In a call for unity and rights for all, people came together in Sacramento for the Cesar Chavez march.
According to a recent article by LiveScience, most cases of opioid abuse in teenagers began with prescription opioids from a doctor. The study cites that 85 percent of the surveyed group of teenagers that had abused both prescription and injection drugs said they abused prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, before moving to heroin an average of two years later.
Beyond the national scale, prescription drug abuse has become a domestic issue for the Sacramento region as well.
“OxyContin made its way [to the Sacramento region] maybe seven years ago,” said John Daily, founder and clinical director of Recovery Happens Counseling Services, in a recent Sac Magazine article. “Suddenly overnight half of our clients became opiate addicts.”
One reason for prescription opioid addicts switching to heroin and street opiates is the steep cost of OxyContin, Vicodin and other prescription painkillers.
“When Oxy became harder and harder to use, it became about easy access to heroin,” said Daily.
“The only time I ever saw [someone start using heroin after using prescription opioids] was somebody who did prescription painkillers every day and it got too expensive, essentially,” said resident August Garvin. “When people actually develop a legitimate addiction to prescription painkillers, it gets too pricey […] and [they] can’t get an excuse from the doctor anymore.”
Teenagers, at a hormonal and emotionally turbulent time in life, can sometimes see drugs as a solution to their problems.
“I was depressed […] so I think I was lashing out,” said Zoe Sanchez. “That was what made me experiment with [nonmedical use of prescription opioids].”
The danger also extends beyond just that of opiate use. According to a Sacramento Health and Human Services Public Health Warning, a dozen overdoses from an opioid called fentanyl were reported in Sacramento county within the timespan of approximately two days leading up to March 25th, 2016. The report describes fentanyl as “odorless and colorless”, and links the cases of overdose to the lacing of fentanyl with street tablets of Norco, a popular prescription opioid and an easy street marketing target for patients addicted to prescription Norco or other opioids.
While not all prescriptions result in addiction, caution should always be used with prescription opioids, and street-sold painkillers should be avoided at all costs. The road to heroin is not brightly lit, though unfortunately it seems to be well-traveled.
This past Saturday, The Black Child Legacy Campaign brought together over seven focus neighborhoods. Which joined together to raise awareness about the disproportionate African-American child deaths in Sacramento County.
Young people in California ages 16 and 17 now have the ability to pre-register to vote online. Previously, teens could only pre-register by filling out paperwork forms and mailing them in or by handing it into the county election office.
The process of pre-registering is very simple and can be done without the help of a parent or guardian. The questions that are required are likely general knowledge.
A signature is needed in order to complete the registration. The person registering may need to print out the form, sign it, and mail it in. However, if the person has a state ID or driver’s license, the Department of Motorized Vehicles will send in the signature from the ID or license.
But why does it matter that teens can now pre-register online?
91% of teenagers report using mobile devices to go online, while only 6.5% of teens are licensed drivers. Because teens have better accessibility to the internet, versus the ability to drive themselves to election offices or post offices, this hopefully will increase the amount of pre-registered voters, and thus represent the youth more in voting polls.
“I feel like (voting online is) going to be a much faster way of registering/voting,” said Katherine Alestra, a 14-year-old who wants to pre-register to vote. “You can go anywhere with WiFi and be able to do what you need to without the responsibility of going to a specific location.”
This will not make teens pre-register but will allow them to register easier if they wanted to. Hopefully, with easier pre-registration, they will be more inclined to vote by the time they are 18.
California state lawmakers have announced their plans to help lower student loan debt. The lifelong worry of students having to repay high-interest loans may soon be over. State Assemblymember’s plans in California is to help nearly 400,000 full-time UC and CSU students pay for non-tuition-related expenses, such as books and housing. This plan will ensure that students will have a debt-free college experience. The entire plan would cost about $1.6 billion to create scholarships for students, according to what lawmakers estimate.
“This is my first year at CSUS and I am already extremely concerned that I will be in at least 40,000 dollars in debt by the time I reach graduation,” said CSUS student Katy Richardson. “Hearing about this new policy that will eliminate cost is a dream come true.”
According to The Legislative Analyst’s Office, this year more than half of California college students graduate with student loan debt, with debt for students from UC’s and CSU’s averaging at least $20,000. Lawmakers who are putting the plan together want to make Community Colleges in California tuition free for student’s first year. The proposal would expand existing grants and “degrees not debt” scholarships to students whose families make $150,000 or less per year, if those students work at least 15 hours a week and go to class.
“With these elements combined, this again would replace that necessity to go and get an outside student loan,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento.
This new plan raises concern amongst the Brown administration which may conflict with their proposal for Middle Class Scholarship in this year’s budget proposal. Many Democrat lawmakers believe that Brown’s plan will set families and students backwards and will not be an impact enough for students to come.
For many students and families this plan for “degrees not debt” can actually benefit everyone pursuing higher education. Now it’s up to all California lawmakers to ensure this plan is passed and ensure it will fix this current failed system.
Sol Collective held a screening of “13th” and Paul Willis, the facilitator of the event, talked about what he hoped would come from the knowledge. Time will tell if what he hopes for come true.
On March 7th, the Sacramento City Unified School District launched a campaign that defends undocumented students from deportation in the face of ICE agents. This came along soon after the Sacramento City Unified School District Trustees began hearing from teachers, parents, and administrators that children are terrified of being deported or even their family members being deported.
In December, the board of trustees came up with a resolution declaring SCUSD schools “Safe Havens” to any immigration agency and anti-immigration rhetoric.
Board member Jessie Ryan said that the campaign aims to reassure the undocumented students in the district that going to school is completely safe and that the school is there to protect the students if need be. Ryan said that shortly after the presidential election, third graders at one school were too afraid of going outside during recess because they felt that they would be deported.
“The worst case scenario would be children afraid of showing up to school because of fear of deportation,” said Ryan.
It is estimated that in California alone there are around 2,350,000 undocumented immigrants, making up about 6% of the population. Around 1,850,000 of those undocumented immigrants are in the workforce.
This philosophy is gaining traction in other districts all over the state. San Francisco Unified School District says they are “developing a rapid response protocol to support children and families,” if law enforcement is in or around schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District voted in February to make their schools “Safe Havens” and create centers of support for undocumented families threatened by immigration.
“Personally I believe that Safe Haven schools is an amazing thing to any student that wants to extend their education,” says Angel Perez, a student at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento.“This gives them the ability to feel more comfortable accomplishing their dreams.”
For some though, the idea of a “Safe haven” school isn’t sitting well. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones believes legislation like this that would prevent local agencies from entering schools would be invalid because it conflicts with federal law.
“I have a strong belief that it violates federal law,” says Jones. “Every sheriff is going to be in a very difficult position to decide what they personally are going to do should this pass.”
“It’s important for Sacramento City Unified to reiterate that we’re focused on the education of every child who resides in our district, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and that’s what this resolution does,” said SCUSD Trustee Jay Hansen.
“I was brought in as a child by my parents,” said one undocumented SCUSD, too afraid to give their name due to the fear of deportation. “I was brought here for a better life than the one I possibly would’ve had if left in Mexico. One day my best friend and I were walking to the corner store, my best friend also being undocumented. And he told me he’d wait outside as I entered and got whatever I was going to get. I came back out a few minutes later to the sight of police detaining my best friend.”
“I just remember not being able to do anything,” the undocumented student recalled. “Just slowly walking off because I knew I would be deported as well if I did anything. It was horrible, we made eye contact. I don’t know what he could’ve done while I was in the store but that was the last time I saw my best friend.”
Only time will tell how this new legislation from the Sacramento City Unified School District will turn out.
The Sacramento Youth Alliance is preparing to work on the city’s upcoming initiatives for youth. Will the programs that arise be meaningful for our young people and with the youth have a say in how they are created?
Many may not know it, but increasing people’s access to nature offers one of the most reliable ways to reduce stress and depression. A recent study just found that just from simply bird watching a person can boost their mental and physical well-being tremendously.
“This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being,” said Daniel Cox, a researcher with the University of Exeter.
The study focuses on social engagement of people in their communities to see if people who have more access to bird viewing and have nice scenery outside may be a factor in improving their overall well-being. The research objective was aiming to find out if people who live in greener areas, with more access to fresh air, birds, and nature could have lower risk to have mental health symptoms.
In order to do this over 270 people were surveyed from different backgrounds, ethnicity, ages, and neighborhoods. The research relied heavily on data to determine people’s exposure and levels of symptoms with mental health. The survey found that people who seek or have more birds in their neighborhood did in fact report having less anxiety. People who reported seeing few birds or no birds said they had higher levels of anxiety or depression.
“Birding is very relaxing for many reasons, it’s a great way to get fresh air, walk, and it’s inexpensive Meghan Samarra, a member of the Environmental Student Organization at California State University Sacramento. “There’s just something about getting lost in the sky that I feel helps all your problems or stress go away for a moment.”
There are many theories that suggest what bird watching and nature may or may not do for mental health. However, Dr. Cox evidence suggests social engagement with bird watching can encourage people to improved mental health; No matter the economic background, ethnicity, or age.
Living in Sacramento, which is known to be the “City of “trees”, people in our community should take advantage of bird watching. Since Sacramento is made up of communities filled with trees and birds that are more likely to be an eye’s view for many people. According to the U.S Fish & Wild Services birds could be found by parks, rivers, lakes, and neighborhoods. So go get relaxed and bond with nature.
On March 6th, in the chambers of the Capital of California, District 7 Assemblymember Kevin McCarty named community representative Tamika L’Ecluse as his “Woman of the Year”.
L’Ecluse has a 13-year history working with children at the early childhood age, roughly age 6 and younger, and reducing African-American child mortality is a focus of her efforts as she currently works as the program Manager for the Greater Sacramento Urban League.
“We can’t forget our most vulnerable and often that’s our children,” said L’Ecluse. “It all comes down to the children and making sure they’re in an environment where they can thrive.”
L’Eclise has also volunteered as a board member, Vice President, and President of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, and as an appointed member of the Sacramento Promise Zone Resident Council. Although her background is in work with children, her main emphasis is on helping the community at large.
“Supporting the people in the community is definitely my number one priority,” L’Eclise says.“I’ve always grown up in struggling neighborhoods and I think it gives me a more grounded perspective.”
L’Eclise has advocated for women’s rights, including reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and gender equity. In 2000 she campaigned for marriage equality against Proposition 22.
“Tamika L’Ecluse is a bright light in the Sacramento region, giving inspiration and hope to people in our community and throughout the 7th Assembly District,” commented Assemblymember McCarty. “I am pleased to honor Ms. L’Ecluse for her commitment and dedication to help students maximize their potential, to build a strong and diverse workforce and to improve the lives of residents throughout Sacramento County.”