The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

October 9, 2012

On call for kids in crisis: Programs help kids through tough times

OTTUMWA — Parents may vaguely remember the pressures they dealt with as a child. An office at the middle school is devoted to helping kids cope.

“Kids do have stress,” said Tina Walker, a crisis intervention counselor assigned to Evans Middle School. “One thing they stress about is whatever their families stress about; they’re very intuitive.”

Walker runs the Potential Achievers Program as well as the All Stars Class. And while she has an office at Evans, she’s actually an employee of Southern Iowa Mental Health Center.

Walker, by establishing good relationships with students, is able to talk to them about their troubles.

When a child comes to school upset because a beloved pet died, Walker wants to help them — and get them to class. When drugs are involved, a problem that more often plagues older students she follows up on, resolution may take much longer.

“We’re very lucky at Evans. Some schools are doing away with a lot of their extra activities. They may drop music or orchestra or art. Well, art allows them to express that stress.”

Having band, football or science club helps young people either express themselves or burn off energy in a constructive way. So does teaching them about making good choices.

While half her hours are devoted to crisis counseling, Walker teaches the All Star Class, taken by nearly every seventh-grader at Evans, during her remaining hours.

Kids learn about being motivated to do the right thing, and they see the social norms demonstrated by successful students in leadership roles.

To get parents involved, homework requires discussion with “a trusted adult.” Questionnaires may broach subjects like drugs, sex or violence.

“Studies show more success when kids have a trusted adult in the [school] building [and] when parents have those conversations,” Walker said.

She said it is distressing to her when young people joke about drugs. In their hearts, she believes, most find drug use to be foolish. Worse, she said, one in seven kids will face an addiction problem at some point.

Last year, the grant for the class ran out. This year, the Iowa Regional Legacy Foundation donated more than $13,000 to keep it going.

“I got to sit in on one of the classes,” said Kelly Genners, the director of community leadership. “It’s amazing.”

She said the relationship Walker has with the students allows them to talk freely with her about some pretty difficult — but important — topics facing teens.

When you really listen, Walker said, you find that even young teens know more than you might think. And be more generous.

Part of the program encourages students to create a better community.

“To help others, not just look inward at themselves,” said Walker.

After a student received $150 in Christmas money, she donated $100 to the Food Bank of Southern Iowa, enough to buy more than 500 pounds of food for the needy.

“She didn’t do it to be noticed; she understood what a difference it could make,” Walker said. “There’s some really good kids here.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Waste Management wants to stay in Keosauqua KEOSAUQUA — Waste Management told the city of Keosauqua that it was not interested in ending the contract it has for solid waste and recycling services it provides to the city. A representative told the city mayor that it intends to fulfill the contr

    April 16, 2014

  • Road transfer under consideration KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisors are considering an agreement to transfer the public road known as Iowa 98 from the state to the county. The route is approximately 1.81 miles, and the county will receive $2,310,000, according to the proposed

    April 16, 2014

  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416 OTT Ron Oswalt mug -T School board member resigns

    OTTUMWA — As this week's school board meeting came to a close, the president read a letter from one of the members. Board President Carol Mitchell read that fellow board member Ron Oswalt was announcing his resignation from the Ottumwa Board of Educa

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Chronic wasting disease found in wild deer OTTUMWA — Since 2002, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has collected more than 50,000 samples of captive and wild deer in Iowa in an effort to look for cases of chronic wasting disease. On April 9, they confirmed an infected wild deer had bee

    April 15, 2014

  • Good Shepherd Food Pantry making a difference BLAKESBURG — Good Shepherd Food Pantry in Blakesburg began its third full year of operation this month. Start-up funds included the South Central United Methodist Conference grant of $1,200 and a large cash donation from Hope Well Church in response

    April 15, 2014

  • Council approves sale to Historical Preservation Society BLAKESBURG — Blakesburg City Council on Monday approved sale of the museum property to Blakesburg Historical Preservation Society. The $4,000 bid submitted by BHPS was the only bid received. Terms of the bid include a clause that if at sometime the p

    April 15, 2014

  • County signs law enforcement agreement with Eddyville OTTUMWA — A law enforcement service contract between Wapello County and the city of Eddyville received supervisors' approval on Tuesday. Beginning July 1, Eddyville will pay the Wapello County Sheriff’s office $3,833 per month or $45,996 for law enfo

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 OTT bbq photo, run small -T -M Where the smoke came wafting off the grill OTTUMWA — When the hobby they loved became a full-time job, Bubba-Q's owners had to put something they loved — barbecue competitions — on hold. "We haven't competed since 2011," said Sabrina Knapp, co-owner of Bubba-Q's restaurant in the Quincy Place

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition