Learn about the many ways to be involved with ASPEN this month!
Learn about the many ways to be involved with ASPEN this month!

ASPEN needs your support.

A note from the director ~
All things are connected.  As many of you are reading in the paper and hearing on the news, Montana is in a state budget crisis.
Many non-profit leaders are apprehensive about what those cuts might mean for our important work.  For ASPEN, major cuts are proposed to the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).  These cuts would directly affect ASPEN’s ability to operate and maintain its emergency shelter, ASPEN House, here in Park County.  The DPHHS has a domestic violence shelter program and it has consistently provided partial support to shelters across the state.
Last year, ASPEN served over 700 individuals through its emergency shelter program -- providing over 2,200 nights of shelter.  We provided support to 54 child witnesses to violence as well.  You had a part in that-- your financial contributions help ASPEN keep the shelter in good condition and supplied with essential items~allowing us to provide quality services to those in need.  Thank you.
In coming weeks or months, the state will be working through the proposals and making their decisions on how best to trim the budget.  Stay tuned.
Please, if you have not made a contribution (large or small) to ASPEN, consider doing so now.  If you are not interested in scrolling through our newsletter this month, just click on the donate button below and make your gift to ASPEN ~ Super easy and it is 100% tax-deductible.  
Thanks in advance for your support!  It means the world to those we serve.
Heidi Barrett
Executive Director 


ASPEN welcomes Abbie Bandstra!

Abbie Bandstra has joined ASPEN as its Program & Prevention Coordinator (formerly the Education & Outreach Coordinator).  Abbie  is a fifth generation Montanan, born and raised in Livingston.    Trained in secondary education with a degree from Montana State University, she believes diligently in open and alternative education spaces. Before joining ASPEN, Abbie worked for years on programming with the Montana State University Women's Center, served as program director of Shift Empowerment Youth Programs, and has taught many students in many different types of "classrooms." Abbie is continually interested in violence prevention in rural communities and is grateful to serve the community in which she was raised. Abbie is most excited about the ways we as a community can collaboratively strive for health through education and dialogue.
Abbie may be reached at abbie@aspenmt.org or by calling 406-222-5902, ext 5.   

 Identifying bullying
Everyone wants to believe that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but for some children and teens (and adults), that’s not true. Words can be just as harmful, or even more so, than physical abuse.
Bullying is a behavior that includes a whole range of actions that cause physical or emotional pain, from spreading rumors, to intentional exclusion, to physical abuse. It can be subtle and many children don’t tell their parents or teachers about it out of fear of shame or retribution. Children may also fear they won’t be taken seriously if they report being bullied. It’s important that parents, teachers, and other adults constantly look for bullying behaviors.
Some warning signs that your child is being bullied include:
  • unexplained cuts or bruises
  • damaged or missing clothing, books, school supplies, or other belongings
  • loss of appetite
  • trouble sleeping
  • emotionally reticent
  • taking unnecessarily long routes to school
  • sudden poor performance or loss of interest in school work
  • no longer wanting to hang out with friends
  • asking to stay home sick because of frequent complaints of headaches, stomachaches, or other ailments
  • social anxiety or low self-esteem
  • feeling moody or depressed
  • any unexplained change in behavior
Bullying prevention strategies
Engage your child
The first thing to do if you notice that something’s wrong with your child is to talk to them. The most important thing you can do for a bullied child is to validate the situation. Pay attention to your child’s feelings and let them know that you care. You may not be able to solve all their problems but it’s essential that they know they can count on you for support.
Be a role model
Bullying is a learned behavior. Children pick up antisocial behaviors like bullying from adult role models, parents, teachers, and the media. Be a positive role model and teach your child good social behavior from an early age. Your child is less likely to enter damaging or hurtful relationships if you as their parent avoid negative associations.
Get educated
Continual training and education is essential to stop bullying in your community. This gives teachers time to talk openly with students about bullying and to get a feel for what the bullying climate is at school. It will also help children understand what behaviors are considered bullying. School-wide assemblies on the subject can bring the issue out into the open.
It's also important to educate school staff and other adults. They should understand the nature of bullying and its effects, how to respond to bullying at school, and how to work with others in the community to prevent it.
Build a community of support
Bullying is a community issue and requires a community solution. Everybody has to be on board to successfully stamp it out. This includes:
  • students
  • parents
  • teachers
  • administrators
  • counselors
  • bus drivers
  • cafeteria workers
  • school nurses
  • after-school instructors
If your child is being bullied, it’s important you don’t confront the bully or the bully’s parent yourself. It usually isn’t productive and can even be dangerous. Instead, work with your community. Teachers, counselors, and administrators have information and resources to help determine the appropriate course of action. Develop a community strategy to address bullying.
If you are interested in having someone speak to your group or classroom, please contact ASPEN at 406-222-5902 or at info@aspenmt.org.

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