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The Telegram
  • Workshop focuses on ‘Risk and Thriving in Adolescence’

  • Connecting with Kids of Cornell Cooperative Extension Herkimer, Madison and Oneida counties presented “Risk and Thriving in Adolescence: Understanding and Supporting Youth Decision Making” on the Herkimer County Community College campus on Tuesday.

    The free workshop was for people who live and work with school-aged children and youth.

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  • Connecting with Kids of Cornell Cooperative Extension Herkimer, Madison and Oneida counties presented “Risk and Thriving in Adolescence: Understanding and Supporting Youth Decision Making” on the Herkimer County Community College campus on Tuesday.
    The free workshop was for people who live and work with school-aged children and youth.
    Connecting with Kids is supported by a grant from the Slocum-Dickson Foundation, said Jennifer Collins, 4-H educator in Herkimer County.
    “We apply for a grant once a year and it helps to bring in speakers free to the public,” she said.
    Nigel Gannon, a healthy living specialist for the New York State 4-H Youth Development Program, was the featured speaker and gave an interactive presentation highlighting adolescent risk-taking and how to support youth approaching or passing through the stages of risk-taking development.
    Gannon has 20 years of experience in education and youth development as an educator, advisor and researcher. He earned his doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, with a focus on adolescent mental health.
    Gannon said the workshop is an important part of outreach research used at Cornell.
     “By giving a presentation I can give information and gain feedback from those in attendance on how to improve research supporting youth development around the state,” he said.
    During his presentation, Gannon asked members of the audience why adolescents take risks.
    Many responded by stating the adolescent brain is not fully developed.
    “As and adolescent strength, speed, reasoning abilities and immune functions work at a higher rate than other age groups, yet overall morbidity and mortality rates increase 200 percent from childhood to late adolescence,” said Gannon. He went on to state the audience was in fact right and the brain of an adolescent is not fully developed.
    “The frontal lobe which directs cognitive control is not fully developed. There is an increased activity of pleasure and sensation seeking in the limbic system and there is a maturation imbalance due to a lack of skills that have not been fully developed. These findings show that adolescents are hardwired to take risks and it’s natural for them to want to try something unknown,” he added.
    Risk taking can be negative and positive, but it’s important for parents, teachers and anyone who works with adolescents to remember it is normal for youth to be taking risks.
    “The best way help adolescents take risks and make the right decision is to have a safety net of support from family, communities and youth,” said Gannon.
    Herkimer-Madison-Oneida BOCES animal and veterinary science teacher Joanne Daley said through the presentation she was hoping to gain pointers on how to recognize the signs of poor decision making, and also help her students and her growing great-nieces make better decisions.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The workshop really helped me understand why adolescents make the decisions they do and there were many helpful tips given that I can use as a teacher and as an aunt everyday,” she said.
    The next Connecting with Kids workshop will focus on “Strengthening Parent and School Connections” and will take place on April 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County office in Oriskany.
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