October is National Bullying Prevention Month

We all have a voice of care for family members, students, neighbors, and community members.  Thanks to a PACER’s focus on bully prevention, we all have an opportunity to unite, get educated, bring awareness and hope to all. Joining this this important message we at YSB, have a few challenges for you this month.  Please explore the different ways we ALL can join this movement and help youth feel safe and supported.


  • Visit Stomp Out Bullying End the Hate…Change the Culture Pick anti-bullying activities for you personally, your family, or your class!
  • Get educated – watch video series from PACER’s National Bully Prevention Center and share in your own networks.
  • Make plans for October 23, 2019 Unity Day – wear orange or order the official t-shirt and spread the message of Kindness, Acceptance, Inclusion
  • Check with your student’s school for planned activities around bully prevention or your school’s parent teacher group. What a great opportunity to spread a message of care for all.
  • Watch Youth Service Bureau’s website for an opportunity to view the film Upstanders scheduled to be released January 2020. View trailer here. A January 2020 date has been scheduled – stay tuned for how to register or contact on how to bring to your location.


September is Suicide Prevention Month

“Together it gets better”

The Suicide Prevention Collaborative (SPC) was founded in the spring of 2010 by Dr. Shelly Strong, MD and Dr. Renee Penticoff, PsyD after the loss of several young lives to suicide in Washington County, MN.  Renee and Shelly felt deeply moved to connect other caring community members and organizations in collaboration to work towards decreasing the stigma of mental illness, educate the community, instill hope and work together to prevent suicide.  SPC’s collaborations over the years have included the Youth Service Bureau, PrairieCare, Washington County Public Health, Counseling Psychologists of Woodbury, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Stillwater Public Schools, Woodbury Community Church, Penticoff Community Counseling, Angelina’s Kitchen, The Emily Program, SAVE, Central and Priority Pediatrics, Sentier Psychotherapy, Family Frameworks, Woodbury High School, East Ridge High School, SOS, Woodbury Thrives, Oakland Middle School, Make It Okay along with hundreds of volunteers and the SPC volunteer leadership team.

The SPCs main source of funding is the annual “Together It Gets Better” 5K run/walk which brings the community together for a fun, meaningful event that draws an average of two-hundred participants.  The monies raised by SPC are used in a variety of ways to both educate and support the community.   SPC has sponsored two community education events led by expert Dr. Dan Reidenberg of SAVE, two community education presentations by TED Talk comedian, author and mental health advocate, Kevin Breel.  SPC also sponsored professional and community education events by suicide prevention expert Maureen Underwood LICSW and self-injury expert Dr. Wendy Lader and Dr. Nimi Singh from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.  In addition, SPC has provided free QPR (Question Persuade and Refer) Suicide Prevention Training to over two-hundred community members and has supported community requests for funds in support of youth resilience and mental health education.
The SPC and its community partners know that we need one another to prevent suicide and that “together it gets better.”  The SPC is committed to continue connecting with caring individuals and organizations to spread hope through community education efforts, optimal use of resources and open conversations to decrease mental health stigma.  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Mead

spc flyer

Screen Free Summer

By: Merri Guggisberg, YSB’s Youth & Family Education Coordinator

School’s out and the sun is shining but what now? YSB has compiled some fun activities to create lasting memories with your family, and none of them involve technology. Use this list to build a library of events that inspire your family members to explore new areas of interest.

Summer Meals:

There are sites serving free meals all across the state at parks, recreation centers, community centers, libraries, and schools.  Check out these ways to locate free meals near you:

  • Download mobile app for Summer Eats Minnesota
  • Visit Summer Food Rocks for more information
  • Text “summer meals” to 97779. Have your address ready to locate closest serving site
  • Create your own Family Mealtime Challenge, additional information can be found on Woodbury Thrives.

Summer Fitness:

There are plenty of free fitness opportunities for teens this summer:

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2019 Gala Recap

Youth Service Bureau Celebrates its Third “Growing Together Gala”

By Paul DeGeest, YSB Development Director

On Friday, May 10th, educators, community leaders, elected officials, parents, friends, and YSB staff and volunteers came together to celebrate the third annual “Growing Together Gala.”

Keynote speaker Darcy Hager-Slavin shared her family’s painful experience with suicide and how they turned that tragedy into action by forming the Slavin Memorial Fund.

Youth speaker Sydney Isaacson shared her personal story of addiction and recovery, and how dedicated professionals at YSB helped her turn her life around and graduate early from the Stillwater Area Schools Alternative High School. Sydney plans to go on to Century College to pursue her goal of becoming a chemical health specialist herself.

Generous guests contributed selflessly in support of YSB’s work, for which we are deeply grateful. This was our most successful fundraising event so far, and we are already planning for next year.

On top of all that, people had a really good time! See photos and video from the 2019 Gala HERE and look for information about next year’s celebration.

Let’s Talk: Changing Attitudes – It’s Not a ‘Rite of Passage’

By Julia Geigle, YSB Chemical Health Specialist

With graduation and other end-of-year celebrations coming up, let’s reflect on the role alcohol may play in these celebrations, dispel myths about underage drinking, and help our children celebrate in healthy ways.

Alcohol is pervasive in our society and some parents forgive underage drinking as a “rite of passage.” However, the younger a person initiates that first drink, the more at risk they are of experiencing devastating consequences because of their use and developing an addiction. Well-intended parents may believe that they can facilitate ‘safe’ teen drinking by allowing them to drink in their home and take away their car keys. For many reasons, this isn’t safe and undermines other parents and young people. The research shows that teens in these situations are more likely to binge drink outside of the home than teens of parents who send a consistent message that underage alcohol is not allowed and is unsafe. Furthermore, over a hundred cities in Minnesota, including Stillwater and Oak Park Heights, have a Social Host ordinance . The ordinance holds individuals (social hosts) criminally responsible for allowing a party, on public or private property, where persons under the age of 21 possess or consume alcohol, regardless of who supplied the alcohol to the minors.

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Distracted Driving

By Ravi Roelfs, YSB Diversion Staff

Welcome to Summer, hopefully everyone had a nice Winter and enjoyed all the snow we received through May 2019. As we move forward, YSB would like to discuss the topic of distracted driving while using a cell phone.

Did you know the first handheld cell phone was made by Motorola in 1973?  The phone allowed a user to talk for 35 minutes and it required 10 hours to charge.  The first text message was sent on December 3rd, 1992 sent as a SMS message saying, “Merry Christmas”.  Times have changed, as we fast-forward into the year 2019, using cell phones has pros and cons.  The average teen these days spends 53 hours a week on social media.  Hopefully your teen isn’t part of that statistic.

In Minnesota, over the last five years (2013-2017) distracted or inattentive driving was a contributing factor in one in five crashes, resulting in an average of 53 deaths and 216 serious injuries each year.

On April 12th, 2019, Minnesota’s Governor Tim Waltz signed a bill called “The Hands Free While Driving Law”.  It is important to note that Minnesota State statues already indicated that it was illegal for drivers to send text messages and emails while driving, however, a driver was still allowed to make a phone call.  The new law changes this.

Manually punching in a cell phone number or looking up something on an app is NOW ILLEGAL. This is a form of distracted driving.  Law Enforcement urges people to have addresses already entered into the GPS on your phone before you start driving to your destination.  Some cell phones have the option for you to “talk to text” while driving.  Law enforcement still urges everyone to put away distractions and pay attention to the road.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) reminds us that it is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone, whether handheld or hands-free except to call 911 in an emergency.  Parents are also reminded that cell phone use is totally banned for teen drivers during their permit and provisional license stages.   It is also illegal to pick up your phone while at a stoplight, as you are still operating a motor vehicle.

Did you know there were 9,545 tickets written in the State of Minnesota in 2018 for texting and driving?  In April 2019, the MN State Patrol, along with local police departments, participated in a Distracted Driving Campaign. They specifically looked for distracted drivers who were texting and driving. *It is important to note all departments look for these violations daily, even if they did not participate in this campaign.  To illustrate this is a re-occurring problem in Washington county, here are a few statistics from this Distracted Driving Campaign:

Bayport PD – 0 tickets issued
Cottage Grove PD – 0 tickets issued
MN State Patrol District 2400 – out of Oakdale – 222 tickets issued
Oak Park Heights PD – 5 tickets issued
St. Paul Park PD – 1 ticket issued
Stillwater PD – 0 tickets issued
Woodbury PD – 27 tickets issued
Washington County Sheriff’s office – 10 tickets issued

The penalties are always something that people want to know about.

If you get caught, it is considered a Petty Misdemeanor (PM) and you may be charged with paying a $50.00 fine. Multiple violations result in higher fines plus paying court fees.  In the big picture, your driver’s license and your ability to drive may be at risk as well. Distracted driving resulting in a crash, will have penalties on much higher level – crashing your car, hurting another person, etc.

Wisconsin has a hand-held or hands-free cell phone law as well. Some of the conditions are the same as Minnesota and it might seem like common sense, but in WI you also cannot use a hand-held mobile device while driving through a work zone. Penalties in WI are similar to MN, but you will also lose demerit points on your Driver’s License.

Have a safe Summer on the road and put your cell phone down while driving.

For future references and if you want to learn more about Distracted Driving, check out the following resources online:

  • Minnesota Department of Public Safety- Office of Traffic Safety
  • Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

NAMI and Mental Health Month

By Katy Jo Turner, Grassroots Organizer, NAMI Minnesota

With a startling statistic that one in five people live with a mental health condition, it is equally as startling that the topic of mental illness is still met with insecurity and avoidance. Fortunately, this is starting to shift. People are especially prompted to think about their and their loved ones’ mental health during May, Mental Health Month.

During the month, NAMI Minnesota (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) is hosting many free programs for the public to learn how to support others experiencing a mental illness, encourage conversation on the topic, and inspire attendees to take better care of their own mental health.

Some presentations create empathy, some provide training, and all give hope.

“In Our Own Voice” offers an opportunity for attendees to listen to someone’s story and learn what it’s like to experience a mental illness and be in recovery.

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What to Know About CBD

By Gina Johnson, Chemical Health Prevention Specialist

Currently deemed a miracle drug, Cannabidiol or CBD seems to be everywhere right now. But what exactly is CBD? While CBD and THC are both chemical components from the Cannabis plant, unlike THC, it doesn’t make you feel high. Available in the form of pills, vaping, oils, lotions, gummies, coffee, and food. CBD has been praised as a treatment for chronic pain, migraines, ADHD and anxiety. Many business and companies are jumping on the bandwagon to sell this product.

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21 Cheap, Healthy Ways to Practice Self-Care

Courtesy of IndieFlix

  1. Drink water
  2. Stretch and exercise
  3. Shower or take a bath
  4. Put on a face mask
  5. Eat Fruits and vegetables
  6. Give yourself a mani/pedi
  7. Call a friend or a family member
  8. Change your bed sheets
  9. Tidy your room
  10. Meditate
  11. Make yourself a cup of tea
  12. Turn off your phone
  13. Make a list of things that make you happy
  14. Help out at your local animal shelter
  15. Do your hair and/or makeup
  16. Listen to music or a podcast
  17. Go for a walk without your phone
  18. Read a book
  19. Journal
  20. Seek out professional help
  21. Take a day off

It’s okay to not be okay. Always remember that.

Read the full article here.