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Rape or Regret: YOU be the Jury at the Saratoga Film Forum

Rape or Regret – YOU be the jury….

“Rape or Regret: A Jury’s Dilemma”, a locally produced film (“Law and Order”-style), will be featured at the Saratoga Film Forum on Tuesday, May 21st at 6:30 pm. All are invited to attend the film and mock-jury deliberation to determine the guilt of the fictional 18 year-old defendant, Ryan Kelly.

Rape or Regret: YOU be the Jury (trailer)

Over the past few months, the Saratoga Community has been repeatedly reminded that sexual assault does, in fact, happen here. In 2012 alone, Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County (DVRC) served 123 victims of sexual assault. This 1 hour film shows, in understandable detail, how teenage sexual assault can happen. It promises to be an eye-opening lesson. Check out the film’s trailer on YouTube (“Rape or Regret? A Jurys Dilemma Trailer 2012).

“Rape or Regret” was produced by the Ballston Area Community Allies to be used as an educational tool to help students better understand sexual assault and learn some prevention strategies. Viewers hear testimony of Tonya (the complainant), Ryan (the defendant), their attorneys, and many witnesses as the case unfolds. Feedback from recent viewers: “it was very realistic” and “I liked how it took a situation that could very easily happen to kids our age and showed a very real consequence”.

Come to the Forum on Tuesday and bring your teens. This is your chance to open an important conversation with them and in your community.

Thank You For Everything

"Thank You For Everything"
NYS Assemblyman Jim Tedisco
At today's press conference at the Guardian House in Ballston Spa, Assemblyman Tedisco used these words to convey how we should honor our veterans. Part of our gratitude should include providing the support to help vets recover physically, psychologically and spiritually from their combat experience. Assemblyman Tedisco and Senator Farley have proposed a bill allowing New Yorkers to elect to donate to veterans' services simply by checking a box on their tax returns.
The press conference was held at Guardian House, an innovative residential program run by the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company (RPC) to help female vets heal and reintegrate when they return home.  If you’re looking for another way to support vets here’s something you can do today:
The Guardian House was the $25,000 regional winner in Home Depot’s Aprons in Action contest. Now they are in the running for the grand prize of $250,000. You can vote to help our local female vets simply by visiting the Aprons inAction web page
It only takes a minute. Please vote daily throughout the month to support the Guardian House. It’s one way to express to our female vets for risking everything to defend our country and our ideals. It's one way to say, “Thanks for everything!”


When Bullying Grows Up

You remember the picture book image of a bully-- a big boy wearing a ‘tough guy hat’ looming over a smaller child. It's easy to identify the stereotyped playground version of bullying: hitting, name calling, stealing lunches, and ostracizing. These behaviors are hurtful and damaging, but they're not subtle. Kids who are bullied often don't tell anyone right away, but some  behaviors are easy to spot if we're looking.

As kids mature the techniques of bullying become more sophisticated and covert. Adults also often think bullying was kid stuff and goes away as they grow up. Since they were small we've talked to our kids about bullying and given them tools to let someone know if they're being harassed, so we're less vigilant about protecting our kids from bullies once they're adolescents.

But as the techniques of bullying change it's harder for our kids (an us) to recognize bullying, The abuses may target sexuality, popularity or body image-- acutely sensitive issues for adolescents. Also kids’ increasing independence in using of technology allows bullying to become not a face-to-face exchange, but a form of humiliation that is anonymous and follows them from school to home and all their social networks.

So how is a parent to know if their child’s withdrawal, surliness, or silence is normal or if it may indicate difficulties related to bullying?  Here are 14 signs that your child may be bulliedor is a bully.

You… Your Kids… and The Great Escape Lodge Water Park

Take 25... just take 25 minutes to talk to your kids about safety today. 

That's the advice of the National Center  for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Click on the link below as John Kelly, former policeman, school resource officer, and current director of the Saratoga branch of NCMEC, tells why this is so important and about a great opportunity to spend a fun day with the kids this Sunday at the Great Escape Lodge Water Park for a fun and informative family day. 



Parents, Have You Had the Prom Talk?

At heart I'm an optimist... but sometimes reality dashes my optimism. Probably my career choice doesn't help; every day is a reality check. At DVRC, we see the aftermath when relationships morph from dreams to bad dreams and sometimes to nightmares. But I know those stories are far from the norm. So many of our clients say, "I never imagined something like this. I was way into before I even realized what was happening." 

For that reason I'm a believer in talking about the bad stuff, so we're aware of the red flags and can avert the disaster. Talk about it... cover the bases....then move back to optimism and live those dreams. 

So here's the reality check about prom. For most teens it's a magical night with memories they'll be sharing for decades. For some, alcohol, sexual opportunity and relaxed curfews can sour that night. So parents take five minutes and talk with your son or daughter about how to stay safe on prom night.  Not sure how to start? Carlton Kendrick has made it easy for you...in 4 simple steps you can cover all the bases to keep your son or daughter safer on prom night. Take the time to read his article... then have the talk. 

Then get the camera ready so you can take pictures of that magical night (besides it's always fun to laugh about the hairstyles 20 years down the road.) So help me nurture my inner optimist. Got a fun prom memory? Comment back and share it...keep the magic going. 

Binge Drinking Now… Heart Disease Later?

Teens, young adults and drinking. 

It’s harmless fun and a normal part of growing up, right?

So we shouldn't worry too much about it, right?

Well if you need another reason to take teen drinking seriously here’s one. Binge drinking between the ages of 18-25 may increase risk of heart disease later in life. According to a study by Shane A. Phillips, PT, Ph.D. recently published in the Journal of the American Collegeof Cardiology, "Regular binge drinking is one of the most serious public health problems confronting our college campuses… and there may be serious cardiovascular consequences in young adults." Apparently binge drinking causes changes in two cell types that control blood flow. These changes were equivalent to those of a lifelong heavy drinker, and are a precursor for developing heart disease.

For the health of our kids now (and decades down the road) we need to take a serious look at our attitudes about partying and binge drinking. Our kids count on us to set the limits to keep them safe. That's easy when they’re little and the rules are simple, “Look both ways before you cross the street.” The issues get more complicated and confusing as they get older...and they challenge the rules seemingly indefatigably. I know that the possibility of a heart attack decades from now won't deter a kid from drinking (at 20, I would have rolled my eyes if my mom had told me this.) But it is a reminder to me that youthful risky behaviors can have unforeseen and life-changing consequences,so it’s important that I keep talking with my kids about alcohol and drug abuse (and accept their inevitable eye rolling with good humor.)

Your Vote Showed How Important Our Veterans Are

Collectively we hold image of a soldier returning from serving our country- a young man physically injured rebuilding his life in the civilian world. Here's two facts to consider:

  • that soldier may be a young woman, and 
  • her war wounds may not be physical but psychological.
And that's where Guardian House comes in... 

Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company – VETHELP provides Guardian House, a transitional home for homeless, female veterans, who are striving to regain independence. Because you voted to say this is important to our community, they were chosen as the winner in Home depot's Aprons in Action contest to win $25,000 for renovations to Guardian House. They plan to use the $25,000 to provide additional living space in the home by demolishing unusable space and rebuilding to promote healthy living for the female veterans. Partnering with Team Depot and volunteers from Rebuilding Together Saratoga County to complete the project, the new addition to their facility would include a study/office for veterans actively seeking employment and completing school work. They also plan to incorporate an exercise room that will promote overall wellness for the mind, body, and soul as well as an outdoor gardening area to promote a positive and creative outlet. The additional space will be converted into a storage area which will be utilized as veterans accumulate household belongings in preparation of their transition back into the community and independent living. They will also paint, install Sheetrock and insulation, and provide landscaping.

Thanks for voting to help our veterans!

Leadership Lessons from the Playground

Robert Fulgham summed it up quite nicely, “All I really need to know l earned in kindergarten. Play fair… don’t hit other people … clean up your own mess… learn some and think some…hold hands and stick together.”  Wise words to guide children...and adults.
Think of all the daily problems that could be avoided if we just applied that sandbox wisdom.  A brief glance at today’s local news stories: college students cheating on assignments, a hit and run accident and a brutal domestic homicide, clearly demonstrates that at least some adults have lost sight of those basic fundamentals of living honestly and compassionately. I certainly don’t mean to trivialize such serious issues, but I do think that as we grow up our behaviors (both good and bad) can have a greater impact. So the bullying behaviors in the playground can later manifest as relationship or sexual violence.
So that’s why it’s so important, not only to teach kids right from wrong, but also to teach them how to stand up for what’s right. The Ballston Area Community Allies, works with kids to promote healthy relationships and youth leaders for  positive change.

“ Love the answers those kids had.  They really get the message.”   
Benita Zahn from WNYT News
On May 3, 2013 the youth in the Community allies are organizing the 2ndBullying Awareness March beginning at 3:30pm.at the Ballston Area Community Center (BACC) located at 20 Malta Avenue in Ballston Spa. At last year’s march the youth shared their concerns about bullying with District Attorney James A. Murphy -Ballston Spa School District Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Dragone, Mayor John P. Romano. As one 10 year old boy said after last year’s march,  "I think we can at least put our best efforts into it and we tried our best to stop bullying, so hopefully it will work."  

If you, your child, or your organization, would like to join our march, call BACC (518) 885-3261

This Weekend’s #1 Spring Cleaning Task

Why is this important? Because abuse of non-prescribed medications by teens is a rapidly growing trend. Teens often feel these drugs are 'safe' to take because they are medicine. They report it's easier to get prescription and OTC drugs than illegal drugs, and they know they can get a buzz from the drugs they find in the medicine cabinet in their own home or at friends’ or relatives homes . What they don't realize is that using these drugs can have dangerous consequences when not used as intended. While parents talk to their kids about the dangers of marijuana or other illegal drugs, they rarely discuss the risks of taking medications to get high. A quick step you can take to curb teen drug abuse is to safely discard expired or unused medications. That's why the Shenendehowa Community Coalition coordinates mdication disposal days like this one.