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Adolescence experts discuss teen health, optimal school success

September 8, 2011
School of Education News
Author and leading pediatrician Kenneth Ginsburg will join Challenge Success co-founders at a public plenary discussion on Sept. 30.

Contact: Amy Alamar, Schools Program Director, Challenge Success,  

Comment: Lourdes Ventura, Administrative Associate, Challenge Success,

Relevant URL: 

Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D.

STANFORD – Parents, youth, educators, and community members are invited to register for a plenary discussion on the nature of success and the pervasive culture of stress and pressure on K-12 students on Friday, September 30 at 7 p.m. at Stanford University’s Memorial Auditorium. Author and leading pediatrician Kenneth Ginsburg will provide the keynote address. The plenary discussion kicks off a conference titled “One Size Does Not Fit All: Every Child is Different,” sponsored by Challenge Success.

Ginsburg will join Challenge Success co-founders Denise Pope and Madeline Levine to lead an interactive discussion about the meaning of success and how families and educators can help youth thrive in the fast-paced world in which we live. They will offer practical ideas to help families define success on their own terms. The evening will also help parents and educators explore ways to meet the unique needs of each child in order to promote youth well-being and optimal school success.

Ginsburg is a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He also serves as director of health services at Covenant House in Pennsylvania, an agency that serves Philadelphia’s homeless and marginalized youth. Ginsburg has authored Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings (2011) and Letting Go with Love and Confidence: Raising Responsible, Resilient, Self-Sufficient Teens in the 21st Century (2011).

Pope is a Stanford education senior lecturer and author of Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic and Miseducated Students (2001). Levine is a clinical psychologist and New York Times best-selling author of The Price of Privilege (2006).

The discussion launches a conference on October 1 at Stanford University designed to broaden the rigid notion of success based on high grades and test scores and acceptance into prestigious schools. To contend with the pressure for high achievement, adolescents are often compromising their mental and physical health, personal values, and commitment to learning. Many educators, mental health professionals, and business leaders have also expressed concern that this narrow definition of success is leaving young people without the skills to adapt, interact, and collaborate in a rapidly changing world.

On October 1, a selected number of middle school and high school teams composed of students, teachers, parents, administrators, and counselors from the Bay Area, Dallas, Sacramento, Seattle, and Southern California (Rolling Hills Estates) will participate in workshops designed for schools to learn about the challenges involved in re-visioning success and to develop plans of action for implementing change at their sites.

School teams of six to eight stakeholders (including the principal and at least one teacher, one parent, one counselor, and two students) were invited to submit an application last spring to participate in the Saturday conference. The teams will attend a Friday night reception before the public plenary. In addition to participating in the Saturday workshops, each team will receive a Stanford “coach” who will offer guidance to the school for several months following the conference as the team continues to develop plans to reduce student stress and increase engagement. School teams then re-convene next spring to assess the strategies that have been implemented and to discuss plans for the future. This year, 10 new school groups will join 10 returning teams at the conference.

The conference is sponsored by Challenge Success, an organization formed in 2007 that grew out of the highly successful Stressed-Out Students Project at Stanford University. Founded on the belief that real success results from attention to the basic development needs of children and a valuing of different types of skills and abilities, Challenge Success seeks to inform, inspire, and equip youth, parents, and schools to adopt practices to expand options for youth success. Challenge Success offers a series of parent education presentations, sponsored by either individual school sites or school districts, on topics such as “The Well-Balanced Student: Combating Academic Stress” and a ”Balanced Approach to Navigating Youth Sports.” In addition, the organization offers an intensive six-week course, “Raising Well-Balanced Children in a Fast-Paced World,” to parents in the Bay Area. An online version of the course is being developed for national distribution.

Additional sponsors from Stanford University include the School of Education, the Undergraduate Advising and Research, the Office of Judicial Affairs, the Office of the Dean of Students, Vaden Health Center, and the Office for Religious Life.

Members of the public interested in attending the public plenary session are required to RSVP. To RSVP or to learn more, visit


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