Hospitals' Goal: Healthy and Happy Kids

Christopher Berry, then 13, just wasn't his normal talkative self. The Chicago teenager was quiet and withdrawn and would hide out in his room. "This wasn't like him, and I knew it," says his mom, LaToya. When she shared her concerns with the pediatrician, he turned not to medication but to an innovative prevention program developed by doctors at a localchildren's hospital. The goal: to teach youngsters coping strategies to help them avoid tumbling into depression.

Called CURB, for Chicago Urban Resiliency Building, the three-month program at Children's Hospital University of Illinois uses a combination of counseling and weekly web-based lessons based on proven interventions to arm children and teens with resiliency and social skills. They hear stories about how other kids their age have overcome adversity and learn how to banish the blues by focusing on ways to change the common negative thoughts that make youngsters feel down ("I'm a loser!" "No one likes me!"). Christopher was taught, for example, to stop, freeze and think more realistically when he was on the verge of falling into a vortex of such thoughts and to look at his problems with some distance so he could see possible solutions.

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