#AutismActionMonth Needs #AutismSuperHeroes

Originally posted on Lisa Ackerman - Real Help Now:

AAM Superhero BANNER

By Lisa Ackerman

Autism affects so many people that the month of April has been designated to help with increasing its awareness. I must state: if you don’t know someone with autism, I would like to meet you!! When I started giving talks 15 years ago, I would always kick off the speech with “how many of you know someone with autism?” Back then, only a few people would raise their hands. Now, my talks begin with every hand being raised after I bring up this same question.

To kick off autism action month, TACA will build awareness and activation via a press release, and social media campaign plan to support TACA’s mission and families living with autism (1.) We need all hands on deck to support this important effort.

We also are kicking off Autism Action month with dozens of family stories on this blog in April. Our goal is…

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The Most LGBT-Friendly Country in the World Has Been Declared

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Where in the world are citizens most tolerant of homosexuality?

The Most LGBT-Friendly Country in the World Has Been Declared
The Most LGBT-Friendly Country in the World Has Been Declared
According to the results of a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, the world’s most LGBT-friendly nation is none other than Spain.

Surprised?

The rankings were part of a 40-country survey on what is or is not considered morally acceptable. Respondents were asked to discuss the morality of issues, including married people having an affair, gambling, homosexuality, having an abortion, having sex before marriage, drinking alcohol, getting a divorce and using contraceptives.

Of Spaniards interviewed, 55% said homosexuality was morally acceptable, compared with 6% who said it was unacceptable and 38% who answered that it’s “not a moral issue.”

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It’s important to note that the rankings are based on percentage of respondents who classified homosexuality as morally unacceptable. The United States had a surprisingly high number of respondents claim homosexuality was morally unacceptable — 37% — however, another 35% claimed it was “not a moral issue.”

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic had the highest overall percentage of respondents claim homosexuality was morally acceptable, edging out Spain with 56%. However, 14% of Czechs surveyed said it was unacceptable.

smileys-cz-294Countries with the lowest tolerance, according to the survey, included Ghana and Russia, where 98% and 72% of citizens replied that homosexuality was morally unacceptable, respectively.

These results are consistent with Pew research from 2013 that concluded that Spain was the most LGBT-tolerant using a slightly different metric: the percentage of participants who believed homosexuality should be accepted by society.

While Spain is known for being predominantly Catholic, the country of nearly 48 million legalized same-sex marriages starting in 2005. The Spanish city of Madrid is also well known for its massive annual Pride parade, and the city will host the World Gay Pride event in 2017.


Article By Meredith Bennett-Smith April 21, 2014


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One LGBT School’s Effort to Stop Bullying Starts Young

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Computer-Training“Why not now?” he asked, noting that as the country grapples with marriage equality, it will inevitably have to deal with questions of how to better support LGBT families and their children. “This school has always been needed.”

(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images)
It was 2007 when Christian Zsilavetz, a math teacher, started volunteering with a parents’ support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital. The group was about 40 members strong and met one Sunday each month in the hospital, tucked away behind the lush green foliage of downtown Emerald City. Zsilavetz was already a few years into his own gender transition and, with two decades of teaching experience, decided to help out with the group’s child care. Parents drove hours just to be part of the group. Soon, Zsilavetz could see why.

“You’ve got a lot of gender nonconforming and trans youth on the spectrum, and they don’t fit the mold of most public and private schools,” Zsilavetz, now 45, told TakePart. “There’s still not a lot of room for those pink princess boys.”

In the years since, Zsilavetz, who identifies as a transgender man, started a family of his own. Today, he and his wife have two children: a son, who’s three, and a daughter, who’s six. They consider themselves a transgender family. In 2012, Zsilavetz’s wife got a job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The family moved to Atlanta and quickly became part of the city’s thriving gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, and Zsilavetz took the bold step of starting a school catering specifically to families like his own.

That project, called Pride School, is set to open Atlanta in August. It will be open to K–12 students and is looking to enroll 10–15 students for the upcoming school year. Annual tuition is expected to be $12,000. Students and parents will get access to the school’s gender-neutral bathrooms, the ability to choose their own gender pronouns, and a test-free curriculum built entirely around students’ interests.

SmileyComputerDisconnectedThe idea of an LGBT-specific school isn’t new; New York City’s Harvey Milk High School has been around for two decades. But opening one that so openly challenges gender norms and caters to children as young as four years old is more unconventional. Statistics are scarce, but there’s been a general recognition among researchers that many LGBT youths are coming out at earlier ages. One study found that gay and bisexual boys experience their first same-sex attraction around age eight, and for girls it’s even earlier. Researchers at San Francisco State University released a survey that found many LGBT adults recount being bullied for flouting gender norms throughout their years in school.

But for Zsilavetz, the idea isn’t so much about catering to children who experience bullying because of their own gender or sexual identity. It’s about reaching LGBT parents and teachers who often have to hide behind the rigid gender norms of the schools where they work and send their children.

“We’re not the gay kids’ school,” Zsilavetz said. “Our school is about a community within a community. You’ll have straight parents with queer kids, queer parents with straight kids, along with queer and straight educators.” Teachers are already contacting him about jobs. Some are LGBT people hoping to work in a more open environment.

Still, the school has an uphill climb before it becomes reality. It’s still trying to secure space, and Zsilavetz says students and staff will start crowdsourcing campaigns in about two weeks to raise tuition and salary costs. It also doesn’t have accreditation, which apparently isn’t an issue for younger students. Older students will be able to dually enroll in online programs to meet accreditation standards. But Zsilavetz says the timing is right.


Article published March 28, 2015 By Jamilah King


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Coming Soon: A famous “AUTHOR” Guest Post

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imagesI am so excited and very proud to announce our first Guest “Author” to take control of B.P, so watch for her she is a well known Author and writer of Fiction, her most recent work is called “The Basement”.

coverThe Basement is a suspense/thriller aimed at a preteen/teen audience. Although many adults have read and enjoyed the book too. If you have a preteen or teen in your life this is a great book to read and discuss together.

Well that Guest is Author and a great friend whom I have followed these last few years, but most of all she was there when I needed support the most, but more than that, when she was not asked, she showed genuine concern. I am so pleased and excited to introduce her to you right here so keep watching, she is none other than the Amazing and Fabulous:

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VASHTI QUIROZ-VEGA

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Columbia Middle School students make anti-bullying video

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PCWhen people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper; They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless. **Chris Colfer**

Columbia Middle School students make anti-bullying video YOUTUBE/COLUMBIA MIDDLE SCHOOL
Columbia Middle School students make anti-bullying video
YOUTUBE/COLUMBIA MIDDLE SCHOOL
COLUMBIA STATION, Ohio – Students from a Lorain County middle school have united to create an anti-bullying video. The video, which was posted to YouTube on Friday , was created by students at Columbia Middle School.
According to the YouTube description , students in the CMS advanced technology class, including Jill Grzywna and Danielle Roginsky, helped craft the video after numerous hours of shooting and editing.

You can watch the video below: Published on Mar 20, 2015

clapper-clapper-film-movie-smiley-emoticon-000232-largeTwitter: cmstechnology@cmsacker Could not be more proud of two students in our advanced technology class. Jill Grzywna and Danielle Roginsky spent an enormous amount of time planning, taping, re-taping, editing, and choosing just the right music (River Flows in You by Yiruma) and the result is this beautiful video that sends a message to all people to make the difference. Also very proud of the rest of the class; they all participated in this video and made a difference!


Article Courtesy of newsnet5.com – by Tim Rearden, Mar 22, 2015


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B.P remember’s singer “Robert Palmer”

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“Robert Palmer had a profound influence on us as musicians,” John Taylor said in a statement. “He was a sophisticated music scientist who loved to experiment. In many subtle ways, he helped to change and shape popular music. Very few artists can claim to have created a body of work as satisfying as his. He had a great sense of fun and he knew how to rock. He was a good friend to all of Duran Duran.”

Palmer, known for the highly stylized videos for such ’80s hits as “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted to Love,” was in Paris with his companion, Mary Ambrose, vacationing for a few days after taping a career retrospective program for England’s Yorkshire Television. He was scheduled to return to Switzerland this weekend, where he had lived for the past 16 years. “He was in perfect health as far as we know,” said manager Mick Cater. “He had a medical annual a couple weeks ago and the doctor said he was in great shape.” Cater said Palmer had gone out to dinner and attended the theater Thursday night and was found dead in his hotel room.

The singer was born Robert Alan Palmer in Batley, England, on January 19, 1949, and raised on the island of Malta until the age of 19. He was a member of several English bands when he was in his early 20s, among them the Alan Bown Set and Dada, a 12-member soul band whose sound would help shape Palmer’s style as a solo artist. Palmer quit the group in 1973 to release his solo debut, 1974′s Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, which featured members of the American rock band Little Feat and the funk group the Meters.

He experimented with a reggae sound on 1975′s Pressure Drop but returned to a more rock-oriented groove on 1979′s Secrets, which featured his first hit single, “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor).” He latched onto the new wave sound in 1980 on Clues with some help from singer Gary Numan, best known for his hit “Cars,” and the Talking Heads’ Chris Frantz. The album spawned another hit, “Looking for Clues,” which was accompanied by a low-budget video in which Palmer frolicked with oversized telephones and keyboards. The clip was an early staple on MTV.

250x250_Free-SmileyPalmer formed the band Power Station with Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Andy Taylor and ex-Chic drummer Tony Thompson in 1985. The band scored two top-10 hits with the new wave funk song “Some Like It Hot” and a dance-influenced cover of T. Rex’s classic rocker “Bang a Gong (Get It On).” Palmer quit the group on the eve of a major tour and recorded his 1985 solo album, Riptide, a disc that would bring him his biggest success.

One of the first old-school artists to truly make it big via glossy videos, Palmer dressed up in a suit and surrounded himself with an army of slick-haired, ruby-lipped female backup performers for the clips to the driving rock and soul songs “Addicted to Love” and “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On.”

He stuck with the formula for 1988′s Heavy Nova, which featured one of his biggest hits, the urgent rocker “Simply Irresistible,” whose clip again featured his harem of similarly dressed video vixens.

Don’t Explain (1990) failed to connect with audiences, and Palmer’s output began to slow through the ’90s. He released a 1992 album of standards, Ridin’ High, followed by the eclectic Honey in 1994, which featured the guitar histrionics of Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt, some world music influences and a cover of Devo’s “Girl U Want.”

After an ill-conceived reunion with Power Station in 1996, he released the pop album Rhythm & Blues in 1999. A concert album recorded in 2000 at the venerable Apollo Theater in New York, Live at the Apollo, was released in 2003, followed by an album of blues covers, Drive, released in May.

Palmer was not working on a new album at the time of his death, according to Cater. “My Kind of People,” the hour-long show that was to focus on his musical influences and was to be aired in his native Yorkshire only, has not yet been scheduled for air.


Courtesy of MTV by gil kaufman Sept 26, 2003


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Tyler Clementi anti-bullying bill reintroduced in Congress

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“Schools need to take bullying, harassment and humiliation seriously, by making it official policy,” Jane Clementi said. “We support this legislation because no other student should have to feel the pain and humiliation that Tyler felt after he had been web-camed by his roommate.”


Legislation named after Tyler Clamenti was reintroduced in Congress. (Photo courtesy Facebook)
Legislation named after Tyler Clamenti was reintroduced in Congress. (Photo courtesy Facebook)
Lawmakers reintroduced a bill in Congress on Wednesday named after an 18-year-old Rutgers University student who committed suicide in 2010 after his roommate posted a video of his private romantic encounter with another man online.

The bill, the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, was introduced in the House by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and in the Senate by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The only out lesbian in the U.S. Senate, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), is an original co-sponsor for the Senate bill.

In a statement, Murray said the legislation is necessary because students need the opportunity to further their education “without the fear of harassment and bullying.” “I am proud that this bill would take meaningful steps to provide schools and students with tools to prevent harassment and protect survivors,” Murray said. “By honoring Tyler’s life with this legislation, we can work to prevent the bullying that far too many students are forced to endure.”

According to the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, LGBT students are twice as likely as their straight peers to face harassment, but colleges and universities aren’t required to have policies protecting students either from harassment on electronic communications as well as harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity or religion.

The Tyler Clementi Act would require universities to put those policies in place in addition to creating a grant program to support campus anti-harassment programs.
Pocan, one of six openly LGB members of the House, said the legislation is needed because bullying is “a real and persistent danger for far too many students at our colleges and universities.”

Untitled-1“This bill ensures no student has to suffer the humiliation of being harassed for who they are, or who they love,” Pocan said. “Institutions of higher learning should be a place of open expression, which celebrate diversity and embrace students from all different backgrounds.”

After the incident in which students placed the video of him online, Clementi, who was 18 at the time, jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge. In 2012, Dharun Ravi, Clementi’s roommate and the student responsible for the video, was sentenced to 30 days in jail, three years probation, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine.

Jane Clementi, founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Tyler’s mother, encouraged Congress to pass the legislation based on the experience of her son.

The Tyler Clementi Act has support from the Human Rights Campaign, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Association for University Women, the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and the Pride Foundation.

A news statement from the Senate HELP Committee lists the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as a supporter of the bill, but a spokesperson for organization told the Blade it has no official position.


The Washington Blade | March 18, 2015 | by Chris Johnson


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Rehtaeh Parson’s dad speaks to UN on online bullying

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Glen Canning says he’s relieved his daughter’s name can finally be used in relation to a high profile child porn case.

parHALIFAX – The father of Rehtaeh Parsons says he delivered a statement to the United Nations on Monday, telling the commission on the status of women how his daughter’s death after a suicide attempt in 2013 was directly related to cyberbullying.

Glen Canning confirmed in an email that he delivered the statement during a panel discussion entitled Violence in the Digital Age.

Parsons’ family says the girl was 15 years old when she was sexually assaulted in November 2011 and bullied for months after a digital photo of the alleged assault was passed around her school in Cole Harbour, N.S.

A_smiley_face_holding_a_red_heart_balloon_110111-231796-134009In his prepared statement, which appears on his website, Canning says he and the girl’s mother have been advocating for victims of sexual assault and cybercrime, roles that have led to the realization that their daughter’s case is far from unique.

The statement says that for many women and teenagers suffering from online abuse, reporting such incidents can be heartbreaking and the results are often futile.

As well, the statement suggests that governments have been slow to take action, and victims are being treated as if they are part of the crime.


Article By Staff of The Canadian Press – Courtesy of Global News


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Pop singer Sir Ivan releases music video featuring Taylor Dayne, ‘Kiss All the Bullies Goodbye’

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zeneszekTop 40 singer Sir Ivan (Ivan Wilzig of South Florida, son of late millionaire banker Siggi Wilzig and World Erotic Art Museum owner Naomi Wilzig) has just released a music video, Kiss All The Bullies Goodbye, featuring Taylor Dayne.

Sir Ivan performs ‘Kiss All the Bullies Goodbye,’ featuring Taylor Dayne. SIRIVAN.COM
Sir Ivan performs ‘Kiss All the Bullies Goodbye,’ featuring Taylor Dayne. SIRIVAN.COM

“While my grandfather in the textile business negotiated for the price of hides with a German farmer outside the barn, the farmer’s anti-Semitic sons held my father over a meat grinder inside laughing and shouting: ‘It’s time to make Jewburgers, let’s make Jewburgers.’ Kicking and screaming my father freed himself and ran away. I never met that grandfather. He was beaten to death in Auschwitz. It all started with Bullying!” Wilzig posted Friday on Facebook.
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Sir Ivan has become an LGBT rights activist and in 2012 pledged $100,000 to suicide prevention group Trevor Project. Two years ago, he Tweeted a call to boycott singer Chris Brown after the R&B artist threatened to shoot out gay singer Frank Ocean.

Recently, Sir Ivan announced a second donation of $100,000 to 10 anti-bullying organizations that support LGBT teens, according to spokesman Steve Deitsch.

“Bullying in the LGBT community and teen suicide are far too important to ignore,” Sir Ivan posted Saturday on Facebook.


Kiss All The Bullies Goodbye feat. vocals by pop icon Taylor Dayne and produced by Paul Oakenfold for an important cause-to stop bullying – Posted By Steve Rothaus – SROTHAUS@MIAMIHERALD.COM March 9, 2015


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Study in older LGBTI Australians finds fear, discrimination and pain

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“If people experience one loss – they lose their job – it’s pretty major, but mine was compounded, I had loss of security, family, children, my home, my identity and my friends. I had to construct a whole new life for myself in every way.” In the struggle to be who she was, Dorothy McDonald lost everything. At times, it felt as if she had fallen into a “waking coma”.

Dorothy McDonald says she lost everything when she fell in love with a woman in the 1970s. Photo: Meredith O'Shea
Dorothy McDonald says she lost everything when she fell in love with a woman in the 1970s. Photo: Meredith O’Shea
Married to a man for 14 years, Dorothy then fell in love with *Ann in the 1970s, at a time when homosexuality was illegal in Victoria and many believed gay and lesbian people were immoral or mentally ill.

When she decided to leave her husband, Dorothy’s parents branded her “insane” and made arrangements to have her “fixed”.

“They got me into the car and said: we’ve got an appointment with Pell [Cardinal George Pell]. They said: ‘You’re a sick person; we’re going to take you to Pell.’ They were almost hijacking me, but I refused to go.”

Being shunned by her family – her father only reconciled with her shortly before his death, while her mother never spoke to her again – pushed Dorothy to a suicide attempt. “The rejection of so many people really broke my spirit. Love had conditions attached to it.”

Her story forms part of a research project, revealing how gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Australians coming of age in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, endured religious conversion therapy, violence, imprisonment, forced psychiatric treatment, family rejection, and job losses, as many were forced to hide their sexuality.

fish-water-smiley-emoticonCommissioned by La Trobe University and beyondblue, There’s No Need to Straighten Up study of over-65s highlights how a history of homophobia – often sanctioned by state institutions – has caused high rates of depression and suicide attempts, with many older gay people now terrified of entering aged-care services for fear discrimination will force them back in the closet.

In October last year, Victoria became the first state to erase the historic criminal records of men who were convicted for having sex with men. However, this report shows the trauma experienced by older gay people extends beyond police persecution.

In their own words, participants tell of how they suffered nervous breakdowns because of ongoing homophobic harassment at work, while others detail missing out on promotions or living in constant fear of ridicule, bullying or physical violence.

“You can’t make someone love you and the hardest love of all is when it’s never returned so I just hung in there and hung in there and hoped that one day things would change and they have. I do still feel sorry for the people I’ve hurt, it was unintentional, but I can’t apologize for who I am.”

*Gerri was forced to hide her grief over the death of her long-term partner while Cliff’s* partner was discharged from the army for having a homosexual affair.

Of the 12 who took part in the project, five had previously attempted suicide, and two had experienced the suicide of a close friend or partner, all due to family or society responses to their sexuality.

The report is now being used to train staff in aged-care homes to be aware of the historical trauma experienced by many LGBTI senior citizens, and help make institutions more inclusive.

“A lot of providers think that all they need to do to be a welcoming service is put up a rainbow flag … but they need to understand this is a group of people who have had a lifetime of discrimination and they think that aged-care services are the next institution that’s going to discriminate against them,” said lead author, Dr Catherine Barrett, from La Trobe’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society.

Another study participant, *Larry, was placed in a psychiatric institution for four months when he was 14, and given shock therapy in a bid to “cure” him.

“After shock treatment I can’t remember hardly anything from my childhood. They stick a big piece of rubber in your mouth and you don’t wake up for 24 hours and you don’t even know who you are, and then you wander around in these corridors. I’ve still got foggy parts of my brain.”

Later in life, Larry was arrested several times due to his sexuality, and was kicked out of the navy after confiding in a chaplain that he was gay. He suffered a breakdown and a suicide attempt.

tearful-smiley“You would cry yourself to sleep some nights because of some of the things that are said to you. And you think: ‘Oh, I wonder if they’re right. Or you didn’t know if you were sick or not. And all this used to burn its tentacles into your brain and it stays there; believe me it stays there.”

While there is now more legal recourse against discrimination, many of those interviewed were concerned that ageing and disability would again expose them to persecution.

A national strategy for LGBTI ageing and aged care was launched by the federal Department of Health in 2012 in a bid to tackle the issue.

Rebecca Reynolds, executive director of the National LGBTI Health Alliance, said the aged-care sector had been “enthusiastic and responsive” to the strategy and had boosted training for staff.

However she stressed the stories in the report highlighted the need for institutions to ensure all residents felt safe and welcome.

Dr Barrett said that one of the simplest things service providers could do was use inclusive language.

“Rather than saying to an older woman, ‘Were you ever married, do you have a husband?’ you could say, ‘Do you have a partner, what is your partner’s name?’ “, she said.

“A number of older LGBTI people in aged-care services will test their responses. They’ll say something like, ‘Oh, did you hear Elton John and his partner adopted a baby?’ And if the carers say ‘that’s disgusting, they shouldn’t be allowed to’, the older LGBTI person gets the message that it’s clearly not safe to tell you that I’m gay.

“Often they are trying really hard to pass under the radar because they’re scared. So the providers have to build up relationships, build up rapport and trust. Some people might never come out but that’s not the point, what you have to do is send a message that they are valued and safe.”

For Dorothy, being with Ann, her partner of nearly 40 years, has allowed her to live an authentic life. But it has come at a cost. “I didn’t realise that choosing her would mean losing my family. I honestly believed that I would have access to my children but there was interference from well-meaning people that if the children came to me they would be corrupted in some way, and they would be deviants.

“In the end, I backed away because I could see the damage it was doing to my children.”

Dorothy did not see her daughter for 12 years. It was nearly three decades before she was reunited with her son.

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Bullying Ends Here a powerful message


*Names have been changed March 1, 2015 – Jill Stark


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Turmoil on the menu

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4q5sewkWarehouse season-ender serves tragic bullying story when two families sit down to eat

Dinner gets cold: from left, Doug McKeag, Cory Wojcik, Daniel McIntyre-Ridd, Sharon Bajer and Terri Cherniack in Late Company.
Dinner gets cold: from left, Doug McKeag, Cory Wojcik, Daniel McIntyre-Ridd, Sharon Bajer and Terri Cherniack in Late Company.

Late Company, the season-ending play at the Warehouse, takes as its subject a heartbreaking premise: a gay teen’s suicide due to bullying.

But Toronto-based, Ottawa-born playwright Jordan Tannahill layers political context over personal tragedy in the play’s brisk 75-minute running time, set a year after the event.

The dead boy’s parents, a sculptor and a Tory MP (played, respectively, by Terri Cherniack and Doug McKeag) attempt to come to terms with the tragedy by having dinner with the teen boy found to be the principal instigator (Daniel McIntyre-Ridd) and his parents (Sharon Bajer and Cory Wojcik). The objective is closure. The outcome is something else altogether.

If the play has a real-life inspiration, it would be the 2011 suicide of Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old Ottawa boy suffering from depression exacerbated by continual bullying at school because of his homosexuality.
But for the 26-year-old playwright-filmmaker-choreographer, the play truly gestated in the responses to the suicide.

“What was arresting to me was, sadly, not the spectre of queer teen suicide itself, which has become so commonplace,” Tannahill says. “That’s not what prompted the writing of the play. It was the political reaction to this that, for me, really got under my skin.”

tumblr_nathzu680T1tjrdjpo1_400Tannahill refers specifically to the spectacle of 10 Conservative MPs creating an “It Gets Better” video in response to the tragedy.

It Gets Better, Tannahill explains, is a campaign initiated by sex columnist Dan Savage “in which LGBT adults essentially reassure LGBT youth, who are potentially struggling with identity issues or with bullying, that it gets better, and that they too can have a self-actualized lifestyle or have friends who will love them and family who will love them, and pursue their dreams as LGBT adults.”

The original campaign, Tannahill asserts, was intended as “a conversation between people in the LGBT community.”
“In its essence, the campaign is a very positive force, and for me, the federal Conservatives releasing an It Gets Better video was so tin-eared, it was actually kind of obscene,” he says.

“These were non-gay or not-out MPs, and many of them had actually voted against legislation that would directly improve the lives of queer teens and queer people in Canada,” Tannahill says. (Indeed, one of the participants was former Manitoba MP and public safety minister Vic Toews, a longtime vocal and vociferous Tory warhorse in his stubborn opposition to same-sex marriage through his terms in office.)

“The hypocrisy was so overwhelming,” Tannahill says, adding that he was surprised to find that many friends and acquaintances chose to view the video as a positive sign of progress.
“I had brought this up at a dinner party of some family friends of ours in Ottawa, people of educated middle-class standing within suburban Ottawa, and they could not apprehend the hypocrisy of this. They would say: ‘They’re trying,’ or ‘It’s a gesture.’

“But for me, the idea of ‘it’s a gesture’ is so emblematic of the ways in which so many of us deal with issues of sexual identity and sexual politics,” Tannahill says. “It’s a kind of not-in-my-backyard lip service that’s given to it, and not understanding the ways in which they are directly implicated in perpetuating a society that enacts violence against queer youth all the time.

“It’s not a play about queer teen suicide,” he says. “For me, the play is about larger questions, about collective responsibility about the raising of children in the 21st century. What are our new responsibilities and realities in the 21st century? Who polices the Internet and the cybersphere?”

Tannahill, who recently received the Governor General’s Award for English-language drama, says the attempts to pop the illusory bubble that we live in enlightened times.

“I think we still live in an incredibly conservative, sex-phobic society,” he says. “It ‘tolerates’ other-ness and queer-ness. ‘You have your rights to get married, now please go away and become like us and assimilate.’
“But I think we’re still profoundly troubled and unable to reconcile men who are feminine or flamboyant or a culture that defies that normative vision of what the family is,” he says.
“There’s still a complete lack of awareness about the ways in which people are implicated in the oppression of queer people or people of colour or any of the marginal people of our society.”


The Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 5, 2015 By: Randall King (randall.king@freepress.mb.ca)

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It Gets Better – In Memory of Jamie Hubley


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Fifteen years after Matthew Shepard’s murder, Wyoming remains anti-gay

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Kidnapped, tied to a fence, pistol-whipped and tortured, Shepard died from his injuries. Though the crime sparked nationwide debate, his home state has remained resistant to change

 A basket of flowers hangs from the fence where Matthew Shepard was left to die. Photo: Steve Liss/Time & Life Pictures/Getty
A basket of flowers hangs from the fence where Matthew Shepard was left to die. Photo: Steve Liss/Time & Life Pictures/Getty

When Matthew Shepard died in a Colorado hospital 15 years ago this week, the shockwaves could be felt across America. Kidnapped by two men who had befriended him, tied up to a fence in a remote rural spot, pistol-whipped and tortured, Shepard died of his head injuries on 12 October, 1998.

The outrage that erupted from Shepard’s murder not only put his abductors – Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson – behind bars for life, but it also provoked a nationwide debate about hate crimes against gay people. Evidence presented at trial suggested that the attack had been motivated by violent antagonism towards Shepard, 21, as an openly gay man.

In the aftermath of the brutal killing, several states adopted new hate crimes laws that offered additional protection on grounds of sexual orientation and in some cases gender identity. In 2009, after a long campaign led by Shepard’s mother Judy, a federal version, known as the Matthew Shepard Act, was signed into law by President Obama.

But amid the far-reaching impact of Shepard’s death, one state has stood out as being singularly resistant to change – paradoxically, Shepard’s own home state of Wyoming, where he grew up and where he died. The state is one of only four that has refused to adopt hate crimes protections for the LGBT community – the others being Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina.

A Guardian interactive graphic of gay rights across the US underlines the point – it shows that Wyoming has no hate crimes laws, no same-sex marriage and no anti-discrimination legislation.

 Judy Shepard, mother of 21-year-old murder victim Matthew Shepard, poses for a portrait in the Brooklyn borough of New York February 17, 2013. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Judy Shepard, mother of 21-year-old murder victim Matthew Shepard, poses for a portrait in the Brooklyn borough of New York February 17, 2013. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters
“Wyoming legislators had the perfect opportunity with Matthew’s death to deal with hate crimes, but they backed away,” Judy Shepard told the Guardian, speaking from Casper, Wyoming where she still lives. She has taken a strategic decision not to involve herself in Wyoming politics, on the assumption that it might be counter-productive.

But she still has very firm views about the state’s lack of legislative action over hate crimes. “If they had acted people would no longer think of Wyoming as a place of hate – they’d think of it as the state with Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, and not as the place where the gay kid was killed.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest group working for LGBT equality, has monitored Wyoming’s trajectory over the past 15 years. They have found the jolt that Shepard’s murder caused did not have the same practical effect as in so many other states.

“Unfortunately, Wyoming has taken the view that all crimes are crimes, and that’s good enough. The problem with that view is that it does not recognise that hate crimes have a unique impact on an entire community in a way that other sorts of crimes do not,” said Sarah Warbelow, HRC’s state legislative director.

A few months after the murder, Wyoming was prompted to introduce a hate crimes bill to the floor of its House of Representatives. The measure failed in a tied vote of 30-30.

Jason Marsden, director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which was set up by the victim’s parents, Judy and Dennis, was present at that vote in 1999 and recalls that “it was heartbreaking”. He says that the legislature has never again come close to making a serious bid to introduce protections against hate crimes for the LGBT community.

“My understanding is that the legislature are satisfied that they made the right decision on this, and they won’t be revisiting it any time soon,” he said.

But Marsden, who was a friend of Matthew Shepard’s for a year before he died, said that such a negative note should not be the end of the story. Change has come over the past 15 years even to Wyoming, a state with a population of barely half a million, a universally Republican-dominated politics and a pride in its prevailing libertarian anti-government attitudes.

Though it remains a state without pro-gay rights laws, more and more people are living as openly gay. Census figures reported by the Casper Star Tribune show that the number of same-sex couples in the state have almost doubled from 378 in 2000 to 657 in 2010.

Recent bills to outlaw LGBT discrimination in the workplace and to legalise same-sex partnerships both succeeded in getting out of committee and onto the floor of the legislature for the first time this year. The anti-discrimination bill came especially close, falling by only two votes in the state senate.

“Things are happening in Wyoming,” Marsden said. “More people are coming out and feeling comfortable to self-identify as gay. The state is evolving more quickly than any of us back in 1998 would have imagined.”

This video was produced for the American Giving Awards presented by Chase. The Matthew Shepard Foundation competed for a share of $2 million in grants. The Foundation ended up receiving $250,000 thanks to our many supporters. For more information on the Foundation visit http://www.MatthewShepard.org and http://www.MatthewsPlace.com


This article was amended on 11 October 2013. The original said Matthew Shepard died in a Wyoming hospital.


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Meaning of Family

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“Family is what you make it.” Whether made of blood relatives, friends, or pets, or a combination of these, your family can offer you the support you need to thrive.


140422-425x282-Family‘Family’ is a single word, with many different meanings. People have many ways of defining a family and what being a part of a family means to them. Families differ in terms of economic, cultural, social, and many other facets, but what every family has in common is that the people who call it a family are making clear that those people are important in some way to the person calling them his family.

Definition of Family

The dictionary defines family in several ways. One definition is “a fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.” While this definition is a good starting point, there are several modern family structures that are excluded by this definition, such as childless couples or other variations on the family unit. Another definition is “Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another and reside usually in the same dwelling.” This definition encompasses the vast majority of modern family units; for the purposes of this article, the second definition will be used.

Who Makes a Family?

The traditional family consists of a father, mother and children. This is the family shown on television as the standard family. However, the 21st century showcases a variety of family units, some very different from the standard of the 1950s. Today, children are also often raised in single parent homes, by grandparents or by homosexual parents. Some families opt to have no children, or cannot have children due to some medical or emotional barrier. The idea that parents and children make a family is a basic definition; however, in order to accurately everyone_color_logo-260979792197acknowledge other family structures, a broader definition is necessary. In addition to a more universal family definition, there are also plenty of people who consider a group of friends to be family, and adults who consider pets as defining members of the family unit.

Friends as Family

Many people consider friends to be as close or even closer than extended (or immediate) family. People who have lost close family members may create a family unit of friends with similar interests and goals to become replacements or enhancements to a lacking family structure. This type of family unit, while untraditional, can be 10478932_1429436927345277_3717096846277777157_njust as close, if not closer, than a traditional structure. Friends are chosen by an individual; at times, these people may be more special or important than the family a person was born with. In addition, some people who have supportive families also have an extensive network of friends who they consider to be a second family or as additions to their blood or legal relatives.

Pets as Family

Pets can also become members of a family unit. Pets add an element of responsibility to a family, particularly for children. For couples who cannot, or choose not to, have children, pets can be a replacement and be loved as dearly as children. Pets, such as dogs and cats, are cared for as additional family members by many people and are mourned as such as well when they pass away.

Redefining Family

4_stretchy_menRather than simply defining family by a dictionary definition, each individual should look to define a family by his own standards, enriching the dictionary’s definition. You can have several families in your lifetime, even several families at once if you choose. Regardless of how you choose to define your family unit, whether it is traditional or unique, your definition is of the family unit that works for you. As the saying goes, “Family is what you make it.” Whether made of blood relatives, friends, or pets, or a combination of these, your family can offer you the support you need to thrive.


Meaning of Family By Michelle Blessing – Mental Health Professional


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5 ways you can help with Pink Shirt Day – Feb 25th

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David Shepherd and Travis Price of Berwick from Nova Scotia decided to turn the day around by wearing pink shirts to school as well as distribute 50 pink shirts that carry slogans against bullying. They became organizers of the anti bullying day and wants every day to be Pink Shirt Day

images (5)Last week the CKNW Orphans’ Fund launched an exciting social campaign with the goal to spread positivity and kindness on the internet. It’s super easy to participate, all you do is upload a photo/tag a friend (facebook, twitter, instagram) you want to say something positive about and include the hashtag #PinkItForward. For every use of this hashtag, Coast Capital Savings will donate $1 to Pink Shirt Day, funding anti-bullying programs in BC.

Other AWESOME ways to participate in CKNW Orphans’ Fund Pink Shirt Day – Feb 25th

  1. Purchase the official t-shirt at London Drugs for $9.80 and wear it on Wednesday, Feb 25th – Pink Shirt Day! Only the official t-shirt raises funds for anti-bullying programs!
  2. Pick up a lapel pin at Coast Capital Savings for those of you who wear ties, suits, blouses to work.
  3. Make a donation! Every dollar counts. Donate Now.
  4. Support all our amazing part proceeds campaigns benefiting Pink Shirt Day.
  5. #PinkItForward and help us make the internet a positive place! Be kind and respectful

Just doing one of these small things WILL make a difference.

You can also share this post with your friends and family to help us spread the word!

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Continue readingPosted on February 23, 2015

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Gay Calgary police officer promotes anti-bullying program of hope

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As a kid, Tad Milmine was bullied by a hostile step-mother, ignored by a drunken father andPolice banished to the basement of the family home in Cambridge, Ont.


alta-fivequestions20nw1School wasn’t any better. After running away at 17, Milmine struggled with his confidence and sexuality. Now, in the job he always wanted, the openly gay Calgary police officer is promoting Bullying Ends Here, a program of hope, writes Allan Maki.

What was your childhood like?

I’d come home from school and go right to the basement, and it was a real basement with concrete walls, no TV, no radio, just a bed. Sometimes I’d be allowed to come up for dinner, most of the time it was left at the top of the stairs so I’d eat it in the basement. … I remember two boys once followed me after school. They kept calling me names. When I got home, I said, ‘Okay, I’m safe.’ I could hear some fumbling around on the porch area. Eventually, I went upstairs. The two guys were gone but I could see the glass screen door was all covered in spit. I didn’t want my stepmom seeing that because I would be the one blamed for it.

How did you end up becoming a police officer?

policeman-smileyAfter I ran away from home and got my own apartment, I was working in retail and restaurants and it was just a fluke encounter that at 32 years old I met someone who was a police officer. I remember saying that was my dream. That’s when he said, ‘Have you ever tried? Why wouldn’t you at least try because you have nothing to lose but potentially everything to gain?’ So I did. I applied. I ended up being hired by the RCMP in Surrey, B.C.

You left the RCMP last year. Was it because of your sexuality?

I was not out as a gay man when I applied. It was two years into being a Mountie that I did. … Leaving was about my [anti-bullying] program. I was doing it on my own time at my own expense. I was served a document from the RCMP – eight pages – that was basically a cease-and-desist order saying I had to stop immediately. Shut the website down. No more e-mails. No more presentations until I could meet all of their demands and then seek the approval of the Human Resources officer. I explained that was not possible and that I was going to keep going with the program. It was very business-like; there was no yelling, no insults. I quit. Obviously, a huge door opened and presented me with a chance at joining the Calgary Police Services.

Have you experienced any abuse from your fellow officers?

police-police-officer-uniform-smiley-emoticon-001085-facebookNot at all, not once. I’m aware of the stereotypes out there, especially in this line of work. I thought there was going to be locker-room challenges. There were going to be jokes. The reality is there isn’t, and I only speak from my own experiences because I’m not naive to say it never happens.

When you do your Bullying Ends Here presentation in schools, what do you say to the students and what do they say to you?

I tell them I received 15,000 e-mails last school year alone and I respond to every one myself. Hundreds of those e-mails are from self-confessed bullies and they’re saying they don’t know how to stop. They say, ‘If I stop, I’m not going to be on that pedestal. I’m going to lose my status within this group.’ That reflects what the program is about. It’s all of us, together.


ALLAN MAKI – The Globe and Mail – Published Friday, Feb. 20 2015,


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JCI India Hosts Aeromodelling Show to Collect MY World Votes

Originally posted on MY World:

From JCI India

The 1st phase of the MY WORLD awareness launch was done during the Trade & Fun Fair of JCI Ankleshwar – an Annual event that has been held for last 12 years. The event was launched by Imm. Past President of JCI India Deepak Nahar, in the presence of 5000 people in Ankleshwar, India. Attendees included children and adults from all different walks of life, as well as community leaders such as Zone President of Gujarat Hemal Shah, Ankleshwar Industries Association President Chandresh Devani, President of JCI Ankletshwar Dhiren Shah, Project Chairman Sangita Nahar and other dignitaries present.

In order to draw attention to the importance of MY World as a means of engaging the public in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and to create the World We Want, we planned an innovative way to attract attention to our event – by organizing an Educational Aeromodelling show. During an…

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Why workplace bullying goes underreported

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Bullying at work grinds victims down and make them an ‘easy target’ for further abuse, the findings showed.


Bullying at work deteriorates mental health of victims so much that they become anxious, leaving them less able to stand up for themselves and more vulnerable to further harassment, warns a study.

The research suggests that as workplace bullying is a vicious cycle, employers should not only crack down on workplace bullies, but also help victims gain the skills to cope with difficult situations.

india2“Examples of bullying at work include harassing, offending, or socially excluding someone repeatedly over a period of around six months,” pointed out Ana Sanz Vergel from the University of East Anglia in Britain.

“We found that being exposed to workplace bullying leads to deteriorated mental health and decreased well-being. But at the same time, showing anxious behaviour puts the victim in a weak position and makes them an easy target – leading to a spiral of abuse,” Sanz Vergel added.

The research team tested their theory on 348 Spanish employees. Participants were interviewed about their experiences of bullying and assessed for anxiety and vigour.

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“We are by no means victim-blaming here

Clearly employers need to have strong policies against workplace bullying. But training programmes to help victims learn coping mechanisms could help to break the vicious cycle,” Sanz Vergel said.

The study appeared in Anxiety, Stress & Coping: An International Journal.
Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device. IANS | Feb 18, 2015, 01.29 PM IST
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Outpouring over German teenager’s video shows how serious bullying is

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Three million clicks and counting … There has been a wave of support in response to a simple video posted online by a German teenager who is asking his peers to stand up to bullying. DW takes a look.

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On February 8 at 2:55 p.m., Benjamin “Drews” Fokken posted a video on his Facebook timeline, a pretty regular occurrence for the 19-year-old, who enjoys covering popular songs ranging from Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” to Silbermond’s “Ja” – and posting his renditions to his profile.

imagesThe songs do pretty well, with Fokken averaging in the high hundreds for most videos, but what happened with the clip he uploaded on February 8, “Against Bullying!” blew even his wildest dreams out of the water.

Staring into the camera with an expression of vague melancholy, Fokken holds up papers with the following handwritten messages:

People! Nobody is worth less than anyone else just because he or she:

Has a handicap / May not have much money / May not be very smart / May not have the best figure / Is gay, lesbian or bisexual / Has a different skin color / Has a different religion / Comes from a different country

Victims of bullying often feel lonesome and left alone. They hurt their bodies because they think they are different. They have thoughts about suicide!

How would – you – feel about that?

Only TOGETHER can we CHANGE things! =)


Fokken’s video was clicked more than 3 million times within five days. Over 100,000 people have shared and “liked” it. ☆☆ AGAINST BULLYING !! ☆☆

‘Important and necessary’

The wave of support the video has elicited has been covered extensively in German media, with Fokken giving interviews to a number of outlets about why he felt moved to make it and share it with his peers.
“Don’t worry – I’m not in danger of committing suicide,” he told Spiegel Online, admitting that he had cut his arms with a razor blade before. For years, he suffered from verbal attacks by his peers: “Name-calling, because of how round my body and face are. … But only very seldom have I thought that I didn’t want to be alive in the world anymore.”

0,,16820214_401,00Fokken’s video is a kind of homage to Amanda Todd, a Canadian girl who posted a similar clip to YouTube in which she explained the suffering she went through as a result of bullying.

“There is a dramatic difference between Benjamin’s clip and that of Amanda Todd,” said Uwe Leest, who chairs the Bündnis gegen Cybermobbing, a German initiative against Cyberbullying. “Tragically, this young girl killed herself and used YouTube as a way to send a suicide note. Benjamin has used Facebook to send a strong signal in defense of the victims of bullying. And he deserves our respect for this.”

computing-smileThe Bündnis gegen Cybermobbing says that one in four young people in Germany suffers severely from cyberbullying at some point during puberty. Leest told DW that the attention Fokken’s video has received displays the “great dimension of this social problem,” adding that it wasn’t only important as a show of support for victims, but rather – and perhaps more significantly – as a way to show bullies how much their bullying hurts.

“What Benjamin has done is incredibly vital for our society. His courage to ask: ‘How would you feel?’ to the people who have caused him pain. This was important and necessary,” Leest said.
Fokken himself has described the fear that accompanied posting his video online. “At first I was afraid that it would all start again. The bullying, the name-calling, all that crap,” he told Spiegel Online.

Going by the flood of reactions – almost exclusively positive – to his video, exactly the opposite was the case. “It’s the start of a new life for me,” he told Radio Bremen, audibly pleased that this time he let his courage do the talking.

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Recognizing Anxiety: Symptoms, Signs, and Risk Factors

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Everyone has anxiety from time to time, but chronic anxiety can negatively impact your quality of life. It is a mental health disorder that can also have serious consequences for your physical health.


Anxiety is a normal part of human life. You may have felt anxiety before addressing a group or applying for a job, for example. In the short term, anxiety increases your breathing rate and heart rate, concentrating the blood flow to your brain, where you need it. This very physical response is preparing you to face an intense situation. If it gets too intense, however, you might start to feel lightheaded and nauseous. An excessive or persistent state of anxiety can have a devastating effect on your physical and mental health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 40 million American adults have some type of anxiety disorder every year. An anxiety disorder is a condition in which you experience frequent, powerful bouts of anxiety that interfere with your life. This type of anxiety can get in the way of family, career, and social obligations.
There are several types of anxiety disorder. Among them are:

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  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is excessive anxiety for no apparent reason. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), GAD affects about 6.8 million American adults a year. GAD is diagnosed when extreme worry about a variety of things lasts six months or longer. If you have a mild case, you’re probably able to function fairly normally. More severe cases may have a profound impact on your life.
  • Social anxiety disorder is a paralyzing fear of social situations and of being judged or humiliated by others. This severe social phobia can leave one feeling ashamed and alone. About 15 million American adults live with social anxiety disorder, according to the ADAA. The typical age at onset is 13. Thirty-six percent of patients wait a decade or more before pursuing help.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops after you’ve witnessed or experienced something traumatic. Symptoms can begin immediately or be delayed for years. Common causes include war, natural disasters, or physical attack. Episodes of anxiety may be triggered without warning.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is also a type of anxiety disorder. People with OCD are overwhelmed with the desire to perform particular rituals (compulsions) over and over again. Common compulsions include habitual hand washing, counting, or checking something.

images (10)Phobias are also anxiety disorders. Common phobias include fear of tight spaces (claustrophobia) and fear of heights (acrophobia). It creates a powerful urge to avoid the feared object or situation.
Panic disorder causes panic attacks spontaneous feelings of anxiety, terror, or impending doom. Physical symptoms include heart palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath. These attacks may be repeated at any time. People with any type of anxiety disorder may have panic attacks.

Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

1_0Anxiety manifests in many different ways. Symptoms may be unique to the type of anxiety disorder or to the individual. All include magnified worry about something for more than six months. General symptoms include:

  • nervousness, irritability, restlessness
  • trouble sleeping, fatigue
  • trouble concentrating

During moments of extreme anxiety or during a panic atta…..continue reading >>>>>


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Also a Great read on managing fear and anxiety: A Layman’s Guide to Managing FEAR


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Spark: A Visual Poem by Meghan Rienks

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“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

I learned a lot about myself and life in these last few months. I thought I would share some of these insights with you all.

fd2d24c781ce11529ef488d291bc386eWe have a choice on how we live our lives. We can be defined by numbers and scores and things you write on paper. Or we can measure our worth in compassion, gratitude and things we cannot touch. I hope you choose to grow, to learn and to be your own spark.

All of the thanks to Lily Marston for never telling me my ideas are impossible & always pushing me one step further. This video could not have been done without you.

Stalk me across the internet:
♡ Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/meghanrosette
♡ Instagram http://instagram.com/meghanrienks
♡ Second Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/MoreMeghann
♡ Tumblr: http://meghanrosette.tumblr.com/
♡ Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/meghanrosette/
♡ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/meghanrosettte


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Bullying and Corporate Psychopaths at Work

Bullying Prevention:

An interesting post from July 29, 2013…..revised

Originally posted on The New Bullying Prevention:

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smiley-typing-computerWorkplace Bullying will always be, it’s impossible to stop a Psychopath that is without a conscience, empathy and are self centred, and will destroy anyone or anything that appears as a threat.smiley_ordi_travail2

star-153133_640I want to share a video from a Professor at the “Middlesex University” in England, his professional views on Bullying and work Psychopaths.

Clive is a Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at Middlesex University in England. For the past seven years, he has studied the evidence and effects of toxic leadership, and in particular the influence of the presence of corporate psychopaths on various workplace outcomes, including on levels of conflict and bullying at work.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a…

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