U Moustache for Consent

U Mustache for Consent: I saw this amazing campaign on consent education and promotion and brought it to Bright Future Foundation.

Bright Future Foundation serves all of Eagle County in domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, intervention, and on-going counseling much like the Advocate Safehouse Project in Garfield County. Bright Future Foundation offers a full compliment of professional services that help to break the generational cycle of violence by providing immediate relief to families in need.

Bright Future Foundation

I believe that this initiative will promote consent as the norm for healthy relationships and aligns well with the missions of both Garfield County PREP and the Bright Future Foundation. Bright Future Foundation provided extensive support and guidance for the campaign and helped bring my U Mustache 4 Consent campaign to Eagle County through the schools and other community opportunities!

In an unexpected twist of good timing and good fortune, Bon Iver, a Grammy award-winning musical group, contacted Bright Future Foundation in July of 2019 to ask if the foundation would like to partner with their band with the goal of donating to, working with, and promoting the work of local violence prevention organizations over the course of their tour. Bon Iver, through online auctions, event auctions, and merchandise sales was raising funds that they would then reinvest in the communities that came out to support them and enjoy their music.

On September 2nd, Bon Iver played at the Ford Amphitheater in Vail! Bright Future Foundation invited me to join them at the event, and it was through the generosity of Bon Iver in granting a platform to the foundation that the U Mustache 4 Consent campaign was officially launched. The reactions of the community were staggering.

Bright Future Foundation had a table with information, sign up sheets for volunteers to work with local youth as Buddy Mentors and to sign up to help with the 24/7 crisis hotline, and had printed up U Mustache 4 Consent stickers and posters. Volunteers handed out fake mustaches and opened conversations with all sorts of people. Together, we engaged youth, vendors, locals, visitors, people working with Bon Iver, security, and the police in discussing the importance of consent and how to work together to prevent violence and sexual assault.

There was a hugely positive response, the message resonated with the people, and Bright Future Foundation, Bon Iver, Project We Care Colorado and I collaborated to simultaneously promote consent education, involve youth through positive engagement, and work to expand community empowerment.

Ultimately, together we will bring the U Mustache 4 Consent campaign and educational program to our peers in the schools, to the community, and who knows, far beyond our Eagle County borders. But this is just the beginning.

As a Kid I’m Scared

As a kid, I’m scared.

I’m scared I’m going to go to school and not come home.

I’m scared the environment is going to heck and evenscared kid

scared that in a few years, there will be

no safe places for abortions,

or getting birth control,

or being counted as a felon if I miscarry.

It’s really infuriating to feel hopeless and to feel like nothing can be changed or will change, and even if it could, we’re just kids, so what the hell can we do?

Actually, we can do a lot! Yeah, it won’t be easy, and sometimes, you get horrible reactions from adults who totally ignore you, but in my experience, most people are more than willing to listen, you just have to put a little work into finding those people.teens for change
For me, speaking out was the way I started working towards some semblance of recovery, but now, speaking out is more than that, it’s necessary. Teen voices need to be heard, they deserve to because we’re all valid and it doesn’t matter that we’re young, we know more than they could ever know. I, for one, am tired of remaining silent, and if you are too, here are some ways to get involved and make a difference.

  1. Project We Care Colorado – Shameless self-marketing, Project We Care Colorado is a youth-led youth-driven statewide organization focused on educating and advocating for mental health, decreasing stigma and making resources available and affordable for everyone in need. We’ve got journalism opportunities, mental health resources, have worked closely with legislators (House Bill 1120 passed!) and have plenty of ways to get you involved!Project We Care Colorado
  2. Your local school district wellness committee – This one’s a great one. I’m not sure if every school district does this, but for Eagle County School District our school board started this committee with different community members to create a comprehensive plan for bettering the schools! Groups like these are awesome, but usually lack and desperately need youth voices, so get involved! Start by emailing your superintendent if you have any questions or concerns, they’re usually super responsive and helpful.Stand Up to Stigma
  3. March For Our Lives – Most of you know this one, it’s a favorite of mine, and I have a few sweatshirts of theirs! March For Our Lives is a national campaign whose mission is to harness the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives. You can create your own chapter or join another one, but it’s a wonderful program.
    March for Our Lives
  4. Why We Rise – Why We Rise is part of a national movement to transform the mental health care system. We demand that easy access to quality care be recognized as a civil right. Everyone deserves to be well. This is a super cool organization that has a bunch of ways to get involved, definitely recommend.
    Why We Rise
  5. Different Mental Health Trainings – Try Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, Mental Health First Aid, and Question Persuade Refer trainings. Ask around your community for different openings for these trainings because they’re fairly infrequent, but reach out to Mollie Fiore from Speak Up Reach Out to find more information and bring these trainings to your town!

Speak Up Reach Out

Most of these are mental health based, but there are so many different opportunities out there waiting for you, and if you can’t find any you like – make your own! None of what I’m suggesting is simple or mindless. It requires lots of hard work, but I promise you, it’s gonna be worth it.

My goal is to be who I want to be now, and it’s helped me out more than I can explain. Going against the flow is terrifying and intimidating, but if you’re going to do it, go big or home. One way or another you’ve tried and made an impact, and that’s truly all that matters.
If you need any help let me know! I’d love to bounce ideas off of each other, and I think I’m a fairly good resource bank. Take your pills, stay hydrated, eat some food, take good care of yourself physically emotionally and mentally.

 

Mental Health Policy

The Capitol BuildingColorado State Capitol Building

A place of power.

Of change.

Of possibilities.

It’s right where I want to be making mental health policy.

Integrated Mental Health Crisis Training

Dylan Roberts State RepresentativeBack in September I was introduced to Dylan Roberts, the state-representative for Eagle County. He and I sat down for coffee, and I asked him about making a bill about something regarding mental health. I had heard about the state of New York passing a bill that integrated mental health crisis training and general education into health classes K-12.

 

 

Quick thing: If you want to change policy – go out there and do it. And although you might get a few weird looks, snotty remarks and stubborn legislators who don’t like kids,

Snotty kids

the likelihood of getting someone open and willing to change is much greater than any of that negative stuff. Just go out there and do it!

Make a difference

House Bill 1120

State Rep Dafna MichalsonA few months later we recruited Dafna Janet Michalson (another representative), who jumped on this opportunity to affect positive change. She’s been fighting to lower the age of consent for mental health therapy for three years now. So we combined our ideas and conjured House Bill 1120, which

  • lowers the age of consent of therapy from 15 to 12
  • creates a statewide resource bank, and
  • adds mental health crisis training to health classes in all schools.

Lowering state suicide rates

dreamingProposing a bill, or at least being involved with one, has been my dream ever since I was little. More like for seven months but for drama’s sake let’s go with the younger one. Anyways, HB 1120, I think, could be the first step to lowering our states suicide rate.

I will be the first to say that this might not be the answer to this suicide epidemic destroying our county, state, and country, but it’s something. And right now we have absolutely nothing.

If this bill and what it entails can

save one life,

one person,

that’s truly all that matters.

For the sake of our future, let’s hope it passes.

Project We Care ColoradoRemember that you are loved, cared for and appreciated, and if you’d like to get involved, get more information, or need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s important to support yourself and make good decisions, but you can’t always go it alone. There are trusted adults and peers who are willing to help.

Support Yourself & Make Good Decisions

Teen Mental Health

Go look up mental health memes that help you support yourself. Just do it. Now look up sexual health memes. They’re both pretty fantastic, because memes are honestly

one of the best things that have ever graced this earth.

Now before you get totally lost scrolling to support yourself through these memes (as I literally just did), I’ve got a few things to say.making bad decisions doesn't support yourself

  1. Teen mental health controls every single aspect of our lives.
  2. If you’re generally stable for the time being, you’re most likely going to make decisions that are aimed at supporting yourself.
  3. However, when you’re depressed, you tend to get careless; especially with big decisions like sex.

With mental illness, it’s hard to care, because it may seem like

there’s no point, that

you’re not worth taking care of yourself, or anything of the sorts.

Everyone has different coping coping mechanisms to support yourselfmechanisms, but one that I’ve mainly come across has been teens using sex and intimacy to fill the emptiness mental illness creates.

Well, if you haven’t realized this already, that can be extremely damaging not only to your psyche, but also to you physically,

with unwanted pregnancy, STI’s,

and just generally can mess with your self worth

once you come out of your depressive episode.

Besides the obvious “make sure to use protection no matter what,” what should we, as teenagers, do when we absolutely feel like shit?Feeling like shit isn't good mental health

Staying on the mental health side of things, I know that there

aren’t enough resources to help everyone who needs it, and that

the extent of places to get help is way less than it needs to be, but I also know that

there are things you can do in order to keep yourself from jumping off the ledge,

jumping off the ledge isn't a step to recovery

both physically and metaphorically.

Try to find things to keep you busy;

volunteering

sports

anything and everything

to help you move

away from a negative state of mind.

Steps Towards Recovery

And although this won’t ‘cure’ you, it can help you make steps towards recovery and help you avoid negative decisions and dangerous coping mechanisms that can harm your entire being.

Garfield County PREP has an amazing summer intern program – so I’ve been told, I actually live in Eagle – that is perfect for just this, or you can become involved in Project We Care Colorado, a state wide completely teen-led organization set on educating and advocating for mental health and decreasing stigma.

Project We Care Colorado teen mental healthOur board is composed mainly of teens who are on their road to recovery after extreme mental illness, and we are dedicated to making a change in our mental health landscape.

 

Be safe kids.

Making Smart Choices towards mental health

Wear a helmet

(and a condom).

Make smart choices and remember:

Even if things seem pointless right now, try to act like you care, so when you actually do, you haven’t completely gone off track from getting the wonderful life you want and deserve.

Take Care Good DecisionsTake your pills,

stay hydrated,

eat some food,

take good care of yourself

physically

emotionally

and mentally.

Purity

One of the many things that confuse me about my generation is the way we view people’s sexual lives/sexuality. It’s crazy how we’re so quick to label peers for something that’s personal to every human out there. And as confusing as it is, I’m going to open up about my purity. When I was 12, I was told one of the most important sayings that I hold close to my heart.

mirror image“Your body is a mirror.”

 

 

 

It sounds confusing. I know.  It might even sound vague to you.  So I will tell you my view of purity in hopes that it will help.

 

A mirror when first made is clean and spotless. (Like your body) It’s hung up so whatever is brought up to it, its job is to reflect. But as the years pass, this mirror’s appearance will be challenged.

purityLet’s imagine that we have a man come up to this mirror with a bucket full of purple paint. He sets down the bucket and examines himself for a few minutes. Then suddenly this man shoves his entire hand into the paint. He then puts his hand against the mirror, leaving behind a hand print.

But then another man behind him comes up and does the same thing but with green paint. And all of a sudden this mirror now has two handprints.

And then another man.

And another handprint with a different color.

And so it goes on.

Now that you’ve heard the story I can say this, the very first man symbolizes losing your virginity. You may be asking, ‘Well, why not just use the flower getting destroyed as an example?’ Or sharing stories about how sex is painful, sinful, disgusting, and should never be talked about.  I’ll be honest with you.

Because I do not want to create a bigger lie than the one that has already been created.

Everybody’s sex preference will be different. Some people will like the many colors on their mirrors. It is not my job to tell you that that looks wrong.

A percentage of the population might like their mirrors the same as when they were first made. With absolutely no hand print. That’s okay too!

To make things even more crazy, others are only going to want one mark. I’m here to say that there is nothing wrong with that either. Whatever your preference, my advice is to make sure you’re happy with your decision.

sexual preferences

This mirror will be the one thing you have to live with.

Project We Care Colorado

Teen Suicide

Teen Thinking SuicideTeen suicide is one of the most preventable causes of death (SpeakUp ReachOut), and yet, suicide is now the leading cause of death in teens in Colorado.

It’s messed up.

We shouldn’t be spending our teenage years thinking about death.

Something needs to be done.

I’ve seen mental illness completely destroy my friend’s life and my own; fromComforting Friends

pulling someone off of a bridge to

pleading with others on the phone at 2 am to not kill themselves, to

rocking back and forth on the bathroom floor repeating “I want to die.”

I’ve run out in the middle of class to hug my crying friends and

sat in a corner holding my friend’s hands as they shook and broke down.

I’ve had people tell me I ruined their lives by telling an adult about their mental illnesses, but I’ve also seen the way that eventually their real smiles come back.

Project We Care Colorado

My name is Saphira Klearman, I’m 15, a current sophomore, and the founder and Co-CEO of Project We Care Colorado, a teen suicide initiative.

reach out happinessI’ve always had this drive to do something meaningful, to

prove to myself that I was worth something, that

I could leave knowing that I had made an impact.

When I was suicidal, the only thing keeping me from actually attempting was that I knew I hadn’t done that yet.

But when I started being involved,Get involved

started reaching out and

trying to make a difference,

it helped me forge my way to recovery and to a place where I was actually happy.

I created Project We Care Colorado, a teen-led and teen-driven organization focused on educating and advocating for mental illness,

decreasing stigma, and

making it possible for anyone in need to recover.

We want to do this by making resources more available and affordable to everyone in need.

mini projectsProject We Care Colorado is divided into a few mini projects:

the Panic Button Initiative

We Were Left Behind: A Documentary,

and just generally changing policy.

Mandatory Mental Health Crisis Training

At the moment we’re introducing mandatory mental health crisis training for all school staff throughout the Eagle County School District, and working on a bill with Dylan Roberts and Dafna Michaelson Jenet to integrate mental health training into health classes state-wide. We are also creating an online educational resource that’s essentially a how-to with mental illnesses, based off of the idea that we as teenagers, and everyone for that matter, don’t have the ability or the knowledge on how to handle these types of situations. And a little help is always helpful when it’s your own life or your friend’s in your hands.

We Were Left Behind: A Documentary

Lost in the ShadowsAs of June 2019, we’re going to start production of our documentary, which features the parents and friends of youth who have taken their own lives. We want to show everyone the impact that they have on the people around them, and that their lives matter. Keeping with this theme of sharing stories, Project We Care started and is still currently based off of our Instagram account – wecare_colorado, which is a completely safe place for anyone to share their stories with mental illness. We post these “testimonies” anonymously, in hope that those who feel isolated will start to realize that they’re not suffering alone.

So what can you do? Get in contact with me, either through the project’s email (projectwecarecolorado@gmail.com) or my personal; saphiraklear@gmail.com. We’re always looking for more people to be involved, to help as little or as much as you’re able. Every little bit helps.

Remember, even if things seem pointless right now, try to act as if you care, so when you actually do, you haven’t completely gone off track from getting the wonderful life you want and deserve.

 

healthy foodTake your pills

stay hydrated

eat some food

take good care of yourself

physically, emotionally and mentally.

Introducing Teen Author Saphira Klearman

Saphira KlearmanMy name is Saphira Klearman, and I’m currently a sophomore at Battle Mountain High School.

I’m an award-winning student journalist with a passion for change.

I’m a feminist, and I like angsty punk music.

I run a statewide mental health organization,

write weird poetry, and am graduating high school a year early.

Remember that you’re loved and cared for. You’re never alone. Stay safe out there!

Introducing Teen Author, Isela Ventura

Maria Isela Ventura

To me, Isela Ventura, happiness is key. My heart has decided for itself that writing is what makes me happy. Set that aside, and you’ll find out that educating satisfies my soul. So here I am.

I want to grow through PREP and I would like for my readers to do the same along my side. I began writing for PREP because I believed that there should be a Christian viewpoint from a Latina that is creating her own culture.

I write what I write because, like in real life, I like walking away from a conversation knowing something new. That’s all I want to do. Give you a place to learn new things. You will also come to find that I am very smiley and giggly and my enemy is judgment.

And lastly, eventually I would like to publish a book but right now we’re just taking baby steps. I hope you enjoy my writing as much as I enjoy knowing you’re reading.

Teen Truths Becomes a Reality

Introducing Teen Truths’ Youth Authors

Have you ever wanted to get inside the thoughts of a teenager and hear the raw, uncensored truths of their teen world? Yes? No? Certainly, there was a time when I wanted little to do with teenagers; there’s a reason I was an elementary teacher, no? So, call me crazy then when I answer, “Yes. Yes, I do.”

Youth VoicesIt has been through my tenure with Garfield County PREP and developing the summer intern program; where I have spent a lot of time listening and engaging with teenagers, hearing their points of view on sexuality, sexual health, mental health, drugs, suicide and the myriad of issues facing teens today, that I have come to marvel at their wit, intelligence, honesty and humor. That is why I’ve invited youth to share their voices on the Garfield County PREP blog, Teen Truths.

Garfield County PREP is honored, humbled and extremely grateful to find two, bright young teenagers willing to take the time to share their viewpoints on the world and their place in it. May I introduce to you two incredible teen authors from the Colorado and Eagle River Valleys?!

Maria Isela Ventura

Maria Isela Ventura

Isela, as she likes to be called, is a student at

Coal Ridge High School on the Western Slope of Colorado.

She has the goal of two posts per month.

 

Saphira Klearman

Saphira Klearman

Saphira is a student in the Eagle Valley, and is the

founder of Project We Care Colorado.

Her goal is to contribute one article per month.

We hope you will check in often to take a glimpse inside the minds of two local teens who find resilience in their worlds and drive forward with focus, conviction and purpose.

Labeling Students by Maria Isela Ventura

In this generation, it’s not just easy to judge anymore. Yet, labeling students has become routine. We believe that because someone has a history or comes from a different culture that we will view certain things differently. In very few cases, it’s true. But not always.

Being a teenager in a high school, I can see how our differences separate us. We may not want to hang out with other students who have labels like bisexuals, athletes, nerds, gothic, or, in my case, Christian.

Labeling students

 

I get told by others; that don’t even share the same religion as me, that

I should dress a certain way.

I should pray a certain way.

I should speak a certain way.

I should live a certain way.

 

I never let it get to me, but at the end of the day, these things are stereotypical. And in some cases, labeling others should be considered rude.

A lot of comments do hurt. They can leave permanent damage; especially if they’re from the people closest to us, like our parents. Adults, please don’t label your child! Everyone has a different belief system, and we should all learn to respect and understand that.

Labels are not for people

I am Christian. I decide for myself daily who I want to be and how I want to live just like any other student out there should. But because of my religion, most people believe that I shouldn’t be allowed to have the job I have that helps teens avoid serious life changing decisions. I shouldn’t be allowed to inform others about sexual health as a preventative method to teen pregnancy and STI’s, because I shouldn’t even know this stuff.

open minded Christian

I am told constantly that my faith is not correct because of how open minded I am. It does get hard. So the question is, what should I do about it?  

Well, every day I realize that words can not define me. It should be my actions that speak for me. I want to help thousands of teenagers and accomplish what I want to do in this life. But first, I need to love myself and not let anyone tell me who I should be. I must first prove others wrong and show my classmates that a Christian can be so much more than just a label complete with steroetypes.

I am a Christian Latina that believes every teenager out there should have the key to information about sexual relationships.

Everyone has a different way of seeing things, and we need to learn to respect that. If we constantly try harder to be accepted, we just may never be accepted. But if we stop to love the way we are regardless of who cares and who doesn’t, then our differences become beautiful.

labels hurt

So, if you’re somebody out there that gets judged and labeled, understand that

it’s okay to prove people wrong and

show them who you really are.

Never get put down by words.

If you want to do something that seems unusual for the people around you, but you know you will benefit from it,

still go for it.

 

Never be ashamed of your true colors.

ReligionDefine Youtself

Background

Race   

Ethnicity

Gender

All these things are really important, but they don’t define you. Only you get the power to define who you really are. Who you are as a person in your community, in your job, in your school, or in your home, will be the same person you will come to love.