Wednesday, December 29, 2010

29 Dec. post, part 3: Go Jamie!

This photo was taken by Mark Gutman of The Daily News and published in the Daily this morning.
United Way Regional Director Jamie Beedham-Rada, left, a former GCASA prevention educator, accepts a $300 check from the Bank of Castile for United Way's backpack program.
Click here to read the accompanying article.

29 Dec. post, part 2: Daily News article on the problem of bullying

Brittany Baker just wrote an article for The Daily News entitled "Schools still grapple with issue of bullying." She showcases a Genesee County woman's concern for the safety and wellbeing of her frequently bullied son at Byron-Bergen Middle School, while also alluding to the bullying prevention programs already in place in our communities, the challenges and limitations that come with bullying prevention, and schools' efforts to further develop their anti-bullying measures.

Click here to read the full article. It's a bit longer, but it's worth reading.

29 Dec. post, part 1: Volunteers needed for RSVP project

RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) of Genesee County and Genesee County AmeriCorps is asking for volunteers ages 10 and up to assist with a service project in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Volunteers will be making blankets and/or cards for our military troops. For more details, please click to read yesterday afternoon's Batavian announcement.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dec. 27th post, part 3: Kids in England have science experiment published in prestigious journal

I thought this article pertained to protective factors, as it demonstrates the remarkable achievements children are capable of if they apply themselves.

"Study by 8-year-olds published in prestigious science journal," written by Zachary Roth and published on Yahoo! News last Wednesday (Dec. 22) at 12:23 p.m. ET, covers the recent achievement of a group of 8- to 10-year-old boys in Devon, England, who did a study on the ability of bumblebees to "see [and learn from] colors and patterns."

Experts from the Royal Society -- which, according to Roth, "is more than 300 years old and includes some of the world's most eminent scientists" -- lauded the boys' discovery of bees' perceptual and intuitive ability as "a genuine advance" (qouted in Roth's article).

I took a look at the study -- which is called "Blackawton bees," was written by
P. S. Blackawton, S. Airzee, A. Allen, S. Baker, A. Berrow, C. Blair, M. Churchill, J. Coles, R. F.-J. Cumming, L. Fraquelli, C. Hackford, A. Hinton Mellor, M. Hutchcroft, B. Ireland, D. Jewsbury, A. Littlejohns, G. M. Littlejohns, M. Lotto, J. McKeown, A. O'Toole, H. Richards, L. Robbins-Davey, S. Roblyn, H. Rodwell-Lynn, D. Schenck, J. Springer, A. Wishy, T. Rodwell-Lynn, D. Strudwick and R.B. Lotto, and was published in Biology Letters on Dec 22, 2010 -- includes the commentary of professional scientists. I particularly like the fact that they drew attention to the creative and playful elements of true scientific exploration, and of education in general.

As for the boys, they did a great job with this very complex study. I drew back a bit from their statement that the intelligence of non-human animals can be the same as ours, as I think this is going too far. But still, their study is interesting for the purpose of exploring the particular intelligence of animals, as well as the similarities between human and animal intelligence.

Click here to read Roth's article.

Click here to go right to the study itself!

Dec. 27th post, part 2: Genesee County students' Christmas Concerts

My first morning post had to do with a story on marijuana -- I'd like to focus more on protective factors for our youth in the next couple posts.

As we know, a protective factor for dissuading youths from drug/alcohol use, bullying, and other risky behaviors is praise from adults. Likewise, another protective factor is involvement in healthy, creative activities. As a correspondent for The Batavian, I did a series of videos on school Christmas concerts in Genesee County. Even though some would argue that Christmas is over -- personally, I maintain that the Christmas Season extends officially through New Years' Eve -- I say it's still relevant. In the spirit of Prevention and education, let's take a moment to honor our kids for a job well done:




Dec. 27th post, part 1: Pat Robertson on marijuana legalization

This article was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer at the end of last week. What do people think?

Click to read.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

OASAS will get a new commissioner under Cuomo

Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez will serve as Commissioner of the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. She is currently heads up the Community Services department at the Nassau County Department of Mental Health.

Whether they know it or not, Robert Morris staff and students are combatting community disorganization

Robert Morris Elementary School, at 80 Union St. in Batavia, is now 15th in line for a $50,000 Pepsi Refresh grant. I wrote an article on their endeavor for The Batavian, which can be found here, about two and a half weeks ago.

Some of you may have driven by the school a couple nights ago, when the teachers were camped outside in the cold encouraging people to vote. Howard Owens did a piece on this yesterday morning -- click here to read.

The Robert Morris Playground Committee, which is made up of teachers and parents, wants to use the money for playground improvements, including safer and more kid-friendly equipment. They understand that the playground is used by the community as a whole, and they want to make sure that kids and their families have a safe and suitable place to go for recreation.

Joanne Beck of The Daily News reported on the project's voting status in an article that was posted this morning.

I would highly encourage everyone to vote for this project, not least of all because it will serve as a protective factor against harmful behavior among youth.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Two 'Batavian' articles of interest

The first one, "One of Batavia's habitual offenders given maximum prison term," was published at 12:39 this afternoon. It covers the recent conviction of the man to whom Howard Owens refers as "(o)ne of Batavia's most persistent criminals."

Michael J. Piasta's attorney pushed for a more lenient sentence than the one that was issued, arguing that the former "never had a chance to be a productive citizen" (Owens' wording). One of the issues is that Piasta's parents both suffered from substance addictions; he himself consumed LSD by accident as a toddler. Judge Robert C. Noonan expressed hope for Piasta's future, but urged him to take advantage of whatever substance abuse programs are available in prison.

Click here for the full article.

On a different (if not lighter) note, the Salvation Army is in need of bell-ringers and/or other services. I'm sure they would very much appreciate whatever help anyone here at GCASA can provide.

For more information, read "Salvation Army's S.O.S.: Got turkey? An extra coat? A few bucks? Can you ring a bell?" by Billie Owens.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Congrats to Lisa, Lauren and the St. Joe's crew!

Our own Lisa Barrett, a prevention educator at the Batavia site, made the news today along with music teacher Lauren Picarro-Hoerbelt and St. Joe's 4th through 6th graders. "Can't Bully Me Now," Lisa's original musical about bullying awareness, met with universal acclaim at yesterday's quarterly DFC meeting.

Daily News reporter Paul Mrozek put the article up this morning. Click here to read.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GCASA's Senior Spice program reaches out to seniors with chemical free dance

From The Daily News, 12/10/10:

BATAVIA — They were there to dance and socialize, but they welcomed the opportunity to gain a bit of knowledge just the same.

The occasion was the “All That Glitters Dinner Dance 2010” – an annual gathering of seniors sponsored by Senior Spice, a program of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

This year’s holiday event was attended by about 90 people at the Batavia First Presbyterian Church’s community hall last Saturday.

“We are delighted to be able to offer this activity each year as a healthy substance-free social event,” said GCASA Prevention Educator Sue Hawley, dance chairperson. “It gives senior couples and friends an enjoyable night out and also provides a forum where we can deliver a brief educational message about drugs or alcohol.”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Genesee Justice saved!

On Monday, the Genesee County Legislature approved Ed Minardo's plan to save Genesee Justice by reducing staff hours and cutting his own position as director.

According to Howard Owens' article, "Support, history of Genesee Justice motivated director to ensure division saved" -- which was published yesterday at 1:07 p.m. on The Batavian -- Ed hopes to set up a non-profit foundation "that will raise money to fill the budget gap for full Genesee Justice operations, including reinstating his job as director."

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Salvation of Genesee Justice appears probable

This was posted yesterday, shortly after noon, on The Batavian.

Click to read.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Latest update on Genesee Justice

The current status of the fight to save Genesee Justice is bittersweet -- click here to read the Batavian article.

Denver Broncos receiver had major gambling-induced financial troubles prior to suicide

An article published Wednesday in the Huffington Post reveals that Kenny McKinley, the 23-year-old wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, had a gambling problem and was deep in debt prior to his Sept. 21 suicide.

According to "Kenny McKinley gambling problem: Broncos receiver was deep in debt before suicide," by Arnie Stapleton and P. Solomon Banda, McKinley purchased the gun with which he would later kill himself from teammate Jabar Gaffney months ago. Gaffney said McKinley wanted the gun for self-protection.

Click here to read the full article.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Genesee County DFC is finalist in international contest

Great news: Genesee County Drug-Free Communities Coalition has just been selected as one of the top ten finalists for the 2010 Out of the Box Prize! We were chosen from among 309 applicants from 42 countries!

Out of the Box is sponsored by the Community Tool Box, an online resource for community-building groups around the world. This particular contest is geared toward highlighting "innovative approaches to promoting community health and development" (part of the contest description at

From now until January 31, people can vote for their choice. If we come in first place, we will be awarded $5,000 and a free customized WorkStation; if we come in second, our prize will be $2,000 plus the free customized WorkStation.

Please click here to see the list of candidates; click on our link to read our submission and vote (lower right corner of the page)! Tell family and friends to do the same!

Thanks in advance for your support.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Two Genesee Justice-related articles

Howard Owens posted an update on the Genesee Justice situation on The Batavian yesterday afternoon. Genesee Justice staff members have generously offered to take a 6% pay cut to help keep the program running.

Click to read.

Meanwhile, The Daily News has announced an upcoming "Holiday Bazaar" to benefit Justice for Children, an extension of Genesee Justice.

Click to read.