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The CGTI Blog is our spot for updating our communities on our latest news as well as the latest news on prevention, mental health, and other relevant topics. The CGTI Blog features guest spots from our Action Teams, Volunteer Staff and our Youth Advisory Committee!

Dealing With School Stress

May 16, 2022

Grades, scholarships, and college - all of these things give high schoolers today so much stress in their daily lives. This stress can negatively affect these teens' lives in many ways. So, how can students today mitigate their stress surrounding school?

Calming Techniques

I find that calming techniques really help during a stressful situation. One simple one that can be incredibly helpful is breathing in for five seconds and then out for five seconds. Another calming technique that may be helpful to you during a stressful situation would be to look around yourself and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and finally, one thing you can taste. 

Taking Care of Yourself

School can be stressful and feel very time consuming. However, taking care of yourself and your body should always be your first priority. For instance, if you are feeling overly stressed, try eating a meal, taking a shower, or even just simply going to bed. 

Do What Makes You Happy

Something I find helps me when I am most stressed while doing my calculus homework is stopping whatever problem I'm currently on and just doing something I find joy in. Whether that is going to my friend's house, taking a nap, or going rollerskating. It is always a nice way to de-stress from the school I am doing. 

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Why is Time Management Important?

May 9, 2022

By responsibly managing time, you can achieve more work in less time by being more efficient. Completing more work in less time can reduce the stress of having many incomplete things all at once. Having too many incomplete things going on can increase the feeling of being overwhelmed, which in turn can increase feelings of stress and anxiety. Finishing more work efficiently can lead to more free-time and lower stress levels. Follow the tips below to manage your time more efficiently! 

 

 

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The Do's and Don'ts of Helping Someone Experiencing a Mental Health Challenge

May 2, 2022

If you suspect someone is having mental health-related problems, you shouldn’t just ignore it. Assume you are the only person who is going to reach out to the person because your words will matter.

If a quiet person in your life starts to speak out or a loud person in your life starts to get quiet, this could be a sign that they have mental health-related problems. Even if you don’t know the person, but you notice the shift in their behavior you can tell someone in their friend group or a family member.

Ways to approach this type of situation in noticing changed behavior is to mention the changed behavior you have noticed and to express your concern. Based on how close the person is to you, you might approach this situation differently just remember to be sincere.

Check out these do's and don'ts and remember them next time you consider reaching out to someone! 

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The Road to Staff

April 18, 2022

Ignite Your Passion

The Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute is a place where you can find a community while helping your community. You can start attending the summer camp in middle school. As a middle school participant you get to have fun while learning about substance use prevention and how to become a better leader in your community. That first year is a year like no other. Everything is new. It's like stepping to a whole new world with so many possibilities. It can feel weird at first, everyone cheering and dancing while you are just a shy middle schooler, trust me I know. That foreign experience is beneficial, especially at that age. Feeling safe to be your authentic self in an environment makes it easier to make friends and learn things. That first year for me I started to figure out who I was by discovering what I wanted to do. At the age of 12, your world is a lot smaller and time passes differently. In middle school making an action plan of what to do at school feels like a set plan for the future. At least that's how it felt for me. I saw the ability to do something that gave me a purpose.

Color Your Future

Part of working on an action plan is making sure you are maintaining it year round. How you can make sure you are doing that is by going to Mid-Year. Mid-Year is a great place to reconnect with all your new friends from over the summer. It's also a great place to keep developing your leadership skills and action plan. You can see a future and you can set goals, but if you don’t put in the work nothing is going to change. As a middle school participant, you are the youngest group with so much to learn still. You are going to make mistakes; it's all a part of the journey of learning. Even though you are a part of the youngest group at camp you are a part of the group of leaders from your community. You are a leader and learning makes a huge difference. You have the courage to go to an unknown place and learn about preventing substance use and creating an all inclusive environment.

Defying Gravity 

Middle school comes to an end, and once you graduate from eighth grade you can become a high school participant. As a high school participant, you get to make more friends. You still get to enjoy workshops and general sessions. I would say the biggest difference is Discussion Groups. Discussion Groups in middle school are with people closer to your age and you have in common that you are all still new to TI. As a high school participant you are thrown into a group with people who have more experience being a leader in their communities. The great part about that is you get to learn from your peers not just about TI and being a leader, but also about what to expect in high school. The summer after eighth grade for me was a chance to prepare myself for starting my freshman year.

Hope

If I had to pick one year as a participant that I enjoyed the most, it would have to be my fourth year at CGTI. After going through middle school and my first year of high school, I felt at home when going back. When you get to know the people and get into the groove of how the days go both at Mid-Years and over the summer, you have more time to have fun. After three years of learning and growing out of the awkwardness, you get to enjoy the summer even more than before. What I learned is that you don’t feel weird participating in workshops and taking healthy risks once you become more and more conformable. Not only that but you can take even more leadership roles in your community. Age does equal more responsibilities. After being a high school participant, you can become a PALS member. A PALS member is a Participant with Advanced Leadership Skills. It is like training for being on Youth Staff. It's a lot more learning and practicing having a larger role in the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute. You still do action planning and watch the general sessions. Again the biggest difference is Discussion Groups. In PALS, you have PALS meetings where you learn things. You still process things from the workshops throughout the day, but the activities are different. Taking on being a PALS member is like saying you're ready to take a larger step in your leadership journey -  both in your community and in CGTI. PALS only happens in the summer,  meaning you could do PALS and still be a high school participant in the winter.

Growth

Just like PALS, Youth Staff only happens in the summer. For PALS you can do that the summer after your junior year. Youth Staff you do once you have done PALS and complete high school. Obviously in the past there have been exceptions and the circumstances of the world affected how TI did things in 2020 and 2021. Now we are back and better than ever. Youth Staff was such a special experience for me I will never forget. It was a long journey to get to be on Youth Staff and one worth taking. My world is a lot bigger than what it was in middle school. I had the typical moments of doubt about whether or not staff was for me. The great thing about Youth Staff is you get to learn, practice and have larger roles. You are there for staff trainings. You get to co-facilitate Discussion Groups and action planning. You have more responsibilities and with that comes the freedom of getting to learn how you fit in with the staff group. You are no longer working with your school peers, you are working with people who taught you. You get to spend time learning more from them, but also getting to know them. You never stop making friends at CGTI and you never stop growing into a better leader.

Home Is Where CGTI Is 

Home is where the heart is, home is where your chosen family is. A home is a safe place where you are allowed to grow. Where you can leave and come back, even if it's been years, and you are welcomed in with open arms. Home is where unconditional love and acceptance are. Home is an environment where you can learn how to be a better member of your community. Home is the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute. That is the biggest thing I learned throughout the years because after the time spent growing through CGTI, it really becomes your home. It becomes your family where you get to pass on traditions and wisdom to new members. Where you still get to learn from those who have been around longer than you. That's what being on staff truly is: you are a part of a family and you have an important role to play. Being on Volunteer Staff is just one step towards even more. I am just at the point of being on Volunteer Staff and one day I may be on the Leadership Team. Growth in CGTI truly never stops. The love for the people and missions of IABH, Snowball, Focus, and CGTI keeps growing. You can start at any point and be welcomed in with open arms. You could have no experience or a lot of experience in Snowball and CGTI regardless you are welcomed in with open arms. The journey to staff doesn’t just take one path. I told my journey based on what I experienced. Every single member of staff experienced a different journey and so will you. 

 

 

 

 

Tagged As: CGTI Mid-Year Staff
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Awkwardness, Social Anxiety, and Sonder

March 21, 2022

Humans, by nature, are social creatures. Humans are born to share ideas and emotions with each other. The very wellbeing and survival of a human being is significantly rooted in the social connections in one’s life. We even see it in our closest relatives, apes, who have their own family structures. So why, why is it that no matter how much we desire friendships, how much we want love, why is it so awkward to approach someone new? 

Human brains are naturally pessimistic. It’s very easy for the brain to consider the worst possible scenario, and when we approach someone new that’s exactly what we expect. We expect them to judge us, look at us suspiciously, or take advantage of us. 

It’s very much normal for the brain to generate these thoughts because it’s trying to protect us from being hurt. Our brains are always cautioned with new things. What’s great about our brains, though, is that they’re ours. Just like you can control the way  your hair looks, you can control how your brain reacts to people all with simple  knowledge, and it all takes one word: Sonder. Sonder is the realization that each  random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. So why is this important? Well it means that just like you were blast processing insecure thoughts before meeting that new person, they were doing the same. They too were worried about their smell. They too thought they had dressed too casual. The truth is, the #1 thing everybody has constantly on their mind is themselves. And it’s that fact that you can use to become a sociable person. 

Now this isn’t to say that everyone is a selfish egocentric person. All this means is that people are worried about sustaining themselves before even thinking of others. Let’s say you had to wear a really ugly sweater to school because all of your stylish clothes are dirty. Of course the first thought in your mind at school is how everybody is going to see how ugly your sweater is. Sure, someone may see it, but that someone is also too worried about how their hair looks to even think about making a judgement on your sweater. So next time you have a really awkward moment with someone, just know that by the time you get home they’ve already forgotten about it. They are busy thinking about their own awkward moments and mishaps. 

The truth is people are likely not thinking about your agenda or your insecurities, so really, they’re under your control! If people are constantly taking in only what's around them, then the world will see you for who you want to be. The judgements you place on yourself will be the judgements the world accepts.

The greatness of sonder is that you have all of the responsibility for who you are to yourself. It comes with realizing the anonymity of real life that potential for an enjoyable future can be seen. The world is a collection of over 7 billion unique, connected, and individual stories where it’s easy to get lost and feel small. Make yours stand out.

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Passion For Compassion

March 15, 2022

The Oxford dictionary defines compassion as, “sympathetic pity and concern for the suffering or misfortune of others.” This definition isn’t exactly on the positive side and makes compassion seem like it’s only meant for other people, when it’s important to have compassion for yourself and others. There are two different types of compassion: compassion for others and self-compassion. Both of these are equally important especially now. So join me on the passion for compassion journey as we explore compassion for others and yourself. 

Throw Compassion Around Like Confetti !!!!

Compassion is a combination of kindness and empathy, which is something everyone needs. However, sometimes it can be easy to forget. In this COVID-19 era, we quite literally have had a wall dividing us from those around us. It can make it harder to connect, express emotions, and help each other. Normally when a friend was having a bad day all you had to do was be their shoulder to cry on. Hug them and reassure them that everything was going to be okay. Sadly, we can't always do that anymore without the risk of COVID-19 coming into play. This can make it harder to be there for your friends and others. So that's where what I like to call COVID compassion comes into play. Here is how you can be there for your friends while keeping six feet apart:

  • It is the digital age so give them a call, shoot them a text, host a Zoom meeting. Humans are social by nature and that doesn't have to stop just because it feels like everything else has. 

  • Go on a social distance walk in nature.

  • Watch a movie together over Zoom.

  • Be a sympathetic ear. Just listen to what they have to say and offer support.

  • You can write letters to them. Letters are more personal and they do take some time to arrive, so it will make your friend's day when it does

Self Care Isn't Selfish!!!!

Here are some self-care gifts to give yourself:

  • Reach out to people you have not talked to in a long time. While writing this I sent a message to three friends I haven't talked to in a while, and honestly, it was the smartest decision I've ever made. It opened a door that otherwise wouldn't have been opened if I didn't send a message. We have been isolating ourselves for so long that we sometimes forget that we have the world at our fingertips. Because connecting with others is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

  • Plan a future trip you want to take when it is safe to do so. People are starting to get pandemic paranoia causing them to worry about when this will all end. Therefore hope is the most important gift you can give yourself. 

  • Limit social media usage. 

  • Pay attention to your feed. If it is more on the negative side, try and find more positive things to be looking at. It's one thing to be informed on current events. It is another to let the negativity of others dictate your life.

  • Create a playlist of music that you like and lifts your spirit. 

  • Trade in the COVID mask for a spa mask and give yourself a spa day. It is important to unwind no matter who you are - it never hurts to treat yourself. 

  • Laugh. People sometimes underestimate the power of laughter. Laughter is the best medicine. Even though it can't cure Coronavirus, it can cure the feelings of sadness and fear we all felt at some point during this pandemic.

Golden Nuggets:

  • Laughter is the best medicine. 

  • Treat yourself how you want others to treat you.

  • Keep it positive. 

 

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The Benefits of Yoga, Meditation and Relaxation for Teens

February 9, 2022

Despite the fact that yoga is becoming extremely popular among adults as a way to stay fit and stay healthy, most teenagers and young adults do not take it seriously. Personally, I was introduced to yoga because it was the only PE class available in my schedule junior year. I was very skeptical about it at the beginning, but with time yoga became an inevitable part of my morning routine, not only because of its physical benefits but psychological as well. Some of the scientifically proven benefits of yoga include better heart health, improved eating habits, reduced inflammation, and migraines. However, I think one of the biggest benefits of practicing yoga is the positive impact it has on our mental health. 

As a high school student, I do not necessarily experience big stresses in my life such as buying a house or losing a job. However, just like most teenagers, my life is full of constant small stressors  such as preparing for tests and AP exams, applying to colleges, managing school, and personal  life, performing well at sports, etc. Combined with the peer pressure and the pressure of deciding  our future, all these stressors on the developing teenage brain can lead to anxiety attacks or even  depression. This is when yoga comes into place. 

Practicing yoga 20-30 minutes a day gives me enough time to forget about whatever worries I have and allows me to focus on my body and mind. Relaxing yoga flows - Vinyasa Yoga - not only calms me down but helps me recharge and set the intention for the day. When I focus on not falling out of my pose or reaching my toes when stretching, I do not think about the upcoming tests or college essays I need to write, which helps me relieve my anxiety and decrease my stress levels. When I feel especially stressed, I like to do Yin Yoga, which is a slow meditative flow. If you are a beginner, it might be harder to hold some of the poses for a longer period of time, but this is why breathing is very important. 

Breathing is one of the most essential parts of yoga because it helps you remain focused and bring your attention back if it wanders. During the practice, it helps me remain balanced and deepens the stretch. I really enjoy doing 4-7-8 breathing (inhale for the count of four, hold the breath for seven and exhale for the count of eight) after my workout because it helps me calm down my body and my mind. By performing breathing exercises regularly, you will not only benefit psychically but also mentally, as breathing techniques are widely used to decrease stress levels and increase awareness of an individual's feelings and emotions. There is a wide variety of breathing exercises, so you can definitely find the one that would benefit you.

After a regular yoga practice or a workout, I like to spend a couple of minutes doing Yoga Nidra, which is a guided meditation. It is a great way to end the practice and set your final intention for the day. It helps me completely relax and recharge. Moreover, meditation is a great way to connect with your inner self, understand your worries and your feelings, which is also why yoga is used to fight anxiety and depression. It promotes self-love and encourages positive self-talk. You can also try doing Restorative Yoga to help relax your mind. Having a routine and knowing that your yoga mat is always there, waiting for you, can be very helpful in stressful situations and can even help fight depression. 

Lastly, doing yoga regularly promotes good sleep quality. Let's be honest, it's very difficult to find a high school student who is getting a good quality eight-hour sleep regularly. Practicing  yoga can definitely help with that. Whether you decide to do a quick 10-minute flow or a short meditation before going to bed, you will feel more relaxed and fall asleep easier. Therefore, yoga can be a great tool when fighting insomnia. And I think everyone would agree that a better sleep quality means better overall well-being, and more happiness, which we all desire so much.

 

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Tips to Stay Positive

January 24, 2022

Posted In: Positivity Attitude
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CGTI's College, Career & Resource Fair

May 3, 2019

Join us for the 45th Annual Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute (CGTI) Leadership Conference!

The Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute (CGTI) offers you the opportunity to showcase your organization, products, services and programs to youth and adult mentors who are seeking opportunities to be catalysts for change in their school and community.

CGTI is a youth leadership conference that offers opportunities for teens around the state to learn about leadership, healthy choices, and working with others to create better communities. CGTI empowers youth with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to lead an alcohol, tobacco, and other drug-free life by strengthening leadership skills and educating them to advocate for positive change within their school, community, and local government.

We will be holding a College, Career, and Resource Fair as part of our exhibitor hall this year! This group of energetic young people is an ideal audience to draw young professionals into the behavioral health field and to connect with different schools, businesses, and organizations.

How can YOU get involved?

  • Exhibit at our College and Career Fair/Exhibit Hall from 2:00-4:00pm on Monday, July 22!
  • Pre-registration is required.
  • Registration form is attached or online at: www.cg-ti.org/events.
  • Advertise your organization, business, college/university, or product in our manual – see form.
  • Sponsor an event at this year’s Teen Institute – see form.

For more information, please visit www.cg-ti.org or contact Ashley Webb, Director of Strategic Initiatives at ashley@ilabh.org or call 217.528.7335 ext. 12

 

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Call for Presenters

March 8, 2019

In July 2019, CGTI is conducting its 45th annual Teen Institute, a five-day leadership conference sponsored by IABH. It is an award-winning program that offers opportunities for youth around the state to learn about leadership, healthy choices, and working with others to create better communities.

This year the theme for CGTI 2019 will be HOPE (Healthy Outcomes through Prevention Education).

We are looking for dynamic presenters to empower our participants and communities, as they seek opportunities to be catalyst for change. We have several workshops available for middle school and high school participants, as well as workshops for adult mentors. We would love for you to present at CGTI this summer at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

Our budget for presenters is limited, but we will consider your request for an honorarium and/or reimbursement for travel and expenses. Presenting at CGTI is a great way to get your message (and your name) out to hundreds of youth and adults from across the state of Illinois.

Presentation topics should be related to:

  • Substance Use Prevention(ATOD opioid crisis, juuling/vaping, marijuana, & alcohol)
  • Leadership
  • Mental Health Awareness (self confidence, body image, positive self-talk, susicide prevention, stress management)
  • Communication (resume building, interviewing)
  • Bullying Prevention
  • Teambuilding and Facilitation skills

Teens Reaching and Achieving Excellence (TRAX) workshops will be held Monday, July 22 and Wednesday, July 24 for 60 minutes. Round Robins will be held Tuesday, July 23 for 60 minutes. General Sessions will be held Sunday through Wednesday for 45 minutes.

A firm deadline for submitting proposals is Friday, April 15, 2019 at 4:00PM. Should you have any questions regarding CGTI 2019, please contact Ashley Webb at ashley@ilabh.org.

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That's a wrap!

August 9, 2017

Another year in the books for the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute and it was one of the best ones yet!

Last month, we held our 43rd annual conference at Eastern Illinois University, a campus that we have happily called home base for five years. This year our theme was "Color Y(our) Future," with each of our discussion groups being named after a color. We thought color was the perfect representation for our camp: a bunch of individuals coming together to make something beautiful and bright!

As with each year, before we could begin welcoming our participants, our staff arrived Friday afternoon for a weekend of training. Between presentations and planning, scavenger hunts and trivia, we we're able to spend a little time bonding and prepping for the week ahead.

The participants arrived to our chorus of honking cars and cheering staff on Sunday afternoon and after unpacking and doing energizers, attended our opening ceremony. We also welcomed alumni back this year for our second Alumni Luncheon event.

This year's opening ceremony was extra special. We were proud to announce that our volunteer staff led a fundraising campaign that raised $26,477! 100% (75) of our volunteer staff exceeded or met their $200 goal, and we could not be more grateful to them and the many wonderful donors that helped us get to this point! With this money, we'll get a 2:1 match from the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations! Our fundraising efforts will continue with our 2:1 match until December 15.

The week was definitely busy, but in the best way. We had four wonderful general session speakers to start off our mornings: De'Marco Fomby, who spoke about our ability to influence; Julie Kelly, who spoke about how situations do not need to define you; Fabian Ramirez, who touched on the effects of bullying; and Eddie Slowiskowski, who used the art of dance and music to discuss life and success. Their energy and enthusiasm helped us wake up and prepare for the day!

On Monday and Wednesday, we had our TRAX (Teens Reaching and Achieving Excellence) Workshops. Each day featured multiple workshops for our middle school and high school participants that ranged from starting an Operation Snowball Chapter (prevention group in your school) to depression and stress relief to fostering leadership skills to suicide and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention, and college and career readiness. Participants are able to select workshops they would like to attend based on what skills they'd like to expand on or areas they'd like to learn more about.

On Tuesday we had our Round Robin sessions. Kevin Wanzer spoke about finding the funny in life in one of our sessions and a trivia gameshow about our program as well as pop culture was led in the other. What a great energy boost!

Each day our participants were able to meet with their discussion groups and Community Action Teams (CAT). In discussion groups, they were able to process the day's events, work on team building activities and bond with others from outside of their communities. Our CATs met to identify and focus on local issues and create action plans for their own specific communities.

We also had some special events each day! On Monday night, our discussion groups participated in a scavenger hunt based on our color theme. They were asked to find locations, discuss fun questions with their groups and participate in team building activities. On Tuesday, we had our Tuesday Night Live talent show led by our Activity Coordinators. All of our participants did a wonderful job taking the stage and sharing their talents with us! On Wednesday, we had our celebration. DJ Ritchie C led a dance in the main ballroom with board games set up in the other. Participants were also able to play games, bowl and swim, visit the CGTI store and relax during free time hours each day.

Each year we're are so amazed by what our staff and participants are able to accomplish at camp both in their groups and out. The plans created, the lessons learned, the bonds made and the fun had inspire us to make sure that our Mid-Year and our next camp are even BETTER and to continue finding ways to positively affect the communities and people around us! We can't thank everyone who participated and led this year for what wonderful memories they've left us with, what opportunities they've created and what changes they have already begun to make!

We can't wait to see all the positive change our participants make in their school and/or community over the next school year. We had such a great 2017 and we're looking forward to seeing everyone at our Mid-Year event January 13-14 to hear what's been accomplished since then!

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