More than 700 kids in Lee County have been trained so far this year in gang awareness.
Launched by Lee County’s Injury Prevention Coalition – comprised of community leaders, health care workers and educators – the Gang Awareness Training Education (GATE) program is based on a Chicago program started in the '90s that has gone nationwide.
Florida’s Attorney General’s office has identified at least 6,000 gang members within the seven Southwest Florida counties.
In Lee County, GATE is taking its message to where students play and learn -- talking with 4th, 5th and 6th graders – students most susceptible to the recruiting tactics of gang members.
Syndi Bultman, a nurse with Lee Memorial Health System, leads the Injury Prevention Coalition.
She says kids join gangs for a number of reasons, including a desire to fit in at school or in their community, to emulate the flashy lifestyle of older gang members or to feel protected from other gangs.
Bultman also says there is a lot of pressure in some communities to belong to a gang.
“Some of ‘em actually end up getting threatened. They’re fearful of what will happen to their family or their younger brothers and sisters,” says Bultman.
“It teaches them what respect really is. We teach them anger management. We work with them in regards to bullying and how they can stop the bullying in a non-violent manner. We also help them with critical thinking, self-esteem and some leadership skills.”
The program hopes to launch another round of classes in the Ft. Myers Dunbar community later this year.
Lee County’s recently formed Hoarding Task force has been working with local residents who find themselves and their homes overwhelmed by clutter. An estimated 12 to 30 thousand hoarders live in Lee County. In part two of our look at this growing and sometimes dangerous emotional disorder, WGCU’s Valarie Edwards introduces us to Chester, a hoarder who – with support from the task force-- is now on the road to recovery.
The Lee County Hoarding Taskforce held its first public forum on Friday, on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University.
The consortium of public and private agencies includes regional police and fire departments, animal control agents, therapists and professional organizers.
Hoarding is an inability to part with possessions, irrespective of their value. And despite common misperceptions, many hoarders are well educated.
Although women hoard at significantly higher rates than men, both are likely to have experienced a traumatic event that led to the hoarding. It’s a significant commonality among a host of others, according to taskforce member Dr. Belinda Bruster.
“Another one may be mental illness, such as depression, OCD … which is obsessive compulsive disorder. Those are common features that you might find in a hoarder. But once again, everyone is different,” says Bruster.
Experts believe recovery can be difficult for hoarders who find it hard to bounce back from the trauma.
“Women can sometimes get stuck in that traumatic event and not be able to move forward. Where men have a traumatic event and they’re able to move forward a little bit better,” says Bruster.
Although experts aren’t certain, it’s estimated between twelve and 30,000 hoarders live in Lee County.
More information is available by contacting the Lee County Department of Human Services at (239) 533-7936.
“When you take our total number of new infections of women in 2009, we had the highest new infection out of all 50 states. California which is number one for women and children was far behind us. New York which is number two overall nationally, they were behind us in new cases in women,” said Mitton.
Mitton added that infection rates in women – of all racial and ethnic backgrounds -- may be higher in Florida because the state does a better job than others in testing outreach and education. To encourage testing, the Florida Department of Health has teamed up with community partners statewide to recognize the 17th annual observance of National HIV Testing Day on Monday, June 27.
The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone from age 13 through 64 have an HIV test as part of their annual physical exam.
The most recent HIV diagnostic tool is a rapid 20-minute test. As in a pregnancy test, a negative or positive sign will appear on the stick at the end of twenty minutes.
“The way this works, it’s really simple. It’s a mouth swab. What you’re going to do is put it mouth, you’re going to run it across your upper gum and then you’re going to run it across your lower gum and that’s it. Just one time in each direction and then you’re going to hand it back to me,” said Mitton.
According to the state Department of Health, more than a dozen Floridians become infected with HIV/AIDS each day. Approximately 135,000 Floridians are currently infected, with 20 percent unaware of their status.
This month marks three decades since the virus which causes HIV was first identified.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress just released its 2010 report card showing how well 4th, 8th and 12th graders nationwide know their U-S history.
The random sampling of nearly 1,200 schools and more than 300,000 students indicates few can identify key figures and events which helped shaped American history from colonial times to the present.
Of the fourth graders tested, less than 10% could identify a photo of President Abraham Lincoln.
And, only two percent of high school seniors nationwide understood the impact of and the reasons behind the 1956 landmark case, Brown vs. Board of Education.
Dr. Ed H. Moore is president and CEO of the 29-member Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, a statewide association of private, not for profit colleges and universities.
He also served on Governor Rick Scott’s education transition team and said the test – which has been given every four years since 1994 – shows students are losing ground.
But, he said standardized tests like the FCAT aren’t to blame.
“I have no problem with the FCAT. But, it does not excuse nor mollify the result we’re seeing on these exams,” said Moore.
The test grades students on three levels: basic, proficient and advanced knowledge of American history.
More than half the seniors tested in each of the four years since 1994 scored less than a “c.”
The one bright spot in the national report card was the gains made by fourth graders … up three points since the 2006 U-S history exam.
Drive east about an hour on State Road 80 and you’ll find the doors of one of Labelle’s venerable institutions darkened and shuttered. After more than 75 years serving friends and family from near and far, Flora & Ella’s Restaurant and County Store closed earlier this month. Bonita Bay Group bought the restaurant along with the rights to the recipes that made Flora & Ella’s pies world famous.
We left Fort Myers hours before dawn had begun to pierce the Southwest Florida sky. After reading in a local paper that Flora & Ella’s would soon close, we wanted to get there early and (hopefully) avoid the crowds.Read More...
The annual Sunshine State Survey commissioned by Leadership Florida, covered topics such as immigration, fiscal soundness and education.
More than half of the 1,200 people polled identified job creation and the economy as the most pressing issues facing the state. And, although education reform remains high on Governor Scott’s agenda, not many residents agree. Primary education reform scored a distant second in the survey, conducted by the Nielsen Company.
Those findings don’t surprise Dr. Susan A. MacManus, Political Science professor at the University of South Florida.
“Loud and clear, when you’re worried about a home and a job, a lot of other things, while you might care about them, are just not as pressing.”
This year marks year four of the annual Sunshine State Survey which lawmakers and stakeholders will use to determine and shape public policy.
You can view the survey in its entirety at leadership florida.org.