An nonprofit’s initiative to educate Utah about child abuse

Story and images by ALLISON PFERDNER

The statistic — one in five Utah kids will be sexually abused before they turn 18 — is one of the first things you’ll see when you visit Prevent Child Abuse Utah’s website. Prevent Child Abuse Utah, or PCAU, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate children and parents throughout the state in hopes of lowering Utah’s child abuse rate, which is three times the national average.

Child abuse statistics are framed and hung in the organization’s offices in Salt Lake City.

PCAU has developed an age-appropriate curriculum and staff go into K-12 schools to teach children how to recognize abuse and empower them to report it.

As the community outreach program administrator for PCAU, Gwen Knight trains adults to recognize abuse, understand the reporting laws in Utah, and support the students once they report. Knight said that according to research, once adults are taught to recognize abuse and report it, they are more likely to want their children to learn about it as well.

This is Gwen Knight in her office at PCAU’s headquarters in Salt Lake City.

This brings up the topic of how PCAU brings awareness to its organization and how it gets into schools to teach its curriculum. Through community outreach programs, booths at the PTA Convention, and the many presentations PCAU does throughout the state, schools will reach out to PCAU to learn more about having the nonprofit come teach its curriculum in specific schools.

While many schools want the organization to teach its curriculum, other schools are difficult to get into. Knight provides a few counterpoints for some of the common reasons why schools say no. First, schools use the excuse of not having time for the classes. Knight said, “It only takes 30 minutes and if a child is dealing with abuse, they aren’t focusing anyway.” Second, schools don’t want their communities to perceive that their schools have children being abused in them. However, research shows that abuse happens in every demographic.

This is Safetysaurus, the puppet mascot, which is used to teach children in schools.

Parents have the opportunity to review the curriculum before it is taught and if they don’t approve, they are able to indicate that they don’t want their child to participate. The age-appropriate curriculum covers every kind of abuse including sexual, emotional, neglect, and physical abuse. It teaches children that their bodies belong to them.

PCAU is a statewide organization with community partners in Box Elder, Cedar City, the Uintah Basin, Tooele, Park City, and the Wasatch area. It trains people in each of these areas on its curriculum. This helps the nonprofit reach more people.

This organization also provides a program called Parents as Teachers in Davis County. Staff go directly to the homes of pregnant women and families with kids up to the age of 5. They provide instruction on how to raise healthy children by teaching about nutrition, sleep, safety, and discipline.

PCAU’s Certificate of Charter is displayed on the front desk in the Salt Lake office.

Rebecca Virgo, the Parents As Teachers Program administrator, says that other than reaching out to households, the program gets referrals from hospitals as well as families contacting them. The program has a list of stressors that staff pay attention to in order to know who they should reach out to. Some of these stressors are: military families, incarcerated parents, teen parents, and any type of illness present in the home.

Virgo said the biggest challenge of going into homes and working with the families is the observation that “helping is not always helpful.” When some parents receive help, they often don’t feel like they are seen as capable or trustworthy. It is more important for the visiting staff to connect the family with resources that will assist them rather than doing all the work for the parents.

A pinwheel is the symbol for preventing child abuse in America.

The staff’s main goals when they work with families are to facilitate connection, help them achieve goals, and to supply them with a wide range of parenting skills. “Your story that you grew up with doesn’t have to be your story for your children,” Virgo said.

The program is helping 120 families right now and is looking to expand to help 45 more in the near future. Due to the labor-intensive nature of this program, it can’t expand too far but Virgo suggests an alternative to families who want the extra help.

If you text utfamily to 27448, you can subscribe to Bright by Text, which sends out messages to parents of children prenatal to 5 years old. The messages contain helpful information based on the age of the child on things like child development, health and safety, and tips.

In both of these programs, Community Outreach and Parents as Teachers, Prevent Child Abuse Utah is spreading awareness and making a difference in children’s lives around the state.

As the assistant to the executive director, Ashley Workman urges everyone “not to underestimate the importance of what we do.”

“You can never teach this information too much,” Workman said.

So much growth has already happened in PCAU and the communities it works with and so much more can happen, Workman said. She wants parents to “not be surprised by the fact that the majority of abusers are people the child trusts because it’s unfortunately common.”

Workman’s plea to parents is: “If they run into a child that’s been abused, beg them to support the child.”

Prevent Child Abuse Utah’s logo on the main wall in the office.

Healthcare: what’s in the price when you’re seen by a provider?

Story and images by BRADEN ROLLINS

Whether you go to the doctor to ensure your health shouldn’t be a decision you have to make. Unfortunately, rising healthcare costs are forcing individuals to choose between other expenses and healthcare.

Many face the daunting prospect of healthcare cost. But what contributes to the cost and why are some at a disadvantage as compared to others?

Stories of healthcare costs frequent the news and media attribute one of the causes of high costs to doctors offices themselves.

Trying to decipher why healthcare costs are so high can be difficult. However, speaking with employees at a local doctor’s office and their experience with rising cost may shed light on the subject for some.

Jordan Meadows, a small family practice located in West Jordan, provides services such as physicals, blood draws, weight checks, vaccinations and other basic medical services.

Debra Bowen, the general manager of the clinic, discussed factors that contribute to the price of healthcare in the office such as payroll, collections, supplies, utilities, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Keeping quality employees is difficult in today’s economy due to the unemployment rate being so low. And with major corporations offering higher pay for similar jobs, Bowen said it is difficult for smaller clinics to compete for labor.

Bowen said more than half of the expenses to the clinic is for payroll and if they were to significantly raise wages the patient prices would increase significantly as a result. So keeping the balance between quality employees and wages is a constant problem.

Another problem faced by the clinic is outstanding balances on patients’ accounts, which are usually sent to collections. Some patients receive treatment but delay paying for it at the time of service for various reasons. Many of these unpaid accounts can come from patients who have been treated and have since felt better and no longer feel payment is necessary, Bowen said.

Medical supplies are a major cost to the clinic. Bowen said most of the cost comes from sterile equipment for examination, followed by supplies and tests to diagnose different ailments. The most expensive of the supplies are vaccinations. The use of supplies is carefully monitored so only things that are needed are ordered to reduce waste and overstock of unneeded supplies.

While rising costs are affecting most Americans, Bowen acknowledged low-income individuals and families without insurance are particularly impacted. Jordan Meadows offers cash patients a reduced price for their care while barely breaking even on the cost to the clinic.

These individuals are faced with the decision to pay a high insurance deductible or pay out of pocket. Some coverage is minimal due to the plan selected by the patient.

Bowen said these policies, known as catastrophic insurance, have high deductibles such as $5,000, which most patients would not meet in their plan year, so they choose to pay out of pocket. 

This makes treating these patients difficult, especially those who have chronic care needs such as diabetes. Some patients will come in for their initial visit, but don’t return for follow-up appointments due to the price, which can sometimes cost over $100.

Though prices can still be considered high for cash-only patients, Bowen said they are negligibly higher than the prices set by government Medicare programs. Legally the clinic cannot charge lower prices than Medicare without it being considered fraud.

John Neilsen, a family nurse practitioner, said he and the clinic assist patients by reducing prices whenever possible for cash patients, and suggesting alternatives treatments and helping them find discounts on medications.

Neilsen said it is difficult at times when the patient cannot afford their care, but it’s even more difficult when the patient has the ability to pay but chooses not to afford their healthcare due to extravagances in their lives.

A main focus of the clinic is putting people first and doing what it can to help individuals struggling to pay for services by working with each one on a individual basis.

Mariana Alvarado, the receptionist who was assisting patients, said she has dealt with many patients who can’t afford the healthcare.

Many of the patients who have no insurance or poor insurance are notified before they are seen by the provider of the price of the visit. She says it’s difficult when patients are agitated by prices. But she said she does her best to calm them and explain why services are priced as they are.

Alvarado agreed with one of her co-workers. “Being a smaller clinic we develop relationships with our patients,” she said, “and do what we can to help each patient with staying healthy while helping them afford treatment.”

Jordan Meadows provides healthcare at prices that are manageable for the majority of its patients who have good insurance. But the clinic is willing to work with those who are in positions of financial stress or have poor insurance.

While basic healthcare could be considered relatively expensive as compared to other necessities, the breakdown of expenses to your doctor’s office, especially those of smaller practices, add up to and contribute to the final price of the service provided.

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Beyond the water cycle: Life and environmental lessons from a former BLM director

Story and Photos By: JAKE PHILLIPS 

Patrick Shea’s beard was wet.

It was an oddly fitting picture of the former director of the Bureau of Land Management, who despite being out of government for 20 years, has water on his mind a lot these days. It was a rainy Thursday morning, and Shea, 70, was strolling to class.

Not on the University of Utah campus, where he’s been a research professor of biology and taught a class on urban streams for years, but at a local elementary school.

Every Thursday morning Shea teaches a class on water to fourth graders at Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City. He arrived to a roomful of damp students who had just returned from recess.

As their teacher, Hannah Dolata, instructed her students to find their seats, Shea dried off his bushy white beard. He asked them what they had learned the previous week. The students couldn’t wait to tell him about the written equation they’d learned that showed how much water they used when showering or teeth brushing.

One student proudly exclaimed that if he brushed his teeth with the water running for three minutes and showered for 10 minutes he would have had used 52 gallons of water in the process.

“I try to conserve water every day because my grandma complains about the water bill,” said Valentine, 9.

Shea then asked the students what they should do after wetting their toothbrushes.

“Turn off the water!” the students yelled in unison.

While most elementary school students learn about the water cycle, Dolata’s fourth-grade class at Rose Park Elementary School is getting a much more in-depth education about water and how it affects them. With Utah’s less-than-abundant water supplies and growing population, water conservation has become more important than ever.

Salt Lake is winning water conservation fight

Around 33 percent of Utah is considered to be true desert, meaning the state receives 5 to 8 inches of precipitation annually, according to Utah’s Comprehensive Weather Almanac. The heavily populated Wasatch Front receives around 15 inches of precipitation annually.

Along the Wasatch Front, Salt Lake City appears to be winning in its fight to conserve water. According to the 2014 Salt Lake City Water Conservation Master Plan, conservation has exceeded expectations and the overall trend is a reduction in water use in the area. Classroom programs like Shea’s are crucial in these efforts, the city’s Department of Public Utilities said.

Yet, with climate change and other environmental concerns an increasing reality to students both in childhood and their future adulthood, it’s especially important to teach children today about ways to address these issues, Dolata said.

While Salt Lake City has responded to calls to conserve water, planners expect the city will need to do more in the future. According to a University of Utah study conducted in 2017, the state population is expected to grow from 3.2 million to 3.9 million by the year 2030, an increase of about 22 percent.

If Salt Lake residents continue to use water at the same rate they did in 2000 Salt Lake City’s water usage is expected to increase by 23 percent by 2030, according to the Salt lake City Department of Public Utilities.

Shea asked the students about where the water they use every day comes from. He explained the majority of water in Utah comes from snow in the canyons. Then the children attempted to name some of the canyons near Salt Lake.

The class’ homework assignment was to look at the weather and to document whether it was an accurate report.

“The biggest problem for you growing up is figuring out what is true and is not true,” Shea said.

A different kind of ‘water bucket’ challenge

Shea wasn’t totally out of his element. It had been five years since he had last taught elementary students about proper water usage.

The daughter of a colleague, who Shea worked with on state water laws, was teaching fourth graders and challenged the research professor to speak to her class.

Hesitant at first, Shea said he’s come to enjoy the experience.

“The students are like sponges and want to learn more,” he wrote in an email.  

A few weeks later, the professor was back, this time leading a field trip to a water treatment plant up Big Cottonwood Canyon. With Shea was Jacob Maughan, treatment plant operator, who led a tour of the plant and explained how the facility purifies water to make it potable. From there, the energetic children then returned to their bus and traveled to City Creek Canyon.

At City Creek Canyon, a popular biking and hiking destination for Salt Lake residents, the students were met by John Wells, who manages the city’s watershed operations. With students trailing behind, Wells led the class on a walk up a winding, paved canyon road while explaining why it’s important to protect the watershed.

He told students that dogs are not allowed in the canyon to protect the water quality in the streams that the city depends on. As the students fidgeted and chatted, Dolata, their teacher, stressed the importance of showing students the real-life connection to the water cycle.

“In fourth-grade science they’re learning about Utah science and start to connect what they’re learning to the world,” she said. They “see themselves as scientists.”

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Hannah Dolata and her class overlook a water storage unit and the Salt Lake Valley.

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Dolata’s class walk across a concrete platform that serves as water storage at the Big Cottonwood Water Treatment Plant.

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Patrick Shea looks on as Jacob Maughan explains how snowmelt is cleaned and transformed to drinking water.

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Maughan telling the students what chemicals are added to unclean water to make it potable.

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Maughan advises students to be cautious in his lab, because there are dangerous chemicals present.

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Dolata and her class watch water spill over a weir used to control water flow and filter out solid matter.

Is Social Media Reality Ruining our Actual Reality?

Story By EMILIE NIELSEN 

As cellphones become central to modern living, cyberbullying has replaced spitballs and hallway taunting as the torture-du-jour for students and teenagers.

With social media sharing the “best version” of yourself some have taken it to an extreme and started using editing apps to change the shape or look of an image.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported a large rise in mental health issues, including anxiety, stemming from teenagers’ use of social media. This anxiety can be substantial enough to create everyday issues such as absence from school or the ability to complete basic tasks.

“I don’t feel comfortable going to school. I don’t feel as welcome or that I don’t have enough friends as the others,” Estelle Andreasen, 13, said.” Everyone I know has at least 500 followers. I don’t even have 100.”

Her anxiety was manageable until she got social media and now she skips school at least twice a week.

That anxiety is part of a larger issue of teenage insecurity and low self-esteem that some suggest is caused by Instagram and other social media.

Debbie Perry, a high school counselor who has been a high school counselor for 25 years, said one of the saddest parts of social media and smartphones she’s seen over the years is the risk that anyone and everyone can be bullied online.

“There has been such a large amount of people coming in over the last few years talking about the online bullying they have been receiving,” she said. “As a Counselor, we work on trying to make it a safe place at school with less use of phones to lower the ability of online bullying for our students.”

Another thing she said that she sees as a counselor is people bullying themselves because they aren’t thin enough or they didn’t go on fun spring or fall breaks like all their friends or classmates. There is also the fact that students go along with peer pressure more often due to social media.

This spurs anxiety in teenagers that they don’t have as exciting or interesting lives as their peers and they shouldn’t post to their social media accounts, even if they’re just sharing their “best face.”

Annie and Emma Black are 13-year-old twins in seventh grade. They just got their first phones for their birthday.

“I was so excited to have a phone,” said Annie. “I wanted so badly to be able to talk to my friends and be able to use Instagram!”

Their mom Amber Black is worried about Annie’s use of her phone. She and her husband feel as though they are constantly taking it away to get her to work on homework. Emma, however, won’t go on her phone until she is done with her homework.

“Annie is a little more troublesome, she wants to be on her phone all day and ignore her responsibilities,” said Amber.

“Emma, on the other hand, could care less about what is going on, on her phone. She rarely even gets on her phone when she is home and doesn’t want to ruin her grades due to her phone,” Amber added.

There are educational benefits of having access to cell phones in schools, including research and communicating with teachers and classmates.  But it can also be a huge distraction.

Multi-tasking while working on homework and looking at social media may distract teenagers, prolonging the time to complete assignments or not retaining the information they’re learning.

Deanne Kapetanov, principal at Mueller Park Jr. High in Bountiful, said multiple teachers take away phones from students every day. Students also sneak into the bathroom to respond to texts, look at Instagram or Snapchat their friends.

“It is hard to see the students be more focused on their phones walking to and from classes and spending their free time looking at social media or texting friends instead of actually spending time with each other,” Kapetanov said.

Developing social skills have also lagged in teenagers because they don’t spend time face to face. The teens and pre-teens are having a harder time making friends with others, Kapetanov said. This is creating a major risk factor for depression, suicide and other mental health issues – all issues that come along with social media.

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Alexis Lefavor

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Blog

I used to love Ichiban Sushi but in recent news I found out they were closed down by the health department. I noticed that they were popping up everywhere. I have noticed recently that sushi has been a trend. It can be really expensive! Ichiban Sushi has sushi that is advertised for half off. My story talks about how they opened back up. I want to make local sushi lovers aware of this restaurant. I also want to make people aware of the health department’s website. They are required to post all of the health inspections at established restaurants. I was not aware of this until I started doing my story.

I used Yelp and Facebook to find my sources. I read many reviews positive or negative. Many of the negative reviews matched some of the reasons that lead up to the closing of the restaurant.  I interviewed people who left these reviews and asked about their experiences. I also interviewed somebody from the health department to figure out how they run the inspection.

As I got more information from my sources, I felt I was really able to write my story. The information I received is what guided my story and made the focus. The hardest part of this was trying to find people to interview. I also reached out to the Sandy Ichiban for comment and didn’t receive anything from them. I was hoping to incorporate into my story how they were planning on making sure they were able to stay open and not face another closure. I think it’s really important for restaurants to ensure that their customers feel safe eating there, especially anything with raw meat.

About Me

My name is Alexis Lefavor. I am a junior at the University of Utah majoring in Communication. I hope to graduate by Summer 2019. My focus is strategic communication. I have always been interested in marketing, branding and public relations. I hope to find myself somewhere in one of these fields in the future.

Legalizing Medical Cannabis in Utah: Does the LDS Church Get to Decide

 

SALT LAKE CITY- The subject of religion influencing politics is a major discussion in Utah particularly concerning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ( LDS) influence in legislation regarding legalizing medical cannabis. The LDS (Mormon) church, last year, made a statement regarding legalizing medical marijuana saying “We urge a cautious approach to legislatures”. Some Utah voters question if religious views should even be involved on the floor, and if the church should be allowed such influence (verbally); especially when it comes to the well-being of the citizens of the state.

According to the most recent census numbers, sixty percent of Utah citizens are Mormon as are 80 percent of Utah legislators.  Medical marijuana (MM) supporters are concerned that LDS legislators are making their decisions based on personal religious views. While the LDS church has made their views regarding the use of cannabis very clear,  75% of Utah voters; still favor medical cannabis and are pushing to have the vote to legalize it on the 2018 ballot. Some argue that the Utah house should be pushing legalization more because the Utah public is expressing interest, and it should be the public choice rather than the senates with possible influence from the church.

“I strongly dispute the narrative regarding poll numbers,” Rep. Brad Daw (R) said when asked about public opinion regarding legalizing medical cannabis.  He discussed how under polls he conducted [not scientific] the question asked was “what level of cannabis legalization do you support” and more people, many of those who are LDS, are in favor of carefully supervised legalization rather than a full allowance of medical cannabis,. This past February, the house passed Daw’s bill (197) that requires the state to grow medical marijuana, and allow chronically ill patients to “try it. They also completely legalized cannabinoid with 10% THC for over the counter sales. “This can benefit the people who need it, and for those who need higher THC, the bill will allow research patients under careful supervision to be allowed access”

When asked if the Church had influenced decisions made by legislatures, Daw responded by saying “Removing religious opinions from politics would be hard to do…. the people on the board are elected by Utahan’s and their belief is their belief” stating that politicians would not be elected into office if the public had an issue with their decisions and personal beliefs. While the church is not opposed to limited and monitored medical use, they do make statements that the church would prefer that there be no use of cannabis; thus possibly affecting the opinion of those in Utah Senate.  Daw explained, that we don’t want to “stifle the voice of public opinion” and the LDS church has the right to freedom of speech and to represent voters just as any other organization or citizen.

Voter Ann Cook, a non-Mormon who has lived in the state for more than 45 years, sees the idea of religion and its influence on the state differently. “The LDS church really does have control, if they just came out in favor of this, the bills would pass,” she said regarding the issue. Cook is in favor of citizens of Utah voting on this rather than the legislature, believing that the church’s opinion would primarily be removed if done in this manner. “ I myself suffer from chronic arthritic pain and had to retire because of it. I’m limited in what I can do and I deserve the right to legally try out cannabis to alleviate my pain.” Cook also added that she could make the effort to get products in states which have legalized them, but she does not feel comfortable obtaining such until they are legalized here in Utah.

“We regard cannabis medicine as a medical, scientific, and sociological matter,” According to TRUCE (Together For Responsible Use and Cannabis Education)  reps said in regard to the influence the church has had on Utah’s position on legalization. “Our LDS TRUCE members are generally of the opinion that medical cannabis use is not a doctrinal issue, and LDS patients in medically legal states are considered members in full good standing… as are members anywhere taking prescribed opioid medications.” TRUCE has been pushing for the decision to be put on the 2018 ballot, rather than putting it the hands of the legislature. This is in belief that voters will support full access to medical marijuana, and will keep religious affiliations away from the decision. TRUCE advocates that the church does not need to be “speaking with representatives” as it grants too much power of the state to the church. They are not advocating for recreational use, and that they simply wish that patients with chronic illnesses have the option to use cannabis to assist with their treatments.

The issue regarding church and state in Utah is easily a debatable subject. While some believe the LDS church has too much influence or control over Utah politics, others see the affiliation only as freedom of speech. With terminally ill patients begging to allow for the public to vote on the subject the legislature is moving slowly towards the idea, and many are concerned if the LDS church’s views regarding cannabis, could be conflicting with progression towards legalizing it for medical purposes.

University of Utah fraternity partners with Rape Recovery Center

Story and slideshow by MADDY HOWARD

Don’t walk to your car alone. Don’t go on a run without pepper spray. Don’t make eye contact too long. Don’t dress like you’re asking for it.

All of these are “rules” young people have been told in hope of avoiding sexual assault.

Sexual assault is an epidemic that has affected campuses nationwide. Universities such as Stanford, Brown and Baylor all have an extensive history of sexual assault on campus. Many people do not believe universities are doing enough to keep students safe.

Well, what if someone told you a fraternity was speaking out against sexual assault?

At the University of Utah, Beta Theta Pi is dedicated to making a change. Beta is a fraternity which brands itself as men of principle.

These men excel in academics with an overall average GPA of 3.4. Additionally, they have the highest GPA out of any organization, club, or team at the University of Utah, according to the office of the Dean of Students. “These men hold themselves to the highest standard possible which makes them one of the most respected fraternities on campus,” said Josie Karren, a U student and Delta Gamma member.

Beta is partnered with the Rape Recovery Center in hopes of changing sexual assault not only at the U, but across the nation.

The Rape Recovery Center is a nonprofit organization in Salt Lake City. Services include support, testing and providing hope for victims from every walk of life. RRC helps people understand they are not alone, and understand that their attack does not define them.

Beta has been working with RRC for almost five years. Stereotypes tell the world fraternity men are part of the problem and are nothing but partiers. In 2014, the U’s chapter of Beta Theta Pi was featured on the Dr. Phil show. Phil McGraw’s wife, Robin McGraw, was in awe of what these men are trying to accomplish.

Philanthropy Week is full of fundraising for the RRC and happens every fall and spring. For Beta members, it’s a time to raise money for victims. Taking place from Feb. 26-March 3, spring 2018 Philanthropy Week was a huge success, according to Noah Carr. He is the current vice president of internal programming. His duties include planning events throughout the week. Many of these events take place at the recently renovated $2.3 million chapter house.

Beta planned fun events that brought all of Greek row, and even some non-Greeks out to support. From designing hoodies to creating pop sockets as a unique way to raise money, Carr was dedicated to finding ways to raise money.

“Handling the Philanthropy Week for Beta was an unbelievable and humbling experience. Working so close with the RRC and proactively doing things for the community is what makes all the work worth it. We raised $14,000 for this great organization in less than six days and it’s an awesome feeling to know you’re making a difference,” Carr said.

In addition to raising funds for RRC, many of the fraternity members spend time volunteering. Many of these men help however they can at the RRC in their free time.

Volunteering requires 40 hours of extensive training. Many Betas are hotline counselors. This means they act as an over-the-phone counselor to victims. These volunteers have saved lives by talking to victims.

“I started picking up shifts every week. I like the idea that I am there if someone needs me,” Ravi Sharma said in a recent recruitment video. Sharma has been a member of Beta for two years and is passionate about the partnership with the RRC.

On campus, Beta started organizing sexual assault forums once every semester. These are open discussions about sexual assault that are open to anybody. The forums are designed to be a relaxed environment to talk about intense subjects.

Members of Beta Theta Pi believe men need to do more to stand up against sexual violence. During an interview, there was a clear theme. They want victims to know they are not alone. These men want to speak out on an issue that has been swept under the rug for far too long.

Anthony Panuzio, 20, the current president of Beta, said the partnership with RRC is a main reason why he even chose Beta in the first place.

“I am honored to represent a group of men that are dedicated to change. Sexual violence is something many people just don’t want to talk about. Talking about it is the only way we are going to make a difference. It makes me proud that Beta’s aren’t afraid to be the ones who speak out,” Panuzio said.

In America, someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. One in three women and one in five men will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, according to RAINN.

It is time for serious change.

Everyone knows someone who has been affected by sexual assault. In a recent video Beta Theta Pi released, John Moffitt, vice president of recruitment for Beta at the U, says, “The slogan we came up with is: to the brave survivors of sexual assault we believe you.”

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Their brothers’ keeper — Utah charity targets refugee men

Story and slideshow by PETER JOHNSTON

Leul Mengistu hits the gas pedal of his company van. The light has turned green and he is late for an appointment with Julia, a female refugee from South Sudan. A banner with a blue, yellow and red logo that reads, “Catholic Community Services,” has been slapped onto the van’s side.  

Though Mengistu helps female refugees like Julia at Catholic Community Services (CCS) he has a new focus demographic: refugee men.

“I don’t want them to fall between the cracks,” he says, one hand on the steering wheel. There are programs for women and children and youth, but men are often forgotten in refugee assistance efforts.

The International Rescue Committee reports that “refugee men, a category not prioritized by the humanitarian system for support, are often not able to access support that they need and, even more often, feel themselves to be excluded from it.”

According to CARE International, a relief organization that primarily targets women, “among humanitarian actors, donors and government agencies, there is a common perception that men are best able to look after themselves and negotiate the complexities of displacement unaided.”

The report says this perception leads to less attention for the problems of male refugees.

Mengistu acknowledges that women and children are often the most disadvantaged groups fleeing conflict in their home countries. However, he also says he deals with many refugee men who have not received needed support from other organizations because of the common belief that men are “best able to look after themselves.”

Mengistu has responded to widespread ignorance toward male refugees with the Men’s Wellness Support Group — a program that will bring together 10 to 15 refugee men for weekly classes. Each “cohort” of men will learn about topics ranging from building a budget to coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Weekly instruction will be led by men: Mengistu, a couple of class facilitators, and guest speakers specially tapped because of their area of expertise. David Harris is one such guest speaker. He is slated to teach the class on physical health and comes from a background of pediatrics and insurance management.

Harris says he sees cultural adjustment as the greatest priority of the Men’s Wellness Support Group. “They [the refugee men] need to protect their own culture,” he says, but they also “need to understand how stuff works [in the U.S.] so that they can get along.”

Mengistu once directed a support group for women that focused primarily on health. However, he too says the new support group’s objectives go beyond just physical wellness. “I want them [the refugee men] to be very competitive,” he says. “Everybody’s smart, but now it’s camouflaged!”

That intellectual camouflage refers to the invalidation of refugees’ prior work experience and professional talent in the United States.

Mengistu’s boss, Aden Batar, is the director of Immigration and Refugee Resettlement at CCS. He explains the “camouflage” problem from his own perspective.

Batar left Somalia with his family in the mid 1990s with a law degree from his home country. He says that degree and legal experience went unrecognized in the U.S.

“Can you imagine how frustrating that would be?” Batar asks. Today, he says, refugees can more easily get college degrees that match the ones they earned previously because NGOs and governmental agencies provide financial help. However, “back then [he] was lost in the middle because [he] didn’t have those systems.”

Even with revamped nonprofit and governmental aid, Batar says the Men’s Wellness Support Group “fills a gap.”

Eighty percent of CCS cases are women and children, Batar says. Men aren’t seen later unless they have a demonstrated problem.

Despite widespread apathy on the issue, Utah’s history with refugees makes it an appropriate birthplace for the program. In 2015, when 30 governors called for the cessation of Syrian refugee resettlement, Gov. Gary R. Herbert announced Utah’s continued commitment to assist refugees.

Batar also highlights the strong public-private relationship among CCS and local religious organizations as a positive sign of Utah’s tolerance of refugees. “The most welcoming state in the U.S. is Utah,” he says.

While the Men’s Wellness Support Group has public backing, it faces significant challenges.

For one, cultural conflicts between refugees’ old way of life and their new one in America could foster misunderstanding and resentment. David Harris, the guest speaker who will handle the physical health section, underlines that the program’s facilitators and guest speakers may not understand all cultural nuances of refugees’ backgrounds. “We may say something that we feel strongly about or think is obvious when they disagree or don’t think it’s obvious,” Harris says.

The key, he says, will be for facilitators to “listen really closely to what [the refugees] have to say and what their concerns are rather than being very dogmatic.”

Participating refugees will come from more than three countries. Mengistu has recruited men from Burma, Somalia and Democratic Republic of the Congo for the support group so far. His proposed solution to bridge cultural divides is to recruit participants who speak one of only two languages — Karen (a language spoken in Burma) and Swahili.

Logistics also pose a problem. Mengistu will need to resolve the scheduling conflicts of refugee men who work night and day shifts and CCS interpreters who work business hours. The program director says he and the guest speakers will adapt to the schedules of the refugees.

Regardless of the program’s potential problems, Mengistu envisions far-reaching implications for the Salt Lake City community. He says refugee men will integrate with the larger community, enjoy more family unity and become more self-sufficient fathers.

The first of the weekly classes launched April 5 with a cohort of seven participants — two from Burma, five from East Africa. If all goes well, these seven men will walk away from the CCS classroom on May 24 with the skills to start a career and find daily joy. A tall order — but like Mengistu says, “I don’t want them to fall through the cracks.”

 

 

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Concealed carry on college campuses

Story by Alyssa Gum

SALT LAKE CITY— There have been laws banning carrying concealed handguns since before the Civil War. From 1920-1930, many states adopted the Uniform Firearms Act, which said that citizens could not carry a concealed firearm without a permit. After World War II, states began to issue concealed carry permits to anyone who applied for one and who didn’t have attributes that disqualified them.  In 2004, Utah became the first state where all public universities were required to allow students with permits to carry concealed weapons on campus. With recent news of shootings and gun violence, the debate over guns has been, once again, at the forefront of political debate. Moreover, the increasing number of schools that allow campus carry has added to the list of issues being debated between gun control and gun rights advocates.

According to a recent John Hopkins University study, data cited from the National Crime Victimization Survey shows that there are approximately 102,000 self-reported instances of self-defensive gun use per year, making this a rare occurrence. In this report the authors argue that to effectively stop an active shooter, there are a lot of skills and experience required. “Shooting accurately and making appropriate judgments about when and how to shoot in chaotic, high-stress situations requires a high level of familiarity with tactics and the ability to manage stress under intense pressure,” the study asserts. The authors support this claim by citing statistics of shooting inaccuracy by police officers who are thoroughly trained. “There is no reason to believe that college students, faculty and civilian staff will shoot accurately in active shooter situations when they have only passed minimal training requirements for a permit to carry.”

Julie Gazran, a representative from Students for Gun Free Schools, agrees that students don’t need guns on campus to defend themselves. College campuses are some of the safest places in the United States and with armed law enforcement officers trained to protect students and prevent potential violent incidents, says Gazran. Indeed, most students at the University of Utah appear to agree with Gazran. In a poll taken of 62 University of Utah undergraduate students, only 32 percent of students said that they felt campus was safer because of its concealed carry policy.

“Utah law prohibits weapons on school property, including college campuses, except for firearms that are in the possession of a concealed weapons permit holder. Other narrow exceptions apply, such as guns carried by law enforcement officials,” wrote Michael Young, former president of The University of Utah, in an e-mail to students and staff. In Utah, to obtain a concealed carry permit you must be 21 years of age (you can also get a provisional permit at age 18), fill out an application, send in a valid fingerprint card, send in a passport quality photo, complete a firearms course, and pass a background check. There are many different offenses and conditions that can disqualify someone from being able to obtain a concealed carry permit.

Still, the issue may not be so simple.

Todd Hicken, the Rocky Mountain Regional Director for Students for Concealed Carry, is a strong proponent for allowing students with legal permits to carry concealed firearms on campus. “The only people who legally can bring them onto campus are police officers and concealed carry permit holders,” says Hicken.

Many who disagree with campus carry argue that campus police officers have the ability to protect students because they are trained to do so and have the ability to use their firearms correctly. Because of this, students do not need to have weapons on campus. In contrast to this narrative, police officers only receive an average of 12-14 weeks of training, and the majority of that is not for firearms. Most people who obtain a concealed carry permit (6.5% of the adult population) take the time to practice shooting and keep up with their techniques, says Hicken.

Spencer Eiting, a sophomore student at the University of Utah and provisional concealed carry permit holder, regularly practices shooting at the gun range. He has been shooting since he was young and he visits the range every few weeks. “I feel comfortable with my aim, especially at the range where I’d have to use my weapon if I needed to,” says Eiting. He feels safer with a gun on campus. Campuses are typically regarded as safe areas, but this may not be the case. A study by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, which compared the school years from 2001-2006 with those from 2011-2016, found that shootings on college campuses in this time period had increased by 153%.

In 2016 at the University of Utah, there were 8 cases of rape, 9 cases of aggravated assault, and 11 instances of domestic violence. Whether the solution to these problems is decreasing the amount of people wielding guns or allowing more people to defend themselves is unclear, but this will surely continue to be a dividing issue for years to come.

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Stop the silence, end the violence: a spotlight on the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition

Story and gallery by RACHEL BEUS

Domestic violence is an extensive problem in the U.S., but most people may not know that the problem is even more prevalent here in Utah. In the U.S., 1 in 4 women will become a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime, while 1 in 3 women in Utah will become a victim of domestic violence. This statistic helps expose how serious of a problem this is in Utah.

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition is an organization that raises money and allocates those funds to various shelters and organizations all across Utah to provide goods and resources to victims of domestic violence. The UDVC has a motto that summarizes what it does: advocate, collaborate and educate.

Christopher Davies, the current associate director of UDVC, has been involved with the organization for approximately two and a half years. Davies decided to join UDVC because he has a 15 -year-old daughter and he worried about the culture that surrounds women and how dangerous domestic violence is. “I wanted to help women, however I could,” Davies said.

With his background in business, most of his duties and responsibilities as the associate director pertain to logistics that keep UDVC running properly. Davies said, “I do things like grant management, administration support, work with the board of directors, make sure we are stable and have permits.” He likes to refer to the UDVC team as the “watchdogs” when it comes to domestic violence.

Samantha Candland is the volunteer coordinator at the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. She has been involved with UDVC for almost two years. Her primary responsibility is to manage the LINKLine, which is a 24/7 anonymous and confidential crisis hotline where volunteers answer calls to help anyone experiencing domestic violence. All volunteers participate in an extensive 32-hour training before they take any calls because they are dealing with dangerous and highly sensitive situations. Volunteers help callers with everything from information, safety planning, advocacy and referrals to services.

Candland said UDVC is an “umbrella organization” that works to provide information to the community and provide referrals to services that any victims may need. Candland said there are three levels that organizations and services fall into the micro level, mezzo, level and macro level. The UDVC falls under the macro category because it works at the state level.

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition doesn’t make all of these important strides all by itself. One of its biggest tactics toward fighting domestic violence is collaboration. The UDVC works with a variety of different organizations to help support and aid survivors of domestic violence and abuse. UDVC collaborates with a variety of other organizations including Soroptimist Women’s Organization, Allstate Insurance and Alpha Chi Omega women’s fraternity. Davies said Alpha Chi Omega Beta Nu chapter is one of the UDVC’s biggest private supporters and collaborators.

Mackenzie Turner is the current vice president of philanthropy for Alpha Chi Omega. She works very closely with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and acts as a liaison between AXO and UDVC. With her position, Turner is in charge of organizing and running Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy events that raise money to help fund UDVC. “We put on events like our walk-a-mile in their shoes and doughnut let love hurt campaign events,” Turner said. She mentioned the Purple Ribbon Benefit AXO put on in the spring of 2017 that raised over $13,000 for the UDVC.

Turner said she and Alpha Chi Omega love working with UDVC and Candland, Davies and the whole UDVC team because they are hardworking and kind. She said that all of the women of Alpha Chi Omega are very passionate about the awareness and prevention of domestic violence and are glad that UDVC is just as enthusiastic as they are about what they believe to be a very important and crucial cause.

Davies said the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition’s mission is “to make domestic violence in Utah intolerable.” If we do not make it clear that domestic violence is not only illegal but also unacceptable and educate our community and really the whole world, then it becomes an obstacle that we cannot conquer. The UDVC knows that this problem with domestic violence will not go away overnight and that as far as it has come, there is still farther to go. But, by continuing education on this topic and spreading awareness, it will continue its goal of preventing future cases of domestic violence and abuse.

If you would like to volunteer to help UDVC, you may complete an online volunteer application.

 

 

Opioid addiction in Utah: Can the battle be won?

Story and slideshow by RYKER JACKSON

Bradley Hieb had been using drugs since high school. After becoming addicted to opioids, his marriage fell  apart and his children were taken from him twice. The first time was for a month, the second time for seven months. His addiction to opioids escalated. The third time he was found using opioids, his children were taken from him and nearly put up for adoption. That was when he went to detoxification.

Don C. was nearly sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. Don, a young, successful businessman from the Bay Area, had been involved in illegal practices to satisfy his desires for opioids. This landed him in jail a few times, where he would continually ask for opioids, his drug of choice, even from behind bars. This addiction became so all-consuming  that he thought about jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge on more than one occasion. He was given one more chance by a parole officer.

It is no longer a secret that the nation is facing an epidemic: opioid addiction. Utah is among the states hardest hit. The opioid crisis cost the United States $504 billion in 2015.  On Oct. 26, 2017, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency: “Ending the epidemic will require mobilization of government, local communities, and private organizations. It will require the resolve of our entire country.”

Utah has the seventh highest drug poisoning death rate in the nation, according  to the Utah Department of Health. Utah is also home to a wide array of treatment centers. Cory Markisich, executive director of Wasatch Recovery Treatment Center in Cottonwood Heights, said Utah has some of the best addiction treatment facilities in the country. So, what is the best treatment? What works? Markisich said that group therapy is the best solution.

Group therapy capitalizes on peer support from others who are facing similar trials all while being guided by a professional counselor. The support felt by those who are going through the same situations and struggles is the largest benefit of the program. “The problem is usually something else. They are trying to cover something up,” Markisich said. Group therapy helps counselors and patients both to understand what that personal trial is, and how it can be solved without the use of opioids.

Markisich, who studied finance and social work at the University of Utah, has been with Wasatch Recovery for five years. He is aware of some of the unique struggles faced in the Beehive state.

“In Utah, we have a weird dynamic where we have strong LDS culture and there’s a lot of guilt and a lot of shame, more so than you get in other areas,” Markisich said. “Most of the people that I’m treating, they’re not coming in for alcohol and cocaine. What’s happened is they were given a prescription, and it’s not against the Word of Wisdom to take their prescription, but they are completely abusing that prescription,” he said. The Word of Wisdom  is the health code of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which prohibits illegal and harmful substances.

“They’re great people, what’s happened is they’ve just spiraled out of control,” he said. Markisich said that often the substances are abused to treat depression or anxiety. Patients may be taking opioids for their back, only to soon realize that it helps treat their depression. This leads to dependency and addiction.

Markisich and his colleagues do not tell their patients that using drugs is bad. What he tries to do, and what it is massively more successful, is getting to the root of their addiction, whether that be depression, anxiety, or something else entirely.

He said that sometimes people have a hard time understanding recovery. Often, he needs to tell his patient’s husband, wife, or parents that recovery is not like taking a car in to get repaired. Solving an addiction is not like getting an oil change. It requires time and consistent effort to avoid relapse.

Markisich said the addictions affect people mentally and emotionally. They suppress painful memories for people, and provide temporary respite from daily stresses. It is in the resolution of those painful memories and daily stresses that the addiction is more fully overcome, and not only in the physical time one refrains from the substance abuse.

Treatment begins with detoxification, then often moves into a full-time residential program at a recovery center. Such was the case with Hieb. He was in Odyssey House’s residential program for 23 months. Then the patients can move down to part-time treatment, which is usually five hours a day for five days a week. This leads to the patients becoming more independent and attending  meetings such as group therapy sessions. This allows for their environment to slowly get larger until they can handle daily life again.

Hieb said it is critical for patients to detox completely from opiates in a structured environment as quickly as possible. Hieb said recovery is a process, and is most effective when patients move from multiple services to fewer over time, like he did.

Markisich agrees, saying there is no cookie-cutter solution to the problem for every patient.

Hieb’s life has changed a great deal since his initial detox. “If I didn’t burn my last bridge, I don’t know if I would have ever made it,” he said. He was able to retain custody of his children and is now the program director at New Roads Behavioral Health in Cottonwood Heights. “The reason I am a director is because of my passion for the therapeutic community.”

Don C., who asked to remain anonymous because not all of his family knows about his past, has had a similarly remarkable recovery. He came to Wasatch Recovery as a client in November 2016. He now works in detoxification and said he gets to see people at their worst. He said he knows how to help them because he has been in the same situation himself.

Wasatch Recovery’s motto is fitting for anyone seeking treatment options: Instill hope, teach resilience, and achieve recovery.

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Operation Rio Grande may not be prepared, or be the answer, for homeless addicts

Story and Photos by HOLLY VASIC

SALT LAKE CITY – Operation Rio Grande is ready to begin helping homeless addicts as part of its “Phase 2.” Law enforcement agencies are well into the first phase of pursuing active criminals from the area. As part of Phase 2, certain treatment centers have received funding to expand, but clinicians in the addiction field say this is not the answer and infrastructure does not exist to support the client load.

Sit in on any Salt Lake Area 12-step meeting and sooner or later references to “The Block” will be heard. The Block is the nickname for the area between 200 S. and 400 S. on Rio Grande St. in Salt Lake City’s downtown, where illegal substances pass fluidly from dealers to users. Operation Rio Grande is currently attempting to eradicate the drug trade from The Block and the questionable activities that seem to come with it.

Rio Grande

The Rio Grande street sign on a grey Sunday, November 26, 2017, in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City District 6 Vice Chair, Charlie Luke, explained that the city, county, and state of Utah are working together on the operation, SLC is largely responsible for the “on the ground” efforts. “We can fund law enforcement, we can fund cleanup down there, we can do a lot with the zoning. That’s within our jurisdiction,” Luke said. “The county is the one who started moving money into treatment and things.” Law enforcement is arresting people who have felonies and those who sell illegal drugs, “we are not trying to arrest homeless, we are not trying to arrest addicts, we’re trying to arrest those who are preying on the homeless and the addicts,” Luke said. Cleaning up the block contributes to Phase 2’s goal of getting people help, however Phase 1 won’t officially end until June 19, 2019 according to the Operation Rio Grande website.

Odyssey House is one of the treatment facilities receiving funds from the county. It has multiple locations with inpatient and outpatient options. Odyssey House also offers “sober living” – transitional housing to help clients get back on their feet. Director of Operations at 7th Street Treatment Center and former support staff at Odyssey House, Melissa Welsh, has experienced Phase 2 first hand when people from Rio Grande first started coming in to Odyssey House. “We didn’t have enough employees to even keep up with everybody” Welsh said.

Odyssey House office building

Odyssey House office building on Sunday, November 26, 2017 in Salt Lake City.

Mary Jo McMillen, Executive Director of Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness, has expressed similar concerns. “The homeless shelters are still experiencing drug use and intoxication.  The complaints I have heard are that there is not enough support staff for help with the complexities that people are dealing with.” McMillen said Operation Rio Grande was not prepared for the second phase.

Addiction has many dynamics and dimensions, Welsh said people who aren’t in treatment by their own choice are known as “compliance-based.” “They’re just trying not to go to jail,” she said. These clients are different than those in treatment by choice. “They go in there and they just bring the street into treatment, they bring the hustle into treatment, not necessarily the drug hustle but their hustle,” she said. Emily Abeyta, a Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Degree student who is currently working on her practicum hours at Youth Care  – an adolescent inpatient treatment center – agreed with Welsh’s description. “I think that taking people off the street and dumping them in rehab is only going to be effective if that’s what they want for themselves,” Abeyta said. “The point is that you take them to treatment when they’re ready for treatment.” She knows this from being in recovery herself – with just over two years sober – and from her work and education. Since joining Youth Care she has experienced these situations repeatedly, parent’s put their kids in rehab but the child does not want to be there.

Yet, there are anomalies. A low percentage of compliance-based clients do succeed. “Some people, they don’t even know that there was help, and it’s like wow, there’s help, and then they rock it,” Welsh said. Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Lindsey MacFarlane, has also experienced this, she now works at a private practice but spent years at Wasatch outpatient. “I wish I knew what it was. If we figured it out, it would be like okay we solved addiction,” McFarlane said. McFarlane doesn’t know if what is happening downtown is the answer though she remains hopeful, “I think that there’s maybe people who will have the change that needs to occur and that they’ll get the opportunity to get help,” she said.

It is too early to tell if Operation Rio Grande’s Phase 2 will be a success or if addicts from The Block will receive and accept the help they so desperately need. Regardless, implementation of this phase was not as well thought out as addiction advocates would have liked. “There is not one size, or model, or approach, or intervention that fits for all individuals,” McMillen said. The importance of individualizing addition treatment may be something that Operation Rio Grande is only now discovering.

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Stigma Against College Students With Mental Illness

Story by Shaelyn Barber

Diagnosed mental illness is on the rise, particularly for college students, according to the American Psychiatric Association. BestColleges.com says that 25 percent of college students have a diagnosable mental illness. This means that one in four students have a mental illness that has been previously diagnosed or would be possible to diagnose if they chose to seek professional help.

PsychCentral says that some of the more common mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar, addiction, ADHD, and eating disorders. Each disease varies in severity and different people can be affected in very different ways. Cases where multiple disorders are present add to the complexity of the illnesses.

Mental illness is often overlooked because it is less visible than a physical disorder. It is impossible to tell if someone has a mental illness just by looking at them. Furthermore, there is a negative stigma surrounding mental illness. Because of these factors, many people do not seek professional help even if they are exhibiting symptoms.

As the conversation surrounding mental illness grows, students are becoming more aware of the many different aspects of mental illness. A lot of students feel that mental illness is an epidemic that isn’t taken very seriously.

“I have many friends and some family who suffer from a variety of mental issues,” Briana McLaren, a student at the University of Utah, said. “I know that mental illness is a serious issue that is not taken as seriously as it should within society.”

McLaren is diagnosed with Asperger’s, clinical depression, anxiety, and excoriation disorder (which is a disorder where one compulsively picks their skin). “When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s it seemed to answer a lot of questions I didn’t even know I had,” McLaren commented. After her diagnosis she was able to make connections between Asperger’s and her symptoms, such as difficulty with eye contact and social skills.

Mental illnesses and its symptoms can make everyday tasks very difficult at times. Madison Adams-Young is a student at the U who has OCD, body dysmorphia, and depression.  She described the paradox of living with both OCD and depression. “OCD is like an alarm blaring in my mind of all of the things I need to be doing, both real things such as homework and cleaning and ritualized things like hand washing and checking the locks,” she said. “The depression is the opposite in that it makes it so difficult to get everything done.” Lately it has been hard for her to complete schoolwork. “I usually do very well in school, but as of late it has been hard,” Adams-Young commented. “I don’t feel comfortable telling people, especially professors, as it makes me feel like I’m making excuses. I lie about being sick or having an appointment in order to cover up for a missed class or a late assignment.” Many students have similar experiences, especially when professors downplay mental illness and the impact it can have on a person’s life.

Jake Hanson is a student at the U who is diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with a mild form of psychosis. He started experiencing symptoms when he was sixteen. “I had unexplainable amounts of energy, never sleeping, and doing really risky stuff like running away for 5 days, stealing neighbor’s dogs, jumping out of my bedroom window thinking I could fly,” Hanson said. “Then after a few weeks of all this energy would come my down swing, staying in bed all day long for a whole week maybe two. I’d be so depressed for no reason, not wanting to talk or listen to my parents or good friends, no motivation to do anything.” Hanson recounted that people sometimes treat him differently after learning that he has Bipolar 1. “I don’t really care what people think about it, but I feel it’s safer not to share that part of me.  People act like themselves around me if they don’t know I’m bipolar, which is what I want, so I tend not to tell people.”

Atticus Edwards goes to the U and spoke to me about his experiences with Purely Obsessive OCD and anxiety. He commented that the stigma surrounding OCD is very different from that of mental illnesses with more visibly symptoms, like anxiety attacks. “OCD is kind of joked about a lot,” Edwards said.

Most of the students that I spoke to felt that there was a negative stigma surrounding mental illness and those who have mental illnesses. “I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is a stigma against those who have mental illnesses,” Adams-Young said.

Mental illness can be treated with disdain, disbelief, or even fear. Many do not understand it, and this misunderstanding makes it difficult for people who do not live with mental illness to imagine what it is like to have one. While the family and friends of Adams-Young do not treat her differently, she said “those who don’t experience the same things don’t really understand.”

Some do not believe that mental illnesses are ‘real’ and only exist in a person’s head. “I hear of people talking about mental illness as an “excuse” to slack off or to sleep or stay home,” Adams-Young said.

Hanson said, “people will associate any mental illness with ‘being crazy,’ which is a negative stigma in itself.”

Kris Glad has Bipolar 2, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety. Glad does believe that there is a negative stigma around mental illness, but has a unique way of combating it. “I make a lot of self deprecating jokes about being crazy and unable to function that people are never quite sure if they’re supposed to laugh or not. This might be a little counter-intuitive, but it kind of gives me some measure of control over how people view me, or at least in the sense that I have control over how they find out and when they form opinions of it,” Glad said.

Susan Chamberlain is a licensed psychologist and outreach coordinator for the University of Utah’s Counseling Center. She is hopeful that the thoughts and stigma surrounding mental illness are changing. She commented that in the baby boomer generation, going to a therapist was seen only as something for crazy people. “The stigma is kind of on the flip side as far as what I see, which is my problems aren’t bad enough for me to see a therapist, and so people will wait and wait and wait until they reach a crisis point,” Chamberlain says. She encourages people to speak out about their mental illnesses, as well as to seek help if they are experiencing symptoms or difficulties.

The Counseling Center at the U offers group, individual, and couples therapy sessions. Students can have up to twelve sessions in a calendar year, and each session is only 12 dollars. For more information, visit http://counselingcenter.utah.edu/

“Shakeout” Attempts to Prepare Utahns for the Worst

by Mark LeBaron

SALT LAKE CITY- “The Great Utah ShakeOut” was not an ice cream eating festival. It wasn’t the latest dance craze either. It was a statewide earthquake drill that was held on April 17.

Many people participated throughout the state at exactly 10:15 am at schools, work and home by dropping under the nearest table or desk and holding on for one minute. Others evacuated their building following the drill.

Bradley Hunsaker, an atmospheric science major at the University of Utah participated, but didn’t think it was worth the effort to have the drill.

“I didn’t really see much point to the drill. It seemed like it was just to set a record for people participating.” Said Hunsaker.

Some students were aware of the test, but didn’t participate.

“Our class was scheduled to take a test. We had been told to ignore any firefighters and just take the test. The rest of the department left, so we were alone in our little room,” said Joe Bolke, a material science and engineering major at the University of Utah. “Nobody got under the desk, or went to rendezvous.”

Joe had been receiving the emails leading up to the drill, however, and felt prepared in case a real earthquake occurred.

Jared Evans, who works in downtown Salt Lake, didn’t participate in the drill either, but only because his work didn’t push to do it.

“I didn’t even know about it until right before it took place. I saw it on KSL and that is when I found out it was happening.” Said Jared. “The building we work in is really old, so it would actually be beneficial to have a fire and earthquake drill to make sure we make it out ok.”

Most of Utah’s residents live along the Wasatch Fault, which runs from the bottom to the top of Utah. According to the Utah Geological Survey, an earthquake generated from the fault is 50 to 100 years overdue. They estimate that the fault shifts every 350-400 years, and the last earthquake was 500 years ago.

According to the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, if a magnitude 7.5 earthquake occurred, approximately 7,600 people would die and $18 billion would be lost to physical damage and loss of jobs and economic activity.

Preparation for an earthquake is key to surviving potentially devastating damage. Water, food and gas may be unavailable, as well as cell phones, Internet and electricity.

Be Ready Utah, the State’s emergency preparedness campaign, urges all households to have non-perishable food storage of at least three days per person, in case of emergency. Other things to prepare are implementing an evacuation plan and having an emergency kit. Information for these and other useful tips can be found at http://beready.utah.gov/beready/index.html.

The ShakeOut has been held at other places around the United States and the World, like California, British Columbia, Canada and Tokyo, Japan. The next shakeout is set to occur on September 26th of this year, in New Zealand. To find out more information on the shakeouts, visit http://www.shakeout.org.

Scientists Warn Northern Europe Could Become Uninhabitable In The Next Hundred Years

By: Bradley Hunsaker

This last winter brought record low temperatures and early freezes in much of northern Europe killing close to 80 people.  Even more people had to be evacuated, mostly airlifted, from their homes due to record snowfalls and temperatures falling below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, making the area unlivable.

Scientists have documented temperatures as the lowest in over 100 years and most are saying this is not the last of the brutal winters for that region.

“No, this is only the start,” said Jay Mace, a climate change professor at the University of Utah. “Unfortunately this pattern is what scientists have been predicting would happen for some time now and it is only going to get worse.”

The temperature shifts are occurring because of a change in the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation or AMOC, responsible for bringing warm air to parts of northern Europe that on the other side of the hemisphere are seen as uninhabitable.  The AMOC is a global current that is driven by the heat and water vapor exchanged to cold dry air masses from North America.  Cold, salty water tends to be denser than regular water, causing it to sink in the ocean.  The coldest and saltiest waters are formed in the North Atlantic where the current gets most of its drive.

The problem we are seeing, explains Jay, is that the glacier ice melting in the ocean from Greenland and the arctic is bringing in too much fresh water to the current, causing the flow that thrives on salt water to slowly shut down.  When the current shuts down, warm air can no longer be circulated to places like northern Europe.

If the current does shut down, most of northern Europe from Bulgaria to Denmark and especially places in the north like Russia and Sweden will become frozen over and too cold for any civilization to thrive.

Last time the world saw an event like this was when Lake Agassiz which used to be located in North America drained into the Atlantic dumping fresh water into the ocean.  This event shut down the current for two millennia causing a return to ice in the northern hemisphere causing most of what we see today in places like the Yukon in northern Canada.

Even though scientists have been studying events like this very little is known about the current and how to help it.  Most people are unaware of what is actually causing these global freezes and not much is being done to help it.

“I don’t know what is causing these hot and cold temperatures around the world,” said Liz Griggs, master’s student studying piano performance at the U. “I can say it is all about global warming but then I would just be saying what I have heard from the news.  I can’t really say one way or another what is causing this and how to help.”

Even those studying climate change and weather have very little knowledge exactly how the current works.

“It is concerning to have a natural event that we have no control over and we have very little understanding on what impact we really have on it and what we can do about it,” said Scott Elkins, who is pursuing an atmospheric science minor at the U.   “It is sad that we have to be aware of this event yet have little understanding what to do about it.”

Despite the lack of understanding of the current from the general public, Climatologists have been working hard to understand it and try and see what can be done to reverse the change before it becomes too late.

“Oh, there is no doubt about it,” said Jay, “If trends continue how they are and glacier waters keeps flowing into the AMOC, the current will shut down in a few hundred years and we will see an end to life in a lot of places until it can get started again.  And by the time that happens the world will have already undergone another major climate shift.”

$250,000 Awarded to the Moran Eye Center

by Erica Hartmann

SALT LAKE CITY- Research to Prevent Blindness has awarded two grants to the Moran Eye Center to support research to the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding diseases.

The two grants were given to Dr. Gregory Hageman and the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. Hageman was granted a $150,000 Senior Scientific Investigator Award and the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences received $100,000. Department Chairman Dr. Randall J Olson will direct the usage of this grant.

Hageman is the Director of the Moran Center for translational medicine and has written more than 100 referred publications. His primary research interest is the assessment of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of irreversible worldwide blindness.

Olson, the CEO of the Moran Center, is a specialist in the research of intra-ocular lens complications, as well as corneal transplants. He has also been selected as one of the 15 best cataract surgeons in the United States.

The RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. They’ve awarded grants totaling $4,765,300 to the University of Utah.

Olson stated, “We are grateful to the RPB for their charitable gifts and continual support of our research. These gifts will further the studies that will lead to treatments and cures for devastating eye diseases.”

Their goal is for no person with a visual impairment to be without hope, knowledge and treatment. For more information on RPB and the grants visit www.rpbusa.org.

Trayvon Martin Police and Incident Reports Released

The incident records surrounding the fatal shooting of Travyon Martin last month by a community watch volunteer have been released. Since there is still an ongoing police investigation, the Sanford Police Department has limited information, but Chief Bill Lee Jr. has stated, “The death of anyone due to violence, especially a 17-year-old young man, is morally appalling.”

The details of the original incident are still under debate, but the transcripts for the initial 911 call that George Zimmerman, the community watch volunteer involved in the shooting, placed to the Sanford Police Department and the police report have both been released.

According to Zimmerman in the 911 transcripts, Martin, a 17-year-old African-American male, was “just walking around, looking about.”

Zimmerman then described Martin to the dispatcher and followed Martin until the dispatcher told him “we don’t need you to do that.”

Zimmerman also stated things like, “These assholes they always get away,” and “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something.” Zimmerman held a concealed weapon permit issued by the State of Florida.

The official police report describes that two officers, Ricardo Ayala and Timothy Smith were dispatched around 7 p.m. to the Sanford neighborhood in reference to a complaint about a suspicious person and received calls about gunshots being fired.

Zimmerman’s official statement, according to Chief Lee, was that “he had lost sight of Trayvon and was returning to his truck to meet the police officer when he says he was attacked by Trayvon.” When police arrived, they investigated to find Martin without a pulse in the grass. The officers then removed Zimmerman’s handgun and placed him in police custody.

Utah police team with FBI to battle against gang membership

Story and slideshow by MARISSA HUNTSMAN

Salt Lake Valley is home to more than a top university; gang membership is at a peak within the valley with more than 50 active gangs, according to Salt Lake City Police.

According to the Salt Lake City Police website, 13 city police departments have teamed up with the FBI to form two task forces that are charged with formulating a plan to combat this growing problem.

Many residents of the Salt Lake City Valley remain unaware of the far-reaching effects of the gangs within the mountain ranges. However, many of these gangs are not from here.

Instead Salt Lake City is dubbed a “Secondary Gang City”  by the Metro Gang Unit, due to the national nature of the gang as stated by the Safe Street Violent Crime Initiative issued by the FBI. The major gangs with influential ties with California include the Sureños and Norteños.

One approach that police are doing is the creation of unified task forces that combine the representatives from local and state agencies along with the FBI. This is a new organization to hit the state of Utah but is not for the rest of the nation. Due to incredible results in other areas of the nation, the unique gang plague that afflicts this state could benefit from a long-term, proactive task force.

Just as with any aspect of the Salt Lake Valley, there is a great diversity of the membership of the gangs. According to the Metro Gang Unit website, not all of the gangs are organized by race or ethnicity. So the task forces also watch for groups such as the motorcycle gangs the Barons and Sundowners.

The Safe Streets Gang Task Force “involves the combined efforts of local and federal resources,” said Task Force Commander Richard Brede in an interview.

With recent efforts resulting in arrests and seizure of heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine, the Safe Street Gang Task Force is making headway in the fight against the drug trade within the state.

An important aspect of the task force is the ability of Brede’s 17 officers to go anywhere in the Valley to investigate gang crime. This mirrors the ability of the gang members in Utah who travel from one area to another.

This is a recent change that is allowing residents to witness that the police are working against the gang crime in their neighborhoods.

The effectiveness of this task force is evident in the application of avoiding duplication during an investigation. Time is not wasted explaining the circumstances to police officer after police officer. The process has been streamlined, providing for a seamless application to solve drug crimes, according to the FBI website.

Another advantage of FBI involvement is the experience that the FBI brings to the situation due to its nature of investigating organized crime. According to Brede, street gangs have steadily been increasing their ability to remain under the radar.

Another common trend being observed regarding membership in Salt Lake Valley gang organizations is the recruitment of members young enough to be attending high school. With gang members walking the hallways of schools, the availability of drugs to teens has never been greater.

“The most common drugs I catch students with are marijuana and cocaine,” said Officer Lyman Smith, the resource officer at  West High School in Salt Lake City. Students are often caught in their cars, school restrooms, or behind churches.

Smith states that catching students using or dealing involves a constant officer presence around the school. Constant hall monitoring during classes by the school’s security team assists with keeping the drugs out of the school.

On the other hand, Resource Officer Thurston, who works at Lone Peak High School in Alpine, states that the majority of tips regarding drug deals and students using comes from fellow students.

Students involved in illegal activity brag to their peers about their newest purchase. Word travels through the grapevine and it eventually surfaces on Thurston’s radar.

These types of anonymous tips have assisted Thurston and the American Fork Police with recent arrests of students meeting in the wooded area behind Lone Peak High School.

The difference between these two schools is evident due to the culture of each school. West High School is known as a school that has many members of multiple gangs walking its hallways. The students at this school are aware of this and do not bring unwanted attention to themselves.

On the other side, the culture of the Alpine school is one in which gangs is not a familiarity and thus the culture allows for students to report crimes they see or hear about in class.

Once these students have been caught by the officers, they are cited and both schools suspend students for a period of time based on the number of occurrences per student.

Much of the information regarding teen gang and/or drug involvement stems from the information learned through the resource officer at local high schools. “These officers are the front men on the battlefield,” Brede said. “They provide necessary information that cannot be gained through other means.”

After the citation has been issued, the Metro Gang Unit steps in to provide support for the teen. The unit’s current movement against gangs is the Salt Lake City Gang Project, which police forces are using to decrease the presence of gangs especially within the school system. However, the task force runs into difficulties when convincing a teen to return to high school rather than make hundreds in one night selling drugs, said detective Nate Clark in an interview with the Deseret News.

This unit features a three-pronged approach when dealing with gangs: prevention, education and suppression, said Detective Thomas Loevlie of the MGU. The last five years have featured the unit focusing on prevention and education. The main direction of education is focused toward young children beginning in fourth grade through programs such as D.A.R.E.

Education is also directed toward the parents of these children. “The media and general public blame bad parenting for the rise in gang activity,” Loevlie said. The unit educates parents to get involved with their children. An involved parent is another layer of protection for the child.

The approach is very different from that of past police forces. It features building a rapport with the teen. Spending more time interviewing the teen offenders and understanding why they have turned to gangs and/or drug involvement.

“Teens have perfected the methods they use to hide gang involvement from adults but this combination of agencies brings new methods to stop and identify gang members,” Loevlie said. “Allowing us to step in and educate the teen.”

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Northern Utah Left to Clean up the Remins from Last Week’s Storm

Story by Kaitlyn Christensen

With winds reaching 102 mph Wednesday night, thousands were left without power and property damage in Northern Utah.
The results of the storm have been devastating for residents. Power lines and trees were blown over leaving damage to properties and residences without power for almost 48 hours.
“Thursday morning was a huge surprise for my family and me. Our fence blew away like a parachute and the part of our fence that happened to not be blown away was toppled on by our neighbor’s tree. It was a very frustrating experience, we were without power for most of Thursday and now that we have to repair the fence,” said Ashley Eppich about her experience with Wednesday’s storm.
In a statement, Orrin Hatch said, “I want to extend my compassion to Utahans’ who have been impacted by today’s significant wind storm.  It is always disheartening to witness the havoc Mother Nature can wreak on buildings, homes, cars and other personal belongings and my heart goes out to those who now face major repairs and structural damage.”
Residents of Northern Utah came together over the weekend to clean up the results of Wednesday’s storm.
On Sunday many volunteers donated their time and equipment to help all residents remove debris and repair damage to help get their town back to normal.
“It was a miraculous sight to see the community coming together to help one another in this time of need. What would have taken two months ended up taking eight hours on Sunday,” said Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt.
Many LDS Churches canceled their services on Sunday to have members volunteer their time to help with the clean up.
Not only did citizens offer their manpower and time, but also the Utah National Guard and many privately owned businesses offered equipment, machinery and manpower to help get the community back on track.
“Luckily, my next door neighbor owns his own landscaping company, he and his crew used their trucks and equipment to help me clean up my yard and anyone else who was in need of help. People I didn’t know were helping me make repairs to my fence and patio. It is great to see people come together in a time like this,” said Ryan Ludlow.
All of the debris cleaned up left residents numerous piles of waste to remove.
“It was an enormous amount of waste,” said Hiatt.
Many cities had set aside temporary landfill for its residents to remove any green waste or other materials.
In Kaysville, between 100-150 volunteer trucks were lined up to drop off the waste that they had collected.
These temporary landfills were temporary closed on Monday to begin the “recovery operations” of moving all of the collected debris from the temporary landfill to the real landfill.
Those who were not removing debris and repairing damage were passing out drinks and food.
“Our community came through, as Utahans, we know how to put others before ourselves,” said Hiatt.

Being a Firefighter is Not an Easy Job

By: Laurie Carlson

“If you are a person who says you are going to do something you do it. Being a firefighter definitely takes some devotion to the job. One of the biggest parts of the job is having integrity,” said Chris Wood B-shift fire captain of South Salt Lake station 43.

 
A firefighter is someone who is dedicated and perseveres when things are at their toughest point.

 
“To be a good firefighter you need to be able to work as a team, know your job well and know your teammates jobs’ well. You need to be eager to learn and continue to move forward with education throughout your career. “

 
“We put others before ourselves but keep our own safety first. It falls on the captain to send us home safe,” said Israel Estares, a firefighter who works on Wood’s crew.
The day-to-day job of a firefighter is never the same.

 
“We train, we shop, we cook, workout, as well as give tours and do inspections.  We eat and – hopefully – sleep.  We get called to everything.  We could be called to a cat in a tree, to sick people, to fires.  That’s the fun of the job when the siren goes off it could be anything,” said Jared Christensen, a firefighter who works on Wood’s crew.

 
They could be back in five minutes or they might not ever come back.

 
“You could go pick up a drunk man off the street and 10 minutes later you could be holding a dead baby.  You could be so far into a fire you can’t even see your hands.  In a 24 hour period I have run from 1 to 47 calls.  You just never know,” said Jared Christensen.

 
Wood has been a firefighter for 15 years and has been fire captain for 8 years.

 
“The first time I talked to him I knew that he was very knowledgeable about his career and what he does as a captain,” said Jennifer Christensen Granite Technical Institute (GTI) Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) teacher who works with Wood.

 
Wood not only works at the fire station as captain but he also helps students at the GTI gain more insight from a firefighter point of view.

 
Jennifer Christensen said, “Chris has helped with my EMT classes in setting up their ride alongs and working with them so they know what is expected. Chris stands out as a captain because he works well with everyone and cares about the people he works with.”

 

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Estares went on to say, “Our captain is just like anyone, he has strengths and weaknesses just like you and I. The strengths I see in Captain Wood are his ability to communicate with anyone in any situation professionally. “

 
Wood also has good common sense. He leads by example and would never ask anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself.

 
Jared Christensen said, “Chris is one who always has our back and our best interest in mind.”

 
“Chris is one who I know takes care of the people that he works with. I know that if anything were to happen to any of them that they would be okay and Chris would do everything in his power to make sure that they were safe,” said Jennifer Christensen.

 
One of the jobs of a fire captain is to make sure they have training with their crew. Wood schedules trainings for his crew on every shift they have.

 
“We train so that we make safe, smart, stressful decisions while performing a high risk job,” said Estares.

 
Some of the things they do every day to make sure they and everyone around them are safe are always checking the trucks and the gear.

 
One situation that happened to the crew where they could have died was when they were in a house doing a search for people.

 
“It got to the point where it was super smoky so much so you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face,” said Jared Christensen.

 
They were searching and Jared Christensen was the second guy on the hose line. The guy in front was holding the nozzle and the third guy was pushing hose to them.

 
“We were going down the hallway and right as I leaned forward to sound the floor with an ax, me and the guy in front fell through the floor where the whole basement was on fire,“ said Jared Christensen

 
They then started screaming to the third guy on the hose line who luckily was a big dude so he was able to pull them up back through the hole in the floor.  By that point the two of them were completely disoriented and followed the hose line out.

 
“We didn’t even know we were outside yet when we were actually on the driveway,” said Jared Christensen

 
“Wood has a very close relationship with his crew members and has a very strong devotion to his career choice.  He has backed them up and supported them on thousands of calls,” said Jennifer Christensen.

Specialized Chair Helps Veterans Go Paragliding

Story by Sean Gustafson

On Sept. 3, 2011 five veterans tested a new type of paraglider over Sun Valley, Idaho. What made this an event noteworthy was that all five of these veterans are suffering from spinal cord injuries (SCI).

The veterans were able to participate in the paragliding by means of a set of specialized chairs called “Phoenix 1.0” and “Phoenix 1.5.”  The “Phoenix” chairs were made from one inch aircraft aluminum tubing allowing for a sturdy 35lb craft.

These chairs were the product of four months of researching and testing from four University of Utah students under the direction of professor Don Bloswick.

Mark Gaskill, of ABLE Pilot, provided the training for the chairs an organization committed to help people with spinal cord injuries, amputations, and neuromuscular diseases into flying-type actives.

To see test runs on the “Phoenix” chairs, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9j33A0UV8A