Community organizations share concern over violence - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

Community organizations share concern over violence

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Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 8:45 am | Updated: 4:20 pm, Thu May 15, 2014.

Organizations in Ahwatukee Foothills have resources available to help anyone going through abuse, but representatives from each group feel it will take community involvement to get the resources to the right people.

Representatives from Ahwatukee Urgent Care, the Phoenix Police Department, Esperanza Lutheran Church and the Kyrene School District presented resources their organizations offer to those who have been abused or bullied during a Connecting to Serve meeting on Tuesday.

Ahwatukee Urgent Care focuses on reporting signs of abuse they see come through their doors. By law, nurses or doctors are supposed to ask anyone being admitted for treatment if they are in an abusive situation.

Many nurses are beginning to take notice of abusive behavior, even if the person being treated doesn’t admit to the abuse. Urgent Care employees work with shelters across the Valley and Phoenix police to get victims help.

The Kyrene School District has character building programming that starts as early as kindergarten. Middle schools and high schools in the area participate in Rachel’s Challenge, which is a prevention program for bullying.

Kids in the program learn about Rachel Joy Scott, a 16-year-old who was killed during the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. After her death Rachel’s family discovered that on her own Rachel was doing all she could to make the world a better place by being kind to those around her.

Rachel’s Challenge is a national program. It is made possible through donations. The Kyrene School District makes the presentation available for parents during evening assemblies. The next presentation is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 6:15 p.m. in the media center at Kyrene Aprende Middle School, 777 N. Desert Breeze Blvd., East 2.

“Prevention is for every child,” said Amanda Hamm of the Kyrene School District. “Prevention is for everybody. Everyone needs to know how to recognize their emotions and how to express their emotions and how to problem solve… With prevention programs in the schools I don’t want to highlight that we have a problem, I want to highlight that this is needed for every one. Everyone needs to recognize these issues.”

Pastor Steve Hammer of Esperanza Lutheran said he tries to have open and honest conversations with the teens in his congregation about bullying and violence, but that there is often some reluctance to have those conversations.

By the time kids reach high school the prevention programs are too late, Hammer said.

Esperanza has created a program called Gr3 (Grace, Grub and Grog), a monthly meeting meant to encourage open conversations within the community about important topics.

“For some reason when people are eating pizza and drinking a beer they’re more likely to have open conversations,” Hammer said. “The key is community participation.”

Connecting to Serve is a local nonprofit that brings organizations together to address different topics in the community. CTS has created advocacy teams in Ahwatukee to address seniors, homelessness, community gardening and foster care. Violence is another topic the group is looking into.

For more information on Connecting to Serve, visit connectingtoserve.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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