Tag: Children

WCAF Says “Help Hungry Kids this Halloween”

Few kids suffer from a shortage of candy at Halloween, but lots of Mesa County kids suffer from food insecurity year 'round.

Few kids suffer from a shortage of candy at Halloween, but lots of Mesa County kids suffer from food insecurity year ’round.

How much money will you spend on Halloween candy this year? And how much good does that really do?

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers thinks some of that money can do a lot more good if applied to help alleviate hunger in our community.

Sadly, an astonishing number children in our own area suffer from food insecurity.

Mesa County’s poverty level is significantly higher than the state’s as a whole, making life difficult not just for local parents, but for their kids, too. Thirteen percent of Mesa County families live below the federal poverty level, compared to 8.9 percent for the rest of the state.  More than half of the students attending Mesa Valley School District 51 schools qualify for the free and reduced lunch program, and a fairly large number of kids who don’t qualify still go hungry because of poor parental behavior.

This Halloween, Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, western Colorado’s secular community since 2007, urges people to think differently and consider taking the money you would normally spend on candy, and maybe even just a little more, and donating it to Kids Aid, the local nonprofit that provides backpacks full of non-perishable foods to kids who would otherwise go hungry over the weekends.

Kids Aid currently sends home a phenomenal 1,800 backpacks of food every week to students in all District 51 schools.  The need in our community is very real.

Few kids suffer from a shortage of candy at Halloween, and obesity and diabetes are growing problems for young children. At the same time, many local kids are suffering from a chronic shortage of real, nutritious food.

Four dollars worth of candy money will feed a child for one whole weekend. Sixteen dollars of candy money will feed a child for a month, $48 worth of candy money will feed a child for a quarter and $128 worth of candy money will feed a child for an entire school year.

Few kids need more candy at Halloween, but a lot of kids need more nutritious food.

WCAF urges people to be a “Kids Aid House,” put their candy money to higher use this year, and help turn Halloween in Mesa County into a helping holiday for hungry kids.

Send donations to

Kids Aid

P.O. Box 2569

Grand Junction, CO 81502

…or donate through Kids Aid’s website at KidsAidColorado.org

Hard-Core Evangelical Christian Group Has its Way with District 51

Permission slip sent home for kids to attend evangelical Christian "Good News Club" events at Tope Elementary.

Permission slip sent home for kids to attend evangelical Christian “Good News Club” events at Tope Elementary.

Many Grand Junction-area citizens are wondering how a group like the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), whose mission is converting as many children as possible to Christianity, could hold Bible study classes for elementary school-aged kids in taxpayer-funded public schools in School District 51, which tries hard to avoid endorsing specific religions. The Good News Club (GNC) says it is just trying to improve life for children all across the country.

But critics of GNC argue that the Club is really bad news for kids, because it purposely strives to make them feel guilty and shame them with lesson plans that describe Jesus’ death in vivid terms and tell children they are personally responsible for it.

The website GoodNewsClubs.info, contains direct quotes from from GNC’s lesson materials:

“The Lord Jesus suffered terrible beatings, then He was cruelly nailed to a wooden
cross, where He bled and died…  As Jesus hung on the cross, God punished Him for
your sin and your deceitful heart.” Patriarchs, p35.

“He chose to die for you. As the nails were driven into His hands and feet and His blood flowed out, God was punishing His Son for your sin…. Jesus was willing to die this awful death… After Jesus suffered and died for you, He was buried in a tomb….” Life of Christ, Book 2, p30.

“First you need to agree with God that you are a sinner and are separated from him because of your sin. Be sorry for your sin and ask God to change you…” Paul: God’s Servant, p. 44

The Clubs tell children that they are desperately wicked and “deserve to die.”

More Reports of Proselytizing in District 51 Schools

This "Hey Kids!!!" poster recruits kids to attend evangelistic Bible classes  at Broadway Elementary.

This “Hey Kids!!!” poster recruiting kids to attend evangelistic Bible classes was photographed at Broadway Elementary.

Grand Junction parents are voicing concern that their children attending District 51 elementary schools are being sent home home with fliers soliciting attendance at Bible study classes held immediately after school on school grounds. The Child Evangelism Fellowship is actively working to recruit young children into to Christianity by promoting “Good News Club” meetings to be held weekly within local public school buildings from about 1:45 to 3:15 p.m. Times apparently vary according to individual school schedules. Parents have reported via a local Facebook group that fliers and posters promoting the religious classes have shown up at Tope, Broadway and Pomona elementary schools.

The mission of the Child Evangelism Fellowship is “to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and establish (disciple) them with the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living.”

Concerned parents say a public school is an inappropriate place to carry out that mission, and grade school-aged kids won’t be able to distinguish between their regular classes and the Bible study classes. Parents also believe such religiously-intensive activities are more appropriately held in a church than a taxpayer-funded public school building.

All You Need to Know About Mesa County Politics, All in One Place

In Mesa County, things are little backwards. The candidates are the biggest signs are the ones NOT to vote for.

Mesa County rule of thumb: Vote AGAINST the candidates with the biggest, most professionally-made signs

Have you been so busy trying to make ends meet, putting food on the table and raising your kids that you haven’t had time to bone up on local politics? There’s an election is coming up this November. How will you know who to vote for?

It’s simple.

The one thing you need to know is that the same party has been in charge of everything here for decades: the Mesa County Republican Party, which some call the “Old Guard Republican Establishment” (OGRE). They’ve had a lock on local elected offices for a very long time.

So have they done a good job? Judge for yourself:

1) Mesa County’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the state;

2) Our local wages are among the very lowest in the state;

3) 13.4 percent of people in our area live below federal poverty level ($23,550 for a family of four),

4) Our suicide rate is among the highest in the U.S.;

5) Mesa County was the drunkest county in Colorado in 2013 (based on the average blood alcohol concentration for arrested drunk drivers);

6) Forty one percent of School District 51 students qualify for free and reduced-cost lunches at school, and Kids Aid, an area nonprofit that provides backpacks of food to hungry students so they can get through the weekends without starving, sends 1,800 District 51 students home with backpacks full of non-perishable food home each WEEK.

Yes, you read that right. Eighteen hundred Mesa County school children are food insecure every week.

CO Rep. Ray Scott Throws Women and Kids Under the Bus

Colorado Rep. Ray Scott poses with a fancy car while Mesa County's poorest women and children go without health insurance

Colorado Rep. Ray Scott proudly poses with a hot sports car while Mesa County’s poorest women and children go without health insurance

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott may love fetuses, but he doesn’t care much about women and apparently doesn’t think much of kids, either.

Besides being a chronic no-show at election-time debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters, in January of 2012 Ray Scott co-sponsored HB1130, a bill titled “Penalties for Violent Offenses Against Fetuses.” The bill’s very title ignores the fact that typically the woman surrounding the fetus would be the primary recipient of any violent acts perpetrated against the fetus. But in Ray Scott’s mind, women matter less than their fetuses.

Ray Scott even supported a fetal personhood amendment in the past. Such proposals are among the ultimate affronts to women, since they are religiously-based efforts that would make it a crime for women to use some forms of contraception, in accordance with Mr. Scott’s own personal religious beliefs.

Jumpin’ Without Jesus: Get Air at the Silo to Open Soon in Grand Junction

The old Mesa Feed building on south 7th Street in LoJo is being rebuilt into a climbing and trampoline amusement park.

The old Mesa Feed building on south 7th Street in LoJo is being rebuilt into a climbing and trampoline amusement park.

A controversy arose in Grand Junction last month after a parent complained about a video shown to Grand Mesa Middle School students that promoted Fellowship Church’s new youth indoctrination center, “4640.” The video boasted that 4640 had a foam pit, a ledge swing, a “spider jump center” and a delicious food court “filled with more junk food than you can imagine.” The only problem was that kids going to 4640 get pressured to become Christian.

But Fellowship Church is about to get some secular competition for the minds and bodies of local recreation-starved youth.

A trampoline and climbing amusement park called Get Air at the Silo is getting ready to open in the old Mesa Feed building at 715 S. 7th Street in LoJo (lower downtown Grand Junction). Word is the silo on the property is getting remade into a climbing course.

Attractions will include a foam pit, a series of pit trampolines that allow people to jump like rabbits from one to the next, dodge ball, gymnastics training, “Extreme Air Training,” an angled trampoline you can run up to do flips, “air jam basketball” (a tramp for slam-dunking basketballs into a hoop), a course for smaller kids and a snack and party room. The facility will be equipped with delayed-view recording cameras and a giant, flat-screen monitor that lets patrons and their friends review their jumps.

The facility is a franchise of Get Air Management, which operates large trampoline parks worldwide. Get Air has parks in Tucson, AZ, Kennewick, WA, Temecula, CA, Huntington Beach, CA, Kaysville, UT, Nicholasville, KY, Poway, CA, and has more parks set to open this summer in Oregon, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Washington and Maine.

A similar Get Air facility in Tucson, AZ charges $10 for one hour of jumping, but some cities in California charge up to $14/hour.  The facility will be available for parties, and passes will be available. For the fee, patrons can jump all they want with zero pressure to become Christian.

Get Air Management requires users to sign legal waivers regarding injury and follow specific safety rules. Users of recreation facilities like foam pits and trampolines, whether they are in secular or religious facilities, need to be aware of the potential for serious injury from these activities. 

Get Air Silo is located at 715 S. 7th Street in Grand Junction, near the Daily Sentinel building.

Study Links Natural Gas Drilling to Congenital Heart Defects in Babies

"Drill, baby, drill?"

“Drill, baby, drill?”

A newly-published study specific to Colorado (pdf) links the rate of congenital heart defects in babies to how close they live to natural gas wells. The study, published January 28, 2014 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, examined a large cohort of babies over an extended period of time — 124,842 births between 1996 and 2009 in rural Colorado. Researchers discovered an association between the density and proximity of methane (“natural gas”) wells within a ten mile radius of the mothers’ residences and the prevalence of heart defects, low birth weight and small-for-gestational age in newborns. Congenital heart defects are often associated with maternal exposure to toxins during gestation from sources like maternal smoking, alcohol abuse, exposure to solvents, benzene, toluene and petroleum-based solvents. Low birth weight and pre-term births are associated with exposure to air pollutants including volatile organic compounds, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, all of which are emitted during natural gas production. The authors restricted their study to people living in rural areas and towns in Colorado with populations under 50,000 to reduce the potential for exposure to other sources of pollution, like heavy traffic and pollution from other industries. The researchers compared results with births among mothers who live in control areas that do not have natural gas drilling nearby.

Source: Lisa M. Mckenzie, Ruixin Guo, Roxana Z. Witter, David A. Savitz, Lee S. Newman and John L. Adgate, Witter, Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado, Environmental Health Perspectives, 28 January 2014

Seven Year Old Fights GMOs in Girl Scout Cookies

Seven year old Alicia Serratos is trying to get Girl Scouts to take GMO ingredients out of their cookies

YOU GO GIRL! Seven year old Alicia Serratos is trying to get Girl Scouts to take the GMO ingredients out of their cookies

Seven year old Alicia Serratos of Orange County, California has been a Girl Scout for almost three years, so when Girl Scout cookie season rolled around, Alicia got excited about the prospect of selling cookies to help raise money for her troop. But then Alicia and her mom read the ingredients on the cookie box and she found she didn’t recognize a lot of them and couldn’t pronounce some of them, either. Since she was six, Alicia has spent time learning about genetically-modified organisms and their dangers, like infertility and tumors. She knew that over 60 countries have either banned GMOs or forced companies to list GMO ingredients on their labels. Alicia recognized some of the ingredients in Girl Scout cookies as GMOs. She got alarmed that she was being asked to sell cookies made with GMOs, and so she wrote to the Girl Scouts and asked them to take GMO ingredient out of their cookies. Alicia also made a YouTube video asking Girl Scouts to remove GMO ingredients from their cookies, and started a petition on Change.org asking Girl Scouts to stop putting GMO ingredients in their cookies. She made YouTube videos showing how to make healthier, non-GMO versions of Thin Mints and Melty Mints, to prove it can be done. Alicia also created her own cookbook, called “Recipes to Grow,” with over 40 recipes for food kids love, all made from organic and non-GMO ingredients. Alicia will be selling her cookbook instead of Girl Scout cookies this year. She plans to donate proceeds from the book to help schools establish organic gardens on their grounds. So far, over 18,800 people have signed Alicia’s petition, and she’s trying to get 25,000 signatures. For its part, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. is resisting efforts to get GMOs out of their cookies and towing the GMO-biotech line. In a response to the growing uproar about GMOs in their cookies, Girls Scouts says, in part:

“It is important to note that there is worldwide scientific support for the safety of currently commercialized ingredients derived from genetically modified agricultural crops. The World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the American Medical Association all share this assessment. In addition, in the future, GMOs may offer a way to help feed an ever-increasing world population.”

A Freethinker Halloween

With the rates of obesity and diabetes skyrocketing nationally and the number of kids going hungry in Mesa County at an all time high, it was difficult to think of spending money on candy this Halloween. Last year 54 trick or treaters came to our door, so the candy expenditure on Halloween these days is not insignificant.

Last Halloween I did a test to gauge kids’ interest in candy. I held out two identical bowls to all of our trick or treaters. One had some pretty decent candy in it (chocolate bars and such), and the other was filled with small party favors, like toy cars, sticky frogs, cheap necklaces, etc. (The cost of the party favors was about equal to the cost of the candy, by the way.) The kids preferred the toys to the candy by a ratio of about 3:1. That told me candy wasn’t such a big deal to kids after all.

R.J. Reynolds Puts Cigarette “Pilferage in Perspective”

Equation from RJR documents shows retailers could make more money if they let cigarettes be stolen than by preventing theft by locking them up.

Equation on page -9000 of RJR marketing document shows retailers could make more money if they let cigarettes be stolen than by preventing theft by locking them up.

In September, 1985 ,R. J. Reynolds created a sales presentation about shoplifting called “Pilferage in Perspective,” to try and talk retailers out of the “knee jerk reaction” of moving their cigarettes out of reach of customers in response to high rates of pilferage. The document shows how, in most cases, retailers could make a bigger profit if they let their cigarettes be stolen, due to the industry-paid “placement,” “merchandising” or “slotting fees.” Tobacco companies paid these fees, which were often sizable, to retailers in exchange for placing self-service cigarette displays in specific locations in stores like  in front of the cash register, below counter level or adjacent to displays containing candy and toys. The displays were often required to be kept in locations that made it difficult for clerks to oversee them and limit shoplifting from them. Many clerks expressed profound frustration with the arrangement, since they were often held responsible for  stolen merchandise. The RJR document contains equations that demonstrate for retailers how their slotting fees more than offset their loss from theft.  

Citizens Battle Telecomm Lobby in DeKalb County, Georgia

A cell phone tower fire in Georgia in Dec. 2011 that required two homes and a daycare center to be evacuated. Photo credit: CBSAtlanta.com

After residents of DeKalb County, Georgia actively opposed plans by T-Mobile  and AT&T to build telecommunications towers on the grounds of eight local public schools, Georgia State Representative Karla Drenner stepped up to the plate to help out. Rep. Drenner introduced HB 1197,  “Cell Phone Towers in DeKalb County,” that would ban placing cellphone towers on public school grounds unless the cellular carrier can show that there is an absolute need for the tower, and that the location sought on school grounds is the only location that can adequately provide service to satisfy that need. Sixteen out of 18 DeKalb County representatives signed on to support the local bill. Support for the measure crossed political, racial and geographic lines. Citizens in favor of the bill also got support from all of their county commissioners and collected over 1,200 signatures on petitions supporting the measure — an admirable number considering Chuck Sims’ represents a county of only 380 people. A legislative committee heard three hours of testimony about the bill over three days at three separate state hearings, and not one person showed up to say they were in favor of plans to put the towers on school grounds. With support like that, the bill should have passed easily through the committee and moved to the House floor. But it didn’t. Why?

Philip Morris and Monsanto Sued over Birth Defects in Tobacco Farmers’ Children

Screen shot from Monsanto's website

Tobacco farmers in Argentina filed a lawsuit (pdf) against Monsanto and Philip Morris for requiring them to use herbicides and pesticides that caused a high rate of severe birth defects among their children. The farmers charge that Philip Morris and the subsidiary companies that bought their crops required the farmers to stop growing their native tobacco grow a new kind of tobacco instead that Philip Morris uses in its cigarette formulation for the North and South American markets. The new tobacco they had to grow required more pesticides, and the farmers had to use excessive amounts of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup — but the defendant companies did not warn them about the dangers of the herbicide, or provide the farmers with safety information about the chemical or any protective gear to wear when applying it.

Wave of Aggressive Parenting Linked to “Baby on Board” Car Signs

A traditional Easter egg hunt in Colorado Springs was canceled due to large numbers of aggressive parents who insisted on participating in the event even though it was for children only. Last year when organizers sounded the signal to start the Easter egg hunt, parents poured over the boundary ropes and scooped up all the eggs, leaving many kids without any eggs. The overly-pushy parents turned off other parents who said they would not take their children to the event this year. The wave of aggressive parents at last year’s event led organizers to cancel the event entirely this year. Parenting experts cite a growing wave of over-protective parents they call “helicopter parents” — parents who hover over their children constantly, denying them space to learn from their own experiences. Parenting experts say this trend of overly-aggressive parenting started back in the 1980s, around the same time people started putting “Baby on Board” signs in their car windows. People who want to encourage their kids to think for themselves can go to ThoughtOnBoard.com for an erasable car sign that encourages creativity, independence and free thought.

Source: Washington Post/AP, March 26, 2012

 

Philip Morris: “Get sick children on Oprah”

In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially listed secondhand tobacco smoke as a Group A Human Carcinogen, the same rating the agency gives to asbestos, radon gas and vinyl chloride. The listing was a public relations disaster for the tobacco industry, and their internal documents show how tobacco companies reacted. A 6-page Philip Morris planning document found in the files of Ted Lattanzio (Director of Philip Morris Worldwide Regulatory Affairs), lists strategies and budgets for fighting efforts to ban smoking in workplaces and public places.  Page 4 describes a strategy for dealing with public information about how childrens’ health is disproportionately affected by exposure to secondhand smoke:

“Shift the debate on ETS [environmental tobacco smoke] and children to: Are our schools and day care centers making children sick?”

Tactics proposed for making the public believe that schools and day care centers are making children sick (instead of secondhand smoke) include:

“Feed available information to National School Board Association in D.C.  Feed information to Oprah, et. al. Get sick children on the shows.  Research newspaper clippings of parents who keep children at home because of school environment — pass those on.  Why?  Shift the debate.  Why is EPA not spending research dollars on solving school problem?? I have the research budget for next year — not very much is going to identify or solve the school problem.  Get information to EPA Watch.”

Philip Morris’ estimated budget for the effort to blame day care facilities for making children sick was $100,000.