In springtime, Marin County is one of the most beautiful places to live, with abundant open-space areas, fresh air, wildflowers and wildlife. As many parents know, this is a great county in which to raise kids, as it’s blessed with excellent schools, recreational and enrichment opportunities, and numerous scenic hiking and biking trails.
But within this magnificent place, many children are suffering. According to data gathered by Heather Ravani, Marin County’s Assistant Director of Health and Human Services, there are some disturbing facts:
· There are 924 homeless people in Marin, and 190 of them are children, according to a recent survey.
· More than 51,000 Marin residents don’t have enough food, and many of those are children in need of food.
· Last year, the county’s Children and Family Services Department received 1,630 referrals, and nearly 300 of these cases required an emergency response.
· Over the years, there has been a dramatic increase in children needing to be adopted.
Also distressing is the news that, poor or rich, youth in Marin County have among the highest rates of binge drinking and prescription-drug and marijuana abuse in the state. Novato youth are already developing these unhealthy habits, and in recent years, some teens have lost their lives to drugs and alcohol-related accidents. A few Novato organizations are working to end this troublesome trend, and one of them is the Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth (www.novatoblueribbon.org).
On Tuesday, May 13, the Coalition will be participating in a Parent Forum at San Marin High School’s Gym from 6-8 p.m. for all Novato parents and community members. Guest speakers will present recent trends in synthetic drugs, restorative justice efforts in the schools, and overviews of school services in support of families and youth regarding drug and alcohol prevention and intervention. Those wishing to learn more about the event can contact Gary Federoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 686-4070.
Due to NovatoSpirit’s interest in improving the physical and mental health of Novato’s vulnerable kids and teens, we have been involved in the Coalition’s work since 2006. We feel very fortunate to be among a group of caring adults who have the interest and skills to help our kids make healthy, life-enhancing decisions. Those interested in joining the Coalition can attend our next meeting May 28th from 3:30-5 p.m. at Novato City Hall, 901 Sherman Ave. For more info, please contact Jasmine Freese at email@example.com or (415) 798-5329.
Many youth in Marin also struggle with health problems, such as obesity and diabetes. In some parts of Novato, 50% of people living there—including kids—are overweight or obese. Currently, NovatoSpirit is working with City of Novato staff and some health-oriented professionals in their efforts to strengthen the HEAL (Heathy Eating, Active Living) initiative to help the entire Novato community.
Maybe you have had enough bad news regarding our youth. Here’s the good news: Youth and their families do have several support systems and resources they can turn to for help in this county. Within this supportive network, NovatoSpirit plays a small role. But the kids we serve say that the athletic scholarships we provide make them feel healthier and happier.
One of our new karate scholarship students, an 8-year-old boy, wrote: “I would like a scholarship to learn karate because my doctor suggest to me to have an activity, and my parents want to help me too, because I want to be active to prevent any kind of disease in my life. I really need a scholarship because the place where I live is very small and we don’t have a lot of space to play. Also my parents can’t pay for the sports. They don’t have a lot of money to support for this. I want to learn karate because I can be a very active boy and the most important to be healthy. I love my family. I want to be an example for other kids and help my little brother with the discipline for our future.”
Thanks to the financial support we’ve received this year, we are able to help this boy and other youth increase their fitness and well-being. Thank you one and all for making this happen!
NovatoSpirit is a 501c3 public charity serving youth living at 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. For more information please visit NovatoSpirit.org or call (415) 892-5118.