Hacking inner peace


The principal calls this a mindful school. Johane Ligondé is effusively warm but with the kind of emotional solidity you'd expect from someone who wakes each morning to manage more than 1,000 kids at the only public middle school in the village of Freeport in Long Island, New York. She is also an aromatherapist and life coach who hangs a sign reading "I AM AN OPTIMIST" in her windowless office. At John W. Dodd Middle School, some of the students' primary struggles are common to many young teenagers: depression, anxiety, self-harm and the looming shadow of sudden violence. So every morning during homeroom, a student or staff member leads the entire building through eight minutes of breathing meditation over the PA system. In detention, students are "invited," Ligondé said, to do mindfulness exercises, "so it's not just a space for punishment, it's a space for reflection." A "social-emotional learning curriculum" has been introduced, teaching them conflict and relationship management. At 11 AM, four periods into a drizzly Wednesday in June, Ligondé watches seventh graders shuffle in for science class and take their seats between model skeletons and posters of plant-cell structures. Some stare blankly into the middle distance. Their assignment is to meditate. Half the students slump their foreheads into the crook of their arm, resting on top of tables or thick ring binders. They are the control group. The other half strap on purple, cardboard VR headsets and clip pulse monitors to their fingers. The teacher, Vanessa Vidalon, turns down the lights, and the class hushes, save for some snapping of elastic headbands over white earbuds and the clacks of phones dropped on desks.

Teenagers worried about discrimination in society have a higher risk of ADHD

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Many teenagers feel that there is more and division and discrimination in the world, and the stress may make them act out more, new research suggests. Since 2016, the US has only become further politically polarized, and American teenagers don't have to be old enough to vote to be affected by the climate. Meanwhile, stress, depression, anxiety and a general swath of mental health concerns are on the rise among teens across the country. New University of Southern California research suggests that to explain rising rates of ADHD, smoking, drinking and more, we need to look beyond genetics and home life to the political arena. Teenagers are sensitive to the world around them - and that doesn't just apply to their social circles or what's trending on Twitter.

Middle-Schooler Who Wrote G.O.P. Health-Care Bill Claims He Has Not Been Paid

The New Yorker

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)--The middle-school student who wrote the Republican health-care bill that was unveiled earlier in the week complained on Friday that he still has not been paid for his work. Kevin Tenco, a seventh grader from House Speaker Paul Ryan's congressional district, in Wisconsin, said that Ryan hired him two weeks ago to write the American Health Care Act with the promise that it "wouldn't be too much work" and that he would be paid handsomely for his effort. "He said I would get paid, like, five hundred dollars, and I could buy a Nintendo Switch," Tenco said. Taking Ryan at his word, the thirteen-year-old, from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, "pulled several all-nighters" to complete the health-care bill in time for its Monday unveiling. "I basically went to the Wikipedia page for Obamacare, cut and pasted a bunch of stuff and then threw in some tax cuts and whatnot," he said.

Early results of W.Va. town's needle exchange program show progress

PBS NewsHour

The high school students who lined up to graduate at the civic center here on a recent afternoon celebrated their bright futures. And for the college students in shorts and flip flops who filled the downtown cafes and shops, life seemed pretty good, too. But for the 30-something heroin addicts who packed the waiting room of the local health department just a few blocks away, the future doesn't look as promising. By its own calculations, this city of 50,000 on the Ohio River has the highest drug overdose death rate in a state ranked No. 1 in the nation for overdose deaths. The city's overdose death rate, at 119 per 100,000 last year, is nearly 10 times the national rate.

'Text to quit JUUL': New chat bot aims to coach teenagers through quitting

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A new anonymous texting bot program is aimed at helping children, teenagers and young adults quit using Juuls and other e-cigarettes. Developed by the large anti-smoking and public health non-profit the Truth Initiative, the text-based coaching is being integrated into the group's This Is Quitting and BecomeAnEx online quitting aids. The need for adolescent-focused programs is dire, according to a slew of recent studies and declarations of a youth vaping'epidemic' from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Surgeon General. FDA Commissioner Gottlieb called for cessation drugs for teens last month, but in the mean time the Truth Initiative's program hopes to help fill that void with text-coaching designed with teens in mind. Truth Initiative's new program texts encouragement geared toward teenagers who are trying to quit vaping in general - but focuses on the addictive Juul in particular Between 2017 and 2018, the number of high school students using e-cigarettes double, according to a University of Michigan study published in December.