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Join us for the 2020 Adolescent Health Symposium!

This annual gathering of educators, youth workers, and health and human service professionals brings forward key topics in the areas of health education and adolescent wellness. We are honored to have three renowned keynote presenters, as well as a diverse assortment of breakout sessions,  focused on our three symposium tracks:

  • Track 1: Risk Factors 
  • Track 2: Health Promotion and Protective Factors
  • Track 3: Emerging Health Issues

The Symposium is presented in cooperation with the UW-La Crosse Department of Health Education and Health Promotion and Community Health, UW-La Crosse Continuing Education and Extension and the UW Oshkosh Division of Online and Continuing Education.

Support for this Symposium was provided by the Samaritan Family Wellness Foundation.


8:00-9:00 a.m. Registration and Refreshments

9:00-10:15 a.m. Welcome and Keynote Presentation

Developing a Mutually-Beneficial Mindfulness Approach to Enhancing the Health and Well-being of Adolescents

Presented by: Ryan McKelley, LP, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

Mental health problems in youth predict poor school performance, ill health, substance use, and behavioral problems later in life. Global prevalence for mental health problems in this population is estimated at 10-20 percent. Adolescents face compound stressors during rapid physical, emotional, and cognitive changes; those who work with this age group need interventions that both support youth and reduce burnout among staff. Mindfulness has emerged as a well-supported protective factor against these stressors, and the positive effects of self-compassion are joining the collection of health assets.

This presentation will explore how the practices of mindfulness and self-compassion benefit adolescents and the staff working with them, summarize the research on their effects, and provide tips on how to live more mindfully in our daily lives.

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break and Visit Exhibitors

10:30-11:30 a.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

1. Using Motivational Interviewing to Enhance Teen Wellness (Track 1)

Presented by: Holly Huges Stoner, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Co-Director of Samaritan Family Wellness Foundation

During this presentation, you will learn more about an interpersonal style being used around the world to enhance change–Motivational Interviewing (MI)–that has grown out of the addiction and health care fields. This important process can also easily be used with teens in the classroom and in small groups to enhance their well-being. You will receive handouts about MI, and practice using this skill with a colleague.

Session participants will:

  • Better understand Motivational Interviewing;
  • Come away with ideas of how to use MI with teens;
  • Practice using MI.

2. Developing the Habit of Self-Awareness through Mindful Self-Compassion (Track 2)

Presented by: Ryan McKelley, LP, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Building on information from the keynote presentation, this session will explore the adolescent culture of busyness, divided attention, and emotional dysregulation. We will review the basic tenets of mindfulness (i.e., paying attention in the present moment without judgment) and self-compassion (i.e., self-kindness, sensing oneself as part of a common humanity, and maintaining perspective in challenging circumstances.) Participants will learn several simple interventions that can be taught to adolescents at home, school, or in clinical settings.

3. Emerging Drug Trends and What You Can Do About It (Track 3)

Presented by: Jason Weber, Public Safety Training Coordinator, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Weber will cover some of the emerging drug trends that are impacting our communities throughout Wisconsin. He will also focus on some innovative ideas that other communities are using to raise awareness and combat this epidemic.

Session participants will:

  • Increase their knowledge of some of the major threats to our adolescents;
  • Review some ideas that other communities and school districts are implementing.

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Lunch Buffet

12:15-1:30 p.m. Keynote Presentation

The Dark Side of Cyberspace: Internet, Phones and Social Media

Presented by: Eric Szatkowski, Internet Safety, Pornography, and Youth Speaker

While digital technology offers a world of communication, education, and entertainment options for our youth, it also has a dark and dangerous side of which we must be aware. This hard-hitting presentation takes an in-depth look at the cyber exploitation of children, and how it is facilitated by addictive social media, unenforced regulations, and the culture. A must see for educators or any professional interested in the safety and well-being of our children while online or using their phones, tablets, or gaming systems.

1:30-1:45 p.m. Break and Visit Exhibitors

1:45-2:45 p.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

4. One minute of frustration can take a life; one hour of education can save one! (Track 1)

Presented by: Meg Whaley, Health, Physical Education and Wellness Educator and Certified Health Coach, Waukesha Public Schools, and Dakota Berg, Health and Physical Education Teacher, Milwaukee High School of the Arts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma (SBS/AHT) accounts for 43 percent of all traumatic brain injury-related deaths in children aged 0-4 years. The annual incidence of hospitalizations attributed to Shaken Baby Syndrome is highest in the Midwest; the need for preventive education is great.

In this session, participants will experience a hands-on demonstration and videos that encourage learning how to manage personal stress, practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid/reduce health risks. Using Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma preventive education as a vehicle for learning, attendees will be prepared to put into practice the skills they can share with their students on to how to demonstrate a variety of healthy practices and behaviors that will maintain or improve their behaviors for themselves and others.

5. Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Your Student (Track 2)

Presented by: Renae Swanson, Chair and Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Professional Counseling Department, and Jacqueline (Jax) Anderson, Professional Counselor, A Beautiful Journey, LLC

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between 10 and 24 years old (Center for Suicide Awareness, 2018). Additionally, ninety percent of individuals who complete suicide show signs of mental health issues (NAMI, 2019). Identifying mental health issues and suicidal ideation is always complex, but it can be difficult when working with youth. Join us to learn about common mental health issues for children and adolescents, signs of suicidal ideation in children and adolescents and safe ways to intervene with youth in our schools. Please feel free to bring in questions, examples and ideas to discuss.

6. The Dark Side of Cyberspace: Internet, Phones and Social Media: Part II (Track 3)

Presented by: Eric Szatkowski, Internet Safety, Pornography, and Youth Speaker

*This session is a continuation of the morning keynote.*

The keynote message is reinforced with specific examples of how predators use every platform and device used by our kids to take advantage of them. Szatkowski shares ideas on how to help prevent our kids from being hurt, and how to respond when something happens.

2:45-3:00 p.m. Break and Visit Exhibitors

3:00-4:00 p.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

7. Out with the Old, In with the JUUL: The E-cigarette Epidemic (Track 1)

Presented by: Nina Gregerson, Health Education Coordinator, Public Health Madison and Dane County

E-cigarette use among youth has skyrocketed in the past year at a rate of epidemic proportions. According to the latest Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey, there was a 154 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2014-2018. The alarming increase in youth use can be attributed to kid-friendly flavors, sleek and discreet devices, and appealing advertising and marketing. Learn what products are most popular among young people, the reasons why youth are using the products, why you should be concerned about them, and how you can play a role in reversing the e-cigarette epidemic.

8. If we don’t take care of ourselves, who will? (Track 2)

Presented by: Dr. Julie Zuleger, Senior Lecturer, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Adolescence is a definitive time to promote, educate, and support self-care behaviors. Participants in this workshop will understand challenges and barriers adolescents face in performing self-care and will learn self-care techniques for at home and in the classroom.

After the presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the importance of self-care in adolescence;
  • Describe barriers and challenges in adolescent self-care;
  • Demonstrate self-care techniques for use at home and in the classroom.

9. Animal-Assisted Interventions: A Complementary Therapy Approach to Adolescent Health and Healing (Track 3)

Presented by: Cindy Brosig, MSN, RN, and Owner, Operation H.E.E.L., LLC

Do you know the difference between a service dog, a therapy dog, or an emotional support dog? What constitutes animal-assisted therapy? How can a registered therapy dog nurture the development of social/emotional neurons to improve self-confidence and self-awareness in our adolescents or mitigate risky adolescent behaviors? Participants joining this session will learn the guiding principles in animal-assisted interventions, as well experience the life-changing outcomes of adolescents through current evidenced based research, learning three strategies to implement or enhance an animal-assisted therapy program in your setting.

4:00-4:15 p.m. Break and Visit Exhibitors

4:15-5:15 p.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

10. Mental Health and Video Gaming (Track 1)

Presented by: Barb Bigalke, Executive Director, Center for Suicide Awareness

All video games are not just about screen time. Video games can be a part of the solution for mental health struggles. Participants will learn associated terms and see how the video gaming connection can help as a coping mechanism. They will also explore some of the newest concepts to help youth cope with anxiety and depression.

11. Self-Health: One Key to Success (Track 2)

Presented by: Tim Markle, Outreach Specialist, Youth Health Transition Initiative, and Elizabeth Guthrie-Moss, Youth Health Transition Initiative Coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center

Succeeding at life goes beyond soft skills and technical skills. It involves understanding your health profile and talking about your health issues. Learners in this session will explore the challenges of disclosure, the importance of self-health awareness, and advocating for self-health with employers and professors. They will also be connected to tools and resources to help people build their self-health awareness.

12. Multi-Level Systems of Support: Learner Led Community Circles (Track 3)

Presented by: Johnna Noll, District Administrator, Kyle Stouff, Learning Coach, and Autumn Smith, Learning Coach, Norris School District

At Norris Academy, we embrace the idea that well-developed social skills and relationships correlate with happiness and in turn increase one’s ability to learn. Participants in this session will gain a basic understanding of how we use a multi-level system of support to support learners in developing skills and dispositions across our four dimensions: Academic, Employability, Citizenship, and Wellness. Participants will develop a deeper understanding of how we use community circles in our tier one level of support, by empowering “learner leaders” to develop their own competence with priority dispositions so they can co-lead circles with the wellness coach.

By co-leading community circles, our “learner leaders” model the dispositions for their peers, learn how to positively recognize their peers for applying what they have learned about the dispositions, and learn how to be positive role models to coach learners when they are not displaying the core dispositions of Norris Academy. While in this session, participants will actively participate in a learner led community circle to gain insight into the circle structure and core elements we use to proactively build relationships and model personal strategies for coping.


7:15-8:15 a.m. Breakfast Buffet

8:15-9:30 a.m. Keynote Presentation

Health Education: A Life-Saving, Life-Changing, and Life-Sustaining Experience

Presented by: Scott Todnem, Health Education Teacher and 2019 National Health Teacher of the Year

As health professionals, we have the difficult task of creating an experience that permeates the lives of our students or clients, now and forever. We can rise to that challenge! Let’s look at our profession with a “big picture” view in order to find clarity. Play to your strengths as an educator, counselor, or health professional, and be that life mentor you were meant to be. Health = Life. The rest is just details.

9:30-9:45 a.m. Break and Visit Exhibitors

9:45-10:45 a.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

13. The Most Important Tool to Pack for College (Track 1)

Presented by: Jody Gan, Professor, Department of Health Studies, American University

Prepare the teens with whom you work for the challenges of college with self-care coaching so they can achieve academic success while feeling relaxed and happy! According to the American College Health Association, more than 60 percent of college students report feeling overwhelming anxiety at some time during their school year. As reported in the Washington PostNew York Times, and Time Magazine, loneliness and depression also are at an all-time high, and campus counseling and health centers are struggling to keeping up with the unprecedented demand for their services.

With a growing presence on campus, first generation college students are especially vulnerable. First year students making this daunting, yet exciting, transition can utilize simple health promotion strategies to manage challenging situations before they interfere with academics. Now more than ever, self-care (eating well, getting recommended levels of physical activity and sleep, managing stress, and finding healthy social outlets that don’t include alcohol and marijuana) is an especially effective, proactive practice for students to build BEFORE leaving for school. If you work with soon-to-be first generation college students, or any students who will be heading to college soon, this session is for you.

14. Creating Active Social-Emotional Learners in Health Ed (Track 2)

Presented by: Scott Todnem, Health Education Teacher and 2019 National Health Teacher of the Year

Get students collaborating in the health classroom to meet Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) competencies! Increase participation with aptly-placed social and emotional activities to boost health literacy skills and foster real-life connections. Build higher level thinking through abstract concepts, practice time, and reflection. Examples and share-and-tell time will be included.

15. Creating Common Bonds for Individual and Leadership Enhancement (Track 3)

Presented by: Cindy Kuhrasch, Faculty Associate, University of Wisconsin-Madison

There is much talk today about the importance of creating relationships and communities, but how do you do it? Learn some simple, engaging activities to connect the individuals with whom you work.

Session participants will:

  • Experience the process of relationship-building;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the connection between relationship-building and leadership;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of proven relationship-building process.

10:45-11:00 a.m. Break and Visit Exhibitors

11:00 a.m.-Noon Presentation and Interaction Sessions

16. Reversing the Youth E-Cigarette Epidemic: Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Approach (Track 1)

Presented by: Luke Witkowski, Youth Programs Coordinator, and Michael Metcalf, Policy Analyst, Tobacco and Control Program, Wisconsin Department of Health Services

According to the latest Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey, there was a 154 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2014-2018. This session will be filled with information on tobacco products, educational resources, components of a model school policy, and materials to provide parents. Furthermore, learn who to turn to for help and support. Join us to reverse this addiction and combat the complicated epidemic of e-cigarette use by strengthening cooperative efforts between schools, organizations, and communities.

17. PATCH for Providers (Track 2)

Presented by: Paula Neiweem, PATCH Program Coordinator

Learn how to better serve adolescent patients…from THEIR perspective! This one-of-a-kind experience offers health care professionals the opportunity to engage with today’s youth in a new way. Trained PATCH (Providers and Teens Communicating for Health) Teen Educators share their accurate and authentic insights into the concerns, preferences and realities that impact the health care experiences of today’s youth. This is a fun, interactive learning environment you don’t want to miss.

The goals of this session are to increase the provider’s confidence level to build relationships with teens and provide them with the best care they can. Evaluations measure success in confidence to establish relationships, understanding of teen rights, and knowledge of their responsibilities, as well as the responsibilities of teens.

18. Sex Trafficking in Wisconsin: Recognizing At-Risk and Trafficked Youth (Track 3)

Presented by: Ron Heinrich, Chair, SlaveFree Madison

Sex trafficking is known to occur in every Wisconsin county, and while statewide statistics documenting the ages of those being exploited are not available, data from Milwaukee indicate that roughly half of those being trafficked in that city are under the age of 18. Protecting youth requires that they be made aware of what sex trafficking looks like and how traffickers manipulate those they are exploiting, as well as recognizing and providing services for those who are particularly vulnerable. Likewise, those who work with youth need to be aware of factors that make those youth more vulnerable and be able to recognize the signs that indicate grooming of youth by a trafficker is taking place or that an individual is being trafficked.

After a brief overview of human trafficking in Wisconsin and across the country, this presentation will focus on the ways in which traffickers target and exploit youth for sex trafficking, and the red flags that may indicate to teachers, counselors, or other support staff working with youth that someone is at-risk or is being trafficked. The underlying cause of sex trafficking will be considered, as will possible ways of using that information to address questions like gender equality and respect in the classroom. Resources educators can look to for additional information and support will also be provided.