Person of the Year, A Club to Save the World, and 2012’s Other Big Moments
December 21, 2012

Five links to close out 2012

(Note: Pass The Chalk will be on hiatus until January 2, 2013. We look forward to resuming our regular publication schedule in the New Year. Have a wonderful holiday!)

President Obama has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. . .for the second time. (Obama first received the recognition in 2008 when he became the nation’s first black President.) This year, Time editor Rick Stengel describes Obama as the “Architect of the New America, citing his ”historic re-election last month as symbolic of the nation's shifting demographics and the rise of younger, more diverse Americans.” Go POTUS!

Photo by The White House via WikiCommons 

If I could nominate a second Person of the Year, it would be Professor Ron Adams at Broad Meadows High School In Quincy, Mass. The 64-year-old career educator teaches seventh grade English to “100 extraordinary students” and has spent the last 33 years running an after-school human rights club known affectionately as the “Save The World Club.” Its student members have made big changes in their communities: One led a letter-writing campaign to bring a World War II battleship to the Quincy shipyard and convert it into a museum; another raised $250,000 to help poor children in Pakistan.

On the heels of last week’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, MSNBC reporter Trymaine Lee reminds us that in Chicago, a similar story is heard almost every week. Homicides in Chicago increased by 30% this summer, and more than 270 school-aged children have been killed in Chicago in just the last three years. As one reporter noted, conditions are worse than in an actual war zone: “144 American soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan by June of this year; 228 Chicagoans had been killed during that same time period.” With an Obama-appointed task force taking on gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, I wonder if the tragedies in Chicago will also come to an end?

I said it before, and I will say it again: Now, more than ever, mental health awareness is something that concerns everyone. Many have blamed the Sandy Hook tragedy on the stigmatization and lack of attention paid to mental illnesses. As a mental health advocate, I think it’s unrealistic and untrue to say that “If the mentally ill could just get the proper help they need, then tragedies like that in Newtown would not happen.” Recent data collected by a coalition of more than 800 city leaders, co-led by Michael Bloomberg, revealed that “19 states have provided fewer than 100 mental health records each to the national database, representing 100 or perhaps fewer people.” I wonder how much the siloing of mental health recordsespecially when it comes to people who legally own weaponsadversely affects our safety and puts our kids in danger?

Finally, I must say that it’s been a rather stormy year. Here’s hoping that 2013 will bring us happier, brighter stories. That is, if the Mayans were in fact mistaken and we make it past today.

Have wonderful and happy holidays, everyone. See you next year! Pura Vida.

Category: The Friday Five

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