October: A month to care in many ways

I often check the Department of Health’s annual calendar of special days and months to celebrate certain aspects of humanity. I noticed three “specials” this month relating to stopping violence, creating peace, and making a difference. I then found another on resolving conflicts at another website.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. There is a two-minute video on the website that lets people know that usually when one person stands up to a bully, another will follow. We can each be that one person, or even the second person. Every October hundreds of schools participate in Pacer’s National Bullying prevention month. They had over one million visits in 2014.

Ways to be that one person are to be the ones who say, “You are not alone, I’m here for you.” You can see them, acknowledge them, sit with them at lunch, talk with them, be a friend, respect them, hear them out, understand them. We are all invited to stand and together we can turn lives around.

Speaking up about bullying isn’t “tattling.” It’s telling, and needs to be told. We need to teach our children that. Causing physical pain to another person is assault.

Repeated taunting is harassment. Both are illegal, and cruel. It isn’t acceptable. When the majority of students refuse to tolerate bullying, and begin taking stands, the bullying will slow down, and then stop, except in rare instances when a bully may need extra teaching or counseling.

Nationally there is a Unity Day on Wed. Oct. 19. Teachers can get a free poster for their school. It states, “Unity Day, Together Against Bullying. Unite for kindness, acceptance and inclusion. Wear Orange.”

Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The YWCA of Kauai is the prime resource to go to for information on preventing domestic violence. It helps women realize that they must be the ones to stand up to the perpetrators who are harming them.

They are given skills and knowledge to empower them. And then, when they are ready, YWCA offers safe houses and counseling to protect the women and sometimes children, until they are on their feet again.

Through Oct. 25, the YWCA is fundraising by having a sale of high-quality new, vintage, and gently used designer handbags on Friday, Oct. 21 at the KCC Performing Arts Center from 5 to 9 p.m. Last year, they provided over 4,000 bed days for 85 survivors and 68 children, provided 95 adults with individual counseling, provided 50 adults with 294 hours of group support, gave individual support to 32 children, served 9,237 meals, answered 724 Hotline calls, and helped people (not just women) get 104 Temporary Restraining Orders.

When you support the YWCA, you support hundreds.

Oct. 22 is National Make a Difference Day. It is one of the largest annual single-days of service nationwide. Since 1992, volunteers and communities have come together on MADD with the purpose of improving the lives of others. Community involvement can include organizing a 5K walk for those in need, collecting clothing and blankets to donate to a homeless shelter, cleaning up a road while collecting and recycling bottles and cans found along the way, organizing a food drive, or cleaning up a public park.

The Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park will be making a difference by coating the Kamalani Play Bridge at the South end of the park with sealant. The Lydgate Beach Bridge is made of wood and has endured blistering sun, pelting by sand, salt water, rain and wind, but is staying strong due to the diligence of the Friends of Kamalani and the community at the work days. Work crews will tackle various areas of the Bridge to make sure that all gets coated.

Come at 7:30 a.m. with some friends and sign up for a supervised crew. Lunch is served at 11:30 thanks to the donations of restaurants, organizations, and individuals who choose to make a difference in the park with food to feed the workers. Wear work clothes.

Or make a difference in your own quiet way; visit a sick or lonely friend. Help someone with a difficult chore. Cook a meal and share it with someone. Apologize for something. Forgive someone. Your caring is one of your greatest resources.

Oct. 20 is Conflict Resolution Day,intended to promote the concept of peaceful conflict resolution. Created in 2005 by the Association for Conflict Resolution is now an annual celebration.

Primarily an educational event, the main purpose of Conflict Resolution Day is to increase awareness of the various peaceful, non-violent methods of conflict resolution available, such as mediation and arbitration. In addition, the ACR hopes to promote their use in various different avenues of life, including in schools, workplaces, within the legal system and even amongst families.

Kauai Economic Opportunity mediators will be gathering at KEO On Oct. 18 for light refreshment at noon, to share with each other, and then go to the rotunda for photos. We want all members of Kauai to know that there is an active group of mediators trained to help them resolve conflict.

All small claims court cases, Temporary Restraining Order cases and some circuit court cases are referred to the KEO mediators before going to trial. Conflicts are resolved confidentially. In mediation, it the goal is to reach a win-win solution where everyone’s needs are met as much as possible and the relationship has the potential to be restored. More than half the cases are resolved by mediators.

And just remember that doing a kind action increases that feel good serotonin hormone into our systems. It just makes us feel better to be kind. Serotonin levels also rise when we observe others doing kind things. Maybe that’s why everyone is smiling at all these community events that help others.

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Annaleah Atkinson is a volunteer with Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i, a support group for teens and their families. Email your questions or concerns to aatkinson@haleopio.org.

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