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5 Action Steps To Prevent Youth Suicide

Suicide is a leading cause of death in youth ages 10 – 24. Each day in the United States, there are an average of over 3,041 suicide attempts made by young people in grades 9 – 12. These are staggering statistics that can be prevented.

Now, more than ever, it is vital that we address the ‘whole’ child, their social and emotional well-being and this learning begins at home. “Family life is our first school for emotional learning,” states Daniel Goleman, the author of the groundbreaking book Emotional Intelligence. Through family life “we learn how to feel about ourselves and how others will react to our feelings; how to think about these feelings and what choices we have in reacting; how to read and express hopes and fears.”

Social and emotional learning is a process which allows children to acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Social and emotional learning is a powerful way to help children become healthy, caring, and competent.

If children learn to express emotions constructively and engage in caring and respectful relationships before and while they are in their lower elementary grades, they are more likely to avoid depression, violence, and other serious mental health problems as they grow older.

Here are 5 key skills social-emotional learning develops:

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness involves understanding one’s own emotions, personal goals, and values. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations, having positive mindsets, and possessing a well-grounded sense of self-efficacy and optimism. High levels of self-awareness require the ability to recognize how thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected.

Self-Management

Self-management requires skills and attitudes that facilitate the ability to regulate one’s own emotions and behaviors. This includes the ability to delay gratification, manage stress, control impulses, and persevere through challenges in order to achieve personal and educational goals.

Social Awareness

Social awareness involves the ability to understand, empathize, and feel compassion for those with different backgrounds or cultures. It also involves understanding social norms for behavior and recognizing family, school, and community resources and supports.

Relationship Skills

Relationship skills help students establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships, and to act in accordance with social norms. These skills involve communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking help when it is needed.

Responsible Decision Making

Responsible decision-making involves learning how to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse settings. It requires the ability to consider ethical standards, safety concerns, accurate behavioral norms for risky behaviors, the health and well-being of self and others, and to make a realistic evaluation of various actions’ consequences.

Here are 5 ways you can strengthen your child’s social-emotional well-being:

1. Create a trusting, safe connection with your child.

Spend time with them and talk about anything that comes to their mind. Offering a safe space or time for children to talk to you assures them that you care. Ask children how they feel. When you ask how your child feels, the message is that feelings matter and you care. Then, stay open to listening without judgment so they know you are a safe space for them to express themselves. Acknowledging and exploring their feelings help children feel understood.

2. Give children choices and respect their wishes.

When children have an opportunity to make choices, they learn essential problem-solving skills. Giving children ways to express preferences and make decisions shows that their ideas and feelings matter. Rather than helping solve a challenge, offer encouragement and help them believe in themselves. Ask questions or make statements that allow your child to find their own answers. It can be as simple as ‘I wonder what you’ll do’ or “What do you think you can do in this situation?” Positive encouragement from a parent can go a long way in building your child’s self-esteem and sense of optimism.

3. Avoid humiliating or mocking your child.

This behavior can be damaging and lead to a lack of self-confidence and, in turn, problems with schoolwork, illness, and trouble getting along with friends. Unfair criticism and sarcasm also hurts the bond of trust between children and parents. Be mindful of how you speak to your children. Give them the room to make mistakes as they learn new skills.

4. Create a ‘kind identity”.

Ask children to reflect. If you notice them being empathetic towards another child who is upset, ask your child to talk about what they were feeling and why they behaved in the way that they did. Be sure to encourage this type of behavior by saying, “I liked how you were kind to Billy when he was feeling sad.”

5. Teach healthy ways to express, process and manage emotions.

There are many effective techniques and exercises. Find the ones that connect with you and your child. The goal is to help your child promote healthy expressions of their emotions.

Mindfulness exercises, such as guided breathing, stretching, and movement activities, can be extremely beneficial.

Reflective activities, like journaling or meditation, where children sit still while focusing on becoming aware of their surroundings and posture, can help them unpack their emotions and feelings.

Listening to music or creating art can help relieve stress and strengthen relaxation. Research shows the arts promote creativity, social development, personality adjustment, and self-worth. You can learn more about Free2Luv’s art empowerment programs, the Free2BeME Project here.

The goal of social-emotional learning is to help youth develop more positive attitudes toward themselves and others, enhance self-efficacy, confidence, persistence, empathy, and connection, and develop a strong sense of purpose.

It is vital for families, communities, and schools to work together to raise confident, empowered, and balanced children. It takes a village to minimize bullying and teen suicide and begins with each of us modeling kindness, acceptance, inclusion, and healthy emotional expression. Let us start today.

5 Action Steps To Prevent Youth Suicide

2019-01-04T22:29:45+00:00

Cyberbullying: What You Need To Know If You’re Being Cyberbullied

Ask yourself: Have you ever been a victim of cyberbullying, or have you ever cyberbullied someone?

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying or harassment that happens online, via text, on social media, and in apps. This is all away from your physical space. Since cyberbullying occurs in electronic form, you may not always know the person on the other end of that comment.

According to a study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 34 percent of the students have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes. What’s more, 12 percent admitted to cyberbullying. From hurtful comments to gossip and rumors, this is a behavior that has the power to impact the lives of people on both sides of the screen.

If you’ve felt hurt by the words of others online, or if you’ve hit send without thinking about the recipient of your message, keep reading.

Cyberbullying Impact

Are you being cyberbullied?

If you happen to be the victim of hurtful comments, actions, or gossip, remember you have the power to control how you react. While words can hurt, take a minute to think about who they are coming from and don’t let this person hold the power of your self-esteem and self-confidence over you. Block the person, log-off, call a friend, or find a community where you can feel safe and empowered.  

Here are five tips to help protect yourself from cyberbullying:

  • Reach out and let someone know what you are experiencing. There is always help.
  • Block the person. You have the power not to engage.
  • Report harassing comments, fake profiles, or inappropriate photos. Social media sites have ways of reporting harassing content. You have a right to feel safe in these spaces.
  • Never share your passwords, private photos, or personal data (such as address or phone number) online, not even with friends.
  • Remember if someone is bullying you, know that their actions are not about you. They may be suffering from low self-esteem, being bullied themselves, or acting out for attention.

Have you ever cyberbullied?

Maybe you haven’t been on the receiving end of cyberbullying, but have you ever spread a negative message about someone or a group online? If so, you’re engaging in the act of cyberbullying. Even if it is a “small” comment or you’re retweeting a rumor, it still has an impact.

Here are three ways to stop cyberbullying:

  • Think before you hit “send.” Even if you think something may not be hurtful, pause for a moment to consider how the person on the other end may feel after receiving it.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if someone was commenting on your looks, your sexuality, or your lifestyle? The answer is probably not great.
  • Log off. Spend some time offline and get involved with your school, community, or organization that you care about joining. It is all about finding something positive to enjoy in your free time.

Read more as we delve deeper into our state of mind and emotions around cyberbullying, something that has become an epidemic in the world of new technology.

Want to stand up to cyberbullying? Join the Free2Luv movement and use your voice to uplift and inspire. Change begins with each of us.

Cyberbullying: What You Need To Know If You’re Being Cyberbullied

2019-01-04T22:32:02+00:00

Bullied to Brave … The Story of Youth Empowerment Nonprofit Free2Luv

Have you ever had a life-defining moment? Mine came in 2011 with the sudden passing of my young mother from pancreatic cancer. I was faced with how short life can be and questioned whether I was fulfilling my life purpose. I kept hearing about youth feeling like they had nowhere to turn, hurting themselves, and even taking their own lives. My dream I had acquired at a very young age of being an advocate for youth, resurfaced.

With my mother’s loss of life and young people taking their lives because of not feeling accepted, I felt driven to reach as many young people as possible. Furthermore, to let them know their life matters and is worth living and to empower them to know others’ words or actions don’t define them. I have since made it my life’s mission to help kids feel safe, heard, and valued, regardless of their ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. I rolled up my sleeves and armed with love, passion, and determination, my family and I founded Free2Luv®. Free2Luv is a youth empowerment nonprofit inspiring hope in youth who are often marginalized, bullied, and afforded little opportunity to thrive and prosper, including LGBTQ youth.

Behind every issue, whether it’s bullying, self-harm or self-loathing, are low self-esteem and a lack of self-love. We wanted our organization name to be a word of empowerment. The name Free2Luv encompasses loving yourself first, loving others and being free to love whoever you desire.

From personal experience, I know the value of having one other person in your corner, fighting your fight with you and supporting you fully. It can be the thing that pulls you out of your circumstance and makes the difference for a prosperous life. Sometimes that difference is between living and dying. Other times it’s standing up for a stranger who you see being bullied instead of turning away in apathy. In addition to using our own voices to impact others, we mentor youth to raise their voices in compassion and love. That’s what truly sets us apart.

One of the cornerstones of our organization and one we are incredibly proud of is our youth advocacy/mentorship program. We assist youth in finding their authentic voice and expression, which in turn builds their self-esteem and confidence. What happens from there is magic. Advocates inspire other youth in their community as they share the importance of bullying prevention, spread kindness, and celebrate individuality. By providing youth continual support, we are growing leaders and game changers who are making a powerful and positive impact in their communities, inspiring, encouraging, and uplifting their peers. It’s a dynamic ripple effect of empowerment and connection.

There’s nothing like holding hands with young people who build confidence and engage in inclusive conversations. When youth learn to express themselves more fully, they share their hearts and are open-minded with their peers. It is the most rewarding and profound work we have done in our lives, and it is a gift to witness the growth of these beautiful individuals who are our future. Teaching leadership, innovation, and compassion is critical to our society’s future. When we raise authentic, confident, and empowered individuals, we are building a strong future for all youth. Therefore, we will continue to make this our life’s work and mission. Above all, we aspire to be leaders who inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.

Bullied to Brave … The Story of Youth Empowerment Nonprofit Free2Luv

2019-01-11T21:13:59+00:00

BULLYING STOPS HERE AT UNSTOPPABLE TOUR DE FORCE

Our UNSTOPPABLE: TOUR DE FORCE benefit event was a magical day honoring the life of our Honorary Youth Advocate Blaine. We were blessed to have his family in attendance and our host extraordinaire, actor Jason Drucker, led off the day’s festivities leading the audience in our kindness pledge in Blaine’s name. We were thrilled to host under-resourced youth from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, Girls Today Women Tomorrow and A Child’s Dream.

Troupe Du Cirque engaged the audience with a spellbinding, thought-provoking anti-bullying performance taking us all on an emotional journey from self-doubt to unstoppable strength.

This event was a labor of LUV and could not have been accomplished without the LUV, support, and dedication of our Free2Luv Team and the incredibly hard-working parents of our Youth Advocates. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who made this incredible day possible.

Celebrities Share Insightful Anti-Bullying Advice

Teens Wanna Know joined us and created a recap of the days’ festivities including insightful bullying prevention wisdom from our guests on the red carpet. Enjoy!

BULLYING STOPS HERE AT UNSTOPPABLE TOUR DE FORCE

2018-11-29T22:31:10+00:00

UNSTOPPABLE THE FILM PREMIERES AT L.A. LIVE FILM FEST

What happens when 50 diverse, powerful women come together to share their hopes, dreams, imperfections, resilience and unapologetic perfect selves?

UNSTOPPABLE The Film 

We premiered UNSTOPPABLE at The Regent Theater earlier this year and we’re now ready to hit the film festival circuit. First stop, L.A. Live Film Fest! We’re joining actor and filmmaker ‘Kash Hovey & Friends’ film block at Regal Cinemas on November 10th for an inspirational evening of powerful films.

In partnership with The Riot Life, an all female-identifying team (in front and behind the camera) came together to create a docu-style poetry short film celebrating empowerment told through the female gaze.

This short brought together 50 strong, diverse women including influencers such as Free2Luv Ambassador Stephanie Rice from The Voice, Actress Ali Chapman, Youtubers Catrific and Maiah Ocando, Musicians Bebe Huxley and Free2Luv Advocate Rie Daisies, and many more ambassadors for women’s empowerment.

We’re so proud of our Advocates and Ambassadors who were a part of this film and thank each of them for sharing their hearts with us. A big shout out and thank you to writer and director, Ella Lentini and crew for helping make this a reality.

After we hit the film fest circuit, we look forward to sharing this uplifting, empowerment film with all of you! Join our mailing list to follow our short film’s journey.

UNSTOPPABLE THE FILM PREMIERES AT L.A. LIVE FILM FEST

2018-11-10T16:59:21+00:00

Free2Luv 2018 DIFFERENCE MAKER Awards

Free2Luv Presents First Difference Maker Award at TOUR DE FORCE Benefit Event

Free2Luv launches their new DIFFERENCE MAKER awards on the red carpet at the UNSTOPPABLE: TOUR DE FORCE benefit event at the historic Regent Theater in downtown L.A. These prestigious awards will be presented annually to select Advocates who have played a vital role in advocating for Free2Luv and our mission in their communities.

The first award, DIFFERENCE MAKER was presented by host and Free2Luv Ambassador Jason Drucker to Free2Luv Advocate Lauren Suthers in recognition of her commitment and dedication to empowering youth and creating change in the world.

“Lauren has been an instrumental part of our Youth Advocacy program for the past four years and we are incredibly proud of the impact she is making in her community. Lauren facilitates our Free2BeME art empowerment workshops year-round for under-resourced youth providing them with a positive outlet for creative expression. Her magnetic personality and infectious enthusiasm allow her to connect with youth and peers alike on a heart level. A difference-maker by definition is ‘one who has an impact or effect; one who brings about change. We feel Lauren embodies the definition and we are very proud to be bestowing her with this honor,” says Tonya Sandis, Founder, and President of Free2Luv.

Free2Luv 2018 DIFFERENCE MAKER Awards.

Here are a few words from Lauren regarding the impact the Free2BeME workshop facilitation has had on her life:

“After facilitating a few of these powerful workshops, I found it life-changing. It’s so amazing to see kids open up and share what’s in their hearts when there are no rules or right or wrong answers. For many of these kids, feeling heard and understood is so important to them and in this supportive environment, they are encouraged to be their authentic selves. It is such a rewarding experience that I feel like I have found my life purpose and I look forward to continuing my outreach and volunteerism with Free2Luv,” says Suthers.

Lauren has also been awarded a BE INSPIRED Disney Citizenship grant through Youth Service America for her volunteerism with Free2Luv.

Congratulations, Lauren on this well-deserved honor. Thank you for sharing your big heart with our movement.

Free2Luv 2018 DIFFERENCE MAKER Awards

2018-11-07T02:40:35+00:00

BULLYING PREVENTION FROM A TEEN’S PERSPECTIVE

Free2Luv and Teens Wanna Know hit the red carpet at UNSTOPPABLE: TOUR DE FORCE benefit event at The Regent Theater in downtown L.A. Celebrity guests and influencers shared insightful bullying prevention wisdom.

BULLYING PREVENTION FROM A TEEN’S PERSPECTIVE

2019-01-11T17:45:38+00:00

UNSTOPPABLE: TOUR DE FORCE ANTI-BULLYING CIRQUE EVENT

What happens when young professional cirque artists collide with powerful music and join forces with youth empowerment nonprofit Free2Luv?

A TOUR DE FORCE!

Join us for a musical cirque spectacle as we embark on a magical journey of self-discovery.

Through acrobatics, contortion, high flying aerial, trapeze acts, music and thought-provoking storytelling, self-doubt and pain turn into power and unstoppable strength.

Get ready to be moved, inspired, and engaged by the ensemble cast of Troupe Du Cirque, young artists who have been seen on television and graced some of the world’s largest stages.

The day’s festivities will be hosted by Free2Luv Ambassador and actor Jason Drucker, star of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul and the highly anticipated Transformers spin-off, BumbleBee.

Saturday, November 3, 2018
The Regent DTLA
448 S Main St. Los Angeles, CA 90013
BIG TOP Pre-Show 12 – 1 p.m.
Event 1 – 3 p.m.

Proceeds raised from TOUR DE FORCE benefit Free2Luv’s youth empowerment initiatives for underserved youth. We’re excited to be hosting 6 under-resourced youth groups to experience UNSTOPPABLE: TOUR DE FORCE so even if you can’t attend, we’d love for you to sponsor a teen or donate to support our efforts.

BIG SHOUTOUT to all of our sponsors who are supporting UNSTOPPABLE: TOUR DE FORCE and our youth empowerment initiatives. THANK YOU for being agents for change with us! If you’d like to join these awesome companies and be a DIFFERENCE MAKER, we’d LUV to hear from you! Email us at sponsor@free2luv.org.

UNSTOPPABLE: TOUR DE FORCE ANTI-BULLYING CIRQUE EVENT

2018-11-04T04:28:11+00:00

PIECE OF CAKE MOVIE

Download the Award Winning LGBT Short Film Starring Shannon Beveridge & Ella Lentini Today!

Did you know 9 out of 10 LGBT teens have reported being bullied at school because of their sexual orientation and 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBT? Can you imagine not loving your child based on their sexuality? Coming out isn’t always a PIECE OF CAKE. We’re delighted to have co-produced the award-winning PIECE OF CAKE movie with The Riot Life to support LGBTQ youth. YouTube star of NowThisIsLiving channel Shannon Beveridge and actress and filmmaker, Ella Lentini shine in this movie that has raised over $10,000 to date to support our youth empowerment programs and LGBTQ youth.

In celebration of National Coming Out Day and over 1,000,000 trailer views on YouTube, Free2Luv and The Riot Life are excited to announce the award-winning LGBT short film, Piece of Cake is

AVAILABLE TO RENT NOW FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Click to download Piece of Cake Movie from the Riot Life.

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, THIS MOVIE RENTAL INCLUDES NEVER BEFORE SEEN DELETED SCENES AND BEHIND-THE-SCENES MOMENTS FROM THE SHOOT!

Official PIECE OF CAKE Movie Trailer

PIECE OF CAKE movie has met with critic acclaim, winning several film festival awards and the feedback from fans is overwhelming and moving.

Official Selection Awards include:

  • Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival 2017
  • Portland International Film Festival 2016
  • Catalina International Film Festival 2016
  • Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival 2017

PIECE OF CAKE was written and directed by Ella Lentini who plays Alex, the free-spirited girlfriend of Jessie, a sarcastic and complicated girl. Jessie is played by Shannon Beveridge, the YouTube star from NowThisIsLiving. Opposites attract as cupid’s arrows are blind. For both girls, it was love at first sight. After a year of dating paradise, things go awry when Jessie’s parents, who are unaware that Alex is a girl, arrive in town for their anniversary. At a crossroads, Jessie must decide between revealing her sexuality to her parents or losing the love of her life.

“The LGBTQ community has finally given me the chance to feel like I belong. That is a power of honesty in stories. And building community,” says Ella Lentini.“As a storyteller, that is why I feel this immense responsibility to create stories with diverse, LGBTQ characters that are authentic. I was tired of never seeing a “girl next door” who was like me. I was tired of seeing stereotypical LGBTQ characters whose only purpose were the comedic relief or plot twist. We relate to the protagonists we see on screen. Imagine never seeing anyone else like you? No wonder so many kids think loving someone can be wrong. Or living their truth isn’t an option. We need representation in stories to connect. To navigate. And inspire.”

“We’re incredibly proud to be a part of PIECE OF CAKE and be able to share this very raw and real story with our community. It’s so important that our LGBTQ youth see stories that represent our rich diversity of experiences and share characters that are fully developed with often times complex relationships. It’s been very rewarding to be a part of this short film that has been so well received. Viewers have shared how relatable the story is. It has opened up doors for more conversations around coming out, navigating the sometimes-rough terrain of interpersonal relationships with family and friends and the process of coming into your true authentic self. Every time content like this is created, we break down more barriers and start more conversations. We have been very moved by the response to this film and thrilled that it is resonating with viewers on a deep, soul level,” says Free2Luv Founder and PIECE OF CAKE Co-Producer, Tonya Sandis.

PIECE OF CAKE stars Ella and Shannon are big supporters of the LGBT community and like Free2Luv, strongly believe we should all be free to love. They produced the PSA below in support of our movement.

Watch Shannon Beveridge’s & Ella Lentini’s PSA

“Proud to stand with Free2Luv and be a part of a film that gives back to a cause that means so much to me.” ~ Shannon Beveridge

Ella and Shannon also lent their support by standing up to bullying and rockin’ Free2Luv’s #MillionSignMission. We are on a mission to unite one million people to advocate for kindness and take a stand. Join Shannon and Ella and be one in a million with us!

Alongside the Free2LUV #MillionSignMission, we also want to invite you to share your story and feel the power of connection. Sharing is a powerful way to remind ourselves that we are not alone. The whole cast and crew believe every story matters and here at Free2LUV, we would love to share your story and continue to remind everyone that their and your story matters.

FIERCE IS THE NEW BEAUTIFUL! Free2Luv and Shannon Beveridge teamed up to film PIECE OF CAKE.

Ella, one of the stars and the director of the movie wrote a heartfelt, beautiful letter to LGBTQ youth and anyone who may be struggling with their identity to highlight that we all “Tell ourselves stories to live” and to remind us that we all have within us a story to tell, a song yet unsung.

SIGN UP for PIECE OF CAKE updates along with other LGBTQ content today.

PIECE OF CAKE Reviews & Inspiration

Below are a selection of reviews and inspirational statements that we have received in regards to the PIECE OF CAKE movie and what this film means to the LGBT community and each individual that has watched the film. Continue to share your love, tell the Free2Luv community what the film meant to you on Facebook or Twitter. You matter, and we would love to hear from you.

~ “Just came out to my mom and I feel SO MUCH BETTER. You don’t even know how much you’ve helped me. Can’t say thank you enough!”

~ “An absolutely amazing and strong story … love it! You guys did a great job!!”

“You slayed this short film. What a powerful 16 minutes! Thank you!”

~ “Just finished watching PIECE OF CAKE. Amazing! Great job at raising awareness!”

~ “PIECE OF CAKE is one of the best short films I’ve ever seen. Thank you for this masterpiece.”

~ “Loved PIECE OF CAKE! So beautifully executed! Very, very proud.”

~ “I have no words for the masterpiece that is PIECE OF CAKE.”

~ “Can’t thank you guys enough for making content like this for those struggling!! Makes us feel like we’re not alone.”

What to read more peoples inspirational quotes and reviews? Scroll down past the never-before-seen pictures and continue to read what others are saying about the film.

Never before seen PIECE OF CAKE images

“Gotta support such a great film that I can resonate so much with.”

“I’m absolutely in love with PIECE OF CAKE. I wish there was more! Shannon and Ella, thank you for the difference you both are making!!”

“Absolutely loved PIECE OF CAKE LGBT film. It was beautiful! Congrats and thank you, Ella and Shannon. Love you both! #LoveIsLove”

“Ella, this is such a beautiful short film. Thank you for putting your time and heart into creating something that so many will be able to relate to.”

“This film is amazing, It does a great job at depicting the challenges that people often face.”

“I don’t know if you know this but you probably just saved someone’s life. Thank you for being you. You are truly inspiring.”

“I was so emotionally taken by your work in PIECE OF CAKE, Ella. Thank you for creating such an amazing piece of art.”

PIECE OF CAKE MOVIE

2018-10-24T03:29:43+00:00
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