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January 29, 2009     Clinch Valley Times
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Page 8 CLINCH VALLEY TIMES, St. Paul, VA, Thursday, January 29, 2009 That great big hill of by Stephen Wallace, M.S. Ed, Paradoxically, in this time of almost crushing concern over the state of our nation, the inauguration of a new President ushers in, at least briefly, a period of palpable hope. Hope for a better economy, for demon- strable progress m Iraq, Af- ghanistan, and the Middle East, and for improvements in every- thing from climate change to education to Social Security to health care. Indeed, optimism abounds even as things seem to be falling down all around us. It's the American way. But those aren't the only things we have to feel hopeful about. Or, for that matter, to worry about. In some very important ways, the state of our nation's youth mirrors that of our country. For example, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is rising rapidly, incidences of death and injury due to violence are staggering and sexually tran- smitted diseases and infections are epidemic. The CDC reports that: The suicide rate for young people under the age of 20 increased by 20 percent between 2003 and 2004 and, in 2007, 14.5 percent of U.S. high school students reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide during the 12 months preceding the survey; In 2005, 5,686 young people ages 10-24 were murdered, and in 2006 more than 720,000 were treated in emergency depart- ments for injuries sustained due to violence ;and In 2008, one in four (26 percent) young women between the ages of 14 and 19 in the United States was infected with at least one sexually transmitted disease. No less alarming is the drug and alcohol use that often ac- companies decision-making abo- ut self-injury, violence and sexual behavior among teens. The federal Office of Leg- hope: An islative Policy and Analysis says that by the time they reach 8th grade, nearly 50 percent of adolescents have had at least one alcoholic drink and more than 20 percent report having been "drunk." In addition, SADDs Teens Today research reveals that more than one third of young people (35 percent) report using other drugs, such as marijuana, ecstasy, and methamphetamines. So, where does the hope part come in? With a continued federal commitment to address those issues that most threaten the health, safety, and develop- ment of youth. It is a priority that carries with it, in President Obama's oft-repeated words of Dr. Martin Luther King, "the fierce urgency of now." Good thing that we have a running start. Over the past decade, our government, with the support of key partners, has mobilized to reduce "demand" for drugs and alcohol among adolescents and children. Here is a sampling of those efforts. 1988: The U.S. Congress proclaims the first National Red Ribbon Week, drawing attention to the dangers of drug use in our society, especially among young people. 1998: The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy launches the Youth Anti- Drug Media Campaign to prevent and reduce youth drug use, delivering anti-drug mes- sages to America's youth, their parents, and other influential adults. 2003: The National Acad- emies publish Reducing Under- age Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, exploring ways individuals and groups contri- bute to the problem and how they can be enlisted to boost prevention. 2005: Congress passes the STOP (Sober Truth on Prevent- ing Underage Drinking) legis- lation, recognizing that a coord- inated approach to prevention, intervention, treatment, and Era of Change for Youth, too research of underage drinking is key'to making progress. 2006: The federal govern- ment's Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking supports Town Hall Meetings across the country, addressing the problem of youth alcohol use. 2007: The US. Department of Health and Human Services issues The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking, pointing to new research in- dicating that the developing adolescent brain may be parti- ularly susceptible to long-term consequences of alcohol use. What the results of these collaborative efforts? A 2007 Monitoring the Fu- ture report noted that, since 2001, the overall use of drugs by young people had dropped by 24 percent (alcohol by 15 percent, marijuana by 25 percent, ecstasy by 54 percent, and methamphet- amine by 64 percent). Come 2008, the decline was 25 percent...900,000 fewer young people using illegal drugs than there were in 2001. Now that's change we can believe in. Given the enormity of the risk that remains, can our country, continue to make pro- gress m its climb up that great big hill of hope? With a fierce urgency of now and the enduring commitment of critical federal resources for youth drug and alcohol education and prevent-ion, the answer is a resounding "Yes We Can!" And we must. Stephen Wallace, national chairman of SADD and author of the new book Reality Gap: Alcohol, Drugs and Sex--What Parents Don't Know and Teens Aren't Telling, has broad ex- perience as a school psycholo- gist and adolescent counselor. For more information about SADD, visit sadd.org. For more information about Stephen 's book, visit RealityGap TheBook. corn ASIST Suicide Prevention training offered A two-day ASIST Suicide Prevention training is being offered March 4-5, from 8:30 to 4:30 at Developmental Services in Big Stone Gap. The workshop, in the training center, emphasizes suicide first aid, helping a person who is at risk stay safe and how to seek further help. During the training, you will learn to: recognize opportunities for help; how to reach out and offer support; estimate the risk of suicide; apply a model for sui- cide intervention; and link people with community resources. Eval- uations have shown the workshop increases caregivers' knowledge and confidence to respond to a person at risk of suicide, says Pam Varner, co- ordinator of Virginia Crisis Services with Frontier Health. After more than 19 years of development through feedback from its 250,000 participants and 1,000 active trainers, the Living Works program, is one of the most widely used, acclaimed and researched suicide intervention skills training in the world. ASIST is a competency-based program and participants who. complete the requirements will receive a certificate of comple- tion. Registration is limited to 20 participants; additional ASIST trainings will be offered later. Pre-registration is required; call Hannah Holbrook at (276) 523- 4357. There is no charge for this training. NAADAC CEU's will be offered for this training. Your Car! Call Today and Find Out How You Can. Y A VDOT Tip for Driving in Snowy Weather Don't brake suddenly if you're traveling in front of a snowplow. The hea- vy vehicle cannot stop as quickly as an automobile. Adult Education Connection by Karen Gent (The following article is a message from program mana- ger, Linda Allen, stating how Southwest Regional Adult Education is expanding to meet the challenge of an under- educated wo. rkforee.)." There ~s a cnsm in the Virginia workforce. More than 500,000 adults in Virginia do not have a high school diploma. The June 2008 report by the National Commission on Adult Literacy is a call to action for Congress and state governments to pursue "an aggressive ap- proach that leads to the acquis- ition of credentials, certificates, and degrees" for those adults without high school diplomas. Linda Allen Southwest Regional Adult exciting initiative for adult Education is reaching out to the learners who need a more population of non-high school flexible schedule to complete graduates in the counties of their GED is available online Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell through eLeam Virginia. Career and Tazewell. We have our Readiness Certificates 'RCs) work cut out for us if we are available to adultle: ers at respond successfully to the all community colleges. Free workforce challenges of the 21 st GED testing is available for all century, but failure to act boldly who qualify. GED Connect can and comprehensively will leave be seen on the Tazewell County Southwest Virginia at a distinct Talent Solutions Network. The disadvantage in meeting work- PlugGED In program in force and economic develop- 'Russell County is a response to ment goals, technology employment opport- The challenge is befc:c: us, unities in Southwest Virginia. and the work is onu, i;~g. Free Southwest Regional Adult basic adult education and GED Education is facing the preparation classes are offered challenge. We want to do more at convenient times and and with your support, we can. locations across the region and Make a referral today by calling at correctional facilities. An 889-5424orl-866-581-9935. CHS plans 6th Annual Lady Devil Classic February 4-8 Castlewood High School girls in sixth and seventh ~ades. girls' basketball coach Barry The cost is $100 per team. Ruff has announced that the 6th The first 28 teams to apply Annual Lady Devil Classic will will be accepted. be held at CHS February 4 - 8. For more information or to Divisions will be for girls in register, call Barry Ruff, 276- the fourth and fifth grades, and 762-0285 or 276-393-8937. HELP WANTED / BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY , Work 6-8 months for a full year sala~ result. 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