Thursday, December 30, 2010

December Response--Jake Mather

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When the Wake Up! coalition began, a group of like-minded individuals, young and old, created both forms of Goethe’s magic. A bold move by young adults for believing in themselves that Wake Up! will make a difference, that Wake Up! will make magic. And after sitting in the Wake Up! meeting on December 29, 2010, I believe that anyone present noticed magic was in the air. The magic that permeates this project is powerful because the chemistry between everyone involved is phenomenal. Every meeting, each individual brings something new to the table for discussion. Every meeting, I never want the experience to end. I am incredibly proud of every person involved. I learn things about my friends that never occurred to me before. We make each other believe that we will become a powerful force in the community. We make each other believe that we will correct the wrongs in our society. We believe in ourselves and in the beginnings of our movement. We are bold, we have motivation. Instead of talking the talk like most teens, we are proud to walk the walk as well. I think that is magic in and of itself.

December Response--Alex Hoopes

I just wanted to take the time to say how proud I am of the Wake Up Coalition teens. I was so impressed with how my peers acted at the meeting. I was nervous that my friends, and the Wake Up teens are some of my best friends, would not take the program seriously. I was so wrong. Yesterday, everyone approached our mission with great maturity and focus. It's amazing to see how passionately each teen wants to help with the issues of sex education, teen pregnancy, and suicide. Jake Mather's monologue was particularly moving. His group managed to write a scene that encapsulated everything a troubled kid would feel about sexual orientation and suicide. I couldn't believe these words were coming from the mouth of a kid I'd known for years as being so funny and goofy. The mood in the room was so powerful. Everyone was so determined to create real change. We were not talking about this program as a dream or something that might happen years from now. The Wake Up Coalition is happening now. I'm so excited for it! I can't stop thinking about how wonderful yesterday was and I remember watching the clock hit 4:00 and not wanting to leave. I could've stayed and talked about the issues for hours. I can't wait to go back and really start putting our words to action. Thanks everyone for making that day really special.

December Response--Michelle Stockwell

So many of us don't seek help because our problems are not big enough. We don't need therapy we say. We are healthy and stable people.Healthy people don't need help. 

This mindset sets us up, especially those of us with raging hormones, for failure. Everyone needs help from time to time. As a society, we need to tell one another that asking for help does not take resources away from people with extreme cases, AND that it is normal. As teens, all we crave is a degree of normalcy. Some of us strive to be unique, but have you noticed those people tend to group together? 

So, how do we make asking for help normal? We start with ourselves, we ask for help and show everyone around us that getting help is okay. That a fight with your parents is just as important to talk about with someone trusted as what we consider "severe" issues.

But wait, you say--if you are a devil's advocate--getting help DOES take recources away from those who need it most. And you would be somewhat right, we know our counselors at school have enough on their plates just with coordinating our class schedules. 

The Wake Up Coalition proposes a solution: we will be there to talk to. We will listen and when necessary refer. We won't tell the world that you came in for help, but if you are proud of getting help, tell for us. Show your friends that it is alright. Let us become the healthiest society we can be.

It starts with you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December Meeting Breakdown

I am invigorated today.  Excited.  Thrilled.  There aren't words to express how fantastic the day was.  We met at the Lawrence Arts Center at ten and spent the morning hashing out who we want to be as a group.  Officially, the Wake Up Coalition is a group of like minded teens who, after recognizing a serious lack in accessible, effective, trustworthy outlets for themselves, decided to create a peer mentoring program that would provide a sage, non-judgmental, open environment for young people to discuss and work through their problems.  It's a big task, but I truly believe this is the right group to make it happen.

After figuring out who we are, who we want to help, and how we think we can make that happen, we had two great afternoon sessions with Jamie Johnson McCall (local theatre Jane of all trades and current MA candidate in Drama Therapy at KU), and Christie Dobson (Outreach Coordinator for the Gadugi Safecenter).  Jamie and Christie helped the students envision the relationships that currently exist between themselves (and teens like them) and the adults who are responsible for helping them in times of crisis.  Once we'd finished some great role-playing exercises and discussions, it was time to write.

Students were broken into small groups and wrote scenes or monologues related to the themes we had been discussing each day.   Check back over the next week as I will be posting each of the really powerful, funny, and interesting pieces created by students today.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Teen Suicide Article Response--Jevan Bremby

I began with the intention to skim through each article to gauge which article I wanted to write a response about. I ended up choosing the one that I had to respond to. Teen Suicide: Helping Surviors Make Sense of Sudden Loss.
    As I began the article, I was forced to slow down as I was almost immediately drawn into the story of the little brother whose older brother committed suicide and felt responsible. I, being the youngest of four siblings (I have two sisters and 1 brother), connected to the little brother. He felt feelings that I could understand and relate to. I haven't had a real conversation with my brother in over 5 months. If I were to lose him one day to himself? I can't even fathom the path that I would take. That was the mindset the article put me in. It forced me to place myself in that situation and ask myself, "How would you feel?" and "What would you do?". The article does an amazing job at diagnosing and delineating common emotions that 'survivors' encounter. As I read further into the descriptions of emotions, I, in a way, donned each one, seeing which ones could imagine feeling, basing my conclusions on experiences I've had when faced with news of deaths of family, classmates, and acquaintances. How those experiences affected me, using them to shape the kind of hell that I would most likely subject myself to. I came to the conclusion that Shock, Relief, and Guilt, were the emotions that would poison my mind following such a loss. This was a beautifully written article and it has made me rethink aspects of the relationships in my life... One in particular.
This is perhaps the most volatile of the three issues chosen to take on. Undoubtedly, it is the one I fear most of all. Sadly, it seems to get the least amount of attention. Fear of the unknown hinders development. It seems parents fear powerful information thus hindering the development of the students(as demonstrated by the lack of legitimate Sex Education). How will we secure ourselves in times of crisis, if we are taught to operate under the fallacy of universal contentedness and turn our head to the dangers of depression?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Coalition is Born

These are just a few pictures of the amazing members of what we are now calling the Wake Up Coalition.

More on the progress of the group soon :)

Sally Spurgeon & Jack Garvin 

Mary Claire Carter, Leslie Cunningham, Stephanie Gage, Jordan Gahes, Eric Palmquist & Anna Balmilero

Jevan Bremby, Matt Rood, & Lauren Fleming

Nina Kizer, Jake Mather, Carter, Cunningham, Gage, Gaches, Palmquist, Balmilero, Bremby, Rood, & Fleming

Jake Leet & Alex Hoopes

Student Response--Jordan Gaches

Are you sixteen and pregnant?  

As ridiculous and dramatic the hit MTV series may be, pregnancy is a harsh reality for almost a third of American teenage girls.  I was shocked at the statistics: the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the western industrialized world?!  I see "those girls" every day in school, yet until this year I wasn't fully aware of the situation.  

I'll confess;  when I first found out one of the girls in my sophomore orientation group was pregnant, my initial response was, "Crap! I still need to learn all my sophomores' names and now I have a fetus to keep track of!".  Then I started thinking, "How does she do it?  Starting high school is terrifying enough as it does being a parent at fifteen work into the mix?".  Education is the best form of birth control; hopefully with "Wake Up" I can spread as much of it as possible.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Student Response: One in Ten--Nina Keizer

A Response to “One Teenager in Ten” about sex education.

            I don't know if I should call it an article, maybe it's more of an editorial, like in the 'Op-Ed' section of the Proper genre aside, this piece of writing has enlightened me in ways I was not prepared for. For one it specifically addressed education about homosexuality as sex education, which is something I had never really thought about before. When I thought of sex-ed, I thought of addressing the subject of actually doing it, you know, vagina's, penis', condoms, STD's (or I guess, STI's), not sexuality. Now that I actually think of it sexuality has a lot to do with sex, which sounds really stupid of me, but it's just one of those things that don't automatically come to mind. Maybe it's because people are overwhelmingly bombarded with the traditional image of a sexually active couple, that is, a man and a woman, or maybe because on the bare level whether it's hetero or homo, the same risks (except pregnancy) apply, but either way sexuality is not brought up. And really it's not brought up anywhere, maybe once or twice in social studies, but the subject is never fully addressed and I guess children are never fully informed. I think that's a problem, this may not be 1985, but the situation about sexual orientation still isn't where it should be. Everything I know about homosexuality has either been from the media, mainly television (which is never completely reliable), and from experiences through organizations in no way affiliated with school, mainly SYT. This article definitely brought to light a side of sex-ed which I had never considered, and I hope in the near futue will be addressed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teen Pregnancy Article Response: Leslie Cunningham

As one walks through the halls of Free State High School, they are greeted with a plethora of activity. Students meander around their lockers, waiting for class to begin. A few lanky basketball speak animatedly about their upcoming home game, and a gaggle of sophomores girls giggle excitedly about the winter formal that is just around the corner. In high school many of us live in our own little bubble of happiness. The most we ever  contemplate worrying about is grades, whether or not we’ll play a good game, or if anyone will be wearing the same dress as us at the school dance. However, if the statistics at hold any truth than for some, their happiness bubble will be abruptly be popped and for many it already has. 

There are girls at Free State and all over the country who are pregnant teens. I’ve seen them as they head to class, laughing and smiling just like everyone else, but I can’t help but imagine how much their lives have changed and everything they have had to give up. True, the teen pregnancy rate has declined over the past years but American still has an obscenely high rate of 33%. If said rate truly is so high then I believe it means we’re not doing enough. I find it tragic that 1/3 of all girls are being forced to surrender their youth and teenager years due to the fact that they are pregnant. Being in such a position is unfathomable to me. I could swear up and down that something like teen pregnancy would never happen to me but I am positive that many young women who found themselves pregnant and in high school said the same thing. This alone proves that there is a problem with American and our Sexual Education programs and that a remedy for this epidemic is badly needed.