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Adolescent Wellness, Inc. (AWI) 
Sarah Bradach & Cecilia Milano
speak with over 300 teens 
AWI Newsletter
May, 2014 

In This Issue
- Did you know?
- '22 project' update
- Age 8 well-being?
- Infant well-being?
- AWI Volunteers

Quick Links


Last week the New York Times published an essay by two Ann Arbor, Michigan high school students about their effort to collect stories from fellow students about  experiences with depression.  They wanted their stories printed in the school newspaper along with their names; the article was blocked from publication by the school administration. The Ann Arbor teens wrote, "... By telling us that students could not talk openly about their struggles, they reinforced the very stigma we were trying to eliminate."


Teens in a Boston suburb created a different avenue for students to discuss anxiety and depression through their senior project. Two of our graduating iGROW teen mentors, Sarah Bradach and Cecilia Milano, along with their friend , Julia Lesnick, collaborated with the  Wellesley high school guidance staff to lead  discussions, complete with  video clips, to help teens:

1) cope with life's worries in healthier ways, 

2) recognize anxiety or depression and 

2) be comfortable talking about it. 


In order to directly speak with each of over 300 sophomores, they facilitated 25 small groups (each with pre- and post-test surveys). The change in measures evidenced their work increased awareness and reducing stigma. This is important because, before summer begins, it helps each sophomore recognize symptoms and, if needed, to be comfortable asking for help.


The measures also showed in improvement in coping strategies. This is important because anxiety and depression are often preventable. We all cope with  worries, too often with unhealthy methods. The mentors  cited healthier coping methods to exercise  (


This is one impressive senior project -  I hope your summer starts as well as mine!


Best regards, 

-Bob Anthony, President
Did you know...


Newton Wellesley Hospital (NWH) focused their annual fund-raising gala this year on child psychiatry, hoping to raise $800,000 to complete an endowment to protect these services. This seemed unusual, have you seen other community hospitals trying this?Would anyone attend?

The result - NWH raised $1.2 million dollars! 
The hospital is now adding programs to prevent anxiety and depression from starting in healthy children.
'22 project' update

22 kids get healthier coping skills for
each case of prevention prevented


During the Winter Blues event, we defined three goals for the year as 'the 22 Project'. People have been incredibly generous and two of three goals are being achieved right now.  Here is an update:


Goal 1

AWI wants to develop training for adults to understand wellness resources available in the form of social media and apps in order for them to become comfortable introducing it to all children.


The virtual Wellness Center ( is  within a safe, educational website called Whyville.   Since its launch in June, several thousand kids have found it on their own but we want all kids to find it.  

STATUS - Funded; initial design scheduled in June with the professional staff of The Home For Little Wanderers   


Goal 2

AWI wants to share its wellness toolkit with other  organizations. 


Our teen mentors and consulting psychologists have  practical activities in various formats, from traditional curricula to a virtual world. We now tune them for the needs of other organizations, most recently for the Rotary Wellness Project.  In turn, the Rotary mentors are introducing some activities with the Boys & Girls Clubs.  AWI is now working with Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

STATUS - Funded; design underway with the SADD National Student Leadership Council to develop toolkit elements in their unique format.


Goal 3

AWI wants schools beyond Massachusetts to implement the Boston Children's Hospital curriculum for grade 8-12, Break Free From Depression.    


It is currently implemented in two dozen Massachusetts schools, reaching 3,000 new kids each year. The documentary from this curriculum is used in many more schools to supplement various suicide prevention curricula (the most effective means of preventing suicide is depression prevention; failing that, depression awareness and treatment).


STATUS - Partially funded; Train-The-Trainer workshops are being discussed with schools in other states but have not been scheduled.

How to introduce an 8 year old to wellness activities? Parent workshops...

Thoughts drive emotions, relationships and behavior
Thinking can manage emotions, enhancing relationships and behavior
Parents want to know how a child's 'screen time' can be put to good use.  One resource is in the form of educational apps and safe social media within the virtual world of Whyville.  These apps address many themes, ranging from recognizing aquatic species (funded by the Field Museum) and knowing nutrition (funded by the CDC).  Now they also
 address Emotions and Coping (funded by private gifts and Massachusetts).
To ensure parents are comfortable with the topic and the site itself, teens translate the technical elements - create your avatar - to help parents log on and pass the internet safety course, which earns the right to 'chat'. The site is the virtual Wellness Center within Whyville.
One mom assessed the teen's workshop and virtual Wellness Center by writing, "I used to think I was the only source for my child learning how to navigate the path. Now I think there are many resources available for them to explore emotions and issues in a non-threatening and helpful environment." 
Is age 8 too early?  We know that by the time kids enter high school most cases of anxiety and depression have already started. We know that in middle school, many kids are  already struggling. My community of Wellesley, MA summarized its 7th grade survey of students with these percentages: 
  • 12% - Life very stressful
  • 11% - Depressive symptoms
  •   5% - Self-injury
  • 12% - Seriously considered suicide
  •   2% - Attempted suicide
Age 8 is not too early. We all cope with the  weight of life's worries in helpful or unhelpful ways. Examples of helpful coping might be physical  exercise or creative problem solving; unhelpful coping examples might be eating or drinking too much. The virtual  Wellness Center is accessible by all kids to exercise ways to recognize worries and cope with healthy methods. 
Activities available for infants to help prevent anxiety, depression
The quality of mental health training has improved dramatically in the past decade as science displaces theory. It used to be taught that  children could not have depression.  Now activities to improve coping and prevent some cases of anxiety or depression are available for all ages - literally.  

Observing  newborn behavior and intervening with parental coaching is provided through pediatricians. A leader in this area is Claudia Gold of Newton Wellesley Hospital. 
Her work aligns with the Pearson study (2011), which  followed infants through adulthood.  It confirmed that certain infants and mothers receiving professional coaching / playtime education reduced the incidence of depression.  

Several resources are available to new families.  Here are  courses at the  Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (
AWI volunteers


The people who make it happen; we are very grateful to the current AWI volunteers listed below:
  • Bob Anthony - President
  • Vivian Dole - iGROW
  • Bill Russell - Director
  • Anthony Schweizer - Chair
  • Calvin Place - Director, Winter Blues co-host
  • Chip Douglas - Director
  • John Seeler - PIP documentation
  • Roberta Boylen - Winter Blues co-host
  • Kathy Curley
  • Lisa Siegel - iGROW
  • Melisa Hughes
  • Carrie Sandstrom - SADD mentor representative
  • Rev. Pam Emslie
  • iGROW teen mentors
  • Youth Advisory Board members
Adolescent Wellness, Inc. | 103 Old Colony Road | Wellesley, Massachusetts 02481 |
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