We rarely comment on current events, but the Buffalo murders at the hands of an 18-year-old white supremacist hit us hard. To our friends and colleagues in Buffalo, we share your grief and anger and offer our support.

The young shooter subscribed to the racist theory that white people, like him, are being replaced by those he considers “other.” Those who promote “replacement theory” want white people to be terrified by the demographic changes that are turning the US from majority white to a multi-hued people. Replacement theorists promote the idea that these changes constitute an existential threat, a loss of identity and white power. They feed their audience on entitlement, hate, and rage, as if a white person’s troubles somehow come from the BIPOC, Jewish, Muslim, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ communities, and not from policies and environments that deprive too many of us–many white people included–of what we need to thrive. The Buffalo shooter is not the first to act on this theory by picking up a gun.

ACT for Youth is a small but diverse group of 11 people. We are multi-racial and multi-ethnic, representing identities across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum, from diverse economic and religious backgrounds, and from families that span a wide range of liberal and conservative views. Our diversity is a strength we are still learning to wield. We are still awkward around the conversations that we need to have, not always knowing what to say, what to expect, or how to be with each other in the context of inequities and injustices, particularly as they relate to our varying identities. But we do know that our different life experiences and perspectives give us range and understandings to help us meet the world as it is. Our diversity is not just something to celebrate, it is at the heart of who we are as an organization that aims to make change. The more we learn to cultivate this strength, the more effective we will be.

In this world, we need everyone’s strengths and gifts. We are grateful to all of you for the work you do to support young people’s growth, thriving, and connectedness. We grieve for the lives stolen in Buffalo. Each of them, and each of us, is irreplaceable.

– The ACT for Youth Team

It’s All About Healthy Relationships

This is another in a series of posts highlighting resources that may be somewhat deeply buried on the ACT for Youth website!

Helping Young People Build Relationship Skills

The ACT for Youth website links to MANY resources for educators.

Helping Youth Build Relationship Skills
Newly updated, this part of Preparing Youth for Adulthood connects you with program activities and curricula focused on healthy relationship education, as well as resources for young people.

SEL Toolkit: Relationship Skills
In this section of the SEL Toolkit, we link to strategies and resources that will help youth work professionals teach relationship skills.

Teen Dating Violence
Here we offer resources focused on violence prevention and consent for educators, parents, and youth.

Promoting Healthy Relationship Skills
What can we do to help youth repair and strengthen the qualities of healthy relationships? Mary Maley took on this question in her June 2020 webinar for CAPP, PREP, and SRAE providers.

The Role of Romantic Relationships

Adolescent Romantic Relationships
Why are romantic relationships in adolescence developmentally important? We take a look at that question here.

Enjoy browsing!

~ Karen

What’s on the Website?

With over 150 pages and 235 catalogued publications and presentations, the ACT for Youth website has a wealth of resources—but they’re not always super obvious! This post is the start of a series to highlight ACT for Youth resources you might be interested in that may fall outside of the CAPP, PREP, and SRAE sections.

Today I’ll highlight two free training manuals that you’ll find in the Youth Work Professionals section.

Positive Youth Development 101 Manual

The PYD 101 training manual is ACT for Youth’s most popular resource. Use this free curriculum to provide an orientation to the PYD approach to new youth workers, supervisors, funders, and community volunteers.

Jutta updated the training just before her retirement, adding new resources and activities as well as sections on developmental relationships, inclusive program environments, and deconstructing biases.

The manual includes the facilitator script, slides, activities, and handouts – all freely available on the ACT for Youth website!

Inclusive Program Environments

Another training curriculum I’d like to feature is Creating Inclusive Program Environments for Youth with Different Abilities.

This training aims to provide youth work professionals with information, practices, and activities that will help them promote inclusion and engagement for all young people – particularly those with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and/or trauma.

Again, the full curriculum, slides, handouts, and activities are easy to access on the ACT for Youth website. I hope you’ll explore it all!

These manuals are available to everyone in the field of youth work. If there is someone else in your organization who might benefit from them, please share.

Stay tuned for future “What’s on the Website” posts, and if you’re looking for something in particular on the site you can always contact me at

~ Karen

What Did You and Your Colleagues Have to Say about the 2021 BWIAH Provider Meeting?

Thank you to all who completed evaluations for the 2021 BWIAH Provider Meeting! Here’s a snapshot of what CAPP, PREP, and SRAE folks thought about how it went overall, with some ACT for Youth perspective salted in here and there.

What are the best months for your group to attend the BWIAH provider meeting? (Check all that apply).

CAPP, PREP, and SRAE respondents indicated that the best months are May and July, closely followed by August.

  • This result was a bit different from the other providers that participate in the event. For everyone else, May has little competition.
  • In comments, a couple of people pointed out that it is difficult to have the event during the school year. Nevertheless, May continues to be the clear winner for the Provider Meeting. The ACT for Youth training team has taken note of the popularity of the summer months for professional development and may be able to shift some trainings to the summer next year.

Do you prefer a free virtual or an in-person meeting with a registration fee?

Interestingly, 40% of CAPP/PREP/SRAE respondents were neutral on this question, while 36% prefer a free virtual event and 25% prefer to gather in person. In comments, people were certainly torn, missing seeing everyone but appreciating the flexibility of the virtual event.

Overall organization and communication

While the Provider Meeting got high marks overall for its accessibility, clear instructions, advance notice, and registration, there were suggestions for improvements in structure and communication:

  • Schedule: Having the meeting spread out over 4 days was not entirely popular. Some folks also commented that an hour between sessions was too long. Given the comments, people seemed to want a more concentrated event (fewer days, maybe more sessions per day, with less time between sessions.)
  • Emails: There were a LOT! Many people felt they got too many emails. For some, emails went into junk folders. Lesson learned: have fewer reminder emails from the event service and be sure that a few key instructions come from ACT for Youth.

CAPP/PREP/SRAE provider group meeting with DOH program advisers

While 66% of participants found this meeting valuable, there were some suggestions for next time. Stating the purpose of the meeting up front would have been helpful. Some of you would have liked to hear more of an update from DOH on what is happening around the state, and some wanted more of a focus on program issues. In general the evaluations showed that people do want more contact with their DOH program advisers.

Overall Content

There were lots of nice comments about the content and presenters overall, such as “I loved the sessions that I attended and thought that the presenters were excellent.” Many people asked about recordings, and you can find everything that was recorded, along with slides, on the 2021 BWIAH Provider Meeting web page.

Of course, we can always improve!

  • Lack of content warnings was problematic in a number of the presentations. Considering our theme was trauma, that was not very trauma-informed!
  • A couple of commenters pointed out that we may have gone in too heavily on the theme—they would have appreciated a wider variety of topics.

Looking Ahead

Thank you again to everyone who completed the survey! Don’t see your opinion represented here? You can leave it in the comments—and remember to fill out the evaluation next year. We really do listen! Planning for next year is underway and we are using your feedback as a guide.

Karen Schantz

~ Karen

Join Us to Celebrate Jutta!

We still can’t believe we’re saying this, but please join us (via Zoom) on Wednesday, June 23, 12:00-12:30, to say farewell to Jutta!

Share a story! Share a memory! Wish her well as she embarks on her next adventure! Look for the Zoom link in your email.

Jutta has connected us all across New York State, bringing clarity, curiosity, humor, and deep knowledge to all she does. We don’t want to say goodbye but we do want to celebrate her amazing career and thank her for all she has shared with us.

We hope to see you Wednesday! You can also leave a comment on this post.


The ACT for Youth Team

Reading Club Selection for September 25, 2020

Our thanks go to Wendy Ramsay of REACH CNY for this week’s selection:

New Resources for Confronting White Nationalism (article)

We’ll discuss this article, which is an interview with the developers of a toolkit to be used by any school stakeholder (including students, educators, parents, administrators, and the wider community) to combat white nationalist organizing in schools.

If you are interested in seeing the toolkit itself, use this link to request a copy from Western States Center:

Confronting White Nationalism in Schools Toolkit

Don’t forget to register for the Reading Club and join us Friday at 11:00!

Thank you, Wendy!

Reading Club Selection for September 11, 2020

For this week’s Reading Club meeting we invite you to listen to a 30-minute podcast from the Happiness Lab…Sounds like a good plan, right?

Podcast: Coach Yourself Through a Crisis

In “The Happiness Lab” podcast series, Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos guides us through the latest scientific research and shares surprising and inspiring stories that may alter the way you think about happiness and coping.

Register here for the 9/11 Reading Club discussion at 11:00.

Professional Development Opportunities

Un/Filtered: Sexuality in the Connected Age

With this very timely topic, the Healthy Teen Network annual conference is virtual this year. Special flash sale on registration ends September 4! (You can still register for this November conference at a higher rate after the 4th.) #HealthyTeen20

AJSE Lecture Series

The American Journal of Sexuality Education (AJSE) has announced its September and October lecture series, which begins Wednesday, September 2. The AJSE Lecture Series features authors published in the journal, as well as the journal’s editorial advisory board members and other leaders in sexuality education every Wednesday at 6 pm EST through September, and 7 pm EST beginning in October. September topics are below.

Visit the AJSE Lecture Series page for registration and fees.

September 2

Celebrating World Sexual Health Day: Including Pleasure in Sex Ed without Scaring Anyone

Faculty: Luis Perelman

This presentation will discuss how World Sexual Health Day was established, and how it has been celebrated for than 10 years as a grassroots event. Participants will review the updated World Association for Sexual Health’s Declaration of Sexual Rights, and the Declaration of Sexual Pleasure created in Mexico City in 2019. Participants will discuss how to integrate these materials in sexuality education.

September 9

Boldly Go! Sex Ed in the Star Trek Universe

Faculty: Susan Wright and Bill Taverner

Join us for this sexual enterprise, co-presented by Susan Wright, author of many Star Trek novels, including the first one to introduce gay characters into Star Trek canon, and Bill Taverner, sexuality educator and longtime Trekkie. We will go where no one has gone before, exploring the final frontier: sexuality and education opportunities within the Star Trek universe. Set phasers on fun and engage!

September 16

The ABC’s of Sexuality Education and Autism

Faculty: Stephanie Mitelman

We will discuss sexuality education and autism, and how to adapt materials.

September 23

Leading Conversations about Sexuality Education

Faculty: Dr. James Wadley

As the field of sexuality education continues to evolve, so too must educators and consultants. The expectation may be that professionals be courageous and willing to create spaces of empowerment to lead difficult and sensitive conversations.

September 30

Puberty Education: Building the Foundation for Healthy Sexual Development

Faculty: Wendy L. Sellers, RN, MA, CSE (The Puberty Lady)

We will explore strategies and tools to provide puberty education that meets students’ developmental needs and builds a foundation of sexuality-related knowledge and skills.

Reading Club Selection for August 21, 2020

We have two brief articles for discussion this week, both focusing on school reopenings and the effects on young people:

The first offers tips to parents:
Child Mind Institute: Teenagers and Reopening.

The second is a provocative opinion piece from NBC News–did the author hit or miss the mark? We’ll discuss.
School reopenings are being touted as good for students’ well-being, but that’s wrong.

Remember to register to join us — talk to you soon!