August 2019 Newsletter

AUGUST 2019 NEWSLETTER

GRANDPARENTS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE

TEEN SUICIDE SURVIVOR: “I WAS BORN TO CHANGE PEOPLE’S LIVES FOR THE BETTER.”

Monday, August 26
4:00 – 5:45 p.m.
Colonial Church in Prairie Village
(lower level, east side at back)
7039 Mission Road

Bullied and harassed at school, physically attacked and ultimately beaten unconscious, 16-year-old Claire Tietgen of Overland Park tried three times to end her life, the first attempt at age 11. Her parents didn’t know.

Once her later attempts were discovered, Claire’s family intervened. Through hard work and a passion for mixed martial arts, Claire not only survived but has flourished. She developed her own YouTube show called “Bullied But Not Broken,” met Dana White, president of the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) organization and dined with MMA star Ronda Rousey. Perhaps most importantly, Claire’s experience was the impetus for her family’s starting the E3 (for embrace, empower, encourage) Sports Facility in Overland Park last year to help young people struggling like Claire did.

The Tietgen family story is important to hear for two reasons: suicides account for more than 60% of gun-related deaths each year and September is national Suicide Awareness Month.

Self-awareness is among the key lessons taught at E3 along with jiu-jitsu, yoga and fitness classes. The gym builds self-confidence and provides a welcoming outlet for at-risk kids to work out and talk about their feelings of depression and suicide.

Claire’s father Charlie Tietgen will join her to describe E3’s goals and its use of the Kolbe-Y Assessment in guiding at-risk kids from 4th grade to age 17 to understand what motivates them, thus helping to reduce stress, improve learning and ward off depression that can lead to suicide.

Join us August 26 to learn how Claire and her family successfully navigated these dangerous waters and now help other families do the same.

ADVOCACY CORNER

Our July program focused on how to support the increasingly at-risk population of young people identifying as LGBTQ. They are at much higher risk for homelessness, drug/alcohol abuse, survival sex work and suicide than non-LGBTQ youth, according to the presentation by Kim Shaw-Ellis, the LGBTQ Liaison and Diversity Officer for KCPD and an instructor at the Regional Police Academy.

She shared other troubling statistics and insights into the LGBTQ youth population including their three main areas of concern: bullying, non-accepting families and fear of being outed. July meeting minutes.

Following Kim’s presentation, CiCi Glasgow, Outreach & Education Manager of the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project/KC Passages, spoke about the Passages Youth Group, a safe, affirming place where LGBTQ youth ages 14 to 20 can socialize and learn. The group meets Wednesday nights at 40th and Pennsylvania in Westport.

After the program, GAGV attendees wrote personal notes of support to Passages participants to be shared at their next meeting. In addition to emotional support, GAGV members signed up to provide baked goods for the Passages weekly meetings plus help stock its Food Pantry and Clothes Closet.

Interested in contributing? Check out the group’s Wish List and bring your donations to GAGV’s August 26 meeting. Thanks in advance for supporting this worthy group. 

Another Advocacy Opportunity

Congress is now on August recess, with members home for a six-week break. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to contact and/or visit your representative and senators about their stances on gun reform.

You can thank U.S. Representatives Sharice Davids (KS) and Emanuel Cleaver (MO) for being gun safety champions. Then let U.S. Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts (KS) and Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley (MO) know you’re holding them accountable for opposing common-sense gun reform. The House has passed HR8 requiring stricter background checks, while the Senate has failed to consider the companion bill S42.

Mark Your Calendars

Sunday, September 8 – Annual 5K Remembrance Walk at Loose Park 

Register
Registration at 8 am / Walk starts at 9 am

Sponsored by MOKAN Suicide Awareness Survivor Support.

Sunday, September 15 – Annual Speak Up Walk at Garmin Pavilion 

1200 E. 151st Street, Olathe
Registration at 8 am / Walk starts at 9 am

A collaboration of Speak Up, Greater KC Mental Health Coalition and Jewish Family Services to help end the stigma of suicide.

Monday, September 23 – GAGV Monthly Meeting – Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Learn how Johnson County, KS, saw dramatic results after changing how it assessed the danger levels of domestic abuse. Megan Ahsens, an assistant district attorney specializing in domestic violence cases, will explain.

Saturday, October 5 – Out of Darkness Walk at Swope Park 

10 am to noon

Sponsored by the Greater Kansas City chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Monday, October 14 – 6th Annual Community Forum on Gun Violence

Gun Violence: Insights from Both Ends of the Gun, sponsored by the Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence, a program of GAGV.

Learn how you can attend and help sponsor this important Forum.

Spread the word by sharing the Save the Date with family and friends. Individual tickets go on sale Monday, August 26, 2019.


    News You Can Use 

    As you consider the success of Lock It For Love, read these articles about gun safety:

    An April 2019 University of Washington study found that about a third of older adults don’t store their firearms in the safest way: locked and unloaded.

    Millions Of Older Americans Own Guns, Leaving Caretakers To Worry About The Risk

    Anti-gun violence advocates in Oregon are petitioning the state to include on the 2020 ballot an initiative requiring safe storage of weapons and mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns.

    Petition for safe-storage ballot measure filed today!

    In other gun related news, Kansas recognizes the issue of youth suicide. 

    Governor signs bill creating Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator

    A very provocative blog post: when will most Americans demand meaningful gun control?

    Gun Control Eludes America

    The following story, written by high school junior Sam Wolf, echoes the plea for the public to respond to gun violence.

    When it comes to gun violence, where did the outrage go?

    HAPPY 2ND ANNIVERSARY TO LOCK IT FOR LOVE!

    When GAGV volunteers participated in the first Lock It For Love (LIFL) event in July 2017 at the Swope Health Back to School Fair, the goal was to make the public more aware of the need for gun safety in the home by giving free gun locks to gun owners. Now only two years later, LIFL has distributed nearly 2,000 gun locks at 86 events, with an additional 17 events already scheduled in the next three months.

    Barb McNeile and Chris Glenski, LIFL co-chairs, welcomed LIFL volunteers to the July meeting.  

    The LIFL program, chaired by Barb McNeile and Chris Glenski, has mobilized 57 dedicated GAGV volunteers. Together those volunteers have logged a combined 645 hours of staffing LIFL displays, traveling countless miles and educating thousands of KC metro residents and beyond about the need for safe storage of weapons and responsible gun ownership.

    LIFL volunteers have appeared throughout the bi-state area, from Liberty to Gardner and Topeka to Independence. They’ve participated in a variety of events including baby fairs, neighborhood festivals, suicide prevention programs, health fairs, Boys and Girls Club parent meetings and home shows. Almost every event has led to another opportunity to spread the important message of storing guns safely and keeping kids safe.

    Chris Glenski, Lock It For Love Co-Chair, recognized each volunteer with a thank you and a rose.

    At each event LIFL volunteers have been joined by a police officer who demonstrates how to properly use the free gun lock. The program’s initial partnership with KCPD has expanded to 10 other police departments in both Kansas and Missouri. Another valued partner has been the staff at Children’s Mercy whose doctors and social workers have invited LIFL to virtually every event related to gun safety.

    GAGV feels confident its LIFL message and 2,000 gun locks have saved from tragedy at least one toddler, a distraught teen or even a senior citizen with dementia by limiting their access to a loaded, unlocked firearm. If you’d like to volunteer for a LIFL event, sign up at the August 26 meeting.

    Octavia Butler, the first science fiction writer to receive
    a coveted MacArthur Genius Fellowship