Disc Golf Helps Transform McClatchy Park

I produced the web and radio story about this Disc Golf course in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood.

0224 disc golf

Disc Golf Helps Transform McClatchy Park

On Saturday, the City of Sacramento will unveil a renovation project it hopes will improve one of Sacramento’s troubled neighborhood parks. One feature added two years ago has had a positive impact. It wasn’t a new basketball court or soccer field. It was a golf course . More specifically a disc golf course.

KQED State of Health: On-Campus Clinics, a Safety Net for Neighborhood Children

Fourteen-year-old Andrea Vizcarra visited her San Diego middle school’s health center because of a bad cough. But the nurse she saw didn’t stop there. Vizcarra learned she also had high blood pressure.

Then Vizcarra got information and plenty of it. She says after talking with the nurse, she began eating more vegetables and fruits and looked into physical activities, such as running on a treadmill and boxing, so that she can avoid getting sick later in life.

“I don’t want to have a health problem,” she said, “when I can prevent it right now.”

Vizcarra’s visit took place at Monroe Clark Middle School’s Health and Wellness Center, part of a network of K-12 on-campus clinics in San Diego that aims to make primary and preventive services accessible to children.

The network of centers grew out of a partnership between The California Endowment, Price Charities and two well-established community clinics: La Maestra Community Health Centers and Mid-City Community Clinic.

Together, these organizations mapped out a section in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood which include a high school, two middle schools and 10 elementary schools all within walking distance from one another. From there, they created a plan to provide health coverage to every child living in the area, from birth to age 17.

Two of the schools — Rosa Parks Elementary and Hoover High School — already had clinics. Monroe Clark’s clinic opened last year and Central Elementary School in 2010.  At all the health centers, children receive medical care with no co-pay.

“We’re establishing a whole system of care,” said Steven Eldred, with The California Endowment. ”It’s not just a clinic, but schools become a point of entry to a comprehensive safety net of services.”

The health centers at Central and Monroe Clark look just like any other community clinic. Patients can be treated for the flu, minor injuries or a sudden asthma attack. But there is also a focus on preventive services including immunizations, well-baby checkups and education for patients on managing chronic conditions.

“We’re trying to be proactive rather than be reactive. Once you have a disease, you have to respond and treat, but what we’re trying to do is prevent disease,” said Dorothy Zirkle, director of health services for Price Charities.

Doctors and nurses team with a school nurse, who acts as a care coordinator for ailing students.

In a community like City Heights, where a large portion of the population are immigrants and refugees, the school nurse is a trusted figure who can help families navigate the health care system, according to Zirkle.

The centers become a medical home for the students and their siblings.

“You’re able to invest more on patients, and you get to see them back,“ said KT Helgesen, a nurse practitioner with La Maestra Community Health Centers. “It helps build that credibility and that professional relationship with them. “

Patients also tap into mental health resources. If a nurse practitioner suspects a stomach ache or headache is related to an emotional issue, such as a troubled home life, the child is referred to a psychologist.

“Having a coordinated school health program … is about making sure a child has all aspects of their lives positively impacted,” said Andrea Karp, a psychologist with Mid-City Community Clinic.

Part of that coordinated approach includes nutrition education. A nutritionist comes to Central once a week to talk with overweight and underweight children — as well as their families — about food and proper exercise.  At Monroe Clark Middle School, the team works with children who are obese by checking on them on a monthly basis.

Donna Magden, a school nurse at Monroe Clark, said just the presence of the clinics has made a difference.

“I think everybody is just more aware of wellness and health by having the clinic on site,” she said.

The health centers are already making an impact, advocates say. They say that attendance is up at Central since its center opened in 2010 because kids do not have to skip classes to see a doctor and instead can get immediate medical care for minor issues at the school.

“The child spends less time missing school and spends a lot more time in the classroom,” said Helgesen.

Putting health clinics at schools is not a new phenomenon. But their role as a safety net in some communities is growing.

In late 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced  the release of $80 million to school-based health center programs across the country. An additional clinic will be added within the 13-school cluster in City Heights by the end of 2013.

Original story published here. Oakland teens learn, teach nonviolence

Long known as one of the most violent cities in California, Oakland is taking a novel step to try to reduce crime: empowering children to train one another in violence prevention.

A non-profit program trains high school students and then deploys them to middle schools in the city to talk to younger students about guns, gangs and unhealthy relationships. The hope is that a message of non-violence will have more impact coming from fellow teens.

Teens on Target is an initiative led by the Oakland-based group, Youth Alive! Each year, 30 students at Castlemont Community of Small Schools study violence prevention before fanning out around the city to spread their gospel.

On a recent afternoon, students in an East Oakland classroom flipped through magazines searching for words to snip out of the pages. They cut out the words “Survival Guide,” “Beautiful,” and “50 reasons to have hope,” ready to be put into a collage. The idea was to find the right words and images to describe what they had learned over the past year.

In a city that consistently ranks high in homicides and violent crimes – there were 103 murders in Oakland in 2011, an increase from 90 the previous year – Teens on Target is one effort that advocates say is helping curb violence through education, advocacy and community building.

“(In the classroom), kids usually talk about history, math,” said Caheri Gutierrez, a violence prevention educator with Teens on Target. “We come in and we give them a space to talk about real stuff, real issues that are going on.”

In the first semester, participants delve into what causes violence, listen to speakers who have lost loved ones and talk about the city’s crime statistics. The teens also are trained in public speaking and encouraged to examine how violence has affected their lives.

During the second part of the school year, the teens move out to middle schools to hold workshops about the different types of violence and ways to prevent it.

It’s a win-win for all students involved, advocates say. The high school students, who are compensated with a small stipend, gain professional and development skills, as well as self-confidence.

“Once you’re in front of the kids, they’re all listening to you, so that makes me feel like I’m a good influence,” said Marianne Williams, a junior with Teens on Target. “No matter what’s going on at home, no matter what’s going on at school, it’s something I can look forward to doing, and you feel good.”

Meanwhile, the middle schoolers are more apt to take in the message of staying away from guns, gangs and drugs when it comes from older peers.

Middle school is the point at which kids decide what they’re going to be like in high school,” said Jennifer Almendarez, a junior. “It’s more likely they’ll listen to you because you’re actually in high school … you’re not just another adult pushing them around.”

Teens on Target was established in 1989 and has been recognized by both national and local leaders. It’s one of the three components of Youth Alive!

Since the early 1990s, Teens on Target has trained as many 830 students and presented the curriculum to more than 40,000 young people in Oakland and Los Angeles.

Demetria Huntsman, program coordinator for Teens on Target, said many of the students have experienced trauma in their lives but aren’t comfortable sharing that trauma, identifying it and seeking help.

She said students learn about decision-making and ways to alter behaviors – for example, staying away from people who carry guns – in order to stay safe.

“Anytime you hang out with anybody carrying a gun you are three times more likely to be injured by a gun. Period. That’s a statistical fact,” Huntsman said. “That statistic doesn’t say you love this person any less…but it is a true fact, and so now you have to make healthy decisions based off of that statistic.”

The high-schoolers also use their own stories to get the message across.

Briana Dunn, a senior and participant of Teens on Target, is a victim of gun violence. At the beginning of the academic year, while waiting for a bus after school, she was shot in the foot. Another boy, the primary target of the shooting, was also injured.

“I’ve seen violence in movies before but I never thought I would be in that position,” Dunn said.

Recovery is ongoing for Dunn. At nights, when she hears gunshots in the distance, her anxieties come back and it brings her to the moment when the bullet hit. But she says being part of Teens on Target and telling her story to middle schoolers has made her deal with the trauma.

Overall homicide rates declined in Oakland between 2007 and 2010. But 2011 saw a spike in murders compared to the previous year. Out of the 103 homicides in the city last year, about half of the victims were under 25 years old. Nearly all of those incidents involved a firearm.

What made 2011 particularly tragic were three instances in which the shooting victims included kids under five years old. The deaths sparked outrage within the community. They also became a part of discussions within Teens on Target.

“We’re not in a bubble of this violence prevention curriculum, we are really conscious of and are focused on (what’s going on) in the community,” Huntsman said.

The root cause of violence in the city, especially acute in the West and East Oakland neighborhoods, is hard to pinpoint, advocates say.

Huntsman said many of the high school and middle school students she talks to have stories of loved ones being shot or family members becoming victims of violent crimes. But the most disturbing of these stories are ones about how easy it is for kids to access guns.

“If you ask them who in here can get a gun, in five minutes, all of them will raise their hands,” she said. “It’s a reality that lets us know how prevalent weapons are.”

That prevalence is what Teens on Target is trying to fight against.

“To them, that’s just the way it is,” Huntsman said. “Once you educated them on all of these different areas of violence, they definitely become connected to the root causes and see that those causes really can be changed. It may not happen in their lifetime, it might take more work than they might have perceived, but it is possible.”

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10News: Pregnant woman taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, 1 dog dies in Lakeside house fire

LAKESIDE, Calif. – The quick thinking of a 7-year-old girl Friday helped save her family from a Lakeside fire that killed one dog and sent her pregnant mother to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire, reported at 3:30 a.m. at a home in the 10000 block of River Street.

Juan Gomez told 10News that his girlfriend’s daughter, 7-year-old Victoria Mulvaney, was the one who woke everybody up and insisted that her 2-year-old sister be taken out of the crib.

“The oldest daughter came to the room and woke us up, said she needed to take her sister out,” said Gomez. “We jumped out of the bed, saw that the room was lit up and got the kids out.”

Gomez, his girlfriend, and the two young girls all made it out of the house safely.

“I called for my mommy and my Juan,  so they could come and get my sister because she wouldn’t get up,” said Victoria.

Gomez’s pregnant girlfriend was transported to an area hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

There were also four dogs at the home. Three got out, and one was killed.

Gomez said the couple recently had a talk with Victoria about what to do in case of a fire.

“We told her, because of you, your little sister, your baby sister is alive,” he said.

The blaze, which started in the children’s bedroom, quickly engulfed other areas of the house. 10News cameras were rolling when flames poured from the structure. Heavy smoke could also be seen a short distance away from Highway 67. Heartland Fire & Rescue dispatched four engines to the scene

Lakeside Fire District Chief Andy Parr said the blaze seemed to have started from a space heater that was placed too close to combustible material. Initial reports indicate that the fire caused more than $100,000 in damages.

10News learned the the house is an older building, about 80 years old, and was repaired after going up in flames 30 years ago.

10News: San Diego mom causes stir after writing she’s OK with Victoria’s Secret for her pre-teen daughter

SAN DIEGO – A San Diego mom’s blog post is causing controversy after she wrote that she would allow her pre-teen daughter to wear Victoria’s Secret underwear.

Jenny Erickson, a self-described conservative blogger, wrote on Café Mom’s The

“…as the mom of a girl that is soon going to decide she doesn’t want cartoon characters on her underwear, and will be wearing a bra sooner rather than later, I’m going to have to figure out where we’re going to purchase them … it’ll probably be Victoria’s Secret.”

The store, known for sexy women’s lingerie, also has the Victoria’s Secret’s Pink line that targets college-age girls.

Erickson says she would allow her daughter to have items from the Pink line because they are “fun,” “bright-colored” and no one wants to be the girl with the ugly underwear.

Her comments have sparked an online debate among parents about whether it’s appropriate for pre-teens to shop at a store that puts an emphasis on lace panties and revealing push-up bras, according to ABC New’s Abbie Boudreau.

One commented on Erickson’s post, “Why does your child need VS underwear and bras? … I personally have bought my undergarments at vs since I was able to afford them with my own money, but I feel there’s no reason why my child has to have ‘cute and sexy’ bras and underwear. Vs is meant for adults and teenagers that want to be whores and have sex at too young of an age.”

Another one writes, ” Im [sic] sorry but teens and middle schoolers have no business shopping in a womans [sic] lingerie store. There is no reason for them to have to wear ugly undies if they dont [sic] come from VS. Walmart, Target, TJ MAXX all have lovely undies that are fine quality and more apropriate [sic] for young ladies.”

Others seem understanding of Erickson’s viewpoint.

“I don’t think there is a problem with a 9 year old wanting more mature clothes than Gymboree. I do, however, see a major problem with the several people here who have thrown the word “slut” around commenting on an article about a 9 year old!” one post reads.

” I guess the potential controversy here would be the sexualization of girls at an earlier and earlier age…which I agree is a real problem in our society…. I don’t see spending big bucks on bras and panties, not even for myself really, but I don’t have a problem with girls having pretty underclothing and if a mom usually gets her bras from VS…then [sic] there’s no reason why she should’t [sic] shop there for her daughter [sic],” another poster writes.

While some products may primarily target 18 to 22-year-olds, stores are also hoping that pre-teens are paying attention to those items, marketing experts told ABC News. According to the news agency, the pre-teen market is an estimated $30 billion industry.

Erickson’s daughter, Hannah, tells ABC News that there’s a time when a girl may want to move on from a brand like Gymboree “to the next level.”

For her part, Erickson says not all items in Victoria’s Secret are appropriate.

“I probably will not get lace for my daughter,” Erickson tells ABC News. “There’s a line between pretty and sexy and it’s hard when we’re talking about underwear to know where that difference is.”

READ: Mom says Victoria’s Secret okay for tween