Teens just want to feel connected

Teens don’t always have the capacity to make good decisions and teens are most at risk when lacking a strong support system and sense of community at home.

Research show that the pre frontal cortex part of  brain which allows us to make decisions and evaluate situations does not finish developing until early 20’s putting teens at a completely different developmental level as adults.

” That is why we are not always successful in getting through to teens its simply brain development ”  said Dayna Lowinsky  ( preferred if real name was not disclosed) Clinical psychologist.

Hard wired for connection

Maslows pyramid of hierarchy of human needs (pixgood.com)

Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs show that “belonging” and “esteem” are basic human needs that are just as important as food and water.

According to clinical psychologist Dayna Lowinski who has been working with at risk teens for over 6 years at risk behavior can occur in any teen regardless of their life situation or financial status.

She says Teens who are likely to be more at-risk are usually those that lack a strong support system at home as well as teens who are not coping well with the different challenges that they are facing, what they are most likely seeking is a connection and searching elsewhere is what may lead to risky behavior.

The importance in having a sense of community

Extra curriculum activities give kids self esteem and a sense of community. Teens who participate in extracurricular activities such as sports are seeking the same connection as a teen that seeks out gang activity. The difference is that need to fit in is being fulfilled by a team instead of a gang. Both are acting as an escape route for that teen to feel like they belong.

” The base of it is that we are hard wired as humans for connection it is one of basic needs like food and water i think all those teens are looking for are ways to escape or numb or find acceptance and fill that void for connection that has always been missing. ” said Dayna Lowinski clinical psychologist.

Gangs may feel like family 

Looking at the way gangs are structured it is like a family. Teens that get into that environment are seeking to be understood and have that family connection they may not be getting at home.

“Gangs are structured like a family system they call each other bros and brothers and the head of the gang is kind of like the dad they are mimicking this family system which is what they are probably missing in their own life ” said Dayna Lowinski Clinical Psychologist.

Picture perfect from what perspective?

troubled teens

labeled “troubled teens” hanging out they feel like brothers (Luisa Alvarez)

Nem, who admits being involved in criminal activity as a teen said his need to feel respected and ” not messed with” is what lured him into that lifestyle.

” I was bullied and when I brought a knife to school I saw no one messed with me, then it became about reputation and respect.”

He comes from a very traditional family and his parents are still together he says his home life is what others may consider “picture perfect” but being raised by his grandmother he never felt quite like he had a male figure to teach him the ways of be a man.

” When I was a little kid my dad was always busy working same with my mom, like my grandma raised me it was hard, especially with boys when you don’t have your dad teaching you how to be a man. By the time he had time to be with me I was already doing what I was doing like stealing” said Nem

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Pet overpopulation an issue of social responsibility

Amy Morris SPCA policy and outreach officer with the office cat Grubber (Luisa Alvarez)

Amy Morris SPCA policy and outreach officer with the office cat Grubber (Luisa Alvarez)

The SPCA continues to try and reduce the number of unwanted pets with spay and neuter initiatives as kitten season approaches.

Every animal you adopt is spayed or neutered. With the population of stray animals growing each year surpassing the available homes; there are community campaigns to educate and encourage the importance of spaying and neutering your pet as part of social responsibility.    

The average cost of neutering is between 50 -100$.

This cost is included in the adoption fee if the animal is adopted from an animal shelter.

Also, as part of BC’s movement to stop pet overpopulation there are pre-adoption spay/neuter programs in shelters, as well as programs assisting  low-income pet owners, and partnerships with First Nations communities and spay/neuter education campaigns.

Doing their part to prevent more animals without homes.

The BC SPCA carries out more than 9,800 low-cost spay/neuter operations a year through its Spay/Neuter clinics in Prince George, Kamloops and its Vancouver animal hospital.

The Small Grant Program using funds left in peoples’ wills aimed at spay and neuter initiatives to cover the cost of the surgery prioritizing the highest need animals, that are suffering the most, such as stray cats that spend most of their lives reproducing.

” We provide funding to other organizations that are doing the trapping spaying/neutering and returning the cats to the colonies so they can live the rest of their lives free from reproducing.” said Amy Morris SPCA  outreach and policy officer.

Given that cats have multiple heat cycles throughout the year and bigger litters they are more of a concern than dogs. The issue currently at hand goes back to cats with something referred to as “Kitten season” which is coming up peaking in late spring or early summer, and ending in fall.

The first and second heat cycle that happens within a year where a majority of cats get pregnant resulting in a huge number of kittens being born at the same time, this results in there being an abundance of cats and a shortage of homes.

“Spaying and neutering helps prevent pet overpopulation and ensures that every cat or dog has a home.” said Amy Morris SPCA outreach and policy officer.

Understanding the impact.

"fix before six" campaign educating to spay/neutre before 6 months old (

“fix before six” campaign educating to spay/neuter before 6 months old (Luisa Alvarez)

The campaign “Fix before six” focuses on educating people on the reality that a cat can have a litter as early as 6 months old.

This is the time where the animal is vulnerable as the cat itself has not yet fully developed.

Having a litter so early on can stunt its development and cause health complications throughout its life.

” What people need to understand is the impact reproducing has on the cat’s body  and health especially being so little. It takes a huge toll on the mother who is then deprived of crucial nutrients that she still needs herself.” said Shauna SPCA volunteer coordinator as well as cat wellness and cat adoption counselor.

Kittens grow up too.

Lack of education seems to be the issue when it comes to adopting and tackling the problem of finding homes to those who no longer have the puppy face or kitten charm.

The reality is the initial fascination of a new kitten or puppy wears off. Most of the pets at the shelter are animals that have been adopted as babies and then abandoned or given back.

People don’t realize the immensity of a commitment that is being a pet owner. Which is a large part as to why no animal leaves the shelter without being neutered/spayed.

Shauna Volunteer coordinator at SPCA and cat adoption

Shauna Volunteer coordinator at SPCA and cat adoption counselor ( Luisa Alvarez)

” People just don’t think it through it’s like having a baby, they can live up to 20 years it is a huge commitment to look after an animal for its life. There is always the risk of an animal being returned but if we can prevent more being born to grow up and end up here again that’s a win for us”  said Shauna SPCA volunteer coordinator as well as cat wellness and cat adoption counselor.

The Vancover SPCA animal shelter and provincial offices. Animals that are ready for adoption are available here.

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Money may not be the only issue in efforts to give the new B.C transit referendum the thumbs up.

The 0.5% increase for tax payers to fund the B.C transit referendum is not the only obstacle faced in order to give the project its “go ahead.”

The new transit referendum is proposing a fix to the problems we face in metro Vancouver’s public transportation system. Pending improvements included in the referendum are increased bus, Sea bus, and HandyDART service as well as the extension of the Millennium Line Sky train and construction of a new Surrey LRT.

In order to fund the 10 year, 7.4 billion dollar project funds will come from a 0.5 % tax increase on the provincial sales tax ( re-named the congestion improvement tax) as well as contributions from both the Federal and Provincial government.

Not all about the money

That being said there have been mixed reviews on whether this increase is in fact the main and only objection faced in efforts to get the project underway. The referendums 10 year plan to amplify and improve the public transportation system has citizens feeling it might be too good to be true. Objections to the referendum are also based on the fear that the Provincial government is making promises they may not be able to keep.

Part time students that are not eligible for the U-pass and are already paying a substantial amount a year in transit fares find that the increase is not so ridiculous if improvements become a reality.

Paula Alvarez regular transit user agrees with tax hike for improvments.

Paula Alvarez regular transit user agrees with tax hike for improvements. (Paula Alvarez/Facebook)

“if we are going to be paying more money I need a guarantee on better service and if we get a guarantee I wouldn’t mind it and since I am already paying hundreds of dollars a year it is not an amount I would personally object to” said Yonge Jo a BCIT part time student.

Most would agree the improvements suggested in the transit referendum are essential and therefore funds need to be found, but the idea that citizens should be flipping the bill is

said by  John Wolfe ”  a cop out for the municipalities to be putting that burden on the individual tax payers.”

Not only does the referendum need to accommodate the growing demand, some feel like the more frequent service is a need long time coming. Especially for a region that is known for the accessibility of public transportation it seems that people may not agree.

” The transportation system is lacking and it makes it difficult to do more things in the day because transit doesn’t run more frequently” said Jordyn Evans.

Thinking positively

Hopefully that will no longer be an issue with what is suggested in the referendum and the goal to connect 70% of citizens, in order to make Vancouver a more “livable region”. Some of the biggest supporters for the transit upgrades are students.

Agreeing that the tax increase is a necessary part of seeing change ” you get what you  put in” says BCIT student Jordyn Evans.

Jordyn Evans is thrilled to know the proposed changes will become a reality (Jordyn Evans/Facebook)

“It’s going to cost me more but at the end of the day I still think it’s a great proposal, because yeah, sure you have to pay a bit more but you are getting a better service” said  regular transit user Paula Alvarez.

At the end of the day it is not the increase itself that has some outraged, as most have agreed it is an amount they would be willing to pay, in order to see the necessary upgrades made reality.

Citizens will be expected to vote by mail on the project beginning March 16 of this year with voting open until May 29, 2015. If you are not a  registered voter you may register online or call 1-800-661-8683.

 The 0.5% sales tax increase will affect residents of Metro Vancouver.

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Surrey robbers target lone victims.

Police are warning Surrey residents about a growing number of personal robberies.  Victims have been targeted while walking alone at night with their cellphones in plain view. Each victim was approached by 2-5 suspects in the evening to early morning (7:00pm-3:00am). In almost all incidents electronic devices, mobile phones or cash were the desired target. Due to similarities in each of these robberies police believe a large number of them have been committed by the same group of individuals.

Sgt. Dale Carr has described them to us as “young males, in their early 20’s, with thin builds, travelling in groups and generally on foot”

Anyone with more information is asked to contact Surrey RCMP or Crime Stoppers, if they wish to remain anonymous at 1-800-222-8477.

the RCMP urges citizens to be extra vigilant with their personal property.

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Langley man killed in the first fatal crash of 2015

A 54 year old Langley man was fatally hit by a F350 pickup truck. The victim was last seen walking northbound in the middle of the road.

Police were called to assist when the collision occurred on the 5700 block of 240th street Approximately at 9:20pm  January 15th.

In a press release by Cpl. Holly Marks it is believed that alcohol and speed were not factors in the fatal crash.

The 24 year old driver has been cooperative with investigators and was extremely distraught. He remained at the scene and conducted CPR until help arrived.

The victim was wearing all dark clothing and the road had been described as rural residential  with no street lights on that particularly dark night. 

 ICARS is assisting with the investigation, the truck has been seized and a mechanical inspection is due to be conducted.

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