Good Behavior More Than A Game
American Chemet and BCBSMT partner to sponsor new suicide prevention program for East Helena School District
HELENA — Elementary school teachers constantly strive for good behavior from their students. East Helena School District superintendent Ron Whitmoyer hopes that a new game does that and more for students in his district, beginning as soon as this summer.
Teachers from Eastgate and Radley elementary schools on June 9 immersed themselves in an all-day training for the PAXIS Institute Good Behavior Game, a new program to address mental health and teen suicide. The program was made possible through grants provided by American Chemet and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT).
The program is much more than a game. The Good Behavior Game is designed to reduce behavioral and mental health issues through a scientific teacher-implemented intervention program. It's had strong success rates elsewhere across the nation reducing behavioral issues in students early and later in life.
Whitmoyer said the district was seeking ways to not only meet the academic needs of students, but also to support and strengthen their ability to cope with the social, emotional, and behavioral challenges to improve their lifelong mental well-being. The district chose this program because it has proven results and it was recommended as an effective means to address these critical needs at an age where the district still could influence student suicide resistance much later in life.
Whitmoyer believes that by utilizing this program, the district can make an impact on kindergarten, first-, second- and third-grade students that will strengthen their resiliency to resist suicidal thoughts later in life, after they leave the school district.
A report from the CDC showed that from 2005-14, suicide was the number two cause of death in Montana for children ages 10-14, adolescents ages 15-24, and adults ages 25-44. East Helena families and the community have directly felt the impact of teen suicide, with several youths taking their own lives over the last four years.
"For these reasons we reached out to American Chemet and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana for resources to address the significant concerns we were having with addressing suicide long before the critical period of a child's life was reached," Whitmoyer said. "The district would not have been able to supply this training without our community partners. Thank you to American Chemet and BCBSMT for this tremendous gift to our kids and community."
Whitmoyer said that staff response has been encouraging. Every teacher in grades K-3 volunteered to attend the training. He said that teachers are already implementing the program in the district's summer school program.
The Good Behavior Game teaches children to self-regulate, to work together for common goals, and to focus on a positive future they co-create with others. These are core cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills required for peaceful, productive, healthy and happy lives, according to the PAXIS Institute. The program is not a classroom or behavior management program, yet has the benefit of making many classrooms easier to manage. The program reduces teacher and staff stress, and brings joy into the classroom every day—while increasing time for meaningful instruction and learning.
American Chemet and BCBSMT, two of the major employers in town, collaborated to bring the program to the school district and the community.
"What's happening in our community is heartbreaking. We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to break this tragic cycle," said John Doran, Divisional Vice President of External Affairs and Chief of Staff at BCBSMT. "We applaud the East Helena School District for taking such a proactive approach and we are proud to partner with American Chemet to bring this forward-thinking program into our schools. Together, we can make a difference."
American Chemet President and CEO Bill Shropshire, who also participated in the school training day, echoed those sentiments.
"American Chemet is proud to be a part of bringing the Good Behavior Game to East Helena schools," Shropshire said. "East Helena schools are showing great initiative, the teachers dedication, and the administration good and careful decision-making in bringing this great program to the kids of East Helena."
Since 1999, the Good Behavior Game has been implemented in 32 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces, reaching more than 105,000 students in more than 650 schools. The intervention also has been used by several tribes in the United States and First Nations in Canada, as well as in Ireland.
For more information on the program, visit www.paxis.org/products/view/pax-good-behavior-game.
American Chemet - established 1946 - is a privately owned, Montana-based manufacturer and marketer of metal-based powders and chemicals, focusing on copper oxides and copper powders that are used to move, shelter, and feed the world. In application, Chemet's products reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make industries more efficient, and make building products more enduring. American Chemet's website is www.chemet.com .
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSMT is the largest and longest-standing statewide, customer-owned health insurer and full-service health benefits administrator in Montana. BCBSMT believes that Montana consumers and employers deserve the best of both worlds — access to quality, cost-effective health care and superior customer service from a company that focuses solely on members. BCBSMT has provided high-quality health insurance plans and administrative services to Montanans for nearly 77 years. BCBSMT is committed to ensuring its members — no matter where they are on the health spectrum — achieve maximum health. BCBSMT's mission is to stand with its members in sickness and in health. BCBSMT's website is www.bcbsmt.com.