your mood.
      • Get plenty of zzzzzz’s. We’ve all joked that “sleep is overrated” but let’s be honest, sleep needs to be top rated!  Getting plenty of rest (7 – 8 hours a night is recommended) allows your body to recover and rejuvenate and for your brain to refuel and repair itself, which creates less anxiety, balanced moods and better memory. And yes for many of us, it’s hard to turn off the day’s stressors; here are a few ideas to help unwind before you crawl into bed:  meditate, setting a digital curfew or better yet leave the devices out of arms reach, avoid caffeine late in the day, no heavy meals before slumber, gentle stretching or light yoga.
      • Exercise is a great way to keep our mind and body balanced and strong.  Even though we may not be able to go to our favorite class at the gym, or attend yoga at our neighborhood shala, or hike along our favorite trail, there are still plenty of ways to stay active while at home.  You know you have a stationary bike somewhere under that pile of clothes, a set of weights from your 2008 New Years resolution or you can just look to the internet, specifically YouTube, Facebook and Instagram LIVE, where you will find oodles of dance and exercise videos and/or classes to help you stay motivated and active right from your living room.  So get out your leg warmers, pump up the jams and “Let’s Get Physical”
    • Meditate

      • You don’t have to be an adult, a yoga guru or be into any of that “fru fru” stuff to recognize the benefits of meditation and the role it plays in reducing stress and anxiety and returning our body, mind and soul to a more balanced state. But what is meditation really? “Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.” Seems easy enough!  But if you don’t already practice this on your own … here are some great tips/apps to help you get started: 1) Meditation Exercises ….. 2) List of the “Best Meditation Apps” ….. 3) Techniques for Beginners
    • Make the new found extra time your best friend

      • Take a bath, with bubbles!
      • Give yourself and your loved ones a manicure or pedicure
      • De-clutter! Time to tackle the closets, organize the junk drawer, create a filing system for the stack of paperwork on the counter in your kitchen, start a donation pile for all those toys your kids will never use (better yet, invite your kids to make a pile of the items they don’t want/need anymore and donate them to a worthy cause)
      • Embrace a hobby (knitting, drawing, jewelry making, whittling, painting, writing, scrapbooking)
      • Teach yourself to cook or bake. Include ALL the members of your family. Get creative and share recipes with friends.
      • Have a 4pm dance party every day (even if you live alone!)
      • Take up gardening
      • Read a book
      • Listen to a podcast
      • Limit the murder mystery and depressing documentaries you watch and turn on the nature channel
      • Step outside for at least 60 minutes a day
      • ENGAGE WITH OTHER PEOPLE.  It is really important to stay connected, even though we have to maintain social distancing … there are so many ways to keep in touch with those we love
      • Journal.  Keep a diary of your thoughts, feelings, be as reflective and honest as you can be with yourself
    • Be kind to yourself and those around you

      • You are not alone in this. The whole world is in the same boat but everyone experiences and processes things a little bit different, it doesn’t mean we are not feeling something we may just show it in our own unique way
      • Ask for help. Share your concern/fear/hope with others. Open your heart to those that struggle with articulating their feelings. Try not to minimize or dismiss other people’s feelings
      • Check in on the younger ones in your house.  Just because they are “kids” and may not feel the stress of being laid off, or the worry of where the next meal will come from, they absolutely FEEL the stress.  Their worlds have been turned upside down too – and while they may not know HOW to express it, they definitely know something isn’t right. Be brave and have the hard conversations and remember, a good hug goes a long way! And don’t forget to help them with self-care too – make it a family thing!
      • Be patient, be compassionate, be honest (age appropriate), find the humor, find the silver lining.

    What is self care

    It is really easy to isolate during uncertain times … part of self-care is also recognizing our triggers and where we are vulnerable, and when we need help.  The hard part is asking for it. If you find yourself struggling, try and reach out to someone close to you (or to us here at the Youth Project) and let others be of service.  Maybe create a code word or code emoji with someone that you trust, that you can text if you need an extra bit of love one day without having to say the words out loud.

    And don’t forget to check in your friends and loved ones; we can’t always assume that when others are hurting that they feel strong enough to ask for support, we have to be willing to put ourselves out there too.  Social distancing really means, physical distancing; STAY ENGAGED!

    There is no right or wrong way to practice “safer at home” – but we need to help one another stay afloat, stay connected, to help reduce anxiety and panic, and to spread love and toilet paper to everyone we know.

    Deep breaths and baby steps.

    We got this.

    We got you.

    We got each other.

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  • Resources for Teens and Families

    Please keep in mind that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, some of these agencies may have limited hours and/or services.  There are plenty of options on this list, so should you come across an organization that is temporarily closed, please move onto the next one.  Additionally, if you do not find what works for you, feel free to send us an email and we will do our best to help.

    Crisis Hotlines (phone, email or text)

    • 1 in 6: A national helpline for men who were sexually abused or assaulted. This free and anonymous helpline is available 24/7

    Health and Wellness Support Services

    • is a USDA-sponsored website that offers credible information to help you make healthful eating choices. It serves as a gateway to reliable information on nutrition, healthy eating, physical activity, and food safety for consumers
    • The Go Ask Alice! site is supported by a team of Columbia University health promotion specialists, health care providers, and other health professionals, along with a staff of information and research specialists and writers. Our team members have advanced degrees in public health, health education, medicine, counseling, and a number of other relevant fields
    • Kids Health is a nonprofit children’s health system.  “Our goal is to help parents, kids, and teens take charge of their health. We aim to give families the tools and confidence to make the best health choices.”
    • Eat Right Academy represents more than 100,000 credentialed practitioners — registered dietitian nutritionists, dietetic technicians, registered, and other dietetics and nutrition professionals holding undergraduate and advanced degrees in nutrition and dietetics, and students — and is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy
    • Help Guide is a nonprofit mental health and wellness website. Our mission is to provide empowering, evidence-based information that you can use to help yourself and your loved ones
    • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is designed to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans by providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services
    • CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same
    • Nationwide Nutrition Hotline (800-366-1655)

    Mental Health Support Services

    • The Youth Project provides FREE mental health support to teens (12 -18) who struggle with depression, suicide, anxiety, substance abuse, domestic violence, pregnancy, bullying, sexual identity, motivation, anger, and so much more.  We are active on all the junior high and high schools in Santa Clarita and offer one-one counseling, support groups, education/outreach and crisis intervention
    • The Child & Family Center is a provider of comprehensive prevention, early intervention, diagnostic evaluation and therapeutic services for children, teens, adults and families who live in the Santa Clarita Valley
    • Help Guide is a nonprofit mental health and wellness website. Our mission is to provide empowering, evidence-based information that you can use to help yourself and your loved ones
    • SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information
    • NAMI provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives

    Medical Support Services

    • Samuel Dixon Family Health Center Proudly providing primary health care and non-emergency services to the entire Santa Clarita Valley and neighboring communities
    • SCV Pregnancy Center provides free pregnancy testing and confirmations. Options, information, resources and support given. Free classes and education offered. All free and confidential
    • Antelope Valley Hospital Medical Center is the only full-service, acute-care hospital in the Antelope Valley, has been delivering exceptional care to the community for nearly 65 years. It offers the region’s only trauma center, pediatric unit, NICU, inpatient mental health care, labor and delivery, Accredited Chest Pain Center/STEMI Receiving Center, Advanced Primary Stroke Center and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center
    • Henry Mayo Hospital and Trauma Center. The emergency department is open 24-7 to serve you, and a panel of physicians, both specialists and sub-specialists, are available around the clock for your most critical needs
    • LA Dept of Health Service‘s mission is to protect health, prevent disease, and promote health and well-being for everyone in Los Angeles County. With 14 Public Health Centers located throughout LA County, the Department provides free and/or low-cost services to those with no insurance or regular health care provider, including immunizations and communicable disease testing and treatment

    Eating Disorders Support Services 

    • The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care
    • Mirror Mirror providing information, education, and support to the community, including people dealing with eating disorders themselves and loved ones that want to support friends or family members with eating disorders
    • UCLA Eating Disorders The program strives to simultaneously restore physical well-being by facilitating adaptive eating behaviors and enhance emotional well-being by targeting dysfunctional beliefs and self-perceptions and addressing psychosocial issues
    • Overeaters Anonymous is a community of people who support each other in order to recover from compulsive eating and food behaviors. We welcome everyone who feels they have a problem with food

    Substance Abuse Support Services

    • Action Family Counselings mission is to provide the highest quality chemical dependency, behavioral modification and mental health treatment services, which are accessible and affordable to adults, adolescents, and their families in a variety of treatment settings. 24 hr helpline: 1-(800) 367-8336
    • The Way Out Recovery SCV provides high quality, effective treatment to those suffering from addictive disorders and related issues. “Our goal is to assist adolescents, adults, and their loved ones in becoming happily and usefully whole.”
    • A Light of Hope is a community of people joined in the fight against destructive actions and lifestyles we are challenged with every single day with a willingness to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and a commitment to abstain from all alcohol, drugs and any other self-destructive actions or behaviors.
    • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders
    • Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem

    LGBTQ+ Support Services

    • LGBT National Youth Hotline Free and confidential peer support for the LGBTQ and questioning community, ages 25 and younger. Mondays – Fridays 1 pm – 9 pm PST, and Saturday from 9 am – 2 pm PST.  800-246-7743
    • The OUTreach Center demonstrates leadership in community education and outreach on LGBT issues by advocating for an Antelope Valley that values our humanity and diversity.  661-92-PRIDE
    • L.A Opportunity Youth Collaborative This database lists programs and services for transition-age foster youth in the central Los Angeles area. The intention of this searchable resource is to centralize information about existing programs and help partners learn about the full array of services available to better serve transition-age youth
    • San Fernando Valley LGBT Community Center is serving the LGBT population in the San Fernando Valley.  Special efforts are centralized around specifically outreaching to the Latino population in order to increase awareness, understanding and acceptance while diminishing stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination. Services include: Career Development; Higher Education; Youth and Adult Workshops; HIV Examinations Referral Program; Counseling; Community Events; an Art Program; and Youth Conference.
    • The Trevor Project has trained counselors to support you 24/7. “If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the TrevorLifeline now at 1-866-488-7386.”

    Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Rape Support Services

    If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

    For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or  1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

    If you are being abused by your partner, know there is nothing you have done or are doing to cause the abuse. It is solely the choice of the abuser to abuse. It may seem impossible to escape your abuser, change your circumstances, or find the help you need, but it is possible. However, you know your abuser best, so think carefully through your situation and circumstances and do what is the best for you.

    • Strength United  Our work supports families, prevents sexual and domestic violence, and provides healing and support for those who have survived abuse. We aim to take a traumatic event in an individual or family’s life and turn it into a point of strength. Santa Clarita Office: (661) 702-0000
    • WEAVE Crisis Intervention For Domestic Violence and Sex Trafficking/Sexual Assault.  All of WEAVE’s services can be accessed by calling the Support and Information line. WEAVE’s 24-Hour Support and Information Line offers immediate intervention and support by trained peer counselors. Help is available in over 23 languages. (916)-920-2952
    • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
    • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence mission is to lead, mobilize and raise our voices to support efforts that demand a change of conditions that lead to domestic violence such as patriarchy, privilege, racism, sexism, and classism. We are dedicated to supporting survivors and holding offenders accountable and supporting advocates
    • Women Shelters  is all about providing easy to find shelter listings for women in need. We want to make it simple and easy to use for women who need help quick. We provide listings of emergency shelters, transitional housing, family shelters, residential treatment centers, and other residential services for women
    • NODVLA: For direct victims’ services, call your local rape crisis center. Please click the link to find your local rape crisis center as designated by the County of Los Angeles as SART (Sexual Assault Response Team)
    • Peace Over Violence is a nonprofit 501c3, multicultural, community based and volunteer centered organization dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. To achieve this mission our agency manages five departments delivering the services of Emergency, Intervention, Prevention, Education and Advocacy
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  • Deadliest Mental Health Disorder: Eating Disorders

    Did you know that eating disorders have nothing really to do with food or weight?  At their core, eating disorders involve distorted, self-critical attitudes about weight, food, and body image.

    People with eating disorders use food to deal with uncomfortable, stressful or painful emotions. Some restrict food intake to feel in control, others may overeat as a temporary solution to soothe sadness, anger, or loneliness and purging is used to combat feelings of helplessness and self-loathing. Over time, people with eating disorders lose the ability to see themselves objectively and obsessions over food and weight come to dominate everything else in life.  It’s these negative thoughts and feelings that fuel the damaging behaviors.  So you can see, it is far more complicated than just talking about dietary habits.

    Millions of people across the country suffer from eating disorders, but by increasing awareness and access to resources, we can encourage early detection and intervention. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, so early intervention can mean saving lives.  (Click here to get screened)

    Understanding Common Myths about Eating Disorders:

    Myth #1: You have to be underweight to have an eating disorder.

    People with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Many individuals with eating disorders are of average weight or are overweight.

    Myth #2: Only teenage girls and young women are affected by eating disorders.

    While eating disorders are most common in young women in their teens and early twenties, they are found in men and women of all ages.

    Myth #3: People with eating disorders are vain.

    It’s not vanity that drives people with eating disorders to follow extreme diets and obsess over their bodies, but rather an attempt to deal with feelings of shame, anxiety, and powerlessness.

    Myth #4: Eating disorders aren’t really that dangerous.

    All eating disorders can lead to irreversible and even life-threatening health problems, such as heart disease, bone loss, stunted growth, infertility, and kidney damage.


    Types of eating disorders:

    The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.

    • Anorexia – People with anorexia starve themselves out of an intense fear of becoming fat. Despite being underweight or even emaciated, they never believe they’re thin enough. In addition to restricting calories, people with anorexia may also control their weight with exercise, diet pills, or purging.
    • Bulimia – Bulimia involves a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging. Following an episode of out-of-control binge eating, people with bulimia take drastic steps to purge themselves of the extra calories. In order to avoid weight gain they vomit, exercise, fast, or take laxatives.
    • Binge Eating Disorder – People with binge eating disorder compulsively overeat, rapidly consuming thousands of calories in a short period of time. Despite feelings of guilt and shame over these secret binges, they feel unable to control their behavior or stop eating even when uncomfortably full.

     Common eating disorder warning signs:

    • Preoccupation with body or weight
    • Obsession with calories, food, or nutrition
    • Constant dieting, even when thin
    • Rapid, unexplained weight loss or weight gain
    • Taking laxatives or diet pills
    • Compulsive exercising
    • Making excuses to get out of eating
    • Avoiding social situations that involve food
    • Going to the bathroom right after meals
    • Eating alone, at night, or in secret
    • Hoarding high-calorie food

    What parents can do:

    • If there is a concern that a child may be restricting certain foods, food groups or portion sizes, it is wise to first consult a medical doctor to rule out physiological problems.
    • Create a healthy eating lifestyle at home and expect your child to comply with the family’s eating patterns. Offer your child healthy foods, prepare or oversee at least three nourishing meals a day, and be sure to eat those meals together with your child and family as often as possible. Your child learns by imitating your behaviors. As nourishing as a family dinner is the sharing and comradery that accompanies it.
    • Never skip meals. Remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Know what healthy eating is, that it involves eating three meals daily… diverse, balanced and nutritious meals, consisting of all the food groups and consumed without fear. Healthy eating is not fat-free eating.
    • Keep your own lifestyle active and expect your child to do the same. If children are too sedentary, turn off the television and encourage a walk with the dog or biking to the library.
    • Spend quality time with your child. Listen to what they say and to how they feel. Know what their concerns are.
    • Encourage your child to become aware of her feelings and to express them freely. Communicating through the use of words diminishes the odds that anxious feelings will be expressed through food-abusing behaviors.
    • Be aware that girls typically reach puberty as young as age 9. Explain to them that it is normal (and essential) that they gain weight at the onset of puberty in order to stimulate a healthfully functioning reproductive system that will allow them to bear their own children one day.
    • Become aware of your own personal attitudes about eating, body image, and weight control. Do you encourage your son to eat so that he can grow big and strong, yet caution your daughter against becoming fat?
    • Never force your child to “clean her plate,” giving her a sense of not being in control of her own food. The parent should determine the menu and the child should determine the amounts of food consumed.
    • Do not criticize your own or your child’s weight, shape or size.
    • Don’t tolerate casual derogatory comments about other people’s weight and physical appearance. Children take to heart and personalize what you say.
    • Remember that too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. Don’t allow your child to overdo athletics or dance activities; to shop too much or to watch TV or Facebook too much; to talk on the phone or play video games too much; to eat too much or too little, to study too much or too little, to sleep too much or too little, etc. Moderation and balance in life reflects a healthy lifestyle.

    If you are a teen with an eating disorder:

    Eating disorders are complicated diseases that can leave you stuck in a trap of hopelessness and despair.  When you are living in an eating disorder, it is easy to believe that you are okay without help or that you can make it alone.  The reality is much darker though, and the truth of the matter is that you will need the help and support from your parents to pull you away from the death grip of your disorder.  By confiding in them, you are taking the most essential step towards pursuing recovery and receiving the care you need to get your life back.

    How exactly can you talk to your parents about an eating disorder?  Here are some helpful tips for communicating with your parents:

    • Arrange a time and place to talk:  Having their undivided attention in a comfortable setting will help you feel at ease when speaking with them.  Choose a place that is calm and quiet and where you can have a discussion without interruptions.
    • Share your concerns and needs: Be open and honest in communicating what you are feeling, what you may be worried about, or what you might need from them.  Phrases that might be helpful to share with them include, “I feel sad and scared about a health problem I am struggling with”, or “I have tried to overcome this on my own but feel that I need help”, or even “I am struggling with an eating disorder and would like your support and guidance to find treatment and overcome this challenge.  Will you please help me?”
    • Be receptive of their response: Understand that your parents may have an emotional response to what you share with them.  They may feel shocked, frightened, or confused by your openness of your struggle with an eating disorder, but know that you are not responsible for their emotional state.  Give yourself positive reinforcement by reminding yourself of the courage you have to take these important steps towards getting well.

    If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, you can take a 3 minute confidential survey. Click here

    To find an eating disorder treatment specialist in your area:

    • Ask your primary care doctor for a referral.
    • Check with local hospitals or medical centers.
    • Ask your school counselor or nurse.
    • Call the National Eating Disorders Association’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-931-2237 (Mon–Fri, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST).



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  • What Kind of Communicator Are You?


    A. I believe I have the right to say “no” to others without feeling guilty.

    B. I am a demanding person

    C. I have trouble turning down people’s requests



    A. I do not have difficulty making eye contact

    B. I stare people down

    C. I have difficulty maintaining eye contact



    A. I let people know when I disagree with them

    B. When others annoy me, I say nothing, but I show my displeasure through my body language

    C. When people don’t keep their commitments I am reluctant to tell them I am upset



    A. I don’t mind asking for help when I feel I need it

    B. I believe you must show others your strength regardless of the situation if you want to command their respect.

    C. I’m afraid to admit that I don’t know how to do something



    A. I am able to express my feelings honestly and directly

    B. I point my finger or use other gestures to add emphasis to my assertions

    C. When I am angry I keep my feelings to myself



    • Mostly A’s — You exhibit an assertive communication style
    • Mostly B’s — You exhibit an aggressive communication style
    • Mostly C’s — You exhibit a passive communication style
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  • What is Vaping?

    216550-ecigarette“E-cigarette use more than doubles among U.S. middle and high school students from 2011-2012”

    Smoking tobacco and chewing tobacco have been a constant cause for concern among middle and school students because of the health risks that are involved. However, a new type of smoking has reached students; “vaping”, or smoking electronic cigarettes, has become increasingly popular among teens in the past year. E-cigarette stores have begun opening throughout the city, and their carts can be seen in the mall.

    What are e-cigarettes? And what health concerns are associated with this new trend?

    E-cigarettes came on the scene in 2007, and are called the “smoking alternative”, because instead of the 4,000 chemicals found in regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes only contain “nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin” and one of many flavors such as bubble gum and root beer. Since e-cigarettes have less chemicals, it been called a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, and many smokers use it as a quitting aid to finally get them off of traditional cigarettes. However, there is no proof that e-cigarettes are in fact safer, and since the product is still relatively new, there is no way to see what the long-term effects are for vaping. Since e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they are not subject to the same regulations as cigarettes, and they can legally be purchased by people of any age.

    In one study, the Los Angeles Times reported “one out of 10 American high school students used electronic cigarettes in 2012, along with nearly 3% of middle school students, according to a new federal report”. This number has increased dramatically in recent years; and many believe that e-cigarettes are being marketed directly to teens because of the flavors of the vapor and the branding of the product. The FDA warns, “e-cigarettes can increase nicotine addiction among young people and may lead kids to try other tobacco products.”

    Interesting fact regarding Nicotine/E-Cigs from: How Stuff Works “An electronic cigarette can contain as much nicotine as a regular cigarette — or more. The amount of nicotine an electronic cigarette delivers depends on the content of the liquid-nicotine cartridge installed in it. Customers can choose cartridges containing nicotine in a range of strengths. Some are comparable to the amount of nicotine in a regular tobacco cigarette; others are closer to that of a light or ultralight cigarette. There are also cartridges that contain liquid without nicotine, for users who want the sensory experience of smoking without its effect.”

    What can we do to prevent teens from smoking e-cigarettes?

    Education and Communication.

    Parents, get involved and talk to your teens.  Ask them what they know about cigarettes and e-cigarettes; explain the differences between the two types but that they are share one major similarity: Nicotine.  Inquire with your child’s school what kinds of anti-smoking information they disseminate and whether or not it includes “vaping”.



    For more information on e-cigarettes and teens, visit:


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  • Eat Healthy: Tips for Teens and Families

    As obesity continues to be a hot topic in America, healthy eating has become increasingly important in American culture, and that has impacted the way we eat. And especially during the teenage pubescent years, proper nutrition is crucial to this process; it is imperative to remember that teens have different nutritional needs than adults while their bodies are going through so many changes that impact their physical and emotional well being.

    Nutrition in many schools has been completely changed to encourage better eating habits among students by providing more nutritious lunch options and in some cases, also providing nutrition education as part of the curriculum.  As a result of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, schools made changes to nutrition programs and began serving “smart snacks” on school campuses, and created “standards for competitive foods and beverages sold outside of the federal reimbursable school meals program during the school day.” New standards were set on what snacks the school could provide, getting rid of items like donuts and regular soda, in favor of smarter options such as granola bars, fruit and milk.

    The William S. Hart School District follows strict guidelines which are in place to provide students with nutritious meals that are balanced and aim to limit the calorie, sodium, fat, and sugar intake. Students need proper nutrition not only to live more healthy lives, but also be more productive in school. For example, the Center for Disease Control found that “eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory), reduced absenteeism, and improved mood.” Additionally, providing students with well balanced nutrition has been shown to also improve test scores. Teaching teens that having proper nutrition, is vital to their success, well-bring, growth and development is an absolute must. Supporting healthy eating habits at home is an important component for teaching teens how to get proper nutrition, and encourages them to maintain good eating habits when they go out with friends.  Teaching these lessons at an early age, sets the stage for a healthier adulthood.


    How can families promote good eating habits and nutrition for teens at home?  First and foremost, LEAD BY EXAMPLE.
    Kids learn from their parents, both good and bad behaviors; it is your responsibility to make good choices for them to model, so you too, have to be ready to drink one less soda, especially if you are asking for your child to do it.

    Deciding as a family to incorporate more exercise and better eating habits is a great tool to get everyone involved from the beginning; allow your teen to participate in the process and help design a “new plan” for a healthy future.

    Here are some tips:

    1. Having family meals has been proven to promote healthy eating habits. It is also proven to improve a child’s vocabulary and reading skills, as well as lead to higher grades and academic achievement. (Incorporate some our conversation starters at dinner, and have great talks while enjoying a delicious meal.)
    2. Eat breakfast every morning. People that eat breakfast every morning are less likely to snack throughout the day, and get more vitamins and nutrients over the course of the day.  Starting out the day with a healthy breakfast, allows kids to stay focused in class, rather than listening to their stomach growl!
    3. Incorporate more fruits and veggies into your teen’s diet.  Homemade smoothies are a great way to sneak in a few extra fruit and dairy products, that your teen might otherwise shy away from.
    4. Serve appropriate portions at meals, and include fruits, veggies, grains, dairy and protein in every meal. Choose My Plate is a great resource that teaches you about healthy portions of different food groups, and other tips for eating right.
    5. Encourage your teen to be active. Children and teens should be getting at least 60 minutes of exercise a day.
    6. Have healthy snacks around the house, and limit processed foods. Instead of chips and candy, give your teens fruits, veggies and whole grains.
    7. Cook at home, and get your teen involved. Home cooked meals have less calories than meals eaten outside of the house. Cooking with your teens will help them learn about well-balanced nutrition, as well develop their pallet for different types of foods.  Maybe suggest themed dinners; create some trivia about Spain and then cook a authentic Spanish meal?  Educational and healthy!
    8. Drink more water instead of sugary drinks like soda.  Invest in reusable water bottles, and always keep them full!
    9. Fast food restaurants are offering “healthier options”, so if you need a quick bite, you don’t have to deviate from nutrition.  And if you decide to get a burger and fries, opt out of the “super size”, which only add extra calories.
    10. Read food labels and learn what is in the food you eat. A great resource is


    For more information on nutrition and teenagers visit,,


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  • Tips for a Happy Holiday Season

    Finally, it’s Winter Break!

    While the holidays can be filled with joy, love and happiness, for many of us it also brings stress, frustration and sadness.

    The household can become very crowded this time of year with kids home from school, parents off work and extended family coming to visit.  That many personalities under one roof can cause tension, but here are a few simple things we can all remember to do to help decrease the angst and increase the enjoyment.


      • Set aside differences.  Every family has their “hot button” topics that invariably cause disagreements and arguments. Try to set those differences aside for a few weeks and accept others the way they are.  Take the time to address the issues privately, at a more appropriate time.


      • Make time for the simple things.  It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season; planning parties, get togethers and extravagant vacations.  While those can all be wonderful, a simple walk with a loved one can be just as rewarding.  Make time for the small things like playing tag or hide and seek outdoors with your kids, decorate cookies by the fire, have a dance party in your living room.  It’s these small things that will make the fondest memories.


      • Don’t create grand expectations.  When thinking of the holidays, we often have high expectations; a big holiday feast, the perfect gifts, the perfect get together.  These expectations can be restricting and can lead to disappointment if things don’t work out exactly as planned.  Try to remember that sometimes the greatest things are the things we are not expecting.


      • Don’t overspendThe holiday season can create a great deal of financial stress; we want to buy those we love something wonderful to show them just how much we truly care about them.  It is easy to forget that a simple thought of kindness can show more love than that expensive gadget they have been wanting.  Be creative with your gifts and stick to a budget.


    If you find yourself alone during the holidays or feeling lonely, that’s perfectly normal, especially if it’s a painful time in your life (loss of a loved one, divorce, unemployment, etc.).  Take time to process your feelings and find healthy ways to cope – pretending those feelings don’t exist, can only make it worse.

      • Give yourself the gift of YOU.  Don’t forget to breathe, eat healthy, drink moderately, exercise and be kind to yourself.  Go for a run, grab a notepad and journal what you feel, take a yoga class, be with nature.


      • Ask for help.  Reach out to friends, family, spiritual advisors for guidance and support.  There is no shame in asking for help.


      • Volunteer.  Sometimes being of service to others in need, can help with our own feelings of despair.  Call a local homeless shelter, food pantry, hospital, community center and ask if they need an extra pair of hands.


    Remembering these few little things can make a big difference in keeping the holidays joyful and manageable.  Take time to relax and reflect on the memories you have shared with those around you, and create new ones to reflect upon next year.

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  • Violence Impacts Teens and Adults

    In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Youth Project is talking to kids about Healthy and Safe Relationships.

    Did you know?

    • 1 in 3 adolescents in the US is a victim of verbal, emotional, sexual and physical abuse by a dating partner
    • Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a break-up
    • Only half of all tweens (age 11-14) claim to know the warning signs of a bad/hurtful relationship
    • Twenty-four percent of 14 to 17-year-olds know at least one student who has been the victim of dating violence, yet 81% of parents either believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it is an issue
    • Less than 25% of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents
    • Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser

    Violence is related to certain risk factors.  Risks of having unhealthy relationships increase for teens who:

    •  Use alcohol or drugs.
    •  Can’t manage anger or frustration.
    •  Hang out with violent peers.
    •  Have multiple sexual partners.
    •  Have a friend involved in dating violence.
    •  Are depressed or anxious.
    •  Have learning difficulties and other problems at school.
    •  Don’t have parental supervision and support.
    •  Witness violence at home or in the community.
    •  Have a history of aggressive behavior or bullying.

    Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, and report binge drinking, suicide attempts, and physical fighting.  Victims may also carry the patterns of violence into future relationships.  However, dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies.

    Red Flags and Warning Signs:  (From

    Teenagers generally do not tell people when they are involved in a violent relationship, so it is important for adults to be alert for signs that a teen may be involved in a relationship that is, or has the potential to become, abusive. Some of the following signs are just part of being a teenager. But, when these changes happen suddenly, or without an explanation, there may be cause for concern.

    • Does the individual have unexplained bruises, scratches, or injuries?
    • Do you see signs that the individual is afraid of his/her boyfriend or girlfriend?
    • Does the boyfriend or girlfriend seem to try to control the individual’s behavior, making all of the decisions, checking up on his/her behavior, demanding to know who the individual has been with, and acting jealous and possessive?
    • Does the boyfriend or girlfriend lash out, criticize, or insult the individual?
    • Does the individual apologize for the boyfriend or girlfriend’s behavior to you and others? Has the individual casually mentioned the boyfriend or girlfriend’s temper or violent behavior, but then laughed it off as a joke?
    • Have you seen the boyfriend or girlfriend be abusive towards other people or things?
    • Does the individual seem to have lost interest or to be giving up things that were once important? Has he/she lost interest in school or other activities?
    • Has the individual’s appearance or behavior suddenly changed?
    • Has the individual stopped spending time with friends and family?
    • Have you seen sudden changes in the individual’s mood or personality?
    • Is the individual becoming anxious or depressed, acting out, or being secretive? Is the individual avoiding eye contact, having ‘crying jags’ or getting ‘hysterical?’
    • Has the individual recently started using alcohol or drugs?

    If you suspect or know that your child is being abused by a partner, you have resources:

    • Call law enforcement or 911
    • Call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
    • Make a safety plan with your child
    • Stay in communication with your teen; let them know they can open up to you no matter what.


    For more information on how to understand Teen Dating Violence

    Additional Resources:

    Love is Respect

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention

    Break The Cycle

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The Youth Project prides itself on creating a safe, non-judgmental and confidential setting in which students speak freely and can be assured that the stories they share remain private. However, all students are informed that we are a mandated reporting agency, meaning: if we have reasonable suspicion that a child (under the age of 18) has been mistreated, we are required to file a report with the necessary agencies.

We will report when a student shares information on:
Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Harm to Themselves, Sexual Abuse, Neglect, Harm to Others

All sessions are confidential. However, we are a mandated reporting agency and if a student expresses a desire to harm himself or others or if there is reason to suspect child abuse or neglect, we are obligated to report to the appropriate agency. ALL STUDENTS are reminded of this before every session.***


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