August 29, 2016

Denver Mensa Summer Youth Gathering 2016

by Kim Servia, M.A.Ed. & DCAGT VP 

Denver Mensa provided a day of fun and games for Denver Youth Mensans, High IQ youth, and their parents recently in Denver.  The event was held from 1-7PM and included a student book exchange, games, Legos, special presentations for both students and parents, and a murder mystery dinner.

Youth were lead by SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) trained facilitator, Kim Servia, in an interactive discussion noting common traits many gifted people share.  Each student was encouraged to consider which common traits might also apply to him or herself.  Several self-advocacy strategies were presented in an attempt to help students actively participate in the type and depth of education they access.

During the discussion, students completed cards with their unique traits including INTERESTS, STRENGTHS, and CHALLENGES.  They were challenged to use the card to facilitate a conversation with a trusted adult who could help advocate for them and guide them toward meaningful, challenging, and relevant educational opportunities.  These actions are known to contribute to gifted learners’ MOTIVATION.

Students returned to their parents, games, and Legos.  Connections were made.  Most had arrived strangers, but soon appeared to find comfort and enjoyment in their common interests and traits.  A parent presentation followed.

While sharing her family and son’s personal story, Kim Servia discussed topics including INTENSITY, PERFECTION, STRESS, IDEALISM, MOTIVATION, ENTHUSIASM, and UNDERACHIEVEMENT.  Strategies to address these common concerns when parenting gifted children / teens were explained.  A handout was provided for future reference.  Parents were asked to share ‘aha moments’ and new strategies they would take away from the presentation.  Some of their comments are listed below:
●    The 5, 10, 15 idea (kids may be 10 years old but act 5 emotionally and 15 intellectually).
●    (I learned that) my son needs more encouragement.
●    I liked the “I’m smart” comment about not wanting to try new things because if they fail they might not be “smart”.  (referring to Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck)
●    I have 3 children who are GT with VERY different profiles.
●    The list of overexcitabilities (intellectual, imaginational, emotional, sensual/sensory, and psychomotor).
●    (I learned that I need to) meet my son where he is - and participate in HIS interests.
●    I really appreciated your personal stories.  Thank you for sharing.
●    The need to try to understand her (my gifted child) more.
●    (I need to try) to engage more with my 15 year old son without fighting about things he doesn’t care about.
●    I will use the “What can we do to improve or transfer the Motivation, Enthusiasm, and Underachievement” tips provided on the handout.
●    Be more involved and aware of (my) child’s interests and not impose too much of my interests on them.
●    Determine the reasons for lack of motivation.  Build on successes.
●    Listen to understand.  A lot of tips / strategies were listed.

Finally, all ages participated in Way out West, a Western murder mystery dinner.  Pizza was served.  Envelopes containing character information and objectives were distributed.  Roles  were studied and rehearsed.  Props were gathered and costumes adorned.  For two hours, participants roamed the room, interviewing neighbors or spreading rumors.  As characters interacted with one another, clues were revealed, and eventually the murderer was discovered.

Approximately 20 adults and 30 students (ages 5­-18) attended the event that was meticulously  planned by Joi­-Lin Russell and Christa Novelli, Denver Mensa Gifted Youth Coordinators.

Content for student and parent presentations comes directly from SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) training and Dr. James Webb’s book A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children.  

If you are interested in attending a SENG Model Parent Discussion Group to discuss these and other topics further, please contact Kim Servia at
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