Come with access as we explore one person’s experience with teen gun violence.
Summer break is quickly approaching. With it, local organizers are planning to provide more options for young people who are just out of school to spend their time productively. On June 15th, at Cesar Chavez Park, an event geared just for teens will take place from 2pm to 6pm, an event called Juneteenth.
This event is geared for students between the ages of 5 and 18, with games and activities to do, spoken word competitions, as well as food trucks.
“There will be plenty of fun and exciting activities for our youth to enjoy!” said Nakeya Bell, Juneteenth organizer, “The event will have free food, community vendors, interactive booths, fun activities, live entertainment featuring music, spoken word and dance performances. All under the shady trees of one of the best parks in Sacramento!”
This event provides a safe place for students to hang out after school lets out. You can also pre-register for this event here.
“Our SAC community coming together to kickoff Summer ‘17, uplifting all of our youth across the county and having some fun before the heat wave arrives! In addition, we are celebrating the strong partnerships with Sacramento nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, community residents and youth working together on the Black Child Legacy Campaign,”
said Bell. “The Black Child Legacy Campaign is a community-driven movement raising visibility and strengthening collective impact efforts to reduce the number of black mortalities due to homicide, child abuse/neglect, infant sleep-related conditions and perinatal conditions. Aside from the historical black holiday celebration, we are promoting awareness around safety, violence prevention efforts and opportunities for our youth in Sacramento county.”
Once school lets out, the Juneteenth will be starting for any student to go and have a good time.
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?
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.
Girls on the Rise is a program of the Center for Community Health and Well-Being, Inc. a local nonprofit organization. The purpose of GOTR is to encourage young people to become health advocates and to strengthen and empower women and girls of color in South Sacramento. The program teaches the girls how to build a better community in which they live.
The service is open to girls in grades 10th through 12th. Approximately twenty girls are impacted by the program. The program is primarily designed to offer a safe and healthy environment for females in the community. The girls are taught social skills, self-confidence, and life skills. In addition to providing a safe and healthy environment, Girls on the Rise also teaches the participants about leadership. Leadership training is provided through mentoring and collaboration with their community partners.
“We, Girls on the Rise program, impact young women advocates and students in Sacramento interested in health and community activism,” said Program Assistant Kristine Lee.
The leadership component is offered through collaboration with students from local colleges and universities. Through their own life experiences, the college students are able to share with the girls from the group and teach them ways to overcome the many barriers and challenges they face in the community.
During the summer, a summit is also held to provide more in-depth activities and workshops that will assist the young ladies to become even more successful.
The summit is held at the Sierra Health Foundation at their Conference Center during the month of August. During the summit, issues from the community are addressed while participants brainstorm to find ways to improve the conditions in the community. The Girls on the Rise’s Summit teaches methods and skills on how to succeed outside of school life and what is needed to survive in life as an adult.
Please look forward to their 2nd Annual Leadership Conference on August 7th at 9:00 am.
With more than one-third of adults in America suffering from obesity (cdc.gov), many would agree that we are experiencing an epidemic in this country. This silent killer is connected to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions which plague our nation. However, researchers have made a surprising discovery that suggests a trend towards a healthier future for the next generation.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, federal health authorities reported a huge 43% decrease in the obesity rate of children between 2 and 5 years of age within the last decade. This is extremely good news, especially considering that children who are overweight are five times more likely to be obese as adults.
Although this news is music to many parents’ ears, it is important to remember that obesity prevalence is still at large in America, particularly among adults. Researchers warn the public that America needs to stay aware and keep working towards making the nation healthier in order for these results to be sustained. In order for the decline to continue, children need more access to nutritious food and physical activities.
“To reverse the current prevalence of obesity, these numbers have to be a lot bigger,” said Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “But they are trending in the right direction, and that’s good news,” (nytimes.org).
As for the cause of this sudden decline, researchers can only speculate. America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, is attempting to lead a movement towards correcting unhealthy eating and exercise habits among the nation’s children. This movement has received the support of over 10,000 child care centers across the U.S.
The more attention we give to our childrens’ fitness and eating habits could make all the difference. Hopefully, we will be able to continue in this positive trend and create a more health-conscious America for generations to come.
If you would like to read the New York Times Article for more details, you can here.
Image from flickr.com creative commons.
The Southgate Library Craft Club held it’s first clothes swap on Saturday, December 15. The attendees had fun making Christmas cards and gift tags, swapping clothes, books and other accessories, as you’ll see in this video.
This video is about the Summer of Service in the Sacramento City Unified School District. Where young people got the opportunity to do hands on projects rather than sitting in their classrooms reading a book! The SCUSD Summer of Service was an exciting 6-week program that gave youth the privilege of helping out in their community by providing youth with service learning opportunities addressing environmental and disaster preparedness.