How to empower kids to say ‘no’

Parenthood has some obvious lessons we need to impart to our children: walking, reading, riding a bike. Physical consent is different. I have two daughters and a son, ages 3 to 9. My big fear is how to keep them safe from sexual abuse. How do you teach your child about such a horrible subject without making them afraid of the world? How can I protect them? How can I teach them about consent? Experts say the best way is to have an ongoing conversation. The younger you start, the…

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New hope for youth through spoken word, poetry

I first met Aubrey Barnes at an open mic I produced. He performed with power and passion, starting his poem before he even got to the stage. I watched as his words, palpable and poignant, landed in people’s ears. We were captivated. Later, I learned this 27-year-old is a spoken word performer from the Quad Cities, who’s taken the stage with tenacity for the past five years; a producer of shows for local artists; founder of an after-school program; and a teacher. When I had the chance to interview Aubrey…

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Bullying victims need adults to speak up

Whenever I reflect on the many moments that I felt less than my peers in school, the sinking feeling returns. The blush begins at the base of my neck. I know the embarrassment all too well. I’d often wear the baggiest clothes, like a sweatshirt and loose athletic pants, to hide the shape of my body. My mindset was, if anyone were to notice how the sides of my stomach hung over the waistband of my jeans, I’d certainly offend them. Other aspects of my physical appearance and personality also…

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Misfits, and proud of it

When I first sat down with a crew of the Misfits, the teen component of the IC Bruisers, I expected to hear your standard fun fare about youth enjoying group sports in a community-supported program. Instead, the most agonizing of teenage angst poured forth. Ileana Knapp (skater name Collide-a-Scope) found the support she needed as an 18-year-old to overcome thoughts of self-harm when she found the IC Bruisers and the Misfits. Alysa Cato, 18, (skater name Sneaky One) skates after being bullied in almost all other organized sports.  She felt…

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REVIEW: Young lesbian love tested in “Rafiki”

A village in Kenya serves as the colorful backdrop for the drama that unfolds in the film “Rafiki” meaning ‘friend’ or ‘companion’ in Swahili. “Rafiki” is adapted from a short story by Monica Arac de Nyeko called “Jambula Tree.”  For a short story adaptation, the complexity of multi-layered political oppression, bigotry and a sweet first love come through in a rich and bold way.   “Rafiki” packs an emotional punch, (directed by Wanuri Kahiu) and like the similarly adapted short story to film, has much in common with “Brokeback Mountain.”…

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Roller derby’s women power through Iowa

IOWA CITY — Seeking out bruising physical contact, and falling and rolling around on top of each other are things normally associated with guys. But in roller derby, the world’s fastest-growing sport and one growing in popularity throughout Iowa, women are the ones displaying this kind of non-stop physical dominance and strength. Few players illustrate that better than Hannah Wyland, the strapping jammer and player/coach/trainer for Old Capitol City Roller Derby. Wyland’s fancy footwork, muscular moves and speedy skating make her a standout at every match. And no wonder; she…

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Pride Con for youth coming to IC Feb. 23; parents welcome

For the 5th year in a row, United Action for Youth is hosting PRIDE CON, a youth summit for LGTBTQ+ youth and their parents/caregivers Feb. 23. This summit provides a space where young people can connect with peers, learn about new topics, and receive support.  Last year, this event drew 55 youth from around the Corridor. They were bursting with excitement about the opportunity to have a welcoming space to be themselves and to be part of an inclusive community.  Topics for breakout sessions this year include  bystander intervention, mental…

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