What Makes the WELL My Valentine

Valentine’s Day is a day reserved for loving gestures to those around us. I’ll be the first to tell you I love holidays on this level, and I waste no time gearing up for them prior to their arrival. However, this year, I find myself yearning to broaden my horizon and think of those outside my immediate circle — people who have made the difference for my family and me.

This year, my dearest Valentine goes out to a program that has made an extraordinary impact in the life of my son and the many other countless parents and students who live in the Wake County area. I’m referring to the Wade Edwards Foundation. Specifically, the Wade Edwards Learning Lab or the WELL as this incredible program is known.

I not only love the WELL, but adore it. The people who work there have dedicated their lives to enriching the students who walk through their doors each day. What this organization does is not just the basic afterschool programs that we often hear about. Sure, a student can receive tutoring and help with homework, even with college applications and entrance exam preparation. However, the WELL extends beyond these offerings. For many, like my son, the WELL is a game changer – a life altering agent that far exceeded anything we expected from an afterschool program.

When my son walked through the doors of the WELL, he was already a great student and excelled academically. We knew he was considering attending a university and contemplating a career in engineering. But, while he had excellent grades and an idea of what he wanted to do beyond high school, he, unfortunately, lacked leadership skills and the self-confidence for a professional career. More comfortable taking a role that would leave him unnoticed by his teachers, he often faded in the background. He rarely spoke up in class, and when he did, it was only because he’d been prompted or in need of a class participation grade.

However, the WELL’s programs changed him within a few months of his participation. My husband and I began to see a stark transformation in his demeanor. Instead of telling us that he was in a project team in class, he would announce that he was the team leader. Our son also began to become more socially engaged and to our surprise began developing new friendships. Not only did he improve his social skills, but he also began peer tutoring, engaging in community service work, and eventually working after school, gaining important life skills and training. Our son was changed, and I am confident that the WELL planted the seeds that gave rise to this new confident child.

I never imagined that life would become so different for our child. Through the WELL’s ambassadorship program and community service opportunities, our son not only cultivated his leadership skills; but realized the value he could offer to those around him. I am probably not alone in my affection for the staff and the generous volunteers that make up the Wade Edwards Foundation’s programs. I’m sure there are parents that are just like me, in awe of the sacrifices each member of the staff makes to enrich the lives of the families and students they touch. And like me, they’re most grateful for a staff that does so well at connecting with children and helping them see their potential.

So as I write this Valentine, I am not just appreciative for the WELL, but I am also indebted to it. The WELL saw the possibilities in my child and while others may have missed what he was capable of becoming, the staff of this organization didn’t. Now, a full scholarship recipient and research assistant at a Big Ten university, my child has a whole new world opened to him. I can say confidently that the WELL had a great deal to do with it. Composed of a staff that genuinely cares, this compassionate organization works not just for children’s academic success but personal success, too.

So today, while many of us will be taking the time to share love with the people in our lives that matter, I find myself wanting to share my appreciation for the WELL and thankful that they offer a safe afterschool program with the capacity to grow today’s youth into confident young leaders.


– Carolyn Alvarado

A Different Kind of Valentine’s Love Note

Usually, on Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking of creative ways to show my children how much I love them. Truth be told, I’ll probably find a way to embarrass them with a love note or a Valentine’s Day card tucked into a class notebook.

But this year, I also want to acknowledge a part of our village that enriches my teenagers’ lives every day. They say it takes a village, and I can say that this group has been there for my children in many ways academically. So I want this lovely group of people who are such a critical part of my children’s academic life to know how much we love and appreciate them – the Wade Edwards Learning Lab (WELL).

From tutoring to mentoring, the WELL has been a lifeline for my teens during afterschool hours and during the summer.  It was a pure gift for me to find the WELL when my children were transitioning from middle school to high school.  Everyone was welcoming and willing to help us navigate the complexity that is high school. It was so easy to engage with the staff at the WELL because they made you feel at home and made clear that they have your child’s best interest at heart.

They have given my teenagers the opportunity not only to complete homework in a safe, monitored environment, but to receive tutoring, when needed. And the WELL offers a variety of activites, including community service (WELL Service Warriors), Teen Talk, an open forum on teen issues.  Additionally, the WELL has served as a bridge program from middle school to high school and over the summer for my teens.  They offer various summer classes, including computer programming, and they arrange college tours.  This year, my daughter will represent the WELL at the Triangle Youth Leadership Conference at North Carolina State University.  It is through the mentorship and guidance at the WELL that my teens are striving for opportunities like this.

The WELL is an invaluable asset to my family and I sincerely want the staff that we love them and cannot thank them enough for their continued efforts.  To all of the WELL staff, we love and appreciate you!

– Catina Cain, JD

We’re Taking Action on Climate Change

ACE is excited to announce the launch of a new spring campaign, We Power Forward. We Power Forward is an online platform that allows young people across the country to take climate action and fight for renewable energy. Participants can support the campaign work of ACE Action Fellows in regions across the country both digitally and by attending local actions in person. Read more…

What is We Power Forward?

The We Power Forward campaign, a project of the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), is a unique way for young people across the country to take climate action and fight for renewable energy. The campaign continues the momentum and excitement of the Get Loud Challenge, which concluded in May 2016 and involved over 130,000 young participants (ages 13-24) in all 50 states taking highly visible, online and offline climate action in a competition framework. We Power Forward continues to engage and empower these incredible young people to step up, speak up, and take action on climate change. The We Power Forward campaign currently does not offer any prize incentives.

How does it work?

#WePowerForward connects young climate leaders across the U.S. and enables them to support each other in climate action. Through our interactive, digital platform participants are able to seamlessly share national climate content on social media and get updates about opportunities to attend local actions in person.

Who is the Alliance for Climate Education?

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2008. Our mission is to educate young people on the science of climate change and empower them to take action. By inspiring youth to take action with a frame of justice and optimism, we are shifting the national discourse on climate in ways that are proven to affect public opinion and policy. Learn more about our work by visiting acespace.org.
Have questions? Contact us at [email protected].

Science-backed Study Skills Every Student Should Know

For most courses from middle school through college, exam scores determine at least 50 percent of a student’s final grade. So it’s critical that every student knows how to do well on tests. As many parents are frustrated to learn, teachers rarely have the time to teach study skills. Even if they do, they’re likely to emphasize such tried-and-true methods as highlighting texts or rereading class notes—methods, it turns out, that aren’t that effective after all.

Of course, the first step toward helping your child do better on tests is to ensure they’re paying attention in class. You might be shocked to learn how distracting today’s classrooms can be, especially if a school allows cell phones or advocates “flipped” classrooms that emphasize group work and watching instructional videos.

Teachers in these environments don’t have the time or resources to ensure that all 30 students are paying attention, taking notes, writing down testing dates, and turning in class assignments. Also, if your child attends public school, make sure you’re signed up for a Powerschool account so you can monitor their assignments, grades and attendance. If your child isn’t doing well, review their notebooks and planners to find out if they’re writing down due dates and keeping their notes and handouts organized; don’t hesitate to contact the teacher for a conference.

Even if your child is a good student “citizen,” it’s unlikely they know how to study effectively. A recent wave of cognitive research has led to consensus on the handful of strategies that really work. You can empower your child by sharing these five strategies, which scientists have recently proven to be the most effective way to learn and retain information:

Elaborative interrogation, or answering why a fact is true: Students who get into the habit of asking, “why?” while reading a chapter in a textbook, reviewing a handout from their teacher or doing online research will be better able to retain the material than those who simply process information without engaging in self-questioning. “Why” questions seem to work by helping learners integrate new facts with things they already know. An easy way to explain this to your child: Have them pretend they’re babysitting a curious 3-year-old who’s always asking “why” questions. Sure, preschoolers aren’t very likely to ask questions about cell mitosis or the reasons for the War of 1812, but coming up with them anyway will help students make important connections that passive reading doesn’t encourage.

Self-explanation, or explaining what a section of text or an example problem means to you: This strategy is similar to the one above in that it asks students to be active rather than passive consumers of information. According to researchers, self-explanation—taking the time after every few pages of a chapter or when finishing an article to explain what they learned—prompts students to draw conclusions and make connections with what they already know.

Such explanations should go beyond summarizing to reveals gaps in understanding. The more difficult the material or the harder the text, the more beneficial this strategy is. A good way to help students conceptualize this process: Pretend that their teacher will ask them to explain the concept or problem they’re learning to the class.

Practice testing, or testing yourself on the material you’re trying to learn: Taking tests helps students ace tests. There’s no way around it. This is a good thing: Practice tests give students valuable feedback about what they know and what they still must learn, whether it’s algebra 2 or Spanish 2. When you answer a test question, you must actively search your long-term memory,” writes Dr. Winston Sieck in his blog Thinker Academy.

“Doing so creates more and better pathways to the answer. This makes the answer easier to find the next time around. Scientists sometimes call it ‘retrieval practice.’” Many textbooks feature questions in each chapter or unit; encourage your child to do these, especially if the answers are provided. And here’s where flashcards—one of the few tried-and-true methods confirmed as effective by science—come in. Kids who are more digitally inclined can use a free online service called Quizlet to create their own digital “flashcards.” The bottom line: Testing before the test means better results.

Distributed practice, or spreading studying out over several sessions: Students are famous for cramming; think back to your all-nighters in the campus library. But science proves that it’s much more effective to study in small chunks over a period rather than all at once. Cramming is ineffective in many ways; for one thing, our attention spans are limited.

For another, the process of spreading one subject out over several days forces the memory to have to restart at the beginning of each study session, which, as counter-intuitive as it seems, is a good way of strengthening the brain’s ability to retrieve information, scientists say. While there’s no way to really prevent cramming, you can help your child get into the habit of studying a little every night.

Interleaved practice, or mixing different kinds of subjects/problems together when studying: This strategy surprised scientists. They used to believe students should study one thing at a time. Recent research turned that notion on its head. Now, scientists say, studying more than one concept or topic during a single setting helps improve understanding and retention, whether the subject is physics or art history. In one recent study, for example, students were asked to learn the painting styles of 12 different artists by looking at six samples of each artist’s work.

Some participants were shown each artist’s paintings consecutively, while others viewed all 12 in mixed order. When tested later, the students who had seen the paintings in mixed order were better at matching them with the correct artist than those who had studied each artist’s paintings in one group. The reason, it seems, that when students mix things up, they are better able to compare and contrast, which leads to deeper understanding. How to apply this: Encourage your student to not only study a little bit every day, as in the suggestion above, but to study for each class, or within each class, different problems, rather than setting aside specific days for different subjects. This advice is especially applicable to students with A-B schedules, who have core classes on alternating days.

Source: “Improving Students’ Learning with Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions from Cognitive and Educational Psychology,” by John Dunlowsky et al. From Psychological Science in the Public Interest, January 2013.



Taking Care of Your Essential Self

If you read the WELL’s January newsletter, you may remember that each month we’ll be focusing on one of five important components of well-being:

  1. your social self (family, friendship, and romantic love)
  2. your essential self (your spirituality, cultural identity, and self care)
  3. your physical self (exercise and eating well)
  4. your creative self (your thoughts, your emotions, what you do for work/study, and your sense of humor)
  5. your coping self (what you do in your leisure, your stress management, and your self-worth).

Last month we gave some tips on improving our social self and family communication. This month we’d like to highlight the essential self and offer some ideas to improve our connection to spirituality, cultural identity, and self care.

Our spirituality refers to our sense of purpose, meaning, and a feeling of hope towards life. Spirituality could include prayer, worship, meditation, belief in a higher power, compassion for others, a sense of connection to all of life or oneness with the universe. Cultural identity can give us a sense of community and belonging, and can help us feel supported and comfortable with who we are.

Cultural identity can give us a sense of community and belonging, and can help us feel supported and comfortable with who we are.

Self care encompasses all the habits we have that make us feel healthy, rested, and energized. Anything that we do to improve our quality of life and our longevity can be considered self care. Many parents are so used to giving all they have to their kids that they often forget to care for themselves. Sometimes we might think we’re being selfish if we focus on ourselves or make our own needs for relaxation, balance, or rest a priority.

Writer Audre Lorde disagrees: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” Taking care of ourselves allows us to be able to care for those around us and be more present for friends, family, and community.

These are a few suggestions to get you started on your journey to wellness in the realm of the essential self. If you’d like to explore this or any of the parts of well-being a little more in depth, visit our website to set up an appointment.

  • End each day with a gratitude practice. As your day comes to an end, take a few minutes to pause and reflect on things that went well, moments of joy, people or animals you appreciate in your life. Notice the small things — a good meal, a beautiful sunset, a warm bed, or a friendly neighbor — that bring you comfort. You can start a journal where you record your daily thoughts on gratitude or just quietly savor the warm and uplifting emotions that come up as you tune into what you are thankful for. Gratitude is linked with life satisfaction, mental health, and can help us cope with stress.
  • Find opportunities to share family or cultural stories and celebrate your ethnic background in community. Make every month your history month by passing on traditions, and bringing your cultural perspective and pride into your family, community, and daily life. Use your voice and share your heritage through meals, music, memories, and values. We all grow and expand as a society when every unique culture is heard and celebrated. Explore the roots of your traditions and share them with others.
  • Take advantage of local resources that educate and inspire. Explore the collections at the North Carolina Museum of History and Museum of Art, visit places like the African American Cultural Center on NC State’s campus for events and exhibits, the Triangle Lebanese-American Center, Diamante in Cary and the Hispanic Family Center to build community and connect to your heritage. Wake County Public Library has many free documentary videos available through their website that cover significant events and moments in our country’s multicultural history and arts. Log in with your library card number and PIN to access NC Live, which has films on many subjects including Roberto Clemente, Zora Neale Hurston, Geronimo, Deaf culture, the Harlem Renaissance, and the acclaimed series, Eyes on the Prize, available for viewing.
  • Find ways to take a movement break. Exercise and healthy habits don’t have to be a time-consuming chore. Instead, find ways to change what you are already doing so that you add a little bit of physical activity and make it fun. For instance, choose stairs instead of taking an elevator or escalator, park your car further out in the lot to add to your walk into work or on errands, and get up and take breaks to stretch and roll your shoulders back when you have been sitting for a while. But don’t just add movement, try to make it feel good. Find a way to walk that feels relaxing or enjoyable. You can walk mindfully, noticing how each step on the earth feels to your foot, noticing the sway of your hips, or say to yourself as you walk: “Breathing in, I am walking, breathing out I feel peace.” If you like to dance, put on a favorite song and take a 5-minute dance break during your day to reconnect to your spirit while getting some healthy movement in. Be creative!






Is Your Dating Teenanger in Danger?

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Teen dating violence looks a lot like adult dating violence – with one major difference: it’s vastly underestimated and misunderstood. In fact, 81% of parents either don’t think dating violence is an issue in teen relationships or don’t know if it’s an issue.

Teen dating Violence is a huge issue among young people: 1 in 3 teens will experience some form of dating abuse as teenagers. But, how many teens are actually “Dating?” Among 8th and 9th graders alone, 72% say they are.

So what does it look like? Teen dating violence starts out much like adult dating violence, with power and control at its core. These relationships begin with psychological and verbal abuse and often escalate into physical and sexual abuse. Nearly 1.5 million teens are victims of physical abuse from a dating partner each year. However, teens may not understand that what they’re experiencing is abuse. Often, this is their first relationship. With nothing to compare to, teens misinterpret jealousy, manipulation, and controlling behaviors as signs of devotion and love.

With the rise of technology, digital dating abuse has sprung up among teens. Signs of digital dating abuse include: repeated phone calls and text messages; demanding passwords for social media; using location apps and GPS to monitor a person’s movements; sending unwanted or explicit photos; demanding explicit photos in return; sending threats, puts downs, or insults via status updates; and controlling friends, status updates, and messages on apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

February is halfway over, and there’s no better time to talk to your teens about dating violence. Familiarize yourself with the specifics by visiting sites like Break the Cycle and LoveIsRespect.org, or by following our teen-focused social media accounts (InterAct_Teen) on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Less than 1/3 of teens in abusive relationships ever told anyone. Let your teen know that you’re always a supportive and non-judgmental person for them to come to, even if they aren’t supposed to be dating. Teens deserve happy, healthy relationships too!

Alliance of Climate Education Assembly

The Latest from Alliance for Climate Education

By: Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) 

ACE Assembly High school teachers we are now booking school requests for our multi-media, award-winning, live, climate-science ACE Assembly for the 2016-2017 school year! As always, our presentations are free, but we appreciate school honorariums to keep our programs running. For more information on our assembly and to book online you can go to: www.acespace.org/assembly. If you have any questions, please email Briana Steele at [email protected]

Our Climate Our Future — We now offer an online climate education resource, Our Climate Our Future, which brings the dynamic, multimedia content of the ACE Assembly directly into your classroom. Check out a trailer here. Teachers, organizations, schools and more can check out this to get access to a host of exciting resources, including:

  • Climate science, told through animation and aligned with Next Generation Science Standards
  • Stories from young people impacted by climate change from across the country
  • Innovative climate solutions
  • Opportunities for students to take action via trivia, texting and social media
  • Spanish and English subtitles
  • Teacher resources to use during and after Our Climate Our Future: interactive trivia, background reading materials, student worksheet, answer key and discussion guide, additional climate videos, readings and questions on climate science topics such as: ocean acidification, ice cores, El Niño and more

Stalking Awareness Month

By: InterAct

Hello Parents and welcome to 2017!

Did you know that January is Stalking Awareness Month? Stalking is generally defined as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” Stalking includes behaviors like following a person in public or showing up somewhere they do not want you to be, excessive phone calls, emails, or texts, threats, destroying property, and spying with listening devices or GPS. Annually, there are 7.5 million victims of stalking in the United States. The vast majority (61% of women and 44% of men) of victims are stalked by a current or former dating partner. With the ease of technology, cyber-stalking is increasingly undertaken to threaten, harass, and scare victims. Overall, almost half of stalking victims reported one unwanted contact per week.

Stalking has a huge impact on the victim. Many victims report severe depression, insomnia, anxiety, and social dysfunction. Almost one-third (29%) of stalking victims believe that the stalking will never stop and almost half (48%) report being afraid of what will happen next.

While the definition of stalking varies state-to-state, it is illegal in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. In North Carolina, stalking is defined as “Willfully on more than one occasion follows or is in the presence of, or otherwise harasses, another person without legal purpose and with the intent to do any of the following: (1) Place that person in reasonable fear either for the person’s safety or the safety of the person’s immediate family or close personal associates. (2) Cause that person to suffer substantial emotional distress by placing that person in fear of death, bodily injury, or continued harassment, and that in fact causes that person substantial emotional distress;” And is classified as a misdemeanor on the first offense, and a felony on subsequent offenses.

So what can you do if you or your child is the victim of stalking? First, do not destroy any evidence. As scary as it is, one-third of stalkers are repeat offenders, having stalked other victims before. It is important to save every message, call, text, or email, and write down every time you saw the stalker in public. Because stalking is defined as a repeated behavior, this evidence is important to establish a pattern. Second, lending a supportive, non-judgmental ear to listen to your child will help keep them safe. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers, there are resources! Visit stalkingawarenessmonth.org or victimsofcrime.org for more information.

Wellness in the New Year

Wellness in the New Year

Happy 2017! “New year, new me” might be the mantra of people everywhere at this time of year, but what about “New year, improved me”? A common mistake that people make when creating their New Year’s resolutions is attempting to completely reshape themselves. While it’s always good to better oneself, you don’t want to get rid of your strengths or the great parts of who you are.

Researchers who study wellness, or a person’s positive well-being, find that there are five important components of well-being: your social self (family, friendship, and romantic love), your essential self (your spirituality, cultural identity, and self care), your physical self (exercise and eating well), your creative self (your thoughts, your emotions, what you do for work/study, and your sense of humor), and your coping self (what you do in your leisure, your stress management, and your self-worth). Together these five parts make up your overall feeling of well-being and health. Sometimes, improving one area can help improve your whole self. What can you and your family do to increase your wellness this year?

Each month in this column, we will offer suggestions for improving one of the components of wellness. If you’d like to explore your own wellness a little more in depth, give us a call at CCERC or visit our website to set up an appointment.

Here are your tips for improving your social self and family communication!

  • Do something together as a family once a week. Establish a routine that everyone can enjoy and look forward to. It can be the same thing each week, or you can mix it up and allow everyone in the family to choose what that week’s activity will be. Maybe you can all watch a movie together, go to the park, or make a meal together. Make sure to choose an activity that is a moderate length of time (at least an hour), because any shorter doesn’t allow everyone to get engaged.
  • Put down the electronics sometimes. Both parents and kids are often guilty of being glued to their tablet, smartphone, or computer. Establish a time in the day that is electronics-free in which everyone puts down their devices. You can all use that time to do something fun, like learning a new skill or playing a game.
  • Exercise together. Exercise is one of the most difficult resolutions to stick with. But it doesn’t have to be. Exercise is more fun in a group! There’s many different things you can all do to make sure you’re moving around. You can go on a walk together, do a YouTube exercise video in the living room, or sign up for a local fitness class. (This tip helps you improve your physical self too!)
  • Join a community group that you and the kids can go to. With everyone having different responsibilities and schedules, it can be difficult to engage your social self. Having a group of friends at your local religious center, YMCA, Jaycee Center, or community recreational center can really help when you want someone to talk to. That goes for teenagers too; it’s good for teens to be able to let off steam with their peers.

These are just a few suggestions for increasing your social and family wellness. We at CCERC wish you luck in finding the improved you!

J’Nyce’s Story – Preparing Students For Life After Graduation

Not all students have parents willing or capable of setting them up for success. At the WELL, we’re all about post-secondary preparation, equipping students not to simply graduate from high school but to excel in life after graduation.

Take J’Nyce Poe for instance. In high school, she struggled with procrastination and apathy. Then she came to the WELL. While many of her peers stressed out about the SAT and college applications, J’Nyce was confident knowing her WELL tutors and mentors were preparing her for success in college and beyond. J’Nyce is now a student at North Carolina Central University.

“Coming to the WELL allowed me to get the help I needed in school and explore different opportunities after school. From ‘letting it all out’ at Teen Talk on Thursdays, to giving back to the community through WELL Service Warriors, to developing life-long skills through the WELL Rounded program, the WELL became a gateway for great opportunities for me,” J’Nyce said.

To help us equip more students like J’Nyce for success in life after high school, consider a gift towards our end-of-year campaign.