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Q&A Interview

with The Teen Compass creators Holly Hughes Stoner & Scott Stoner

Q What is the Teen Compass Wellness Notebook?

A

This notebook, which is designed for use in schools, provides a private place for teens to assess their wellness in eight, interconnected areas:

Handling Emotions, Relationships,

Care of the Body, Stress Resilience,

Rest and Play, Spirituality,

Organization, and School and Work

It also helps them learn about what they can do in each area to create more health and wellness in their lives, decide what changes they would like to make to become more healthy, answer reflective questions, and have a place to journal.

This wellness notebook is meant to:

    • promote self awareness,
    • to help teens realize that the choices they make each day are the building blocks of their adult lives,
    • and to empower them to make informed decisions that are in their long-term best interests.

When used in a group setting, opportunities become available for teens to discuss challenges in being well in each area, and to brainstorm ways to overcome those obstacles. Stresses are normalized and community is created.

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Q Where is The Teen Compass Wellness Compass being used?

A

Milwaukee Public Schools    Milwaukee, WI

Shorewood High School   Shorewood, WI

New Horizon’s Charter School   Shorewood, WI

Whitefish Bay High School    Whitefish Bay, WI

LaCrosse School District    LaCrosse, WI

Waunakee School District     Waunakee, WI

University School of Milwaukee   River Hills, WI

Chippewa Falls School District    Chippewa Falls, WI

West Allis-West Milwaukee School District    West Allis, WI

Boys and Girls Club      LaCrosse, WI

Dominican High School   Glendale, WI

Divine Savior Holy Angels High School   Milwaukee, WI

St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy   Delafield, WI

Nicolet High School   Glendale, WI

New Berlin School District     New Berlin, WI

Our Next Generation    Milwaukee, WI

Bruce Guadalupe Community School   Milwaukee, WI

Episcopal School of Knoxville   Knoxville, TN

Mercy Secondary School    Dublin, Ireland

and more places all the time

 

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Q Why is The Teen Compass important?

A

As one principal put it, “Our number one topic of discussion in our faculty meetings these days is the wellbeing of our students. We have many students who are depressed and anxious, and we are feeling helpless. We are now using The Teen Compass Wellness program to promote self reflection, meaning conversation between students and with staff, and to empower our students to enhance their own wellness and reach out for help. It is making us feel better about what we are offering our students.”

 

 

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Q What are teachers saying about this teen wellness curriculum?

A

“I have found that once we look at the eight important areas of wellness in The Teen Compass Wellness Notebook meaningful, thought-provoking discussions take place. Teens are talking and listening to their classmates and come to the conclusion that they are not alone in the world. They realize that other students have the same anxieties and frustrations in trying to gain independence. Ultimately, their wellness improves on the journey to adulthood.  The Teen Compass Wellness Notebook is great stuff-it makes sense!

Lisa Bromley

Health Teacher and Department Chair

Shorewood High School      Shorewood, WI

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Q Who do I talk to about bringing this to my school or district?

A

Email Holly Hughes Stoner at holly@theteencompass.org. She can answer any questions you may have.

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Q Is this curriculum expensive?

A

No, each consumable student notebook is $10 and each leader’s guide is $25.

Your Department of Public Instruction may have money set aside in the budget for the promotion of mental health.  This money could likely be used to help purchase these materials.

 

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Q How are people using The Teen Compass Wellness Notebook?

A

The book is written so that each area of wellness has it’s own unit. With in each unit are three sessions, the first one being a place to self reflect on that area of wellness in their own life and create wellness goals for themselves, the second a place to learn about what practices healthy people have in that area and reflect on their own habits, and the third provides space for thinking about how and why they might make a change in their life. The leader’s guide that goes with the notebook is designed for 26 sessions; an introductory session, three lessons for each are of wellness and a concluding lesson.  Many people use it just as it is written.

Teachers and other youth workers are very creative though and use the notebook in lots of inventive ways. Here are some of the ways they use it.  How might you use it?  Please us know your ideas.

As a skeleton for a holistic health class

As a supplement for a class on ethics and character

In an advisory group

By a counselor, therapist, or other youth worker for one on one wellness coaching

In a transitional program between middle school and high school

As the core of a school wide wellness initiative

With at risk teens as a way to better understand their choices and as an alternative to punishment

As a tools for group after care when teens have been hospitalized with mental health concerns

In teen wellness coaching groups

 

 

 

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Q Who has created The Teen Compass?

A

Holly Hughes Stoner, LMFT and Scott Stoner, LMFT have been working with families and teens for over 40 years.  Holly has been a high school teacher and then family therapist focusing on families with children for many of those years, and Scott has been a family therapist and well as a clergyman helping people of all ages, as they transition through life. They have also raised three children and now have two grandchildren. They live in Shorewood, WI.  They are also the authors of the Parent Wellness Compass,  parentwellnesscompass.org.

 

In their work, and in their lives they have seen the vulnerability and complexity of the lives of teens, and have thus created this resource. They are hoping that it will serve as a helpful tool for teens and the adults who care about them. They are hoping that through the use of this tool honest conversations will occur,  teens will reflect on their lives, and they will feel empowered to make healthy decisions as they build their adult lives.

 

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Q Why was The Teen Compass Wellness curriculum created?

A

As high school teachers and marriage and family therapists, we have listened to hundreds of teenagers talk about their lives. And as we listened, we became increasingly concerned about the well-being of those teens. These young people are on the cusp of adulthood and are making huge decisions that will directly impact their lives as adults. Their choice of friends, careers, where to live, what their intimate relationships will look like, and their decisions about alcohol and other drug use, are just a few of the choices they face. Many do not see that the day-to-day decisions they make now are building their futures. They have a choice about what their lives will look like. Will they choose a healthy lifestyle, or not? This curriculum helps them reflect upon these ideas.

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Q How can we support teens as they begin to think about making decisions that are in their own best interests?

A

When we provide a safe space and invite teens to be self-reflective and to think about their life holistically, we help them begin the lifelong process of being intentional about their health and well-being. The Teen Compass Wellness program has been designed to help raise students’ awareness and to emphasize the responsibility they have for their own choices. We introduce eight specific areas of wellness in this program to help teens begin to identify what they need to be paying attention to in the present. We’ve found that this approach encourages teens to begin to notice their choices and decisions and to form positive health habits, while also helping them realize that poor decisions made now can make life more challenging in the future.

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Q Why is it so important to talk with teens about their health and wellness?

A

The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as the “active process of becoming aware of, and making choices toward, a more successful existence.” Personal wellness occurs when we commit to a continuous, lifelong process of developing a lifestyle based on healthy attitudes and actions. The wellness process consists of increasing awareness and choosing options that result in growth and balance.

Teens, like adults, make decisions every day that impact their health in significant ways. Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily think that their current decisions will have a lasting
impact on their health, or that their decisions are the beginning of creating a lifestyle for themselves as adults. The Teen Compass Wellness Notebook is a resource designed to help make teens aware of the importance of their decisions before they are adults. Much depends on the quality of decisions they are making right now.

We hope that each student will come away from The Teen Compass Wellness program with a more complete and expansive understanding of what it takes to be healthy. Adolescence is a great time to internalize this truth, and a great time for them to begin to take responsibility for their health and well-being.

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Q What are some of the health issues facing teens?

A

There are many issues, including:

  • Violence
  • Nutrition and Eating Patterns
  • Intimate Relationships
  • Physical Activity
  • Internet Safety
  • Traffic Safety
  • Stress
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Depression
  • Bullying
  • Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drugs
  • Loss of Innocence
  • Suicide
  • Parents Divorcing and Remarrying
  • Abuse
  • Academic Pressures
  • Risky Sexual Behaviors
  • Step-Parent and Step-Sibling issues
  • Weight Issues

These issues are a part of all teens’ worlds in one way and another. The decisions they make in their lives regarding these issues are the building blocks of their adult lives and a lifestyle that will, over time, determine their futures around health and well-being. These topics need to be dealt with on a regular basis. A unit in a class at school, conversations with trusted adults, and an opportunity to share experiences with friends are all important pieces. The Teen Compass provides an additional holistic tool for those who are working with teens, a tool they can use to help teens see their own responsibility for making healthy decisions in order to create healthy lives.

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Q Why is it important for schools and other groups to offer programs using materials like The Teen Compass Wellness Notebook?

A

The journey toward health and wellness requires the care and support of others—we cannot be truly well by ourselves. With thoughtful, committed leaders, groups can provide a structure and a safe process for teens to take this journey. The Teen Compass Wellness materials help teens name what needs to be changed, and then supports them as they take steps that lead toward whole-person wellness.

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Click the arrows above to see additional comments from adults and teens who use The Teen Compass materials.

-The Teen Compass process creates a safe space for teens to say "yes!" to the journey toward​ ​greater​ ​health and well-being.