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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Moving Forward After Tragedy

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The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others. After events like this senseless attack, many Americans feel sad, helpless and fearful. We are only human, it affects us emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The Las Vegas tragedy comes after weeks of devastating stories from storm-ravaged areas across our nation, which can be a lot of tragedy to process all at once. The shock and devastation of any tragedy leaves us feeling stunned and vulnerable. We know that life is fragile, but it is not supposed to be this way.

1506991109747.pngTragedy and grief are devastating.  But it doesn’t have to get the best of you. The news overwhelms us with stories, pictures, videos and interviews around the clock showing every intimate detail of these tragedies. It is like reliving it over and over. Shut it off and regroup. Never underestimate the importance of your mindset. Get yourself refocused in a positive direction.

Don’t forget your children’s feelings and emotions during this time too. When it comes to any tragedy, most adults either feel the need to talk a lot to their kids or think they shouldn’t talk at all. The best place is somewhere in between. First, ask what they think happened. Kids get information from many different sources, not all are reliable. Let your child’s questions to you be your guide. Reassure them of their safety, spare them the scary details and be sure not to lie to them. Don’t allow young children to watch the news. Empower your kids to take positive action in the wake of a tragic event by doing something positive for the victims and survivors. This will help you both heal.

today-las-vegas-140709-vid.jpgLife is unpredictable and uncertain. What we have today can be taken away in a moment. Let’s just accept the fact that life is unfair sometimes.  This, however, doesn’t mean that we give up. When the world is falling apart around us, it’s tough to see the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. But, that is exactly what we must do. Take this time to reflect on the life you have and make any necessary positive changes to your life starting today.

1507054518676Life is for living, not worrying about dying, so don’t be fearful to live it to your fullest potential. None of us know how long our life will be, but we all get to choose what we make of each day. See the beauty, not the darkness. Focus on the good, not the bad. Many things are out of our control but you can control how you will react to situations, how you will treat others and how you will live your day. Make it a great one.

MB

 

REMEMBERING THE DAY OUR WHOLE NATION HAD TO BE BRAVE

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A fiery blast rocks the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On the 16th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we are remembering the day our whole nation had to be brave. On that day, 2,977 innocent people were killed due to a coordinated, terrorist attack by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda jihadists. This physical assault on the U.S., targeting New York City and Washington, D.C., wounded us deeply as a whole country, both physically and mentally. But on that day, we became united in being Americans.

Smoke Pours From The World Trade Center After Being Hit By Two Planes September 11 2001
Smoke Pours From The World Trade Center After Being Hit By Two Planes September 11, 2001 In New York City. (Photo By Craig Allen/Getty Images)

If you are old enough to remember the event, you remember all those feeling you had- the pain, the fear, the horror, the anger and wanting revenge. I don’t like remembering these feelings, it was a scary time, but I will never ever forget.

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Brooklyn firefighters George Johnson, left, of ladder 157, Dan McWilliams, center, of ladder 157, and Billy Eisengrein, right, of Rescue 2, raise a flag at the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/ Copyright 2001 The Record (Bergen County, NJ), Thomas E. Franklin, Staff Photographer/FILE)

I hope all Americans will also always remember those innocents that died (and their families), honor the heroes who rescued so many, and continue to respect the emergency personnel and members of armed forces who answered the call to defend this country after those awful attacks. Thousands of brave men and women in our military have given their lives since that day in what seems to be a fight with no end.

President Obama, Officials Attend 9/11 Memorial Museum Opening Ceremony
The South reflecting pool is viewed at the Ground Zero memorial site of National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80 ft high tridents, the so-called-Ground Zero. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The important lesson we should still recall from 9/11 is that of unity and that freedom is NOT free.

Mary Beth-Girl Talk Marlton

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You Are Unique – Just Like Everyone Else

We are all alike…we all have hearts and brains. We are all different…we do not think or feel the same way.

51PYQ4J95WL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_An important lesson in a book I came across titled We Are All Alike, We Are All Different – written for children, by children. With its original drawings and words by The Cheltenham Elementary School Kindergartners, it shows the perspectives of these 5-year old’s as it celebrates the multitude of differences in our society. The book reinforces multicultural and anti-bias learning and appreciation. Now more than ever, understanding tolerance for others and diversity in our world has never been more important. Everyone can benefit from this beautiful quick read.

There are many factors used throughout your life to forge your uniqueness: your life experiences, individual design and genetic makeup, physical characteristics like height, hair or eye color, or cultural differences, different backgrounds, environmental factors and personal vision. Everyone has a distinct personality, language, lifestyle, and culture. Because of these differences, sometimes we may not always get along with others, and personalities will collide. Even within a family, there are differences in age, gender, opinions and views. But try your best to treat everyone equal, practice patience and have compassion for others. Remember, we are all different, but the same.

IMG_3851-11bydaz.jpgIt is impossible for us to expect that everyone will react and behave just like you would if in that same situation. Some people are optimistic, while others are pessimistic. Some are active and progressive, whereas others are passive and lazy. Some are hot-tempered, while others are gentle and easygoing. Some are stingy and greedy, yet others are generous and charitable. How do we get along with all these different people?

To be happy in life, you must learn to get along with all types of people. We must learn to go with the flow. If we are constantly argumentative, act annoyed, and become resentful, others will reject us. Compassion will help us accept and be accepted by others.

images.pngThe best way to think of people is to view them as being made up of mixtures of ingredients, with different people being made up of different combinations of ingredients. Some are sweet and some are salty. Some are spicy while some are bland. The personality mixture is a set of individual differences that are affected by the development of an individual: values, attitudes, personal memories and social relationships. This recipe is what makes you, YOU.

We waste too much time comparing ourselves to others, wishing to be something we are not. Blue eyes, straighter hair, taller, thinner is just a few of the ingredients I wish I had, but even if I had those, would they make me a better person? We all have different thoughts, skills and opinions to offer that are positive and should be shared with the world. Why not focus on what we DO have. I am unique, but the same.

51wRWG8UscL.jpgOpen your mind and allow yourself to learn more about the people around you. This will help with avoiding personalities to clash. Find out the similarities in others, you may be pleasantly surprised. Encourage and appreciate differing opinions and views from others. Keep the lines of communication open to avoid any miscommunication.  Learn to be a good listener and don’t try to change people. Keep your sense of humor and learn to also laugh at yourself. Be open and honest with others. And remember to radiate positivity and smile often.

The levels of intelligence and morality among people in the world is varied. If we do not treat everyone equally, our words and actions will be misinterpreted by those around us. As the last sentence in the above titled book says, “We are all alike. We are all different. We are a family.” Let’s try our best to coexist.

~Mary Beth

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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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GUN VIOLENCE IN AMERICA

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Gun Violence in America

http://thewishwall.org/desideri/gun-violence-in-america/

Last Friday I received a call at 7:50am from my 20-year-old daughter-which was odd because she was suppose to be working. I had just awoken only 10 minutes prior to get ready for my work day and just got out of the shower. My daughter, a current college student, works the before & after school care program at the elementary schools in our town between her own classes. On this particular day she was sent to a different school then usual and the kids had a two-hour delay so it was already not a typical day for her. She was whispering very frantically to me that a cop came to the door and told the staff to activate “shelter in place” and wanted me to find out why for her- then she said “I love you” and hung up. Shelter-in-place means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there.

 

My heart dropped as my head spun, I had no idea what was going on. As I threw clothes on, I went to social media to post and read if anyone heard anything, there was nothing. I called friends who had children in the same school to see if they were alerted-but no, they were not. They were home because of the delay and also had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t think straight, I had no idea what to do. I grabbed my handbag and jumped in the car and headed for the school. My phone rings, it’s my daughter again whispering asking if I found out anything. She said the cops made her take the 13 children she had in her care into a small room, lay on the ground and hide with the lights out. The children were becoming frightened with the real police activity; they knew this was not a drill. She said she was told there was a man with a gun on the loose in the school’s neighborhood from a robbery in a neighboring town. She said she was okay and doing her best to keep the children quiet and from being scared. We both said “I love you” and she hung up.

 

My heart now was in my throat. I pulled over my car and looked on social media and rumors were swirling but were the same as she just told me about a man with a gun in the neighborhood. Friends from the area were sending me pictures and videos of 30+ cop cars on their street, there was so much police activity. As I then continued to drive to the school, I thought “what am I doing?” there wasn’t anything I could actually do to help her or the children but I needed to see for myself. I figured if I saw a man with a gun running the best I could do is hit him with my car, that would make him at least stop running towards anyone. Yes, I know it was a very dumb thought but going through my head was the countless innocent lives lost in this country from gun violence. Not my town, not my kid- I would do anything for it not to occur.

 

The incident went on (what felt like an eternity) but was less than an hour. Thank God we have a wonderful Police force and great relationships with neighboring township police and they were able to apprehend the man and take him into custody without any incident. Luckily the elementary schools had a two-hour delay and there were not a lot of children in the school or the area at the time. I didn’t even want to start thinking about the “what ifs”.

 

I went to the school and saw my daughter, hugged and kissed her (my hero) and she was fine, the kids were fine and school and the work day continued with no issues. I went back and sat in my car and burst into tears. This violent crazy behavior has almost become routine. With so many violent incidents taking place on a daily basis around the country, it’s no wonder school employees and students are trained in school lock-down procedures, they have to be! What is going on in America? Why so much gun violence? How can we help change this? We need to talk about it.

 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the greatest predictor of violence isn’t religion, occupation or race. It’s gender. In the United States, 98% of those who commit mass shootings are male; 98% of the officers who have shot and killed civilians are male; 90% of those who commit homicide by any means are male; and 80% of those arrested for all violent crimes — murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault — are male. The reality is that we don’t know exactly why men are exponentially more prone to violence. If we are going to reduce mass shootings, officer-involved killings and the culture of violence in America, however, we need to talk about it.

Whatever your opinion is about gun rights, it’s hard to deny that the frequency of gun violence in America. The US has more civilian guns than literally any other country on Earth, with an estimated 270 million in circulation. There are many ways in which America is exceptional, this is NOT one to be proud of.

 

Let’s do our part to end gun violence through research, advocacy and community empowerment. Help support Girl Talk Marlton make our communities safer and healthier by fighting to end gun violence in America.

 

From the Evesham Police Department in reference to the above Incident:

 

At approximately 8:00 am this morning, Evesham Police assisted Mt. Laurel and Medford officers as they attempted to stop a vehicle that was involved in a crime with a handgun in Mt. Laurel. The suspect vehicle eventually crashed on Carlton Avenue and three subjects were taken into custody as they attempted to flee the stop on foot. DeMasi elementary/middle school was placed into a “shelter in place” as the event unfolded. The assigned SRO at DeMasi immediately secured the school as the surrounding officers apprehended the suspects involved in the crime.

 

This is another example of the importance of our agency’s school resource officer program as we immediately protected the school staff and students from a potential dangerous incident. The school resource officers and their assigned school staff prepare for these types of incidents on a daily basis.

no-gun-violence1-1Any witnesses to this incident should call (856) 983-1111 with any information.

Thank you again to our wonderful Evesham (and neighboring) Police Department.

-Mary Beth Iannarella
Girl Talk Marlton for The Wishwall