NEWS AND PHOTOS

 

75% SUCCESS AS ‘TUG OF LIFE’ EMPOWERS LEARNERS TO MAKE BETTER LIFE CHOICES

The Tug of Life®, a groundbreaking book addresses the challenges faced by today’s young people, and empowers the youth to take charge of their lives by making life-enriching choices. Alcohol and drug abuse, bullying, promiscuity and gangsterism are some of the key issues addressed by the Tug of Life. Steenberg High school in the Cape was selected for a monitored pilot to measure the programme’s impact on 480 Grade 8 and 9 learners, particularly where choices, goals and problem solving are concerned.

A summary of the outstanding results shows that after being introduced to the Tug of Life®concept:

1.     More than 75% of the programme participants feel that the programme assisted them with the choices and consequences thereof in their lives.

2.     More than 75% of the programme participants feel empowered to achieve their goals after being in the programme – they therefore have hope and they developed a better future perspective.

3.     More than 70% of the participants feel they can effectively solve their problems after being in the programme.

4.     More than 70% feel that the Tug of Life ‘characters’ helped them in their lives and helped them to understand their choices more clearly.

In addition, after participating in the Tug of Life®, the programme participants developed the following skills:

  • Enhanced self-image, self-esteem and self-respect
  • More self-confidence
  • More assertive
  • Making better choices
  • Positive future perspective
  • Developed hope
  • Empathy for others ( they want to help and assist others)
  • More honest and trustworthy

The Tug of Life is simple and fun, and totally flexible in how it is applied, and it assists in drawing up an effective ‘game plan for life’. As expressed by Mr Andre Kraak, principal of Steenberg High, “the beauty of Tug of Life is its simplicity and the fact that it can be applied within minutes of a brief introduction. There are no deadlines or time-consuming demands on the educators – it’s just a thought process and a vocabulary that everyone, irrespective of age, can apply to every situation in their life. I wish I’d had this tool a long time ago, it would have changed my life!’”

The Tug of Life results are powerful and exciting. In the words of school principals, company directors and church leaders (including Cardinal Wilfrid Napier) “this is what South Africa needs!”.

To implement Tug of Life at your school, church or company, or if you would like to help with funding disadvantaged schools or communities, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Life Talk Forum is a registered PBO so all donations are tax-deductible and it provides a great CSI opportunity for companies. Let’s get everyone tugging!

Photo: When the programme was launched at Steenberg High in 2015, Life Talk Forum and author Izabella Gates donated 530 Tug of Life books to the Grade 8 and 9 learners and educators

New Findings on Eating Disorders

In an article written by Jennifer Lewis for Life Talk Forum she covers information which is relevant for all parents, irrespective of the country you’re in. Jen writes “As parents, it is vital to be up-to-date with respect to the subject of eating disorders, a malaise affecting up to 24 million people of all ages and genders. Eating disorders are far more prevalent than many of us realize and they strike early in life; 95 per cent of all people with this condition first develop it between the ages of 16 and 20. Anorexia nervosa is currently the third most common chronic illness among teens, while 25 per cent of females in college display bulimic behaviours.

“Much has changed in respect to the way we approach eating disorders. If in the past, they were erroneously blamed on ‘perfectionist parenting’, today, we have a far greater understanding of the subject; we know, for instance, that eating disorders can have genetic causes as well as psychological and physiological ones. As we begin to debunk the many myths that surround the subject, we also arm ourselves with vital tools to combat these life-threatening disorders. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Other Eating Disorders, the death rate for anorexia is 12 times higher than all the other causes for females aged 15-24 put together. In this post, we therefore highlight some of the most recent findings regarding the subject of eating disorders:

  • More males are now being diagnosed with an eating disorder: One in every 10 cases of eating disorders involves a male; 10 million males in America develop an eating disorder at some point in their lives. One study published in JAMA Pediatrics involving 5,527 teenage males from across the US, found that 17.9 per cent of adolescent boys were extremely concerned about their weight and body shape. These boys were more likely to indulge in dangerous behaviours like drug use and binge drinking. Despite the findings, doctors are far less likely to make a proper diagnosis, because of the preconceived notion that eating disorders are an exclusively female concern. Males may also delay seeking treatment because of a sense of shame or because behaviour such as bingeing tends to be seen as more ‘normal’ in males. If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, seek help immediately, since early treatment is associated with better outcomes.
  • More and more cases of binge eating disorder and EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified) are being diagnosed. Eating disorders are not limited to anorexia and bulimia. Be on the lookout for bingeing, since it has serious consequences for children’s health (when purging occurs after a bingeing episode, the disorder is classified as bulimia).
  • The rates of eating disorders have been found to be higher in transgender, and non-transgender lesbian, gay and bisexual studentsaccording to a study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, and Washington University of Medicine in St. Louis.
  • Patients with eating disorders are at a higher risk for autoimmune disorders, according to a study by researchers at the University of Helsinki. The study showed that that 8.9 per cent of all patients with eating disorders had one or more autoimmune diseases. The prevalence of these autoimmune disorders were observable even before patients received treatment for their eating disorder, and at the culmination of the follow-up period.
  • Researchers have found that alcohol abuse and eating disorders share a genetic link. Their study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, showed that people with alcohol disorders may be more likely to develop an eating disorder, and vice-versa.
  • Anorexia is fueled by pride about weight loss: Those in the throes of anorexia nervosa struggle with negative emotions, but a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science shows that the condition is exacerbated by the emotionally ‘positive’ emotion of pride about being able to take weight off and maintain weight loss. For these women, the sensation of being in control is extremely gratifying. Therefore, the aim of therapists should be to connect these positive emotions to achievements that lie outside the scope of body shape, or weight loss or gain.
  • Facebook users are more likely to develop eating disorders: Researchers at the University of Haifa have found that the more time adolescent girls spend using Facebook, the greater are their chance of having a negative body image and of developing eating disorders. To battle this trend, limit social network use to a reasonable level and empower your children by teaching them about the nature of the media and by engaging them in important discussions about the portrayal of the female and male physique in the media, and the effect it can have on their self-confidence.”

 

 

To all young people

 
Three things happened today, prompting me to write to you. A girl died at a birthday party, yet another teenager was diagnosed with schizophrenia triggered by smoking weed, and the Anti Drug Alliance’s latest survey came to the alarming conclusion that drug-use is now so out of control that the war on drugs has been lost, and that the only solution might be to legalise them.
 
Making drugs legal?! Surely that’s insanity?! Or is it really the only option? What do you think? Should you even think – or is this solely for the country’s decision-makers to address? It’s got everything to do with you! Any such decisions will affect your life and your future (and your whole generation) so surely it’s vital that you engage your thought-process too?
 
You (and your peers) possess amazing power right now. Power to influence the outcome and future, of your own life, and the lives of millions of your peers. An exaggeration? Nope, it’s a fact! Right now, the choices that you and your friends make not only affect what happens in your life, they have a ripple-effect throughout the world. With that power, however, comes responsibility. Responsibility to engage in thought – about your choices, the consequences, your actions, and how to achieve the positive outcomes you strive for. (Emphasis is on the word ‘positive’ because there’s no room for anyone who strives for any kind of destructive result.)
 
It doesn’t matter what home or background you come from. It doesn’t matter if you do (or don’t) have parents who want the best for you, or who don’t set boundaries to protect and guide you. It doesn’t matter if life is over-tough or over-easy, or if it’s fair or unfair. What matters is whether you take charge of your life and your choices. What matters is whether you allow yourself to be swept along by your peers, doing things because ‘everyone else does it’, believing that somehow any harm ‘won’t happen to me’ – or whether you assert your right to choose actions that will lead to great outcomes and a wonderful future for you.
 
Life is all about choices. Choices and consequences. In fact, life is often like a tug-of-war (hence our Tug-of-Life initiative). Picture the scene: on the left you have a whole lot of challenges and troublemakers (‘Challengers’) whose only agenda is to destroy your life. On the right are all the positives (the Galvanizers) that’ll help you to get to being your ‘goal person’. You’re on the right, tugging to win, and your success depends entirely on your stamina and the quality of the Galvanizers that you’ve chosen.
 
Right now, your generation faces some of the toughest tug-of-life contests ever encountered. You also face many of them on your own, for a variety of reasons. As parents we too face our own ‘contests’ and we’re not always there for you the way we ought (or would like) to be. That very fact, however, presents you with huge opportunities. It empowers you to take charge of your choices and actions. So what will you do with this power you’ve got? Will you chuck it away or will you grab it with both hands? 
 
Those who chuck their power away so often end up in the kind of heart-breaking stories that get shared with our Forum. This ‘power-discarding’ bunch, when you get to know them, are those who binge-drink, smoke weed (or try other drugs), have various meaningless sexual experiences, and usually don’t give much thought to their values or morals. They think that their choices are liberating and ‘cool’, for a while, but the happiness or success that they seek tends to evade them.
 
So, let’s get back to you and the power you now hold. What exactly is this power, and how can you use it? It’s the power to own your decisions and actions. It’s the power to define your ‘game plan for life’ based on the positive outcomes you want. And it’s the power to resist being swept into any negative activities that others are engaging in.
 
Once you’ve decided to use the power you have, then it’s time to define what you strive for. Asking yourself some questions can be most helpful. Questions such as: “What kind of person do I want to be, i.e. what is my ‘goal person’?”, “What outcomes do I want in my life?” (Do you, for example, want to: be happy; safe; successful; have a good reputation; good communication with family; strong faith; a positive attitude; great relationships; kind and trustworthy friends; good marks; confidence; or any other aspects?) From then on, you’ll find amazing clarity if you check every decision you’re contemplating to see if it will lead you towards, or away from, your ‘goal person’.
 
Once you engage your power, don’t wait for society to declare that the war on drugs has truly been lost. Don’t wait until some policy-maker legalises drugs, thereby forever destroying any chance of winning the war against them. Don’t wait for binge-drinking to lure ever more of your peers into making bad decisions, destroying their brain-cells, and preventing them from ever knowing what their true potential could have been. Don’t wait until the race to engage in meaningless sexual encounters forever jeopardises your generation’s ability to experience the true depth and beauty of love-filled relationships. Don’t wait until the power you have today has been whittled away into oblivion…
 
Galvanise your friends, your class-mates, your educators, your parents and their friends, your business leaders and your politicians – galvanise them into becoming ‘agents for positive change’ wherever you feel it’s needed! Are adults serving alcohol to underage kids at parties? Remind them that not only are they breaking the law, they’re sabotaging lives. Are your mates smoking weed? Remind them of the risks of triggering schizophrenia (or other psychosis) as well as the reality that they’re entering a gateway that so often leads to stronger drugs. Are your parents perhaps focusing on being your friend and forgetting their parenting responsibilities? Remind them that it’s in your interest (much as it might not always feel like it ) for them to tackle their parenting responsibility as their top priority. Remind them that boundaries, much as you’ll push against them, actually make you feel secure and loved. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. If someone is doing something destructive help them to see the possible consequences. And when you find yourself lost or uncertain of what to do, don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone who is wise and who has your interests and well-being at heart.
 
It’s you and your generation who are tomorrow’s leaders. Building a successful future entails building strong foundations today. Don’t wait till tomorrow before you take action where it counts! It’s what you do from today that will affect your life and your future.
 
If you need advice or information about how to be most effective, write to us. If you’d like to be a Tug-of-Life ‘ambassador’ in your school, college or community, write to us and we’ll send you some tips. We will do everything we can to help you succeed. (You’re welcome to visit our website www.tugoflife.com for any additional tips or information.) Harness your power and watch your world thrive!
 
With warmest regards and the best of wishes 
 
Izabella Gates and the whole Life Talk Forum team

 

ANTI DRUG ALLIANCE SURVEY 2012.
Is legalizing drugs really our only option??
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

 

Peer pressure education programme gives learners the upper hand 

Our youth , especially teens, are faced with serious challenges on a daily basis. From browsing the Internet, to bullying, joining gangs and drug abuse have grave consequences; unfortunately our youngsters are not necessarily equipped emotionally to stand up for themselves and realise their dreams when faced with these pressures from their peers .

Peninsula Beverage Company (PenBev – local bottler and distributor of The Coca-Cola Company products in the Western and Northern Cape) takes this very seriously and have partnered with Life Talk to sponsor life skills and educational talks to previously disadvantaged Western Cape schools about the dangers of modern day temptation, and how to deal with these situations.

Almost 90 Grade 7’s from Wavecrest Primary School in Mitchells Plain were recently treated to a talk by industry experts about the dangers of peer pressure at school. The learners, aged between 11 and 13, talked actively about the challenges they face in their everyday lives, and learnt a few techniques to help them deal with adverse situations in the future. The talk was hosted at PenBev’s Coke Zone, in Parow which is an auditorium dedicated to educational programmes.

Priscilla Hendricks, PenBev’s School Co-ordinator of the Life Talk sessions comments, “We are concerned about the difficulties facing the youth of today - our future leaders, so we place great importance on conducting these educational programmes, to help the learners cope with peer pressure and to know how to deal with challenges that they may, or may already have faced. We have offered these talks to disadvantaged schools in the Western Cape for the past 2 years and look forward to touching the lives of many youths in the future. This initiative forms part of PenBev’s ‘me (people), we (community), world (environment)’ initiative, which aims to uplift the people and environment in which we operate in and who have supported us for many years.”

During the talk, learners had to envisage who they wanted to be when they grew up (their goal person) and base all decisions on whether their actions will help bring them closer or further away from achieving this. Life Talk focusses on challenges such as peer pressure, alcohol, drugs, precarious information found on the Internet, chat room risks, hubbly bubbly, sexual activities and gangs. The dangers of each of these are elaborated on and methods to overcome these issues are provided during the talk.

“We predominantly target pre-teen learners for the talk, before they reach the age where the real dangers in life are introduced to them. It’s important for us to make them comfortable to talk about these matters in an environment where no judgement is made,” says Natasha Swift, Life Talk’s Cape Town representative who conducts the talks.

After the talk, learners are given refreshments while listening to an overview of how the production process works at the bottling plant, and how their favourite drink is made.

     HOW TO TALK STD’S WITH YOUR TEEN

 

In an article written for Life Talk by Jennifer Lewis, Jen says: “For many parents, discussing sexual health with their teenagers isn’t the most comfortable of topics. With boundaries blurred between what kids learn at home, in the classroom and in the school yard it can be easy to mistake just how much (or little) your teenager may know when it comes to keeping safe. But with one US federal study suggesting that a shocking 1 in 4 US teenagers has a sexually transmitted disease, it has never been more vital in protecting our children or at least giving them the knowledge to be able to protect themselves through safe sex and STI screening (not available in SA). You are their main educator. Having ‘that chat’ can be hard and embarrassing for both parties. But there are some tips to make it easier and more effective so that ultimately your teenager can feel able to open up to you and discuss any queries or concerns they may have. Ideally ‘the chat’ will be ongoing and they will feel able to come to you again and again with their concerns.

 

Plan ahead

 

 “Occasionally the subject might pop up and you will have to tackle it unprepared, but where possible it is good to plan ahead. Decide how you will approach the topic and set the scene – preferably at a time and place when you won’t be disturbed. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it otherwise you may become flustered. Perhaps discuss what you want to say with your spouse, family member or friend and ask for their input and advice. When the time comes all of this will help you to feel more relaxed and confident which will, in turn, help your teenager feel more comfortable and able to open up to you.

 

Don’t lecture or flip out

 “For some parents, the prospect of their kids having sex can be an upsetting thought. If you don’t know that your teenager has engaged in unprotected sexual activity and they come to you for advice then your natural first reaction may be shock, disapproval or even anger. If you find yourself in this situation then try to hold back, take five and think of the implications of what you are about to do. Sure you can lecture them or even punish them but if you do then the chances are that they will never come to you for advice on this matter again. They will carry on with their behaviour but you will simply know nothing about it and this can be damaging, not only for your relationship, but ultimately for their health. Instead talk to them and allow them to talk to you. Ask them about the situation and if they are happy and in love with their partner. Then go on to explain to them about the potential health risks of unprotected sex in a calm and conversational way – do not lecture or dictate to them. It simply won’t work.

 

Be clued up

“OK so you don’t need to be an expert on sexual health, but you do need to know the basics. One of the leading reasons that STDs are so high in teenagers, according to the aforementioned study, is that many are unaware that infections can be passed in other ways than intercourse. You need to have all the relevant facts to hand in order to make an accurate and well balanced point to them so if you are unsure, or perhaps just a little rusty on your facts and figures, then do your research beforehand. Remember that methods of birth control can alter and improve so a trip to your doctors surgery beforehand for some useful leaflets could be helpful. If your teenager comes up with a question that you don’t know the answer to, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know. Bluffing your way through it may result in them getting incorrect information. Instead, find a way that you can discover the answer together.

 

Use humour – to an extent

“Keep the mood light – it will put you both at ease. Tell your teen that you’re uneasy about having ‘the chat’ and assure them that you know they probably are too. A few little jokes will make the conversation seem lighter but remember that this is also a serious subject that could impact on their future health so make sure that they know they need to take your point seriously too.

 

Reassure

“The most important part of the conversation is leaving your teen feeling happy and reassured in all possible ways. Assure them to begin with that feelings of sexual desire are normal and nothing to be ashamed about but that the consequences of unprotected sexual health can be serious. There are things that they can do to prevent these but even if they mess up there is generally help out there if they are willing to ask for it. Reassuring them that it is OK to speak about these things and ask for help is undoubtedly the best conclusion for this type of conversation.”

 

NEW COMMUNITY EDUCATION PROGRAMME HELPS LEARNERS WITHSTAND PEER PRESSURE    24 Jun 2013

The youth of today, especially teenagers, face extreme peer pressure to engage in activities that can have severe consequences, for example, gang-related activities or drug abuse. However, youngsters are not necessarily equipped with the skills to resist these pressures or stand up to bullies. Peninsula Beverage Company (PenBev - local bottler and distributor of The Coca-Cola Company products in the Western and Northern Cape) takes this very seriously and has partnered with Life Talk to sponsor life skills and educational talks to previously disadvantaged Western Cape schools about the dangers of modern day temptation, and how to deal with these situations.

Touching lives

Almost 90 Grade 7s from Wavecrest Primary School in Mitchells Plain were recently treated to a talk by industry experts about the dangers of peer pressure at school. The learners, aged between 11 and 13, talked actively about the challenges they face in their everyday lives, and learnt a few techniques to help them deal with adverse situations in the future. The talk was hosted at PenBev’s Coke Zone in Parow which is an auditorium dedicated to educational programmes.

Priscilla Hendricks, PenBev’s school co-ordinator of the Life Talk sessions comments, "We are concerned about the difficulties facing the youth of today - our future leaders, so we place great importance on conducting these educational programmes, to help the learners cope with peer pressure and to know how to deal with challenges that they may, or may already have faced. We have offered these talks to disadvantaged schools in the Western Cape for the past 2 years and look forward to touching the lives of many youths in the future. This initiative forms part of PenBevs me (people), we (community), world (environment) initiative, which aims to uplift the people and environment in which we operate and who have supported us for many years."

During the talk, learners had to envisage who they wanted to be when they grew up (their goal person) and base all decisions on whether their actions will help bring them closer or further away from achieving this. Life Talk focusses on challenges such as peer pressure, alcohol, drugs, precarious information found on the internet, chat room risks, hubbly-bubbly, sexual activities and gangs. The dangers of each of these are elaborated on and methods to overcome these issues are provided during the talk.

"We predominantly target pre-teen learners for the talk, before they reach the age where the real dangers in life are introduced to them. It’s important for us to make them comfortable to talk about these matters in an environment where no judgement is made," says Natasha Swift, Life Talk’s Cape Town representative who conducts the talks. After the talk, learners are given refreshments while listening to an overview of how the production process works at the bottling plant, and how their favourite drink is made.

 

SHOULD YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE?

 

Article written for Life Talk by Jennifer Lewis 
 
Adolescence, as we all know, is a time for experimentation and perhaps a little risk taking too. Taking risks is important for your teen’s development, as they must learn to explore the world without their parents, and discover that they are capable of managing on their own. But what if the risk taking becomes dangerous, and would you know if it had become so? At present, one area of particular concern for health professionals is the rise in the number of teenagers abusing prescription drugs. Here we look at the facts behind the headlines, help you understand the risks and how to reduce them.
 
Facts and figures
The answer to the title question is that we should all be worried about prescription drug abuse. It isn’t a problem that is confined to young people. If anything it is far more widespread than ‘street drug’ abuse, amongst people of all ages. But, the research shows that every single day in the US, roughly 2,000 children will use prescription drugs for the first time. The figures cover children as young as 12 and up to the age of 17. Around 50% of high school seniors consider opioid painkillers, such as Vicodin or OxyContin, ‘easy’ to obtain. Over the counter (OTC) and prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drugs after alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Other drugs regularly abused are tranquilising drugs such as Xanax and Valium, and stimulants, such as Concerta and Adderall. Teenagers reported taking prescription drugs for varying reasons. Boys were more likely to use them to ‘get high’, whereas girls reported that they used drugs to make them more alert at school, or in order to lose weight.
 
OTC drugs
Over the counter drugs are also of concern. Cough and cold mixtures are one of the most frequently abused OTC medications. They contain dextromethorphan, or DXM, which can induce a high if taken in sufficient quantities. Because this is above the recommended dosage on the packaging it can lead to harm. Often it is when prescription or OTC drugs are mixed with alcohol that difficulties arise. Alcohol mixed with opioids can lead to breathing problems and death.
 
But they’re safer than street drugs?
Not at all. Many people believe this, because prescription drugs are regulated and prescribed by a doctor. It is important to teach your teen that this is not the case. Opioid drugs act on the brain in the same way as heroin - it works by blocking pain receptors in the brain, but also brings a sense of euphoria, making it highly addictive; stimulant drugs act in the same way as cocaine. High doses of DXM can have a similar effect on the brain as ketamine, and can lead to loss of memory, and disconnected thoughts. DXM abuse can affect control over movement, cause nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and raised blood pressure. Abusing prescription drugs and DXM is not safe.
 
Warning Signs
Fortunately, as parents, there is plenty you can do to protect your child from drug abuse within the home. First and foremost, you must talk to your teenager about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, as outlined above. To them it might seem like a softer option than buying drugs on the streets, but in effect it is not much different. Impress upon them the dangers they are being exposed to, and point out that it is illegal to use drugs in this way. They could be putting themselves and you at risk of prosecution. You may feel safer if you keep any medications that are for you prescribed hidden. You should count the number of pills you have if you suspect there may be an issue. Your teenager’s friends may take an interest in your medication cupboard if everything is laid out for them.
Look out for euphoric moods followed by relaxation and drowsiness. If your teenager seems unable to focus on tasks and suffers mood swings, it may not be ‘typical teenage behaviour’. It could be a sign of something more serious. If you notice vomiting, itching or complaints about nausea, these are common side effects of abuse. Any deviant behaviour, such as stealing, skipping classes and loss of drive are of concern, naturally, and can go hand in hand with needing to get more of the drug that is causing addiction. The withdrawal from opioids is unpleasant, so the focus on getting more becomes more and more intense. Overdose is a danger if opioids are taken in combination with other drugs. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to call for medical help.
 
Knowledge Is Power
For both you and your teen, knowledge is power. The more they understand the risks of prescription drugs, the more they will be able to make an informed decision about how to act. The more you know, the easier it will be to spot problems before they occur. Talk to other parents, and warn them to hide away their medicines too. The harder it is to get hold of drugs, they easier it is to avoid temptation or peer-pressure. Remember, there are roughly 139 million prescriptions for opioid drugs written each year. The chances are your child will be exposed to the risks at some point.
Be aware. Don’t jump to conclusions, and don’t over-react if your teen comes clean. If he or she confides in you it will be because they want your love and care. 
 
 

 

FOLLOW US ON:

Facebook Twitter

Follow us on:

Facebook Twitter