Our teens. Our voice. Our world? by Olivia Demmler (center in pic) age 14

Some of you may be offended with what I’m about to say and prepare yourself because I cried when I heard about this. Written by a teen who heard about something unimaginable happen on February 14, 2018. How can this even be our world? What will be different about this school shooting? Is there a way to make a change? Who do we confide in? All of these questions I asked myself when I heard about what happened in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

636542839634075922-AP-School-Shooting-Florida.1I wasn’t at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School but I was still affected because most of those kids who sadly passed away were my age. A 19 year old should never have an AR-15 let alone one who’s mentally disturbed. I posted something on Instagram it said, “ We need change. We deserve change. We can’t let innocent people keep on dying we’ve had enough #enoughisenough. There are so many things wrong with the world we live in right now and what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is only the beginning of it.

dab95bd742064c529b292ea44b48cb43.jpgTo spread change I’m no longer asking I’m begging for you to march. March so we know we’re not alone. March so change will come. March because there’s so much more to life than just sitting down thinking about how you could have made a difference. March for every life lost during the school shootings. March because this is somehow our reality. I literally cried while writing this so please I’m begging all of those who don’t feel like they have a voice trust me you do.

Personally I want to have kids and I want them to go to school in an environment they can trust with people they can trust. Seeing how someone can walk into a school with an AR-15 and decide to kill 17 innocent people is unbelievable and to be honest I don’t trust schools that much. Hopefully our future generations never have to go through something like this. Finally, there have been 18 incidents where a gun has been brought on school property like wth. Honestly we need to put the politics aside and focus on public safety. This situation is not red and blue and we can’t point fingers if someone says something we don’t like.

180217-parkland-victims-16up-composite_f28d54947a0ad694bc02699c473e6dc2.nbcnews-fp-1200-800When I heard about this I cried those were kids my and most of our leaders age that ended up dying. I hate to say it but that could’ve been anyone of us. We can’t get through a normal day without hearing that someone’s been shot. We should send thoughts and prayers but we should also take action. I think all of these kids have heard enough of thoughts and prayers.

Capture-5Someone or some group needs to take action and do something. Schools will never be the same. Lives will never be the same. If you saw the CNN Town Hall for the victims. Well Ted Deutch (Representative) for Florida said something very important, “it is not — it is not too soon; it is too late for the 17 lives that are lost.” I completely agree with what he said. Why did it take so many? How many more do there have to be? Another thing is that they want to trust teachers with a gun. How is that okay?! Not to be rude but how many of your teachers don’t know how to use an activboard? Teachers are here to teach us. They shouldn’t have a gun. Protect children not guns.

Olivia Demmler

Valued Girl Talk Marlton Member

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Let’s End All Racism Now

 

I believe we are all born equal and die the same way, equal in rights, equal in opportunities, equal in dreams and goals. We all begin life with a winning trust in others and an expectation that people are all good. So how is it that so much racism and hate are in the world?

a40b43290aa742579d2781809981863dRacism, researchers find, is a learned behavior exhibiting in children as young as three years of age. They state, the two most powerful purveyors of racism in children’s lives today are the media and the adults they know. Racism is an attitude of a person who with their acts, behavior, and their words differentiates another person for faith, skin color, and social and cultural backgrounds. It is sad to live in a world where racism, hatred, prejudice, and ignorance still exist.

ae1abad2fdc1fef12b419d5ca66c29b2--racism-today-stop-racism.jpgMany people are hesitant and uncomfortable discussing racism and racial differences, especially with their children. But whether you talk about it or not, kids will notice when someone is being treated different or looks differently than they do. From an early age, children should be taught to appreciate diversity and practice empathy. Despite all our best intentions to avoid and mute any mention of racism, children learn about it from their environments. Children need to be prepared for a future society that is becoming increasingly diverse and we need to encourage them to see this diversity as a positive. Parents, caregivers, teachers and, in fact, all humans have a responsibility to ensure all children learn to navigate the complexities of our diverse world with empathy and respect.  It’s time to start talking to our children about race.

53dcb51fc25df8dceb8384b386a01874--anti-racism-skin-colors.jpgThis is not a new problem. We all know that racism abounds in our society. Yet, the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. are shocking to us. The most frightening thing about what happened in Charlottesville is that these hate groups exist all over America. And they will continue to build and grow until we put an end to it. With the recent events being broadcast all over the news and social media, there is a good chance your children have been exposed to these images. Children need to be reassured that they are safe, please have a discussion with them. Reaffirm your beliefs and explain the values you wish to instill in your child.

80480ef40b8400f66535dfa84e67b296--stairway-to-heaven-stairways.jpgWill racism ever disappear completely? I am hopeful. I wish to live in a nation where no one will be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This may not happen in my lifetime, or yours, but let’s do our part by continuing the fight against the hatred in the world.

First, we must confront it in ourselves. Anti-racism begins with a basic respect for all people. All people of all races are equal, don’t judge the book by its cover. Reach out and get to know people who are different from you, learn about them and their cultures.

Build a community that helps to prevent hate and racism issues by creating a better future through instilling values to our youth by providing support and education in diversity and ethnic awareness. Let them know that hate and racism are unacceptable. Advocate for students in your community by making a concerted effort to stop racism, hate and bullying at your school. Learn to speak up and step in when you see racism occurring, and disrupt it in a safe way.

images.pngThe ultimate goal to anti-racism is to make institutional and structural changes in our society to achieve racial equity – equal opportunity and access for all. No one person can do it all or do it alone, but we can all do things to help, and in doing so, work collectively to end racism.

~Mary Beth

Girl Talk Marlton

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Mentor. Inspire. Empower.

I am a strong believer in mentoring, inspiring and empowering others, especially young girls. Research confirms the importance of having a quality mentoring relationship and shows it has a powerful positive effect on young people in personal, academic, and professional situations. Mentoring for me has always been first and foremost a relationship, I meet an extraordinary young woman and I think how can I help this person? How can I open doors for her and be supportive, encouraging and nourishing?

2013-girl-talk-logoIn 2013, I started a chapter of Girl Talk Inc in my town-Girl Talk Marlton.  Girl Talk Inc. is an international non-profit peer-to-peer mentoring program with a very simple premise: high school girls mentor middle school girls to help them deal with the issues they face during their formative early teenage years. Our mission is to help young teenage girls build self-esteem, develop leadership skills and recognize the value of community service. The girls develop confidence, leadership skills and compassion. They learn that they are not alone in the issues they face and that understanding, kindness and compassion can be the foundation for better relationships with others. This helps women become stronger leaders in the work place and more effective as parents. Since 2002, the Girl Talk Inc. organization has served more than 40,000 girls in 43 states and 7 countries. My group in Marlton, NJ has grown from 1 girl in 2013 to 107 young girls ages 10-18.

Why the need for female mentors? Statistics consistently demonstrate the alarming incidence of dangerous behaviors in middle school aged girls, as well as the positive impact of mentoring.

2009 data suggests that, of the middle school girl population in the U.S.:

9% are pregnant

22% never make it through high school (drop out)

27% have been or will be suicidal

34% have eating disorders

55% experiment with alcohol, drugs or tobacco

and, of those with low self-esteem, 25% resort to self-injurious behavior and 75% report engaging in activities such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking or drinking

 

The good news is that data also suggests that youth who are mentored are:

27% less likely to begin using alcohol

37% less likely to skip class

46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs

52% less likely to skip school, are more confident in their academic performance, and get along better with their families
7e277f9e37a1f037ff2ca5f826d533d5So, why NOT mentor, inspire and empower! Inspiration is all around us in everything we do and see. We need to mentor our young females to be inspired by the positive and not listen to the negative. And always empower them to aim high.

Young women often talk about the self-doubt that holds them back, that little negative voice inside their heads. We all have it, we all make mistakes, we are all human. Of course, sometimes even our role models get things wrong, or disappoint us, but this is also a useful reminder especially to girls that no one is perfect, and that anyone can survive both failure and error.

As women, we need to learn to build each other up. Women of different generations, colors and culture need to ensure that the progress we’ve made towards real equality continues.  We need to trust each other enough to share our power, knowledge, strength, talents and innovating solutions together. The women that do this are true role models and mentors and this is what I strive to be. They are the women who drive our motivation and imaginations, merely by their example. If we’re lucky enough, we count them as friends, and they are what we call our mentors.

My wish for you this week is to find a mentor in your life and become closer to them, learn from them and be empowered to inspire others.

http://thewishwall.org/desideri/mentor-inspire-empower/

~Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton/The Wishwall Foundation

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 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?- Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

TAKE A STAND AGAINST BULLYING

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Take a stand against bullying!

http://thewishwall.org/desideri/take-a-stand-against-bullying/

In support of National Bullying Prevention Month this October, I thought I would write my wish to stomp out bullying. All of us go through those awkward preteen and teenage years, and chances are that you have either been bullied, witnessed someone being bullied or have been the bully yourself. It has become critical to talk about the issues of bullying and cyber-bullying because of the harmful effects it causes. Founder Ross Ellis recognized this and created the Stomp Out Bullying campaign in 2005. Its goal is to encourage communities to work together to stop bullying (and cyber-bullying) by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on all children of all ages.

 

Now in its 11th year, the kindness movement continues. This month, I will do my best to raise bullying prevention awareness by educating how to effectively deal with bullying situations peacefully. In my mentoring program chapter that I facilitate, Girl Talk Marlton, we have girls ranging in age from 10-18 years old, and we discuss this topic quite often. It is a sad statistic but 1 out of 4 students in middle school and high school have been bullied. There are three different types of bullying: physical, verbal and social. Experts say that girls tend to excel at social bullying. Some bullying is obvious, like psychical attacks. While verbal and social bullying can be more subtle behaviors like exclusion, mocking, teasing, spreading rumors, starting gossip, online attacks, and scare tactics.

 

Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of, right? Well, a lot of girls seem so innocent and nice to us adults but bullying and nasty cliques start as early as elementary school! A good portion of preteen and teen girls deal with friendship struggles and various degrees of social cruelty and feel as they are alone, but they are not. They allow their so-called “friends” to treat them in ways they don’t deserve. WHY and how can we help empower them to not be treated this way?

 

Let’s start by teaching our girls values to look for in real friendships such as kindness, loyalty, positive attitudes, and honesty. Focus on showing them the differences between healthy and toxic friendships. “Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.” —Lyman Abbott. I agree with this quote because teaching them to use assertive communication skills and accepting the anger helps to be able to walk away from those fake friendships with confidence. We should teach our children to stand up for themselves and others and not to be bystanders who witness the assaults, harassment and threats and remain silent.

 

If your child shares with you that they are being bullied, don’t intervene too soon. However, no child should have to find her way through this painful conflict alone, help guide them through some effective resolutions they can try first. Creating a plan that works with your child’s strengths and abilities can help build self-confidence and resilience. Be sure to listen and support them through this inevitable pain of bullies disguised as friends. If the bullying continues, contact the school to develop a plan to stomp out these bullies.

 

Stay connected with your preteen/teen to know what is going on in their everyday life, even though they make it so difficult. They need you (even though they don’t think so) and it is your job as their parent or caregiver to guide them through these tough years. This isn’t the time for you to be their friend, there will be plenty of time for that later in life. Have discussions with them about what is acceptable behavior on social networking, websites and text messaging. Make sure they aren’t being cyber-bullied or perhaps being the bully. Know what apps and online activities they are involved in, get their passwords (YES, passwords-you pay the bill don’t you?). Let your child know that using these technological tools is a privilege and don’t hesitate to take them away if they are not used properly. Remember YOU are in charge and that you are investing the time and care into your child because you love them. Don’t let your child bully you!

 

Stopping bullying is everyone’s responsibility. You can help do your part by raising awareness through community events and sharing information with others. Pass it on.

 

My wish……END THE HATE … CHOOSE KINDNESS … STOMP OUT BULLYING. MODEL POSITIVE BEHAVIOR THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY BY TREATING OTHERS WITH KINDNESS AND INTERVENING WHEN YOU SEE BULLYING BEHAVIOR.

http://www.stompoutbullying.org/

Mary Beth
Girl Talk Marlton/for The Wishwall
http://www.girltalkmarlton.org