New Year’s Resolutions for Teens

As we count down the days until 2016 is upon us, it's time to start looking ahead to how we want to better ourselves in the new year. Have you made your resolutions yet? If not, we've rounded up the best New Year's resolutions for teens:

Feel better about yourself. There's no better time than the present to start treating yourself with the respect you deserve. Be happy by doing things you love! Find after school activities to get involved with that make you genuinely happy. When you do what you love, you'll start to feel better about yourself. Most importantly, stop the negative self-talk. Every morning, look at yourself in the mirror and identify what you like about yourself, not what you don't like. Make this a daily habit to truly boost your self esteem and conquer this New Year's resolution!

Be a better family member. Show your parents and siblings love in 2016. We know it's hard to look past the stresses of being a teenager, with schoolwork and friends, but remember your family deserve to be treated well. Try to take time on a daily basis to tell someone in your family how much you appreciate them. Remember to say "thank you" to your parents. Even a small gesture like this will go a long way to building a stronger relationship in the end.

Do something new. Growth only comes when we challenge ourselves to try new things, so in 2016, make a resolution to try something different. Whether that means making a new friend or stepping outside of your comfort zone and signing up for a new sports league or club at school is up to you. Whatever you do, make sure you've never done it before and savor the experience that comes with it!

Read more. Reading has a number of benefits for teens, including improving literacy, opening your mind to new ideas, and creating stronger writing skills. Don't rely on your teachers to assign you reading assignments! Visit the library on the weekends and pick out books that interest you, instead of books that you were told to read in class. Make it a goal to read one new book per month in 2016!

 

At LiveFree!, teenagers are our top priority. We work to provide education, guidance and support that keeps our teens safe and healthy during their adolescence. Learn more about our mission and values on our website.

Ways for Families to Get Involved During the Holidays

We all know that spending time together as a family is important, but with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be hard to make time together! One great way is to gather the family together to give back to the community. Not only will you get valuable bonding time, but you and your teens will reap the many benefits of volunteering, including feeling empowered and increasing self-esteem. Here are a few ways for your family to get involved this holiday season:

Ask local hospitals. Take initiative and call a local hospital to offer your family's assistance. Hospitals will not only fill you in on any volunteer opportunities that they know of in the community, but they probably have activities you could help with on-site! Some hospitals ask volunteers to create holiday cards for the children in the pediatric unit, a great activity for everyone in your family.

Adopt-A-Family. Every year, The Family Tree puts together a list of families that are in need, and pairs them with volunteers. Volunteers are responsible for buying items on the needy family's wish list, and making their holiday a truly memorable one! If you're trying to plan a family volunteer day, call The Family Tree and ask if there are any available families for you to work with this year. Then, take the whole family shopping together so you can all help pick out their gifts!

Metropolitan Ministries. This organization is in need of volunteers year-round, so if you don't have time to pitch in during the holidays, make it a point to volunteer at some point during the year. There are a number of different activities your family could assist with, including registering needy families with Metropolitan Ministries, helping out in the kitchen by preparing meals, or work behind the scenes in the warehouse. 

No matter which organization you choose, any volunteer work you do to give back to your community is a great choice, as long as you do it as a family!

At LiveFree!, teenagers are our top priority. We work to provide education, guidance, and support that keeps our teens safe and healthy during their adolescence. Learn more about our mission and values on our website.

Do Your Part to End Bullying!

Some teens may feel helpless when it comes to bullying, but that should not be the case! October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so there's no better time than now to learn how teens can get involved to put an end to bullying:

Make a new friend. Take action and introduce yourself to someone you've never met before. Have you noticed that there's a girl who tends to keep to yourself? Invite her to sit with you at lunch and get to know her. Even if your new friend isn't being bullied, it's always best to be kind to everyone and stop bullying before it starts!

Stand up for others. If you see someone being teased or insulted, do the right thing and stand up to the bully. If you do not feel comfortable or safe standing up to the bully directly, find a teacher, parent, or another adult you trust and tell them what you witnessed. You should also follow these rules if you witness cyberbullying online. There's always a way to get an adult involved to stop the bad behavior, even if it's not in person.

Get involved. Research events in the community that deal with bullying prevention and ask to volunteer or attend. Also, take the pledge to be a part of the We Will Generation that states you will do your part to support the anti-bullying efforts in your school and community. Be vocal with your friends and peers about your stance against bullying, and encourage them to take the same approach. 

At LiveFree!, teenagers are our top priority. We work to provide education, guidance, and support that keeps our teens safe and healthy during their adolescence. Learn more about our mission and values on our website. 

Tips for Having a Successful School Year

Parents play a vital role in the learning process. Do you know how you can help your teen succeed in school? Now that the school year is in full swing, read these tips for parents on making this school year the best one yet:

1. Create a routine. It's important that teens have a structured routine for school days, especially at the beginning of the year when adjusting from summertime fun to the daily grind of school can be difficult. Work with your teen to create set times for waking up, getting ready, and then finishing homework after school hours. Keeping teens on this sort of schedule can help them stay organized and on track throughout the school year.

2. Be proactive. Don't wait until your teen brings home a report card to find out how they're performing in school. Be a proactive parent and check in with teachers on your teen's progress. A lot of parents don't have time to have in-person meetings with teachers, and that's ok! These days, a lot of teachers are available via e-mail so it won't interfere with your busy schedule.

3. Consistent communication. If you constantly ask your teen "how's your day?" and get a shrug or a short answer, don't be discouraged! Keep the lines of communication open with your teen by asking more guided questions. Try getting your teen to open up by asking him or her to share the high and low points of the day, or what he or she learned in a specific class. Questions like these will prevent your teen from holding back and will help you stay in the loop as a parent.

At LiveFree!, your teenagers are our top priority. We work to provide education, guidance, and support that keeps our teens safe and healthy during their adolescence. Learn more about our mission and values on our website.

 

Help Your Teen Develop a Healthy Body Image!

As kids enter their teenage years, it’s normal for them to pay more attention to their appearances. Why is this important to parents? Teens with a positive body image gain more than just confidence! High self-esteem leads to better relationships with peers and adults, and a more optimistic outlook on life. Additionally, a  recent study showed that the more teens were concerned about their body image, the more likely they were to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Read these tips on how to help your teen develop a positive body image:

  • Watch your language.  Reiterate to your teen that a healthy body is all that matters. Avoid using words that directly relate to weight like "fat" or "thin" and never poke fun at someone who is overweight. If your teen sees you do it, he or she will think it's ok to make fun of someone's weight.
  • Focus on what counts. Is your teen generous? Hard-working? Funny? Compliment them frequently on personality characteristics instead of physical ones. These kind words will help your teen feel better about themselves, which will translate to their opinions of their physical attributes as well. 
  • Practice what you preach. When it comes to a positive self-image, be a role model. Don't let your teen hear you insult your own appearance. Make sure to highlight the features that you love about yourself and this positivity will be sure to spread to your teen.
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle. Even if your teen is not overweight, exercising will help elevate moods and body image, as will eating healthy. Taking up a hobby, like playing a new sport or instrument, can also help teens develop self confidence which will lead to a postiive body image.

At LiveFree!, your teenagers are our top priority. We work to provide education, guidance, and support that keeps our teens safe and healthy during their adolescence. Learn more about our mission and vision on our website.

 

Preparing Your Teen for College

Do you have a teen graduating this year? The transition from high school to college can be a difficult and intimidating process for teenagers. Use these tips to help prepare your teen for the challenges ahead.

Have the Talk… Again

On college campuses, teens may be pressured to drink alcohol and do drugs to a greater extent than they were in high school. Even if you've already had the talk with your teens about staying away from alcohol and drugs, now is the time to reinforce your expectations. Try sharing your own personal stories about times you resisted peer pressure to relate to your teen on another level.

Research the College

Preparation is key. Once your teen has decided which college to attend, research what resources are available for your teen. Is there someone to talk to about peer pressure? Are there any fun activities on campus that don't involve alcohol? What steps do the college officials take to prevent underage drinking on campus? These are all important – and valid – questions to ask during campus visits. Once you've collected the information, be sure to sit down and share it with your teen. 

Stay Involved

After classes have started and your teen is settled in, stay involved! Take advantage of visiting days for parents to check on your teen and meet any new friends or roommates. Frequently ask about your teen's grades. Drinking in college tends to lead to a decline in grades, so keep your eyes open for this warning sign.

At LiveFree!, your teenagers are our top priority. We work to provide education, guidance, and support that keeps our teens safe and healthy during their adolescence. Learn more about our mission and vision on our website.

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Countryside High LiveFree! Club

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Q: What inspired you to join the LiveFree! Club in your school?

A:  My president from another club introduced it to me and I love the idea of helping people and setting a good example for the younger generation. Also, to set a good example for kids and help them find a positive view on life.

Q: What are some of the goals and accomplishments that your school’s LiveFree! Club focuses on?

A: We have done a couple of activities to advertise the negative effects of drugs and bring up the awareness of our school. We are also going to Elementary Schools to teach 4th Graders the negative effects of drugs and smoking and we aspire to spread the word further than the few we have gone too.

Q: As a member of LiveFree!, what kind of advice would you give to a friend or fellow student who is struggling with alcohol or drug use?

A:  I would guide them to a terminal that would be able to help or I might offer an alternative action and try to put them in the right direction of helping or hanging out with a different group.

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Q: What are you most proud of as a member of the LiveFree! community?

A: In LiveFree! I am able to display my righteousness and influence others through my good actions. Also I am proud to work with my fellow club members and other young kids and help them to decide what to do with their lives in a positive way.

Q: What kinds of hobbies and extracurricular activities do you all enjoy during your spare time?

A:   Studying, Robotics, math club, basketball, hanging out with friends, watching TV, and especially volunteering.

Q: What do you want to be when you enter a professional career?

A:  “I want to go into the Bio-tech and Bio-chem or Engineering fields”. – female student  “Mechanical Engineer”- male student

Q: What has been the most important lesson learned as a member of the LiveFree! club in your community?

A:  There is a difference one can make in their community and helping out is fun and beneficial for all.

Q: What has been the most important lesson learned as a member of the LiveFree!  club in your community?

A:  The most important lesson we have learned is to help out where we can and every action has an effect on the lives of those involved. 

Kick Butts Day 2015!

Celebrate Kick Butts Day on March 18, 2015 by learning the dangers of tobacco use.

Kick Butts Day is a day to empower and educate youth about tobacco use. Why is this important? It is estimated that 2.7 million high school students in America, and over 70,000 in Florida, have smoked tobacco in the past month. How can you prevent your teen from making the same mistake? Try these tips:

  • Talk about the consequences. It is well-known that tobacco use leads to health issues such as lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and stroke. However, most teens that think these effects are far off in the future and won't impact their lives. Make sure your teens are also aware of short-term effects such as bad skin, a weakened immune system, bad breath, and reduced athletic performance.
  • Make sure teens know there are no safe alternatives. Hookahs and e-cigarettes are sometimes viewed as safe alternatives to cigarettes, but that is not the case! Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke tobacco, the same dangerous and addictive substance found in cigarettes. Although e-cigarettes are free of tobacco, most contain other harmful chemicals and toxins.
  • Be a role model. If you don't want your teen to use tobacco products, set a good example by not using tobacco yourself. If you already smoke, make an effort to quit, and discuss with your teen that starting was a mistake in the first place.
  • Prepare for peer pressure. All teens are vulnerable to peer pressure. Try role-playing different scenarios with your teen and planning out ways to say no. Or, share stories from your past where you were confronted with negative peer pressure and discuss how you dealt with it. 

At LiveFree!, your teenagers are our top priority. We work to provide education, guidance, and support that keeps our teens safe and healthy during their adolescence. Learn more about our mission and vision on our website.

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Pinellas Park High LiveFree! Club

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Q: What inspired you to join the LiveFree! Club in your school?

A: We joined LiveFree! at our school to take a stand against drugs and inspire others to make healthy choices.

Q: What are some of the goals and accomplishments that your school’s LiveFree! Club focuses on?

A: We partnered with Home Depot earlier this year and worked with them to build a shoe display in remembrance of lives lost to drinking and driving, and we have made it our theme this year, and we will be bringing it to display at the 2015 Town Hall Meeting in March.

Q: As a member of LiveFree!, what kind of advice would you give to a friend or fellow student who is struggling with alcohol or drug use?

A: Every day we make choices, good and bad, and being a positive influence on our friends, through this Club can make a difference and save a life.

Q: What are you most proud of as a member of the LiveFree! community?

A: Being part of this LiveFree! Club has helped us learn more about alcohol and other drug awareness and dangers, and how important it is to make healthy decisions, and that does not always mean the popular decision. So, having a ‘family’ in this club, makes it a little easier to stand up and say “NO,” and not back down. We are proud of all the positive change our club has brought to our school.

Q: What kinds of hobbies and extracurricular activities do you all enjoy during your spare time?

A: We enjoy going to the beach, playing sports, and going to the park; playing video games and listening to music.

Q: What do you want to be when you enter a professional career?

A: “I want to be a Nurse.” – female student “I want to be a professional football player”- male student

Q: What has been the most important lesson learned as a member of the LiveFree! club in your community?

A: The most important lesson we have learned is to be responsible for yourself, make healthy, wise decisions, and do your best to influence positive change in the world around you.

Q&A: LiveFree! Club Member Shares Her Experiences

Ever wonder what LiveFree! club members learn from their experiences? Read Joanna Miller’s story:joanna miller

 

Q: What inspired you to join the LiveFree! Club? How old were you when you joined?

I want to make a difference in the community.  I have been a member of LiveFree! since I was 11. 

Q: What are some of the goals and accomplishments that your LiveFree! Club focuses on?

I have been involved in all types of community events.  The speeding campaign was one of my favorites so far.

Q: As a member of LiveFree!, what kind of advice would you give to a friend or fellow student who is struggling with alcohol or drug use? 

Don’t throw your life away for drugs or alcohol.  If you are using already, get help.

Q: What are you most proud of as a member of the LiveFree! community?

That we help people in the community. 

Q: What kinds of hobbies and extracurricular activities do you enjoy participating in during your spare time?

I like to dance, sing, and write songs.   

Q: What do you want to be when you enter a professional career?

I want to be a professional studio owner or professional dancer.  

Q: What has been the most important lesson that you have learned as a member of LiveFree?

Alcohol and drugs have a negative effect on adults and children.