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Back to the Books: Back-to-School Guide
7/1/2019 1:00:00 PM

Ready or not, the first day of school is only a calendar page away. In between last minute road trips and shopping for school supplies and uniforms, take a few moments to read through our special back-to-school section. You’ll find tips on everything from test-taking, after-school snacking, health and safety, homework, and more.

A Pediatrician’s Back-to-School Advice for Parents 

As children prepare to head back to school, parents often ask what they can do to help their child navigate the challenges ahead and have a healthy and successful year. Dr. Albert W. Richert Jr, MD, with The Pediatric Center of Southwest Louisiana offers tips for parents to help their child prepare for the new school year.

First and foremost, parents should continue annual well-visits with their child’s pediatrician through the teen years. These visits ensure immunizations are up to date, screen for emerging health or developmental issues, and protect your child’s overall well-being.

Lower elementary grade students (ages 5-9)

These students are often the most excited about returning to school to learn new things, make new friends, and share with each other. Unfortunately, this sharing includes a multitude of germs. A good way to prepare your child for a healthy school year is to review proper handwashing hygiene. Demonstrate how to properly wash hands – fingers, tops, palms, and in-between fingers. Also, remind them to cough and sneeze into their elbow or shoulder instead of their hands. Limiting unhealthy hand-to-mouth behaviors like nail biting and asking to keep personal school supplies in your child’s desk instead of sharing can also keep germs at bay. Consider donating sanitizing wipes, tissues, and hand sanitizer to the classroom – the teacher will appreciate you! Dr. Richert also recommends parents meet with their child’s teachers to help facilitate good communication. "Ask the teacher if you think your child needs extra help with certain subjects.”

Upper elementary grade and middle school students (ages 10-14)

This age group is often at risk for peer pressure and self-esteem issues as they transition from childhood to their "tween” years. This time can be a breeding ground for unhealthy relationships and interactions. To foster your child’s self-esteem, identify his or her interests and strengths (knowing they might have changed or be very different from their siblings’) and look for ways to encourage those interests. "Help your child find activities they are interested in, such as sports, band, or other groups,” says Dr. Richert. Be careful, however, not to over-commit your child to too many activities, especially as academic demands increase in the upper grades. Higher self-esteem lowers the risk of your child being subject to, or taking part in, bullying. Talk to your child regularly about their friendships and encourage peer time under your supervision so that you can get to know their friends. Limit smartphone use unless you are an expert on parental controls and have the time to check their texting and social media accounts regularly. "Also, help your child with organization skills and encourage them to take more responsibility for their schoolwork,” Dr. Richert advises.

High school students

In high school, kids undergo increasing amounts of pressure in academics, athletics, and peer relationships as they pursue graduation. They often sacrifice healthy sleep and diet practices to keep up with those demands and are at higher risk of depression and anxiety. "A good sleep routine is important at all levels,” says Dr. Richert. "High school kids are more likely to have a good sleep routine if they were taught good sleep habits when they were younger. Consistency is key.” Risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking and trying illicit drugs may be a way to cope with underlying mental illness, unstable home environments, or poor self-esteem. Dr. Richert recommends teens pursue fun, safe activities with friends, participate in positive after-school activities and/or sports, and do volunteer work in the community.

Talk to your teens daily about their life stressors and become familiar with early signs of depression such as change in behavior, withdrawing from social, extra-curricular, and home activities, and decreasing academic performance. Your teen may be closer to adulthood, but they still need you to set limits on bedtimes, curfews, driving privileges, etc. to be healthy and successful. 

The Pediatric Center is located at 2800 Country Club Rd, Lake Charles. For more information or to make an appointment, call 337-477-0935.


Ready, Set . . . Test!

How to Prepare Your Child for Standardized Testing 

by Lauren Atterbery Cesar

Standardized testing is becoming increasingly important to students, teachers, and parents as a measurement tool for growth and a determining factor for many aspects of your child’s education. It may seem like times have changed and now teachers are simply "teaching to a test,” but that’s not what’s happening. The reality is that teachers don’t know what will be on the end-of-course test beyond the standards that they are required to teach, so it’s important to encourage your child to focus on their daily assignments which are standards-based in order to prepare them for the end of the year. However, when the words "high-stakes testing” are whispered in the PTO circles and throughout the bleachers at a volleyball game, many parents start quaking in their boots.

Renee Reina of Sylvan Learning explains how we should view these tests. "It is important to reinforce to your child that standardized tests are designed to indicate the skills and knowledge the students have learned. These tests can also indicate skills that need to be reviewed. They are not to be feared even though there is a lot of discussion that surround them.” 

Using these measurement tools are a great way to gauge what your child is excelling in and in which areas they still need support. For those who want to get a jump start on preparation, there are positive habits and steps that you as a parent can incorporate into your child’s daily routine to support their growth. 

Encourage literacy. Setting aside twenty minutes a day for your child to read a book close to their Lexile Level is a great way to prepare them for a standardized test. If you’re not sure what level they are on, email their English teacher or librarian. Most core subjects require students to be able to read complex texts on-grade-level. Boosting their literacy daily will only help them grow. 

Practice writing. In all core subjects, students must be able to express their understanding of the standards being assessed. In English, Social Studies, and Science throughout most grade bands students must respond to questions using multi-paragraph response formats. If your student struggles with writing, have them practice this once a week at home. In some levels of math students are asked to respond in a constructed response format which is important to practice as all core subjects are more focused on literacy and written expression. 

Combat test anxiety. Reina suggests teaching your child basic relaxation techniques like taking deep breaths if they become anxious during a test. Although these tests are timed, it is far better to have your student take a moment to calm themselves and refocus than feel anxious. 

Build their long-term memories. Students generally have anxious feelings about testing when the format is something they have not seen before and they are not familiar with the way the questions are worded. Work with your child’s teacher on getting test practice materials that are worded like a standardized test. If your child will be taking the test on a computer, use websites like Edulastic to help your child practice interacting with something similar. If your child practices in the format the test will be given, you’re helping to support this format in their long-term memories. This means that when they see the real test, their body will not automatically go into panic-mode because what they are seeing looks familiar. They are less likely to have issues with anxiety if they’re confident in the format and in their typing skills. 

In addition to these pre-testing tips, also ensure your child gets enough sleep the night before a test and eats a nutritious breakfast.

Lauren Atterbery Cesar worked as a middle school English teacher for 13 years in Calcasieu Parish and is now assistant principal at Grand Lake High School in Cameron Parish.

Pack it Up

Trending Lunchboxes for the New School Year

by Lauren Atterbery Cesar

Lunch boxes have come a long way since the clunky metal rectangular boxes that boasted a favorite band or television show characters. Now, you are spoiled for choice when selecting a back-to-school lunchbox for your child. Do you go for a lunchbox that matches their backpack or find a functional design that will keep their food the perfect temperature until lunch time? Below are several options that your child is sure to love in the lunchroom. All these lunch totes are available on Amazon.

The Baloray Lunch Bag Tote: This stylish lunch bag looks more like a purse that your daughter could carry around than a traditional lunch bag. It's made of waterproof material and has an insulated interior, along with a side pocket. Available in thirteen different prints. $14.00

Rubbermaid Lunchblox Lunch Bag: If you’re hoping to check all the boxes – best price, compact, cool design – then this lunch box is for you. Designed to work with Rubbermaid containers, it can fit multiple containers, an ice pack, and even has a side compartment to store a water bottle. It’s lightweight, has a comfortable grip handle, and a removable shoulder strap. It’s a great way to send your child to the lunchroom in style. $10

East World Bento Box: Bento boxes for children are trending for so many reasons, but allowing parents to pack healthy food in perfect portions for their children has really helped solidify their place in the lunchroom. However, it can be hard to find a leak-proof bento box. East World has made leak proof bento boxes that come with a lunch box, a bento box, a plastic spork and spork-knife, and a reusable ice pack. Microwave and dishwasher-safe. $19.99 

Lonecone Kids’ Insulated Fabric Lunchbox: With eighteen kid-friendly patterns, your child is sure to find something they love. These lunchboxes are designed with your child in mind. They have large zippers and a wide opening to make it easy for your child to maneuver during the hustle and bustle of lunch. Many of their designs have a matching backpack available. $16.99. 

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag: This lunch bag boasts PackIt’s patented cooling technology using freezable gel that is permanently built into the bag. Store this lunch bag flat in the freezer overnight, and it will keep your child’s food cool until lunch time the next day without worrying about separate ice packs. With 43 different designs, this is a great lunch bag to start the school year off with. $16.44

Splash Box from ECOlunchbox: Plastic baggies and commonly used containers can have a negative impact on both the environment and our health. Try the new 3-in-1 Splash Box from ECOlunchbox. This stainless-steel nesting lunchbox features an upstairs and downstairs compartment for storing food along with a snack container called the Mini Splash Pod. It is held together with a wavy-shaped latch and features leak-proof, silicone lids that will keep your bag mess-free. While other eco-friendly containers need to be hand washed, this convenient box is dishwasher safe, including the silicone lids. $35.99

Out of the Woods Boxed Lunch:

If you're all about caring for the environment, try this eco-friendly bag. It's made of sturdy Supernatural Paper™, a renewable, lightweight

material from paper that matches the strength and aesthetics of leather, but 100% animal-free. And it's washable! It sports an interior zippered mesh pocket and an exterior side pocket. This bag is only available at Office Depot. $12.99

Afterschool Fuel

Healthy Kids Need Healthy Snacks

by Stephanie Kestel Karpovs, MCD, CCC-SLP

Summer has nearly come and gone and it’s time to prepare for the back-to-school routine. The truth is that many families struggle after school. Ballet lessons, soccer practice, music lessons, and homework sandwich tightly in between the last school bell and dinner. That’s where snacks come in to play. Most kids don’t drink enough water throughout the day, so having water available immediately after school is a winning strategy. Snacks with protein, fiber, and low to no added sugar can help boost energy for whatever their busy afternoon requires. Eating in the car can be a choking hazard, especially for young kids, so prep ahead and make time to pause and enjoy the snacks. Don’t forget to cut nuts and grapes into smaller chunks for young children (usually until the age of 4). An apple is one of the easiest healthy snacks, but here are some tips to give your kids good afterschool fuel:

Grapes on a skewer—Have these quick and easy "hungry caterpillars” ready in advance—they taste great whether you store them in the fridge or freezer; frozen blueberries are also refreshing in the heat. (show Stephanie’s photo)

Toasted nuts—Almonds or pumpkin seeds are a superior source of plant-based protein and almonds are high in Vitamin E and calcium; plus they are a great way to offer crunchy snacks which kids need to develop a strong jaw. Toss in some cashews, walnuts, dried fruit, or dark chocolate and make your own trail mix.

Veggie slices with hummus or ranch dressing—Go "old school” and slice some red/yellow/orange bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, and carrots ahead of time; these make a quick, easy and nutritious snack that can easily be packed in to-go containers.

Apples slices with peanut/almond or sun butter—yum! 

Popcorn—It’s healthiest to air pop your own kernels on the stove. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with nutritional yeast for a nutty cheese flavor, add a dash of sea salt, and let the kids shake it up.

Edamame—keep the pods in the freezer, then cook it on the stovetop. Add a dash of salt or pepper. These are a quick and easy and store well in the fridge for later.

Toasted chickpeas—These are a terrific source of protein and fiber. Have the kids help pat them dry, season, and toss them in the bowl (Stephanie’s recipe in a sidebar)

Snacks to skip

Fruit/veggie pouches—although these seem great because of the less-mess package and promotion of fruits and vegetables, these pouches can promote an immature suckle pattern in toddlers and older kids which may result in tongue thrust—it’s much better to eat apple sauce with a spoon! However, you can always bring a reusable bowl and spoon to serve these on-the-go.  

Sugary snacks & junk foods – candy bars, chips, french fries, sodas, etc. These are high calorie, high sugar or salt, and very low on nutrition. 

Healthy kids will thrive when provided with healthy snack options. Help them refuel with mind-boosting foods and drinks to energize them after a long day. Start the new school year off right with successful snacking!

Stephanie is a speech-language pathologist/pediatric feeding specialist and wellness coach. She enjoys helping families become happy, healthy, and adventurous eaters.  


4 cups garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and blotted dry

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. ground chili powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

(adjust any of the seasonings to taste)

Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees. Place the drained chickpeas in a bowl and toss with the oil and spices until coated evenly. Spread the chickpeas evenly on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.  Stir every 10 min. Bake until crisp and lightly brown (varies 25-35 min).  

Easy Steps to Avoid Math Mistakes

by Gena Latrell

The subject of math comes easily for some – not so much for others. All those decimals, fractions, and formulas can cause anxiety and a lot of incorrect answers on exams. Some missed problems occur because of students' miscalculations; however, others are due to simple, preventable errors. Here are some tips on how to help your child avoid common math mistakes.

There are some frequent mistakes made by students (and adults) in math. Martha Dalton, owner and director of Mathnasium, a math tutoring and learning center in Lake Charles, says most student error falls into three categories. "Carelessness, Calculation, and Concept," says Dalton. "Careless mistakes include things like not reading the entire math problem, speeding through tests, copying the problem wrong, messy handwriting, etc. Calculation mistakes are getting incorrect answers for basic operations, and Concept mistakes include not interpreting or not understanding a concept that is to be applied to a problem." 

Those are some of the most common mistakes – now on to fixing them. Here are three P's to help improve your child's math skills. 

Speeding through a test almost guarantees errors. A child can miss the sign included in a math problem or miscalculate numbers simply by rushing. Encourage your child to pace himself/herself and concentrate on each problem – more than aiming to finish the test. 

Tell your child to check and re-check the steps and solutions to every test problem, if time allows. One incorrect number – like a messy "3" mistaken for an "8” – can get carried through every step of a math problem, leading to a wrong answer. Simple mistakes can be caught during review.

Another problem is the long-held myth about math. Many people believe mathematics is something you either get or you don't; you're either a "math person" or you aren't. Not true, says Dalton. Math skills can be improved. "Students need to practice math. Problems need to be worked until students have mastered the concept presented. Students need to verbalize a concept by explaining it to someone else or writing down the explanation. By building the foundation of recalling basic facts [and practice], children will become better and much more proficient."

It's true that stellar math skills garner better grades and higher scores on standardized tests. Dalton agrees but says conquering math affects something of more importance: a child's future. "If students don't have these skills, they will limit their career choices. Also, to be successful in life, students will need to apply the math skills they have learned to everyday situations. Things like balancing a checkbook, credit card interest, percent, making change, using a tape measure, and measuring ingredients in the kitchen all require math."

Math tests are hard enough. Add the stress of getting a good grade and a possible time factor, and it can be difficult for any child (or adult) to answer every problem correctly. However, trying to avoid preventable errors is worth the effort. Have your child study math as intensely as he/she would the vocabulary for a spelling test. Also, promote memorizing calculations and practicing math concepts. These steps can help improve your child's skills and facilitate true success at math.

Put a Halt to Homework Hassles

by Carol Tuttle 

When it comes to your child's homework, do you beg, plead, or bribe? Do you threaten consequences? You can make homework easier for both you and your children with some simple tips that honor their natural energy. Every child has a dominant Energy Type that determines the way they move through life. It affects everything they do—playing, talking, eating, sleeping. And yes, it even shows up in the way they do homework!

Ready to take the struggle out of homework? Here are homework tips for the four Types of children:

For the Fun-loving Type 1 Child.

These bright-minded children think quickly and like to move. Their thought process works like snapshots of ideas, so engaging in a linear experience can be challenging for them.

Pre-homework playtime. If your child attends a traditional school, they need time to do something light and free before jumping into homework. Let them come up with ideas of what they’ll do—something to look forward to after the structured experience of school.

Homework jumping. Allow them to skip from one activity to another. That’s how their brain works anyway. Extra movement of things going on in the background is actually helpful for them because it allows them to disconnect from their homework and then connect again.

For the Sensitive Type 2 Child

These subtle children work methodically and are great with details. They are naturally quieter, so speaking up about what they might need can be a challenge for them.

Planned routine (one that they plan). These children do best when they have a plan they have made themselves. Which steps will they follow to get things done? You can ask this of children as young as five or six years old as Type 2 children are already thinking this way.

Invitation to connect. Type 2 children often want their parents to recognize the work they’re doing without knowing how to ask for it. Take a second to connect with them while they’re working and invite them to share with you.

For the Determined Type 3 Child. 

These active children move swiftly and like getting things done. Their natural speed can be a challenge when it comes to detailed tasks they feel are tedious or pointless.

Help them see the point of it. These children will do homework when they understand the reason why. If they don’t see it, they’ll try to get around it somehow. They’ll pick the grade they want and do as much as they must do to get it done. Help them see the practical purpose.

Make homework part of the extracurricular fund. Money is a great motivator in the Type 3 world. If you plan to pay for extracurricular activities, you could attach a money value to finishing homework and that money goes to a sport or lesson they really want. You’ll be spending the money anyway and they’ll enjoy the feeling of accomplishment as they work toward a special activity.

For the More Serious Type 4 Child. 

These focused children are self-motivated. But if they’re not respected for who they are at school, they’ll buck the system. It will look like rebellion, but it’s really only their attempt to stay true to their nature.

The respectful phrase. These children feel offended when you tell them what to do because they’re aware of their responsibilities. Try this phrase: "Looks like you’re doing great. Let me know if you need help.” Let them come to you, which they will, if they think they need help.

Ownership of a space. Set aside one consistent place that they can take ownership of at the same time every day to do their homework—not the kitchen table. If possible, get them their own desk or a place that’s separate from where everyone is moving around.

Parents, here’s your homework assignment to end the homework struggle for good:

Set the intention that you and your child will experience ease and enjoyment as you support them in their homework. It’s possible and you can start today.

Carol Tuttle is the CEO of Live Your Truth, LLC and author of the best-selling parenting book, The Child Whisperer: the Ultimate Handbook for Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children. For more information, visit www.thechildwhisperer.com. 

Be Aware of Sport-Specific Injuries for Young Athletes

by Kristy Como Armand

Eleven-year-old pitchers with sore shoulders, 13-year-old soccer players with aching ankles, basketball stars with throbbing heels – virtually every young adult sport has a risk of injury and statistics indicate those risks have been realized at an increasing rate. With an estimated 25 million scholastic, and another 20 million org

anized community-based youth programs in the United States, the opportunity for injury is enormous.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 3.5 million athletes under the age of 15 seek medical treatment for sports-related injuries each year. Sports injuries are the second leading cause of emergency room visits for children and adolescents, and the second leading cause of injuries in school. 

"There are more children playing competitive sports and many of them are playing year-round. The benefits of sports are substantial, but so is the risk of injury if proper precautions aren’t taken,” says Alex Anderson, MD, primary care sports medicine specialist with Imperial Health Center for Orthopaedics. "Obviously, it’s important for coaches and team staff to understand prevention and treatment of these injuries, but it is also extremely important for parents to understand the risks. When parents have a full understanding of this, it makes it much easier and more comfortable for them to enjoy the game. They feel educated and prepared.”

Sprains and strains are the most common injuries, making it crucial that parents and supervising adults have a full understanding of how to prevent and treat them. "A sprain involves the stretching or tearing of a ligament. A strain involves stretching or tearing of the muscle or tendon structures. Both can cause limited mobility, pain and swelling. If minor, they often heal quickly using the RICE technique – rest, ice, compression and elevation,” Dr. Anderson said. "Early medical attention is wise when pain is severe or causes immobility, but in many cases, these youth injuries can be treated with adequate rest and home care.”

Although all youth sports present opportunities for sprains and strains, certain sports do carry specific risks at a higher rate than others, according to Dr. Anderson.  Below are some typical injuries in the sports seen most among young athletes: 


Damage to the ACL – the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee – is a common injury in football. Although typically thought of as an injury that ends the careers of NFL superstars, Dr. Anderson says athletes as young as nine or ten have now become susceptible to ACL damage. Training drills that require balance, power and agility are crucial. Jumping and balance drills improve athletes’ muscular reactions, which has shown to cause a decrease in the risk of ACL damage. 


One of the more common injuries in this sport is to the wrist, because weight is constantly being put on the wrists to execute flips, lift other members of their squad, and other athletic demands. It’s easy to forget about the wrists during stretching exercises, but it’s crucial that both hands and wrists get conditioned during warm-up. If wrist pain becomes constant, seek the advice of a medical professional. If left untreated, Dr. Anderson says wrist injuries can worsen.


"Jammed fingers” are common because fingers and thumbs are constantly being utilized and hit by the ball. Symptoms include pain, swelling, discoloring and immobility. Sometimes finger joints can become dislocated. If a joint becomes dislocated, do not allow anyone but a trained medical professional to restore it. In the case of a swollen or sore finger, ice should be applied as soon as possible and continued in 12-minute intervals with 20-minute breaks between ice applications. Elevate the injured finger. You can compress the finger also, but make sure the compression isn’t too tight and is not left on for too long.  


There has been a rapid increase in arm injuries among young pitchers, which is usually the result of overuse and improper technique. Make sure the team adheres to pitching limits, preferably those set forth by the American Sports Medicine Institute. Dr. Anderson says parents of young pitchers should familiarize themselves with these limits and make sure the coaches follow them. Young athletes should also make sure they learn and understand proper throwing techniques and condition themselves adequately before game play.


Not surprisingly, pain in the shins is very typical of soccer players. Generalized shin pain that increases over time is often referred to as ‘shin splints,’ and is usually caused by improper stretching, over-training, overuse, running or jumping, and inadequate cleats. Shin splits are marked by pain in the lower leg, which worsens while running or exercising, a lingering ache that continues even during rest, and tight or inflexible calves. The best thing that can be done is rest. The RICE method can also be used for immediate relief.

Dr. Anderson says early recognition and treatment of injuries is critical in returning athletes to their sport safely and quickly. "Any injury that involves obvious swelling, deformity, and/or loss of normal function in movement or strength should be seen by a physician immediately. If a minor injury does not heal on its own, and your child is not back to full participation without pain, it is best to have him/her evaluated by a physician,” he says. ”Nagging injuries that go untreated can turn into a more serious condition that could require a much longer time away from the sport to allow the injury to heal properly.”

Visit CenterForOrtho.com to learn more about sports injuries and prevention.

Back to School: Steps to Help Keep Kids Safe

Put safety at the top of the list when getting kids ready for school


It’s almost time for the school bells to ring again and the American Red Cross has steps everyone can follow to help make the trip back to the classroom a safe one. Preparing and reminding children of safety measures – whether they walk, bike, or ride to school – is key to their arriving and returning home safely.


SCHOOL BUS SAFETY If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand back from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Other safety steps include:

•         Wait to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has signaled to get on.

•         Tell children they should only board their bus – never an alternate one.

•         Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.

•         Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.

•         Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.


GET TO SCHOOL SAFELY If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt.

•         Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”) and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

•         If a teenager is driving to school, parents should mandate that he or she use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.

•         Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right in the same direction as traffic goes.

•         When students walk to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection. If possible, use a route with crossing guards.

•         Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, for at least the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.


WHAT DRIVERS SHOULD KNOW Drivers should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean and be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down – especially in residential areas and school zones. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.


Parents should also make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1. They should also teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know. Courtesy of the American Red Cross

Sheriff Tony Mancuso Announces "Reality Check” Life Readiness Academy for Teens 

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office is offering a new life readiness program called "Reality Check” for teens age 14 and up. The goal of the program, according to Sheriff Tony Mancuso, is to prepare today’s youth for life tomorrow. It was developed to give teens experience and guidance for handling challenging, real-life situations they may encounter as they transition to adulthood. 

"Being a teen today isn’t easy. There are more risks and threats to safety and well-being than ever before,” says Mancuso. "That’s why we created Reality Check – to equip our teens with the knowledge and resources they’ll need to be successful young adults.” 

Reality Check will cover some of the most confusing situations that teens are likely to face: roadside safety; what to do when if they are pulled over by the police; understanding the importance of their credit score; how to balance a check book; dealing with peer pressure; how to protect their identity online, and more. "We’ll even simulate driving under the influence so they’ll understand the true impact of alcohol on their capabilities,” says Mancuso. 

The program is free and open to Calcasieu Parish teens. Several sessions will be offered this year. For more information or to register, call (337) 491-3851. 

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