The Save a Life program is designed to teach and give strength to teens and adults so they may assist others in crisis. By informing people of the warning signs that indicate trouble, community members learn when to step in to help. In the past seven years, there have been over 25 deaths in the Yorktown and Cortlandt Manor communities. These have been caused by drugs and alcohol, physical and emotional abuse, and depression. With such an incredibly high number of incidents, the community has agreed on this program to address the causes and present prevention measures.
Save a Life was presented by The Yorktown Interfaith Ministerial Association and the Alliance for Safe Kids (ASK). This is the second year the event has taken place. Any student that attends in entitled to receive three hours of community service credit, along with a signed certificate.
When the youths were asked if parents understand them, not a single hand was raised. That’s because each generation experiences more challenging situations that the one before it. But every adult in attendance clearly cares enough to try to get a clue. Looking around the audience, Taryn Grimes, the keynote speaker, announced, “We’re not in this alone.” More than half of the Yorktown Stage Community and Cultural Center was filled with adults and teenagers that care enough about their community to want to make a difference.
One of the main goals of the program is to get people to know one or two things they can do to help or at least recognize a problem by. When a child is bullied, his or her self-esteem falls. It only takes a single occasion to be hurt permanently. “You remember if you’re being bullied,” Grimes said. Not only does it impact a child’s life, but it affects adults as well, and apologies don’t always matter. If somebody simply says “sorry” ad dismisses the topic, the pain remains. Grimes recommended a “three-pronged apology,” which consists of what you did wrong, why you did it, an apology and the promise to never do it again. By addressing every aspect of the mistake, the victim will feel more reassured than they would otherwise.
“Every choice you make creates who you are,” Grimes said, so it’s important to choose carefully. Bullying occurs when people feel insecure about themselves, and victims tend to feel like failures. “You’re not perfect; stop pretending you are.” Grimes instructed. “Find a reason to be happy.” Grimes herself has dealt with a bullied child. At the age of seven, he came home from school and said, “I can’t take it anymore.” “The more my family focused on the bullying, the worse it got.” Grimes said. It’s best to focus on making your child strong, as strength is the only thing that can really combat the bully.
There were 10 students under the age of ten that said in the groups that they have told their parents they are suicidal. With such an intense number of young children feeling society’s pressure strongly, it’s critical that parents learn to recognize the signs of depression and insecurity, according to one of the event organizers Lisa Tomeny, executive director of ASK.
The Save a Life program offers two variants, one for teens, and one for adults. The teen workshops offer guidance for caring confrontations and helping friends with the discussion of suicide, returning from rehab, and the signs of danger. The adult workshops provide information on how to take action, trouble with the law, suicidal teens and neighbors, and talking with other parents.
“Life is not always about what happens to you. Life is about how you respond to what happens to you.” Grimes said. When your child is bullied, you may want to go to that child’s parent or the school and bully them. But instead, you could “use this experience to help make (you) a better person.” “You have control over where you’re going in your life,” Grimes said, and “the respect you give out to other people will come back to you.”