August 2019
Summer’s winding down and school will be starting back up in September! This month, Empowering Minds will be hosting a Back to School Event at Mondawmin Mall on August 17th. In this newsletter, you'll find information on our Back to School Event, an article on preparing for going back to school, photos from our July Six Flags Trip, information on summer events, an article on National Immunization Awareness Month, agency updates, and more.
Back to School Event
Join Empowering Minds at our Back to School Event on August 17 th ! We will be giving away book bags, stuffed with school supplies, to youth in our community. There will also be live performers, information on resources, and vendors from local organizations.

Back to School Dos and Don'ts

The end of summer is in sight, and parents everywhere are feeling that inevitable anxiety over how to make the most of the  upcoming school year . In my experience, anticipating the hurdles of reentry and carefully structuring the first few weeks of school goes a long way to setting the stage for a successful year, particularly if your child has an  anxiety disorder  or another  psychiatric condition . With that in mind, here are some dos and don’ts for families who want to start the school year right.

DO Get Back Into the Routine
There are many positive things about  summer , like more time to spend with your family and novel opportunities for your children. But summer is also a  disrupting time  for kids, who can easily forget that they were ever in school at all. So I strongly suggest that you start making the necessary readjustment to school life before the first day. There is no use denying that school is coming, and getting prepared earlier can get them off to a better start.

First, we want kids to start (and they’re going to resist) having more school-like hours. Even just a few days before school begins,  bedtime should go back from 11:00 to 9:00, for example, or whatever is appropriate. Additionally, kids should be waking up around the time they’d have to wake up for school and  performing the normal routine shower, breakfast, getting dressed , and so forth.

We also suggest that you  limit “screen time”— whether it’s a computer, the TV, or a handheld device-and make sure they are off at least an hour before bed. Kids sometimes have a hard time separating from their virtual world, and if they don’t have some “downtime” they’ll still be engaged and tit will affect their ability to fall asleep on their own.

You can also shop for school supplies earlier rather than later. The selection at stores is better, which is no small matter when you’re trying to make the  transition  as easy as possible, and the activity primes kids for their eventual return to the classroom.

DON’T Forget to Refuel
When kids are with you, when you’re both on vacation, you know  what and when they’re eating , and if they’re staying up late, it’s likely to be  watching a movie with you . When school starts again, you lose some control, even if you don’t realize it. You may assume that certain things are happening at school-or in your child’s bedroom-and then wonder what in the world has gotten into your suddenly surly,  under-performing kid . Well, if he’s not eating until he’s starved, and he’s on Facebook until midnight…

I encourage all my families to be particularly aware of meals. Most kids wake up at 6:30 or 7:00am and may or may not have breakfast. For younger grades, lunch could be anywhere from 10:30 to 1:00. Do we know what they’re eating for lunch? Do they pack lunch or buy hot lunch? How much are they eating? Are they trading their sandwiches for cookies? Are they having a snack during  afterschool activities ? If they’re not having a snack, they could be coming home ravenous at 5:00pm, not be able to focus on  homework  for an hour, then get all of the days calories and nourishment at dinner and feel exhausted and have little mental energy for work. Then they get a second wind and are online into the wee hours.

The fact is that a well-fed, good sleeper is going to have a better school day and be more efficient with homework than a kid who’s over-tired and starving.

DO Talk About Changing Friendships
Summer can be a volatile time for young friendships, and talking about what to expect when school starts is a good way to ease kids into the idea that social relationships change. Sometimes  your BFF one year may seem a little distant the next year , and letting kids know this sort of thing happens can help them weather these often-painful changes. Being able to share friends with other children, and to have friends overlap, is a skill that’s important to learn, which is why it’s something that warrants discussion. Not all problems need fixing; sometimes kids just want to be able to talk about these upsets without expecting you to fix them; sometimes kids just want parents to validate their feelings and say, “I know that’s hard.”

DON’T Share Your Anxieties
Parents are often very caught up in their children’s social lives because they want them to make good friends, be happy, and learn social skills that will help them be successful adults. These are all great reasons to be engaged, but kids don’t always understand the interest that way. This is particularly true of anxious kids.

For instance, it’s very easy for parents to get into the habit of asking, “Did you make any friends?” when kids come home from school. But that can be shaming for kids who are struggling or still figuring out where they fit in. Better questions would be, “How was your day?” or “Tell me three things you liked about your day,” or “Tell me three things you didn’t like about your day.” Neutral questions are better than ones that a child might interpret as, “If you didn’t make friends, then I’m going to be disappointed in you.”

DO Have a Trial Run
One way to help kids get off on the right foot—or at least a better foot—is to give kids with anxiety problems, and certainly kids who have  refused to go to school  in the past, a “ dry run”  or two before school starts. Driving by the building, walking in the building, getting reacquainted with the smells, sights, and sounds; this can be necessary to make day one happen at all.

Trial runs are also really good for kids transitioning to a new school. Kids who are going from elementary to middle, or middle to upper, have an orientation, but it usually takes place at the end of the previous year. So it’s good to go and take a dry run and map out your classes, know where your locker is and that kind of thing. And if a kid puts up a fight and refuses to do that, it could be a red flag that this year will be problematic. But at least you’ve figured this out before school starts.

DON’T Be Afraid of Setbacks
If you have a child who had some real trouble the year before—like a mood or anxiety problem—and may have made real gains over the summer, you might be tempted to anticipate an easy return to school. But it’s good for parents to temper expectations. Too often we think our children have learned all these new skills and so day one, two, and three should be stellar days. If not, then something’s wrong. But that’s not how it works. We have to let kids ease into it, and allow for ups and downs. If you are a dedicated parent and your child is receiving proper care, she’ll improve—but it’s not always a straight line going up. If you can accept that, then your child will have more  confidence  and be able to accept setbacks.

DO Help Kids Manage Their Commitments
The tricky part of coming back to school is that the first week or two are usually pretty exciting but slow weeks in terms of work, so it’s easy to get caught up in a false sense of, “Oh, this is easy, and I can take on this, this, and that extracurricular.” Then, October comes along and a kid can think, “Holy crap, I have a lot of work in front of me and where am I going to find the time?” So it might be a good idea to wait on new activities until mid-October and leave enough time for adjustment.

The fact is that these days kids tend to get over-involved in clubs, sports, student government, and by the time they get home, they’re exhausted. Maybe by the time they start homework, it’s nine o’clock, only two hours before bedtime at 11:00. I’ve worked with many  kids who get overwhelmed by their activities , and then they get further and further behind in their work, which makes them  depressed  and prone to procrastinate. It just becomes too much for them to handle. We want parents to temper their expectations for kids, so that kids can practice balance in their own lives; modeling this in your own life can be helpful. For example, you could explain to your child that you were asked to join a fundraising committee but you said no because you realized that you would be overcommitted. Practicing what you preach, and letting your kids see, can be worth a thousand stern reminders.

DON’T Ignore Problems
To flog this point one more time: Many schools are fantastic, with talented and caring teachers and administrators. But you can’t expect school to have your insight into your child, or to automatically have the same concerns and knowledge about her. Sometimes the school’s point of view is, “We’re not going to do anything until we see a reason to do something.” That’s why we’d like parents to be more proactive.  You need to be your child’s advocate , and if you see her struggling, or you’re worried about her struggling, it’s better to say something sooner rather than later.

Empowering Minds Six Flags Trip
Empowering Minds clients enjoyed a summer day at Six Flags! There was good food, laughter, and fun in the sun.
Summer's Can't-Miss Events
by Laura Farmer

County Fairs
July through September 2019
County Fairs bring everyone out to play - even the livestock. Good old-fashioned fun can be found throughout the state.

Maryland BBQ Bash in Bel Air
August 9-10, 2019
This two-day family event features the Maryland State BBQ Championship, crafters, food vendors and live music, plus a beer and wine garden.

AFRAM Festival in Baltimore
August 10-11, 2019
One of the largest African American festivals, this will include live performers, local foods, and more. Learn more here !

Hot August Music Festival in Cockeysville
August 17, 2019
27th annual! Always a great concert with an incredible mix of talent on three stages. The award-winning 2019 line-up includes Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Turkuaz, Billy Strings, Melvin Seals & JGB, Dirty Grass Band, Samantha Fish, Lil Smokies, Larry McCray, Travers Brothership, Vanessa Collier, Cedric Burnside and The Old Part of Town.

Read about more summer events here !
Empowering Minds is proud to partner with ShareBaby

Our partnership includes monthly diaper distributions for EMRC clients with children between the ages of 0 - 5 years old.  In addition, EMRC is currently accepting "ShareBaby Coat Requests" for children ages 0 - 5 years old and requests for Boy or Girl newborn bundles.

Newborn bundles include:
1 pack of size 1 diapers
1 pack of size 2 diapers
1 0-3 month onesie
1 0-3 month outfit (top & bottom)
1 3-6 month onesie
1 3-6 month outfit (top & bottom)
1 6-12 month onesie,
1 6-12 month outfit (top & bottom)

 If you are in need of diapers, a coat or newborn bundle for a child between 0 - 5 years old, please contact your  Direct Service Coordinator  to submit your request and provide the sex of the baby and size needed between 0 - 24 months or 2t - 5t. If you have any questions, please contact the Baltimore City office.
National Immunization Awareness Month

Keep in mind the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Six Things YOU Need to Know About Vaccines

1. We all need vaccines throughout our lives to help protect against serious diseases.

Every year, tens of thousands of Americans get sick from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines – some people are hospitalized, some even die. Immunization is our best protection against these diseases. Vaccines are recommended for children, teens, and adults based on different factors like age, health conditions, lifestyle, jobs, and travel. CDC and other medical experts update  vaccine recommendations  every year based on the latest research and science. Vaccination is a critical step in protecting those that are most vulnerable to illness – infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.

2. Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can and do still happen in communities across the U.S.

Vaccines have greatly reduced infectious diseases that once regularly harmed or killed many infants, children, and adults. However, the germs that cause vaccine-preventable disease still exist and can be spread to people who are not protected by vaccines. For example, even though measles was declared to be eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, it is still common in other countries. Unvaccinated travelers have gotten measles while abroad spread the disease to others in the U.S. when they have returned, leading to a number of  outbreaks in recent years .

Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person who gets the vaccine, but also helps to keep diseases from spreading to others, like family members, neighbors, classmates, and other members of your communities.

3. CDC and FDA take many steps to make sure vaccines are very safe.

Before a vaccine is approved for use in the U.S., it goes through years of careful testing to make sure it is safe and effective. Highly trained scientists and doctors at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluate the results of these clinical studies. FDA also inspects the sites where vaccines are made to make sure they follow strict manufacturing guidelines. Once a vaccine is licensed, FDA and CDC continue to monitor its use and make sure there are no safety concerns.

Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. In most cases, side effects are mild (e.g., soreness where the shot was given) but go away within a few days. Severe, long-lasting side effects from vaccines are rare.

4. Vaccines give you the power to protect your children from getting sick.

Immunization has had an enormous impact on improving the health of children in the United States. Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a child, a family, or community. Protecting your child’s health and safety is very important. That’s why most parents choose immunization — it’s a powerful defense that’s safe, proven, and effective.

Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly — especially in infants and young children. To see if your child is up-to-date,  visit our parents’ page  and talk to your doctor.

5. You can even make sure your baby is born with protection by getting vaccinated when you are pregnant.

You probably know that when you are pregnant, you share everything with your baby. That means when you get vaccinated, you aren’t just protecting yourself—you are passing some protection on to your baby in the first few months of life when they are too young to build immunity on their own. CDC recommends you get whooping cough and flu vaccines during each pregnancy to help protect yourself and your developing baby. For more information you can  visit our maternal vaccination page  and talk to your doctor at your next appointment.

6. Vaccines aren’t just for kids. They can help adults stay healthy too – especially if they have health conditions.

Even if you got all your vaccines as a child, the protection from some vaccines can wear off over time. You may also be at risk for other diseases due to your age, job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions. Adults with chronic conditions like asthma/COPD, heart disease, and diabetes are more likely to get complications from certain diseases. Vaccination is an important part of staying healthy. Getting sick is not fun at any age – and for adults it can mean medical bills, missed work, and not being able to take care of family.

Take this quick quiz  to find out what vaccines may be recommended for you – and discuss the results with your healthcare professional to make sure you are up to date!
Harford County Groups
Baltimore City Groups
Mondays 6-7 PM 
Women's Group, Teen's Group, and Youth Group

Tuesdays 6-7 PM
Men's Group

Anne Arundel County Groups

Empowering Minds Resource Center is proud to announce there is currently  NO WAIT LIST at the agency. We work hard everyday to ensure referrals are quickly processed and clients are engaged by our staff and partnered therapists immediately. We are ready, willing and able to accept new clients TODAY.  

Empowering Minds Resource Center has no waitlist for our CARE COORDINATION FOR MINORS and our PSYCHIATRIC REHABILITATION PROGRAM in Harford County

Empowering Minds recognizes  Amanda Bullock  as Direct Service Coordinator of the Month.  Amanda is a great asset to the agency. She participates in the monthly staff meetings, submits her paperwork on time and is committed to helping her clients meet their goals. Congratulations, Amanda !

Empowering Minds is looking to add some new members to our wonderful team. Check out the link below for more information!