Everyone wants to be successful. However, sometimes barriers and choices impact our success. You've got to have grit.” 

This was the part of the message shared by Joe Coles at school presentations hosted by RISE Cowley earlier this week.

Joe Coles of Joe Coles Consulting presented “Intentional Kindness” sessions at middle schools in Winfield and Arkansas City and in grades 7-12 at Dexter, Udall and Central of Burden schools. Coles has been a devoted educator for over 40 years working as a teacher, counselor, coach, athletic director and administrator. Southwestern patrons might remember Coles as an education student in the 1970s.

He travels around the country interacting with youth to hear their concerns. 

Youth have identified vaping/drug use, social media and bullying as social issues of concern. Juuling is an addictive new vaping trend and is one-half of the e-cigarette market. One juule pod has the same amount of nicotine as smoking one pack of cigarettes. The industry documented a 700 percent increase in sales last year.

Pause a moment and consider the facts listed above. If a middle school student gets addicted to nicotine, the lifetime financial and health impacts are staggering. Unfortunately, these new juuling trends negatively impact everyone by increasing health insurance costs.

Coles highlighted that youth who are lonely (which is different that being alone) can make bad decisions and “Lonely is toxic.” Youth who don’t feel safe and connected accept the first people that show them attention. 

Coles challenged students to identify ways they could practice intentional kindness by reaching out to other students. He reassured students, “Life doesn’t happen to you; life happens for you.” 

Students took notes and recorded “I am” statements to keep them accountable. If you interact with a student from the public schools listed above, I challenge you to ask them about this presentation. Be direct and ask them if they feel safe and connected. Reassure them that they matter. And above all, practice intentional kindness yourself.

RISE Cowley is Cowley County’s community health coalition that evolved from the Vision 20/20 process. Multiple health and human service partners and community champions are involved with the coalition. In 2017, the group was awarded the Pathways to a Healthy Kansas grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas. The goal of this grant is to make healthy choices easier in our community. Funding is available to assist with programs and policies that promote tobacco cessation, active living and healthy eating. Learn more at RISECowley.org or follow on Facebook. The next RISE Cowley meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 12 at the Winfield Public Library. Everyone is welcome to attend.


Upcoming K-State Research and Extension Events

Oct. 29, Nov. 5, 12 & 19 — “Dining with Diabetes,” Winfield Public Library, 5:30-7:30 p.m. $25 for all four sessions or $7 at door for single sessions; scholarships are available, call (620) 221-5450 to register.


Becky Reid is the family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension, Cowley County. She can be reached at (620) 221-5450 or (620) 441-4565.

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