Powerful Words Member School On Good Morning America

Andrew Lesmerisis of Communities that care and Powerful WordsBy: Dr. Robyn Silverman

Congratulations to Platinum Member Powerful Words Member School, Midcoast Martial Arts, for doing extraordinary work with young people in Camden, Maine. Featured on Good Morning America for helping Camden get their staggering suicide and drug numbers down, Midcoast is helping to do their part by teaching children that they are worthwhile, that they can achieve, and of course, that they can stay engaged with people who care like the teachers over at Midcoast Martial Arts.

Drug and alcohol abuse reached crisis levels in 2001, when Maine’s teen suicide rate was 50 percent higher than the national average.

Along with Powerful Words, Midcoast is part of a program called Communities That Care,  that surveys students starting in the fifth grade to determine their risk factors. The program helps to rally teachers, such as instructor Mr. Andrew Lesmerisis, owner and chief instructor at Midcoast, to take an active role in helping his students and the children of Camden, to thrive.

“We look to provide opportunities  for kids to learn skills (martial arts, character. leadership) and make sure to recognize their accomplishments (belts, POWerful Words Stripes, Patches, Cards, etc.) especially when they go out into the community.  This builds a level of trust for the kids/teens that there are caring adults that want to see them be successful.  This leads to the students becoming bonded to the school where we try to set clear standards of behavior (POWerful Words plays a huge role here!) which due to the bonding is more likely to take hold and lead them to be healthy and more active in the community in positive ways.” –Andrew Lesmerisis

The researchers at National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of National Institutes of Health (NIH) have followed  Camden along with 11 other towns who implememted the Communities that Care philosophy to get teachers, instructors, clergy, and other adults and mentors involved in their youth– and compared them to 12 communities that didn’t use this approach.

The results were dramatic: By the eighth grade, students in towns where the CTC was in place were more than 30 percent less like to take up alcohol and tobacco and 25 percent less likely to engage in delinquency than in those where it was not.

The program is really, simply, a philosophy.

The results of this trial confirm that tools do exist that give communities the power to reduce risk for multiple problem behaviors across a community. What makes Communities That Care unique is that it enables communities to identify their own special issues so they can hand pick the right prevention programs.  –Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director

Because it’s a philosophy rather than a set canned course of action, it allows Mr. Lesmerisis and other adults in town to customize how they convery that philosophy.  We are so proud to be part of Mr. Lesmerisis’ and MidCoast Martial Arts’ approach to helping Camden’s young people.

For Mr. Lesmerisis, Powerful Words fit in with the CTC philosophy.

POWerful Words fits in perfectly.  It helps us send a clear message about healthy beliefs and standards.  Not only do we talk about it in class, it’s posted all over the school (banners, challenge sheets) but it also becomes a method for them to use the skills in a positive (pro-social) way.  For example, last month with Citizenship we are putting the Words into Action by doing and Kick/Grapple Thon to raise money for Five Town Communities That Care.  They get to take all those Citizenship skills and knowledge and put it into practice in a way that benefits the community.  We (Mid-Coast Martial Arts & Five Town CTC) make sure that the students get recognized with thank you cards and press releases, not to mention claps and cheers at the ceremony itself.

The BEST part of both CTC and POWerful Words to me as an instructor and school owner is that I don’t have to guess or feel or assume or hope that we are helping kids to be healthy, we KNOW it!

They really are helping their students! The amazing results were published in the Sept. 7 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. They demonstrated that these types of community-based coalitions using customized evidence-based approaches can indeed help prevent the early initiation of substance abuse and delinquent behavior among young people.

*Binge Drinking by 10th grade students*(more than five drinks in a row in last two weeks):

2004 – 29%

2008 – 15%

*Marijuana Use* (Ever Used) by 8th grade students

2004 – 9%

2008 – 2%

*Cigarette Use* (Ever Used) by 8th grade students

2004 – 10%

2008 – 1%

*Drunk or High At School *8th grade

2004 – 11%

2008 – 5%

*Opportunities for Pro-Social Involvement in the Community* (Higher is Better)

2004 – 46%

2008 – 63%

*Recognition for Pro Social Involvement *(Higher is better)

2004 – 38%

2008 – 54%

We are so proud of the work you’ve done, MidCoast– not only for the town, but for our world.  Every child inspired and saved from drugs and suicide is another adult who thrives.  Congratulations on your amazing work.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs


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Children’s Physical Activity Level Drops Dramatically in Teen Years, Study Shows

Children’s Activity Level Drops Sharply in Teen Years, Study Shows

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

All you Powerful Parents out there whose older children and teens have the benefit of a great physical curriculum at their Powerful Words Member School, you just might be beating the odds. A long term study, out this week, has shown a sharp decline in children’s activity level between the ages of 9 and 15 years old. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), children at age 9 years old averaged about 3 hours of vigorous physical activity (MVPA) while teens, by the time they reached 15 years old, only averaged about 40 minutes of MVPA per weekday and 35 minutes per weekend!

“Lack of physical activity in childhood raises the risk for obesity and its attendant health problems later in life,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “Helping American children maintain appropriate activity levels is a major public health goal requiring immediate action.”

Lack of physical activity coupled with poor diet (lots of sugar in food and in drinks, etc.) is a dangerous recipe for poor health!

The Study:

  • Who was studied? More than 1,000 children from ethnically and economically diverse backgrounds. The researchers started to collect information on the activity levels of 9 year olds for four to seven days several years ago. Then they conducted follow up studies on the children when at age 11, 12, and 15 years of age.
  • How? The children’s activity was recorded with an accelerometer, a device that records movement, which the children wore on a belt.
  • When/where will it be published? Today, in the Journal of the American Medical Association
  • Authors: Philip Nader, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego, along with colleagues.
  • Why is so important? It’s recommended in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines that children and teens engage in at least 60 minutes of MVPA on most or all days.
  • What might be going on? While the study didn’t measure the reasons for the sharp decline, the researchers suggested that schools do, indeed, tend to limit physical activity as children grow into their teens. Recess is not typically part of the school day at that time and many schools do not require physical education either. Further, as sports become more elite and exclusive in school as the children become teens, the average athletes drop out and only the best athletes continue.
  • Interesting Facts:
    • Ages 9-11 years old: More than 90% of the children evaluated met the recommended level of 60 minutes of more of MVPA per day.
    • Age 15: Only 31% met the recommended level of MVPA per weekday and only 17% met the recommended activity level on weekends.
    • Plummeting levels: The researchers suggested that MVPA declined by about 40 minutes per day each year until the age of 15 years when the majority of kids failed to meet the daily recommended level of activity.
    • Gender issues: Researchers found that on average, boys remained more active than girls. Boys tended to spend 18 more minutes per weekday in MVPA than did girls and 13 more minutes per weekend day. Girls dropped below the recommended level of MVPA (at least 60 minutes per weekday) by age 13.1 years in comparison for boys, who did not drop below that level until age 14.7 years. For weekend days, girls dropped below the recommended level of activity at age 12.6 years while boys dropped below the recommended activity level for weekends at 13.4 years.

“When you are younger, it’s much easier to go out and do things spontaneously,” said James A. Griffin, deputy chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the national institutes’ Center for Research for Mothers and Children. “But when you get older, kids tend to play a video game or watch television with their friends. Parents need to be aware to help them balance that out a little better.”

It’s vital that we keep our children and teens active. As schools are not providing or requiring consistent and reliable physical activity, as powerful parents, we must ensure that our children are indeed getting the recommended physical activity they need each day. Children in martial arts, gymnastics, swimming, cheer, dance and other sports can work on their muscle strength, flexibility, and bone density as well as gain self confidence and strength of character through their Powerful Words Member Schools and Activity Centers.

Congratulations, Powerful Parents, for keeping your children committed to their health and beating the averages! Your child’s determination to stay healthy and fit during his or her teen years is more important than ever!