Life is a journey. My time at Access Local taught me many things but most important of all, it shows me ways to improve my life at every corner.
About Bruce Tran
Posts by Bruce Tran:
There are many realities to the world. People are born differently, raised differently, know things differently. My time as a Neighborhood News Correspondent has allowed me to explore those realities that were not my own. I remember my first video I did about the Summer of Service. To me, it was a program that I have grown up with and kept me out of trouble. To other students, it was an essential part of their life. Their parents have to work year round, especially those from low-income households and do not have time to spend with their children. The Summer of Service offers a home to those kids when school is out. That video was the beginning of my journey to learn more about the world and myself.
I learn that sometimes it is not just enough to put yourself in other people’s shoes. There is a more complex process to understand people and why they do what they do. Through these stories, through spending time with them, very often the entire day, I learned to know what they experience. It is when I sit down to write an article about them or make a video, that I start contemplating the deeper meaning behind their work. Whether it’s a local youth action group, legislation, or a community event, there is always a deeper story to be told, the story of South Sacramento.
To the future Neighborhood News Correspondents, I have advice for you. This internship makes you a journalist, it gives you power and opportunity under your command that many don’t have. Don’t be afraid to question anything. Do not accept the norm as it is and never accept the answer of “it has always been this way.” Be creative in your work and express all you have to yourself to demonstrate that you care about your project. It is through that process can you come to enjoy being a journalist. My biggest advice is, do not be afraid. If you are naturally shy, this program is an odyssey for you to become brave. If you are naturally brave, this program will take you to heights you never know you could go.
Doctors would treat a heart attack with immediate care. Most would not let their patient suffer silently and die. However, despite the fact that about half of all Americans will experience mental health issues, many will not get any help until they reach a critical state.
Conditions such as depression and bipolar disorders have early signs of warning but are often overlooked. Many mental health illnesses stem from childhood trauma that is left unchecked. Whether it may be abusive parents or just overloaded school workloads, adolescence is a prime time for mental health illness to take roots. This could lead people to develop serious illnesses that will stop them from being productive citizens of the world. It gets even worse when they see themselves as weak and do not get treatment. Most cases of suicide resulted from people suffering silently with their mental health condition. Fortunately, there is a developing culture that fosters acceptance about mental health illness.
“You have more of a connection to your peers than an adult and sometimes it’s more comfortable to talk to someone around your age.” says Andre Davis, a student from John F. Kennedy High School. Adolescences sometime can only talk to people around their age because they have no connection to an adult. There is a need to raise awareness about the early signs of incoming mental health illness.
May is the month of mental health awareness throughout America. During this time, there are widespread campaigns through social media in an attempt to get attention to the mental health crisis. Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness emphasis on the fact that people do not suffer alone and they do not have to endure mental health conditions by themselves. Outreach programs encourage people to look for early warning signs before it’s too late. In fact, that was the goal for 2016 mental health awareness month, summarized in their slogan B4STAGE4.
Mental Health issues are one of the main contributing factors to suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in America. Heart attacks cannot be ignored, so why should mental health issues?
The young people will eventually inherit the politics of the world. According to the National Public Radio, the turnout rate of “Millennial” voters is among the lowest of all the current generations at only forty-six percent. In case you didn’t know, Millennials are young people currently between the age of twenty-two and thirty-five. To some, there appears to be a lack of confidence in the government from the young people. In fact, according to Harvard University, young people’s trust in the political process is now historically low.
One explanation for all of this could be that there is a lack of engagement in the political process when the person is a teenager. Many teens in the Sacramento City Unified School District do not know that the district is getting a new superintendent. While this could affect their life greatly, many do not know anything about it. Many do not know who the current superintendent is nor do they know the fact that the current superintendent, Jose Banda, stands to receive extra retirement money by spending time just a short amount of time here at SCUSD.
This lack of political engagement in local politics could be one of the reasons why young people are not engaged in politic as they should be. There were efforts in trying to get the youth of Sacramento to engage in the politics of the Sacramento school system. The Student Advisory Council of SCUSD held a youth town hall meeting for discussion of the selection of the new superintendent. Despite a total student turnout of less than thirty, there was a discussion between young people of how school politics should run.
“I want to make sure all that all this information will be involved in the interviewing process [for the new superintendent],” said Natalie Rosas, Student Board Member of SCUSD during a student town hall meeting. According to the Constitution, “We the people” are the one who grants the government their power. However, what happens when the people do not participate in their government?
There are thousands and thousands of students within the Sacramento Unified School District. Thousand of voice calling for different things- but how are they make sure they being heard?
A parent might say that they know their kids very well. Perhaps some do, and perhaps some do not. According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five young students between the age of thirteen and eighteen suffer from a mental health condition. The condition could be minor such as an anxiety disorder to highly damaging one such as major depression. This directly correlates to the fact that suicide is the third largest killer of young adults from the age of ten to twenty-four. Nine out of ten of the victims of suicide deteriorated from a mental health problem.
Sometimes a teenager who is at risk and depressed could be seen by their parent as acting moody. According to the Telegraph, the mark of depression and moodiness often overlapped during the developing teenage years. Parents might dismiss a serious health complication as a teen being a teen because of stereotypes. When these things happen, researches believe that young person is more likely to commit suicides.
“Over time, there is less support within the family,” says David Baine of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “However, communication skills about mental health never increase to accommodate that loss of family support.” People and organizations throughout Sacramento are trying to address these problems within their own communities. One such organization is the Youth Mental Health First Aid program which is aiming to train people to detect early sign of mental illness in teens and young adults. Their program offers free training to volunteers through federal grants which hope to offer relief for youth mental health problems. They have a “5-step action plan to help a young person developing a mental health problem or in crisis” which helps to de-escalate a crisis situation which involves teens with mental health problems with the risk of suicide. Upcoming mental health training dates can be found here.
How do the people of communities get to know the people around them? Recently, at Ethel L. Baker Elementary School, many volunteers, young and old, gathered to bond together through planting trees and helping out their own communities.
Many schools in the U.S today still enforce the zero tolerance policy. That means that a student’s first offense against many school policies will get an absolute punishment. The same thing could even be said with the law, after all, should be no second chance when a murder or robbery have been committed? But what if the crime is committed by an adolescent? Should the crime still be held to the strict standard it’s supposed to be for an adult?
The documentary film, They Call Us Monsters, by Ben Lear, challenges the traditional idea that if a child commits an adult crime, they should get tried in adult court and get an adult punishment. The movie follows three real-life juveniles who have signed up for a screenwriting class while in a detention center. They committed high-level crimes such as attempted murder and drug trafficking as teenagers. One of them was in the process of getting out through court and was successful. He was arrested two months later for robberies and is now currently awaiting trial. Another inmate was also in court, challenging the law to get a reduced sentence. However, his lawyer failed and he got a sentence of over a hundred of years. Due to a recent law passed in California, he was qualified to get a reduced sentence to 15 years since he was an adolescent when the crime was committed.
The question of whether a child should be treated like an adult when committing an adult crime is a question that many lawmakers and legislators have tried to answer. This movie presents the realities as it is. It shows the side of the inmate that is not seen from behind the bars and in the courtroom.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about this world I’d stumbled into,” said Ben Lear about his film. “The narrow space between a lost childhood and a stolen adulthood where these kids managed to live, laugh and discover their potential.” The film presents the reasons to why many youth turn to crime; it’s because they came from poverty stricken neighborhoods where gangs provide shelter and a false sense of security to young teens that are growing up. The inmates in this film even wrote a movie that reflected their own experience. Many politicians have a tough on crime policy because many voters don’t like the idea of “soft on crime”, but when it comes to a child who yet to have a fully developed brain, is it still fair to punish them for life?
What is the purpose of food stamps? How important is a healthy diet? Today we learn about what some people in Sacramento think on these topics.
Sacramento could be called the greatest melting pot in California. Many immigrants and refugees have called the City of Trees home since it was first established. One of the largest ethnicities that have connections to Sacramento are the Hmong people. Unknown to many Americans, there was a “Secret War” in Laos at the same time of the Vietnam War. The U.S dropped more bombs on the Laos region that was connected to Vietnam than it did in World War II against Germany and Japan combined. Thousand of Hmongs died during what people now call the “Secret War.” Even to this day, the war affects people who lived in the area that was bombed decades ago. Tiny pellet bombs about the size of a baseball have been mistaken for playthings by children who live there. Once disturbed, the bomb explodes, killing or decapitating limbs of the kids who were mistakenly playing with it.
As the name implied, the Secret War is something has been lost in many of the history books. However, the people who have been through it never forget, both Americans who dropped the bombs and Hmong who survived it. So that’s why the “Hmong Story 40- The 4 decades” exhibit about the journey the Hmong people made to America is now in Sacramento. Many people are gathering at the Serna Center where there are exhibitions containing historic Hmong artifacts of the time of the Secret War and speakers who have been through the war itself.
See Vang, the outreach coordinator of Hmong Story 40, say in an interview about the exhibit “The purpose of the veteran day is to honor our Hmong veteran who fought during the Vietnam war and the secret war. It is part of our project to honor our parent and grandparents.”
Many of the 3rd and 4th generation Hmongs do not know about their ancestor’s histories with the Secret War. However, the ones who have come to America as the result of is can remember it like yesterday. The pain of the war is literally embodied within those first generation Hmong refugees. Many believe that it is their job to make sure that their story of pain, as well as joy, are not lost within the future generations. The Hmong Story 40 will continue to have events like this to serve as a reminder, as a record of the history that the Hmong people have been through.