Bringing Awareness to Teen Suicide

Bringing Awareness to Teen Suicide

Suicide, is a sad topic no one wants to talk about. But I have to write about it because it's affecting our teens in Colorado Springs. You see, teen suicide is on the rise here. As of mid-October there have been 13 teen suicides in ...El Paso County.  In 2015 there were 14 teen suicides here. Our very own Academy School District 20 recently launched a "powerful partnerships and suicide prevention campaign" in order to bring public awareness to this sensitive issue. Rampart High School even performed a play about it. But the big question is WHY? What is going on here? What is happening to our teens? 

 

I've read about different theories and speculations. Some say our kids are depressed because we are a military town full of deployed parents who have to leave their families a lot. They say that's troubling our kids. I'm not convinced the problem stems from this. I know deployment is stressful, but military families have faced deployment for decades, and yet never was there a time when the teen suicide rate was this high.  

 

Others theorize that suicide is contagious. According to a recent article in Newsweek Magazine, "Decades of research prove that a startling range of emotions and behaviors can be contagious—from moodiness to yawning. Young people are especially susceptible; they obsess over fads and fashion trends and copy illicit behaviors from peers, such as smoking, drinking or speeding. Or suicide." According to this theory, the kids are copying one another.  I'm not convinced this is the reason.  Copying has been around forever. Why would it suddenly increase now?  

 

I am the mother of a teenager.  My daughter attends high school here in the Springs. I've watched and listened to her. Here's what I think:  

1. These kids are under more pressure than ever before. They're under pressure to perform well, almost perfectly. Example: school teachers are constantly talking about grades. Every time these kids take a quiz or turn in an assignment, they are immediately given an update as to their current grade, how many points are being added or subtracted because of that quiz or assignment. They can't do a project without worrying about how it will impact the grade. They walk around paranoid, for fear of making the "wrong" move or not being "good enough." They are reminded daily of each grade in each class. When I was in school, we got report cards which showed our quarterly grades.  We weren't reminded on a daily basis of how we were measuring up. Shame on our system for doing this to them. A fellow mom, whose daughter is in a few classes with my own, said "I've never seen Naomi (name changed) so stressed out. She can't relax under all this pressure to perform."  

 

2. Social media is not helping these kids to feel good about themselves. Sites like Instagram or Facebook show classmates and friends in happy, unrealistic photos of a perfect life. They show smiles and laughter and post about the good time everyone is having. They give an unrealistic view of how people should look and how life should be. These kids feel inferior when they read all that. They compare themselves to the images and feel they can't measure up.

 

3. Today's parents are putting so much pressure on their kids to perform, get good grades, excel at a sport, volunteer. It's too much. In speaking with one parent at last night's parent/teacher conference, she was happy to inform me of her daughter's great grades, playing a variety of sports, and volunteering with out local junior police program. Her other daughter, a high school Junior, is learning how to fly airplanes. I was exhausted just hearing about it. Parents are pushing their kids to excel at levels which are almost impossible. 

 

As a Realtor, I've even had buyers call who are moving here from out of state and have already determined which school district they want for their kids, purely based on district ranking. Not that there's anything wrong  wanting the best for your kids. I certainly do. But have we gotten too focused on rank and achievement? Ironically, one of the best ranking schools in our area, which is located in one of the best ranking districts in our area happens to have the HIGHEST suicide rate of all the schools in El Paso County. It's no coincidence. With such an emphasis on "turning out the best" perhaps we have ignored the pressure these kids feel to be the best, to outperform, to set higher standards than ever before.

 

I'm no expert on how to raise a kid or how to keep them from doing the unthinkable. And my heart goes out to all those parents and families who are facing such. But I have to believe the pressure these kids are under is so heavy that the burden is often too much to bear. Colorado Springs is a great city with an awesome public school system. But as parents we are ultimately responsible for ensuring our kids are okay. We have to pay attention to what they say and how they behave. And we have to let them know it's okay to be scared or imperfect. After all, aren't we all?

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5 Things to Do This Weekend (Oct 15, 16) in Colorado Springs

5 Things to Do This Weekend (Oct 15, 16) in Colorado Springs

Tchaikovsky: Francesca da Rimini- Sat Oct 15, 7:30pm Pikes Peak Center

Admission: Various. Composed in just three week, this amazing, dark and explosive performance centers on the haunting torment of lover's illicit pleasures. Probably not an all ages show, but a definite must for Tchaikovsky fans. For more information:http://csphilharmonic.org/

 

Maker Faire - Sat Oct 15, 10:00am-4:00pm at Library 21c 1175 Chapel Hills Dr

Admission: Free. Attention all DIY fans, this faire is for you. In it's third year, the Maker Faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker Movement. It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning. For more information visit:https://coloradospringsmakerfaire.com/.

 

Sugar Plum Food & Gift Mart, Sat Oct 15 10-6pm and Sun Oct 16 11am-4pm, Colorado Springs Event Center 3960 Palmer Park Blvd

Admission: Adults $6, Kids 16 and under Free. Are you one of those people that likes to have all of their Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving? The Sugar Plum Mart will definitely help you achieve that goal. This is one of Colorado Springs' largest holiday markets full of hand crafted wares, gifts, jewelry and clothing. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will even be there for photos. For more information: http://sugarplumgiftmart.com.

 

2016 Catwalk for Cancer Fashion Show, Fri Oct 14, 6pm, Garden of the Gods Club

Admission: $125. Cocktail reception followed by dinner and a fashion show modeled entirely by cancer survivors and their caregivers. All proceeds benefit the Oncology Services at UCHealth Memorial Hospital. For registration and more information: https://mhf.thankyou4caring.org/catwalk.

 

Japanese Cultural Festival & Bazaar, Sat Oct 15 10am-4pm, University Center at UCCS

Admission: Free, donations accepted. The Taiko drum and shamisen/bon dance performance will get you in the mood for this Festival full of original Japanese housewares, craft items, art, gift items, yukata, and second-hand kimonos. Sushi and Japanese snacks will also be available. More information can be found at: http://www.japanamerica.org/.

 

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More Halloween Fun in Colorado Springs

More Halloween Fun in Colorado Springs

As promised, here is my favorite activity for the little ones. BOO AT THE ZOO, at our very own Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, is a great way for children to enjoy the holiday. I took my daughter to this every year when she was little, and we both loved it. Children can dress up in costume, visit the animals and trick-or-treat for candy provided by local vendors. The zoo is lit up with white lights, and after dark you can see the spectacular Colorado Springs city lights down below.  Here are all the details from their web site:

 

Boo at the Zoo

Come See the Original Creatures of the Night!

 

2016 Dates – Open 7 nights!

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, October 21-22-23 Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday, October 28-29-30-31

Time

4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – with the last ticket sold at 7:30 p.m.

Please NOTE: The Zoo will close early for day visits at 3 p.m. on all seven Boo at the Zoo evenings, with the last ticket of the day sold at 2 p.m. Guests must exit the Zoo at 3 p.m. Last Sky Ride is at 2:30 p.m. and the Shrine Road closes at 1 p.m. The Zoo will open for Boo at the Zoo at 4 p.m.

Activities & Shows

Don your costume, bring your trick-or-treat bag and flashlight to the wildest Halloween event in town. It’ll be a frightfully good time!

Animal exhibits close at 8 p.m. Last Sky Ride is at 7:30 p.m.

ACTIVITIES include:

  • Haunted fun house and ghoulish graveyard,
  • trick-or-treat at spooky treat stations,
  • Boo carousel
  • Pirates Cove,
  • Lighted Pumpkin Patch,
  • select animal exhibits are open including: giraffes, Monkey Pavilion, The Loft and Encounter Africa,
  • select animal encounters with shows each evening by education interpreters.

 

ANIMAL SHOWS & HAPPENINGS for Boo at the Zoo:

Check back on the website closer to the event for the full shows and happenings schedule 2016!

Tickets

Tickets are sold each night of the event at the Zoo only. Please consider carpooling and arriving early. Prepare for a fun and memorable adventure for the kids…and don’t forget to purchase a Boo combo ticket to ride the Mountaineer Sky Ride!

Cost

No passes or other coupons accepted. Advance tickets not available. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Boo Pricing

$17.75 for ages 3-64 $12.75 for Zoo members $15.75 Military and 65+ 75¢ for ages 2 and under

Sky Ride – Boo Combo Pricing

$20.75 for ages 3-64 $15.75 for Zoo members $18.75 Military and 65+ 75¢ for ages 2 and under

*Military discount is offered to all active duty, veteran and retired military personnel any day of the year. Bring any of the following to qualify for the discount for you and your dependents living in the same household:

  • A valid military / retired military ID
  • A copy of your DD214
  • Your state driver’s license printed with veteran indicator or military identifier
  • Your ID issued by the VA, VFW or American Legion

This discount cannot be combined with other offers. A valid military ID is required upon purchase.

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More About Meridian Ranch - Part 2

More About Meridian Ranch - Part 2

PERHAPS YOU'VE PLAYED THIS GAME BEFORE? BUT TODAY YOU'RE BARELY SURVIVING.

There you are. You’re on a brisk walk with the kids. You notice a speeding Beamer zooming toward your youngest. Your toddler. She's about to cross the road. You think, “hey, we need a cross-walk here” catching her bolt just in time. People need to know we live here right? It so happens the other day you also saw another group of older kids crossing in this Frogger-like game during rush hour (not cool). You’re fired up now. You want in the game. You know what’s needed, but you don’t know how to work the system. In this case, did you know the Ranch District can be an advocate for residents to El Paso County for pedestrian safety enhancements? Hi, I’m back again with another hyper-local focus on Falcon’s fastest-growing Meridian Ranch neighborhood. In my last post of this good-neighbor brain-builder series, I covered HOAs and the Service District, what they do and don’t do. Here, I’ll dig deeper into what the “Ranch” District is about (and how they can help your toddler).

 

THE RANCH DISTRICT IS THE FINANCIER FOR SERVICE, MAINTENANCE AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS

That’s right. The Ranch District plans and pays for service. And they also annually plan and finance major improvements for Meridian Ranch homeowners. New trails, new pools, new wells, you name it. If the Service District maintains it, the Ranch District funds it. For these reasons the Meridian Ranch Metropolitan District is colloquially referred to as the “Financing District” looking at their registered Service Plan. In the big picture, the Ranch District collects cash it needs to serve residents from residents by three mechanisms: 

  • Levying a 25 mil tax (never to exceed 50 mils)
  • Collecting monthly service fees from residents
  • Issuing bonds for long-term capital improvements

 

Easy stuff right? So now you can think of the Ranch District as a money funnel. Into it goes all three cash flows above. And that pays for service, like a private HOA. The 25 mil levy is calculated from a resident’s assessed El Paso county property taxes. Lost there? That's okay. Just remember this special district has the power to tax, and they take a chunk from the overall county tax. Cash is also collected through each resident’s monthly Service District bill. Fees for water resources, wells, street lighting, park/rec/open space, sewage and water pay for the Service District costs to operate and expand infrastructure. If you need an example of these fees, find them by clicking here. Finally, when the elected Ranch District Board of Directors sees fit, the district may issue bonds for long term financing for larger improvement projects. Simply said, they can incur debt.

 

WAIT, YOU JUST SAID “BOARD OF DIRECTORS” …

Yes, it’s the two Districts and their combined Board of Directors that do all the planning and decisions for this gig. Don't worry, these guys are all Meridian Ranch homeowners also. The larger body of homeowners elect five unpaid directors for staggered four-year terms to conduct the executive activities over the Meridian District and Service Districts. Check out my diagram below. These aren't separate boards. They're one. Like Angie Kelly of Community Resource Services explains, "the conversations aren't really separate, it's all one meeting, one district." Take a peek. The minutes say just that.

 

SO IT'S THIS TWO-DISTRICT EXECUTIVE WHOLENESS THAT HELPS RESIDENTS IN MANY WAYS

And this goes back to accessing power (and advocating for your toddler and others). True, both the Service and Ranch District entities don't have authority over Meridian Ranch roads and building new crosswalks. El Paso County does. But this Board over the two Districts does have clout. And they do work alongside with the county on many projects. For instance, building a water line to the Falcon Regional Park. Here, collaboration is ripe and ready to be harnessed at the open monthly public meetings each month. Check their schedule out here.

 

Okay, let's call this a wrap! (or a "croak" if you're now wining at Frogger). Congratulations. You're now crossing over into the big leagues of Meridian mojo. With all the talk about the Ranch Financing District, you may ask how this funding is calculated? Or you may be confused with the support like the YMCA, the and how they fit into my picture describing this game below. Hang loose there. That will be the subject of my next posts.  

 

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5 Things to Do This Weekend (Oct 8, 9) in Colorado Springs

5 Things to Do This Weekend (Oct 8, 9) in Colorado Springs

Revolutionaries - Sat Oct 8, 7pm Broadmoor Community Church, Sunday Oct 9, 2:30pm First Christian Church

Admission: $25, $5 age 21 and under, $20 65 and older and active military. Pulitzer price winner Joseph Schwantner leads this performance of Beethoven's "Ah Perfido! for Soprano and Orchestra" with soprano Katherine Johnson and "Symphony No. 2 in D Major". For more information:http://chamberorchestraofthesprings.org

 

John McCutcheon - Sat Oct 8, 7:00 at Black Forest Community Club 12530 Black Forest Rd

Admission: $15 members, $25 non-members. When Pete Seeger calls someone "one of our country's best songwriters", you know he is bound to be good. John has been writing songs and creating music since he was 15. With 36 albums and 6 grammy nominations, John has a huge collection of work from ballads, historical songs, children’s songs, love songs, topical satire, fiddle and hammer dulcimer instruments, and even symphonic works. For more information:www.blackroseacoustic.org.

 

Haunted Brew Fest, Sat Oct 8 1-4pm and 5-8pm, Colorado Springs Event Center 3960 Palmer Park Blvd

Admission: $30, VIP $45. Beer and Boos? There is a pun in there somewhere. This group has partnered up with the Colorado Ghouls Gulch & Sanitarium Haunted House to provide you with a spooky experience while tasting some of our city's best brews. Discount tickets will be available for entry to the haunted house next door. For more information: http://hauntedbrewfest.com/.

 

Pikes Peak Studio Tour, Sat & Sun Oct 8, 9 10-5pm, various locations

Admission: Free. This only happens once a year, so put this one on your calendar. A combination of fine art and grand crafts for sale, works in progress, food and drink, lively conversation and welcoming artists. For a map and more information: www.pikespeakstudiotour.com.

 

The Grimm Spectaculathon, Fri Oct 7- Oct 15 7pm, Fountain Community Theater

Admission: $10 and under. A fun-filled play for the whole family! An energetic cast will try to make sense of the well-known (and some not so well-known) stories collected by the Brothers Grimm and with audience participation, this will be a memorable event and fun for the kiddos. Tickets can be purchased at: http://www.fountaintheater.org/.

 

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