Teach A Child To Fish

Authored by: Erin Dixon, Group Home Supervisor

You have likely heard the proverb “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The sentiment behind this proverb is that by teaching a person a skill you give them the tools to recall the skill whenever they choose. You have empowered them with a new ability that they are able to utilize it at will. For the sake of this blog, “fish” will be referencing the emotional, cultural, and environmental skills we learn as children. Our “fish” are respect, love, acceptance, safety, and pride!

At the Pride Center, children are given the opportunity to participate in an inclusive, accepting community. They are able to see in action individuals who love themselves, and share their best selves with the community. They are able to see people standing tall and participate with a community that chooses to live out loud!

In our current society, our children need to know that all people are welcome. They need to feel that all people are valued, and that it is safe to be themselves. They need to be encouraged to be true to their self, and know there are safe places to be. They need to hear our communal voice standing against those who would try to shut them down.


This is the very reason the Pride Center is so important for our children. The Pride Center provides the opportunity for them to see that we do not stand alone, and that our “normal” is just fine! When they are met in the community and/or by cultures in which they are shut down, excluded, ostracized,  they need the reinforcement of an accepting community and environment. They need to know their village is alive and well and just as loud as the naysayers! This is what the Pride Center is all about!

When we teach our children to be open and loving, when it is part of their natural fiber, and integrated into their daily lives, we have taught them to fish. It will be a part of their foundation, and they will naturally embrace diversity and meet individuals with open hearts. They will recognize that all individuals deserve respect, and this will emanate from their view of themselves.

So teach them to fish. Teach them to love, themselves and others. Teach them to accept and embrace all types. Teach them to advocate for those who are not ready to advocate for themselves. Teach them that our world is more beautiful when we recognize and shine on all colors in the rainbow. Teach them to value themselves enough to seek out healthy relationships and to walk away from toxins. Teach them to stand tall and to be unafraid. Teach them to embrace and celebrate diversity. Teach them to live with pride in who they are. And with those fish, they will never be hungry!

Posted in Bully, LGBTQ | Leave a comment

The Commission On Youth Annual Awards and Wrap Up

Authored by Carol Hendrycks, Youth Services Communications Manager

Each year the Commission On Youth Board which is staffed by Salt Lake County Youth Services and appointed by the Salt Lake County Mayor, present volunteers with a prestigious award for their outstanding achievements in advocating for youth in their community during the course of the previous year. “The annual COY awards event is an opportunity to recognize an organization and individual for their exemplary work in assisting youth to engage in meaningful opportunities which contribute to the health and wellness of our society,” says Deb Ashton, Murray School District Prevention Programs and long-standing COY member and former vice chair for the board.

The Commission On Youth board has been in practice for more than 2 decades and honors some of the most humble and caring groups and individuals. The board is made up of 25-30 individuals from within Salt Lake County from the public, private and nonprofits sectors with leaders from each of the respective organizations such as state representatives, law enforcement, school districts administrations and or parent representatives, local businesses and nonprofits such as 211 United Way and VOAUT. There are specific positions to fill; members are recruited from existing members and appointed/confirmed by the Salt Lake County Mayor. The board is responsible for advocating for youth through providing policy changes, supports relevant events, deals with hot topics that effect youth and families particularly underserved populations but limited to, helps direct the county youth government committee and chairs their board and their activities through the year. The board meets once a month here at Salt Lake County Youth Services, lunch is donated by a member of the board, guest speakers address the members on a relevant topic, organizations provide a highlight overview of their mission, networking and providing a sounding board for many community issues are discussed regarding the health and well-being of youth in our communities, both mental and physical attributions that are being positive or negatively impacting youth in school setting, by a policy or societal pressure, academic challenges, health concerns and where resources can be found for youth and families seeking a specific service. Information is provided back out to their organizations through the members, websites, materials or events are scheduled. Recommendations can and have been made to the Mayor and other council for recommendations that could be a policy change or community awareness notice.

With that said, the role of the board is vast and full of leaders and influencers that have the insight and firsthand knowledge of what a particular problem they may all be facing in their organizations that help and advocate for youth. In this vein, COY seeks to acknowledge the work of so many in our county that do the work, go the extra mile to ensure that youth and families are served, find resources and provide a means to helping them succeed or overcome a barrier that will provide good to those they serve and make a difference in the community.

“The annual COY Awards honor two groups and two individuals, an adult and a youth in each category who exemplify the qualities the COY stands for–advocacy, guidance, and prevention on behalf of the youth in Salt Lake County. It is wonderful to see the many groups and individuals who exemplify service for youth in our county, and to see how thrilled they are to be honored. These awards really speak to why government exists–to serve people and to encourage them to be active participants in their communities,” Representative Carol Spackman Moss, Utah House of Representatives, District 37, Holladay and Murray and COY executive member.

This years’ winners include: Chandra Sapkota who works with the Bhutanese Community, Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah,


Sydney Barnes who is a senior at Juan Diego High School and volunteers for a variety of capacities at the Children’s Justice Center and



Skyline High School Community of Caring Program comprised students dedicated to serving their school and outside community working with underprivileged youth. (Read the full proclamation here)

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams presented these awards on May 9th during the County Council session at the Government Center. Mayor McAdams acknowledged their excellence in service by reading the proclamation, presenting the awards and certificates to them. Family, friends and work associates attend to support the winning recipients. Media is alerted and usually run a story that highlights some positive outcomes that what most of the winners claim are just ordinary individuals that come together to find a need and help those youth and families find resources or they themselves provide the service that is needed. It is a show of goodwill and kindness that provides examples of great leadership, compassion and that ability to put action into motion to solve problems or provides the means to create a better human condition for many. There are many volunteers doing great work in our county and it is always a difficult vote for the COY members to narrow down the winners. So congratulations to those that were also nominated too and please know your work did not go unnoticed. Please submit your nominations again this next year.

Congratulations again for all the hard work these winners have put forth out in the community. We look forward to seeing many more years of your great service.

Posted in Charity, Donors and Nonprofits, History, SLCO, Success Stories, Uncategorized, Volunteers and Boards, Youth Groups | Leave a comment

Summer Fun in Magna and Kearns

Authored By: Ricky Vigil, Afterschool Coordinator

For many kids, summer is two-and- a-half blissful months of sleeping late, watching endless hours of YouTube videos, and promptly forgetting months of their teachers’ hard work over the previous school year. It’s easy to fall into this routine–studies on Summer Learning Loss have proven that many students loose up to two months of math skills, and low-income students loose two months of reading comprehension skills as well. Kids definitely deserve a break from the intense day-to-day life of school, but it is also important to keep them engaged both academically and socially. In Magna and Kearns, the Youth Services Afterschool programs have implemented a Summer Blast program to keep them active.


This year, Salt Lake County Youth Services will be offering four Summer Blast programs as an extension of our Afterschool Programs. Students from Kearns Jr. High, Kennedy Jr. High, Matheson Jr. High and elementary students in Magna will be able to experience field trips, group activities, as well as reading and science workshops, to reinforce much of what they learned in the previous school year. These programs also allow students a crucial opportunity to socialize with their classmates, as well as being in a supervised environment during a time when many of their parents are working.


We’re excited to be able to offer an elementary program in Magna for the first time this year, servicing kids from Pleasant Green, Elk Run, Lake Ridge and Copper Hills elementary schools. The program will focus on literacy and will take place at Magna Library, who has always provided great support for our Afterschool Programs. 100 students will be receiving academic reinforcement as well as enrichment activities. It will also allow parents to be able to work during those hours and not have to arrange for a sitter or other kinds of supervision for their kids.

Each program’s length, start and end dates, and activities vary–contact the Afterschool Program Coordinator at each individual school for more information and to register for the programs.

Posted in After School Program, Family Activities, SLCO, Youth Groups | 2 Comments

Teacher Appreciation Day!

Authored by: JaNae Briggs, Prevention Case Manager

May 9th, 2017 is Teacher Appreciation Day and in celebrating I thought it would be fun to ask some of the employees of Youth Services who their most influential teacher was and why.

I got a lot of great responses and realized what impact teachers have on our lives. I was lucky to be able to have my father as my 4th grade teacher. He was very inspiring by starting each day with having us write an inspirational quote from the chalkboard into our notebooks. He taught me many life lessons not only in the classroom.


Khanh Thong – “Mr. Bailey my 4th grade teacher since he was the first teacher I had when I came to the United States.”

Jillian Hill – “Sean Camp my current professor because he has been very encouraging and didn’t let me quit.”

Shauna Briggs – “Mr. Phelan my senior year English teacher because he tried to connect with the kids and make learning fun.”

Ann Stoddard – “Mr. Hansen my senior year Texas history teacher because he turned teaching into one long personable story.”

Joyce Robinson – “I can’t remember my cello teachers name but they were personable, sweet and always there for me.”

Jeanene Randall – “My 7th, 8th and 9th grade art teacher, Mr. Thorpe. I was considered as a friend.”

Ayelet Engelman – “I really admire Corine who is our teacher at JRC South. She comes to us from the Jordan School district and she has a great connection with the kids. She gives them hope and encouragement when they really need it.”

Anne Schmidt – “Professor Piercy when I was going to graduate school at Utah State University. He was a great mentor and helped me to graduate.”

Cara Stephens – “Miss Taylor my 5th grade teacher. She was strict and made us do more than the minimum to make me better.”

Lynn Keck – “My 10th grade English teacher who kicked me out so I had to retake it again in 12th grade. They explained things in a way that made it easier to learn.”

Chad Sanders – “Ms. A. She took the time to make the subject interesting by engaging me and fanning the flame to pursue video production that I’m still involved in.”

Margaret Laforett – “My high school Vice Principle, Ivan Cendese. He was open to talk to you and represented you to your teachers. He was instrumental in helping me to graduate.”

Doug Bunker – “Mr. Pappas my High School English teacher. He encouraged me to write and was supportive of my writing.”

Rolando Reboiro – “Miss Merica my High School English Literature teacher. She brought class together. We would arrive early and have to be kicked out late because we were so wrapped up in the subject matter. Our options mattered and our answers were never dumb.”

rolando's favorite teacher

Stacey Hembury – “Gerry Burchett my 11th grade Math tutoring teacher. He was very compassionate and he is the reason I chose the field I did.”

JD Green – “Mr. Kerr my 12th grade drama coach. He wouldn’t accept anything but my best.”

Desiree Stedman-Gallegos – “Mrs. Christensen my 5th grade teacher. She understood me. She was very kind and patient.”

Brock Yancey – “Mrs. Higbee my 10th grade English teacher. She was very encouraging and supportive. She liked my stories even though I came to class high sometimes.”

Nancy DeMarco – “Mrs. Jameson a Math teacher at Eisenhower Jr. High. She knows her stuff and takes the time to present in an understandable way.”

Jenny Lo – “My high School Math teacher. He taught in a way to make sense and opened my mind. He changed my whole education path.”

Maria Drummond – “My 10th grade Chemistry teacher. I hated him but he required accountability at tutoring classes. You had to be there by 7:03 am or be locked out. Many times the door was shut in my face just as I got there. It helped me realize these things matter and I’m capable of performing at a higher level.”

Stacy Peterson – “Deputy Chard my 11th grade Criminal Justice teacher. He was level headed and showed both sides. He was never heavy handed and taught you had to give respect to get it. He was relatable and personable. He inspired me to be in this field.”

Xavier Tisdol – “My High School basketball coach, Coach Fields. He taught us life lessons and acted as a father figure since many of us didn’t have a father in our lives.”

Michael Dawes – “Ms. Gibbs my High School Drama teacher. She helped me come out of my shell and be more vocal.”

Joe Drury – “Shawn Crowler my Youth in Custody Teacher. He taught the standard of rules. He held me accountable but took care of me. He led me to graduating.”

Andrew Aragon – “My 6th grade teacher Dr. Coffey. He believed in me and gave me confidence. He made me believe in myself and made learning fun.”

Mark Roberts – “Mark Christensen at Kearns High School. He is open and caring. He started the Angel Foundation.”

Michelle Brown – “Mr. Watson my 7th, 8th & 9th grade Music teacher. He knew peoples potential and had an ability to share and connect with his students.”

Tim Lucas – “Coach Myers my High School Gym teacher and wrestling coach. He was a professional wrestler “George the Animal Steel”. He showed me the ins and outs of professional wrestling.”

Eric Churcher – “Mrs. Hall was my favorite teacher because she befriended me when I was a scared little kid just removed from my family.”

German Ochoa – “My favorite teacher was my Math teacher when I was a freshman in college. She was very patient, very personable and a good teacher.”

Rudy Bonilla – “Miss Talbot my High School Math teacher. She was very patient and understanding.”

David Christensen – “Mrs. Clark my 6th grade teacher. She had a classroom economy system and two times a year you were allowed to barter with other students and use your classroom money to buy things. It was really fun.”

In conclusion, it is obvious what a big impact our teachers have had on our lives. Please remember to give a big shout out to our amazing Youth Services teachers, Ms. Hall, Courtney Christman, Ms. Horgan and Kory Pritchard.

Posted in After School Program, History, Safe Place, SLCO, Success Stories, Youth Groups | Leave a comment

May the 4th Be With You

Authored by: Kent Larson, Family Therapist at Salt Lake County Youth Services

What is the big deal about Star Wars anyway? Why does it have such a following? Don’t people have anything better to do than to nerd-out over Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and DarthVadar? Now, they have these new people coming on (Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron BB-8). Why the obsession?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can certainly speak for myself. It is entertaining, deep in philosophy, and cool. Star Wars came out in the aftermath of the Vietnam conflict and after the effects of a major oil crisis. At this time, many Americans and the international community, were depressed about world events and the standing of the human race in our seeming bleak world. The Star Wars Saga gave many of us hope for the future: good will eventually prevail over bad.


The first movie, “A New Hope” came out when I was in sixth grade and the 3rd movie “Return of the Jedi” came out when I was a Sophomore in High School. I was truly amazed and watched them over and over again.

The saga begins when a seeming insignificant person, Luke Skywalker, becomes someone quite extraordinary and prevails with the Rebels over the empire. As the saga goes on, Luke learns that the powerful and evil Darth Vadar is his father.

The force is introduced in Episode I of the original trilogy as an ancient philosophy and a set of morals. Jedi Knights wield its power for good and the evil uses the dark side of the force to hurt, kill, or impose over anyone who stands in the way of their evil purposes.

I marvel as Luke is being trained as a Jedi Knight, first by the kind and wise Obiwon Kanobe, and then by the cute, powerful, and sage Master Yoda. Several quotes are very meaningful to me. These philosophies rang deeply within me and are certainly applicable now.

“Once you go down that path (of hate and anger), forever will it dominate your destiny.”
Master Yoda

It is hard to follow the path of unresolved hatred which lead to unjustified violence, and then turn back to love, kindness, and self-control.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”.

Master Yoda

People make a lot of negative choices carelessly or recklessly out of fear. Then inferred is that they turn to the dark side by acting rashly and impulsively. At that point it becomes all about themselves and not about the general good.

If you give in to the easier way, you will go to the dark. It is not more powerful than light, but the more intimidating side of the force. It is so easy to give into the conflicts in our lives and become their servants, as we experience the negative consequences of our choices.

I have to confess that although I loved Episode I of the prequel trilogy The Phantom Menace, it was hard to see the path of Anakin Skywalker turning to evil in Episode II-The Attack of the Clones- and Episode III-Revenge of the Sith. I can’t say I loved Episodes II and III of the prequels. They are dramatic and sad. However, they represent well the path to evil.


Besides the amazing teachings that Luke Skywalker receives in the original trilogy, one of the most powerful moments is when Luke goes up against his father, Darth Vadar, and defeats him.

Then, as the undefeatable Emperor Palpatine is about to kill Luke, Darth Vadar saves Luke’s life while giving his own. This gesture shows the power influence that Luke had by using the force properly. We learned that violence, hatred, and anger are not as powerful as they seem. But patience, respect, and persistence can eventually overcome evil.

I publicly recognize George Lucas pioneering efforts in writing and producing the whole Star Wars Saga.  He actually had to risk everything for his films. Critics never thought the first movie in the original trilogy, A New Hope back in 1977, would make it. Yet, it did! Look at what we have now.

May the 4th be with you!

Posted in Family Activities, History, SLCO | 1 Comment

Cinco de Mayo

Authored by: Gina Percival, Public Relations Coordinator at Salt Lake County Youth Services

This Friday will mark the 155th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo, a bicultural celebration that has become the perfect excuse to enjoy Mexican food. But Cinco de Mayo, is much more than having a good time. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the of Napoleon III  at Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragosa.

The victory represented a significant morale boost to the Mexican army and the Mexican people. As TIME magazine remarked, “The Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath. It helped establish a much-needed sense of national unity and patriotism. ”


The Battle of Puebla battle was significant in that the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years. Second, since the Battle of Puebla, no country in the Americas has subsequently been invaded by any other European military force.

Since most of the people don’t know the real story behind this holiday, here are some facts that will probably surprise you about Cinco de Mayo:

1. It’s not Mexico’s Independence Day: The Battle of Puebla occurred 50 years after Mexico’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16.

Raul Ramos, Associate Professor of History at the University of Houston, explained that “The significance of Cinco de Mayo is that it represents Mexican resistance to foreign intervention, it is a moment where Mexico as a young nation rallied to defend itself. But it was not a struggle for independence. Instead it represented a struggle against imperialism.”

2. Cinco de Mayo commemorates a military victory over France — not Spain. Why was Mexico at war with France? Because the Mexican government had defaulted on its foreign debt to several European countries. Napoleon III hoped to install a monarchy in Mexico.

3. Cinco de Mayo is a bigger celebration in the U.S. than in Mexico.Professor Margarita Sánchez from Wagner College said “recent Mexican immigrants are often surprised at what a huge thing Cinco de Mayo has become here.They do celebrate the holiday in Mexico, but it is only a big deal in Puebla.”

4. The hero of the original Cinco de Mayo was a Texan. General Ignacio Zaragosa, who led the ragtag Mexican forces to victory over the superior French army, was born near what is now Goliad, Texas.



Today, the commemoration of the battle is not observed as a national statutory holiday in Mexico. However, all public schools are closed nationwide in Mexico on May 5. The day is an official holiday in the State of Puebla, where the Battle took place, and also a full holiday in the neighboring State of Veracruz.




Posted in Family Activities, History | Leave a comment

The County Library Celebrates Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros with Kids’ Fiesta

By Anna Zanarini, Early Learning Librarian, Salt Lake County Library

Bilingual storytimes, live music, cultural dancing, bounce houses, crafts and piñatas are just a few of the fun and free activities offered at the County Library’s Kids’ Fiesta on April 29.

Held annually in honor of Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros, a national celebration of kids and books, Kids’ Fiesta is an opportunity for families and children of all ages to gather at one of the best places for kids and books: The County Library.


Featured entertainment includes musical performances by the Chavez Academy and cultural dancing by Latinos in Action. There will also be Zumba Kids and dancing with Owlexander—the County Library’s mascot.

County Library team members will be on-hand to share information about downloadable resources and no fine student library cards. In addition, other community organizations will be at the Fiesta providing hands-on science experiences, crafts for the kids and other fun activities.

Did we mention there will be piñatas? It isn’t a fiesta without a piñata! We will have four large piñatas for the kids to break and we will be hosting a piñata craft so everyone can make a small piñata to take home.

DATE: Saturday, April 29, 2017
TIME: 11 am-2 pm
PLACE: Library’s Viridian Event Center, 8030 S 1825 W, West Jordan

For more information, please visit slcolibrary.org or call 801-943-4636

Posted in Family Activities, Library, read, SLCO | Leave a comment