Monday, August 30, 2010

Seattle Program gives homeless youth a voice in more ways than one


Peace for the Streets by Kids From the Streets (PSKS)

"We Provide support and services to Seattle area homeless youth and young adults. Our committed efforts are targeted at providing stepping stones to transition youths from the streets to self-sufficiency and productive roles in community."

PSKS was began as a project - a one day concert planned by, then teacher, Elain Simons with some of her students. After the concert was done, Elaine went back to school, but her students wanted it to continue. What started there has grown into a program unlike any other in Seattle where the participants, homeless and formerly homeless young adults, can take pride and ownership on a higher level if they are interested.

Recently, Teen Link staff and volunteers did a site visit at PSKS to get some firsthand knowledge of what this org that has been serving the youth of Seattle for 15 years actually does, what they are all about and what makes them so special.

Upon walking in and immediately being greeted and welcomed into the space, we were taken on a brief tour of the facility. "Cluttered" is NOT the right word to describe the space because everything seems to be in it's proper place, but there definitely is A LOT of stuff - from toys for toddlers to blankets and toiletries - PSKS seems to have it all covered, which speaks to how MUCH it is that this seemingly small org actually gets done. All of these items are easily accessed and the best part - NOTHING is locked up. This contributes to the laid back/relaxed atmosphere of the center. The walls are also adorned with artwork

After a brief tour, we sat down to speak with Elaine Simons, founder and executive director and ask her a few questions:

Who do you serve?
 - That depends on the program. Each program we offer deals with a different group of young people. But, there is no exit age for the agency. Technically they stop serving youth at age 26, but there are opportunities for participants to then volunteer or apply to work as staff members.

What are your programs? Click here for a complete list of PSKS programs.
 - RISK (Reinventing Steps to Knowledge): high school completion/GED program for young adults
- LEAP (Lasting Employment Advancement Program): PSKS hires young adults who show promise for three-month internships
- STEP Up: Peer organized women's support group
- Step Beyond: support group for formerly homeless youth

(If all that wasn't enough, there are: a ton of ongoing daytime workshops geared toward teaching homeless youth how to advocate for themselves; an ongoing forum of dialogues between the police, business owners and homeless youth to encourage peaceful coexistence; and CORE membership which allows for homeless youth to take some ownership of the program, participate in the decision making process and represent PSKS in public.)

What makes PSKS special?
We try to break down as many barriers as we can for the clients. Once people come through the door, they have access to pretty much everything. Staff are on the same floor as the clients are, clients with felony charges are still served, dogs are also welcome in the center. These are common barriers for many homeless young people, preventing them from moving forward, receiving services and from trusting the system.

Click on the link to view a documentary about street kids from the PSKS website:

And if you'd like to go check out PSKS yourself, click HERE to view a map of their location.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This, movies, music and more.

New Releases:

8/24 Music
JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys - Fidelity!;  Ra Ra Riot - Orchard; Dead Confederate - Sugar; Mogwai - Special Moves; Apocalyptica - 7th Symphony;  Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters - Spread The Love; Sword - Warp Riders;  Red Horse - Red Horse; Little Big Town - Reason Why; Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin - Je T'aime...Moi Non; Usher - Versus; Fantasia - Back To Me;  Margaret Cho - Cho Independent; Blind Guardian - At The Edge Of Time; Eels - Tomorrow Morning; Linkin Park - Catalyst (Limited Edition); Devil Wears Prada - Zombie EP; Never Shout Never - Harmony; Bad City - Welcome To The Wasteland; Antony & The Johnsons - Thank Your Love; Randy Rogers Band - Burning The Day; Lang Lang - Lang Lang Live In Vienna; John Scofield - 54

8/24 Movies
Withnail & I (Blu-Ray); Time Bandits (Blu-Ray); Survival Of The Dead; 5 A Day; NCIS: Season 7; Patty Duke Show: Season 3; Pixies - Acoustic & Electric (Blu-Ray); Electric Light Orchestra - Live: The Early Years (DVD); Gossip Girl: Season 3; City Island;

In theaters now:
The Expendables - A family reunion of action stars, heavy on the fighting, explosions and one-liners. Here's what the critics have said:

"It makes good on the old-school action it promises, but given all the talent on display, The Expendables should hit harder." - Rotten Tomatoes

"If ever there was a movie that was all about the action scenes, ‘The Expendables’ is it." - Screen Rant

Vampires Suck - Yet another spoof in the same vein as "Scary Movie", "Date Movie", and "Epic Movie". This one however takes a stab at Hollywood's (and the public's) recent obsession with movies about vampires but specifically targets the Twilight trilogy.
And the verdict from
Why you should watch it:
- if spoof movies are your thing as it brings nothing new to the old ways of the genre
Why you shouldn't watch it:
- if spoof movies aren't your thing as it brings nothing new to the old ways of the genre

New in the theaters this Friday:

Avatar: Special Edition: Not to be confused with the "director's cut" version of the movie that will be released sometime in the future on DVD, this version of the original movie that made BILLIONS in its first go-round includes an additional 8 minutes of new footage.

"I'm trying to use the technology to keep people interested and enthused about the 'Avatar' universe, because it's going to be a long time before we get another 'Avatar' movie done," the filmmaker said in a recent interview.

And apparently there are plans for at least two sequels and a book.
Click on the link to se the "new" trailer:

 The Last Exorcism: the latest horror/terror flic about demonic possession shot in a  faux documentary style that takes place in the south. Lots of chills, bible-thumping, and supernatural...stuff.

And the review from - "The scare sequences are well executed and very effective, the imagery striking home all the more because of the naturalistic manner in which it is shot. But, that said, it is very much a horror picture of the slow burn variety, not the smack-you-in-the-face series of jump scares that the trailers promise."

In the news

FROM National Public Radio: "With Birth Control Pills, New Isn't Always Better"
by Richard Knox

"Be wary of claims that a potent pill will solve all your problems — it's probably not true. "

Bayer HealthCare, the leading maker of birth control pills, is coming out with a brand new pill. Natazia, as it's called, contains a form of estrogen that's never been used in an oral contraceptive.
It also has a novel dosing regimen. Women on Natazia will take four different combinations and doses of hormones or sugar pills each month.

The new launch coincides with growing problems for Bayer's last new contraceptive, Yaz...

To read the rest of the article click on the link:

OR listen to the podcast:

9/11 families, others rally in favor of NYC mosque 
If you've been following the controversy that's been building across the country about the Islamic community center and mosque set to be built near Ground Zero, this article brings us up to date with some changes in what has been, til now, been a very contentious issue.

From The Seattle Times: 
'The planned mosque and Islamic center blocks from ground zero got a new boost Wednesday from a coalition of supporters that includes families of Sept. 11 victims.
New York Neighbors for American Values rallied for the first time at a municipal building near ground zero.

"I lost a 23-year-old son, a paramedic who gave his life saving Americans and their values," Talat Hamdani said, and supporting the Islamic center and mosque "has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with standing up for our human rights, including freedom of religion."
Among the nearly 2,800 people killed when the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001 were more than 30 Muslims, she noted.

Opponents of the Islamic center project argue it's insensitive to the families and memories of Sept. 11 victims to build a mosque so close. Supporters cite freedom of religion.'

Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below: