Archive for the ‘News’ Category

One Text or Call Could Wreck It All

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Unfortunately, distracted driving is not a passing fad.  It has become a trend with deadly, real consequences.

For anyone who thinks they can talk on their phone, text, apply make-up, or do any other distracting activity while driving, it’s time for a crash course in reality from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • In 2013, 3,154 people were killed and approximately 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. (NHTSA)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to be involved in a serious crash. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • In 2013, ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2013 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. (NHTSA)
  • In 2013, ten percent of all drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
  • (NHTSA)

While those numbers may sound like just statistics, they’re anything but.  They could be parents, children, neighbors and friends from right here in Yorktown.  There are too many sad tales of deaths and injuries that could have been prevented had drivers been paying attention to the road instead of someone or something else.

So, why do so many people participate in this dangerous behavior?  With more technology now than ever, driver distractions have risen to unprecedented levels.  We live in a world where people expect instant, real-time information 24 hours a day, and those expectations don’t stop just because someone gets behind the wheel.  Drivers still do not realize – or choose to ignore – the danger they create when they take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, and their focus off driving.

People often say, “I can do two things at once.  I’ve memorized where the numbers are on my phone, so I don’t have to look.” Or, “Sending or reading one text is pretty quick – that should be okay.”  They couldn’t be more wrong.

For those who think they can do two things at once, think about this: According to a 2014 special article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones. Driving is an activity that requires your full attention and focus in order to keep yourself and others safe.

Yes, this is a national problem, but it also affects us right here in Yorktown.  No one is immune from the dangers of distracted driving. So please remember: One text or call could wreck it all.

Yorktown Police Department Will Be Out in Full Force to Catch Drunk Drivers

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Drive Sober CampaignAs summer winds down, the Yorktown Police Department is ramping up its enforcement efforts as part of a national crackdown on drunk driving. The 20-day, high-visibility campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, is a partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to curb impaired driving and save lives. August 21-September 7 (Labor Day), law enforcement partners nationwide will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messaging about the dangers of driving drunk, coupled with checkpoints and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce the toll of drunk driving.

And what a toll it is. In 2013, there were 10,076 people killed in drunk–driving crashes, almost a third of all traffic fatalities. Thirty-eight percent of crash fatalities on Labor Day weekend that year involved drunk drivers (with blood alcohol concentrations [BACs] of .08 or higher), amounting to 161 lives lost. And we’re not just talking about a little bit of alcohol, either. More than a quarter (27%) of the crash fatalities that occurred on Labor Day weekend involved drivers with BACs of .15 or higher—almost twice the illegal per se limit.

“Too many people think their actions don’t affect anybody else,” said Yorktown Police Lieutenant, Robert Noble. “They know it’s illegal. They know it’s wrong. But they do it anyway – they make decisions as if those statistics just can’t happen to them,” he added.

The reality is, people aren’t invincible. Of the 10,076 people who were killed in impaired-driving crashes in 2013, 65 percent were the drunk drivers themselves.  Those 6,515 drunk drivers planned on making it to their destinations, but they didn’t.

In every state, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. The Alliance for Safe Kids and Lt. Noble want to remind Westchester drivers that it’s not a recommendation; it’s the law. And during the enforcement period starting August 21, there will be a special emphasis on drunk-driving enforcement.  Local drivers should expect to see more patrol vehicles, DUI checkpoints, and increased messaging about this reckless, preventable crime. “The number of people who are still drinking and driving is unacceptable,” added Liz Talbert, Coalition Coordinator at the Alliance for Safe Kids. “Yes, we want to increase awareness for the campaign, but we want the effects to be permanent.”

NHTSA data shows that repeat offenders are an especially dangerous facet of the drunk-driving problem. In the month of August from 2009-2013, of the drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes, almost 1 out of 10 (8%) of them had already been convicted of at least one drunk-driving offense.

Talbert emphasized the preventable nature of drunk driving: “All it takes is a little planning ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don’t drink and drive.” NHTSA has made it even easier to get home safely when you’ve been drinking. The new SaferRide mobile app (free from the iTunes store and Google Play), can help users call a taxi or a friend for a ride home. The app can even help you identify your location so you can be picked up. So this August and year-round, remember that there’s no excuse for drunk driving. If you choose to break the law, Yorktown Police Officers will see you before you see them. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

My Kids are Already on Facebook – Can’t They Find a Job There?

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Why College Students Need to Be on LinkedIn

Join ASK for a LinkedIn Workshop on Thursday 8/20 at 7pm.

Excerpt from “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success” by Wayne Breitbarth

Here are the top ten reasons young people should be on LinkedIn prior to graduating from college:

  1. They are already on Facebook and other social networking sites, so they will grasp LinkedIn more quickly. Because the sites operate so similarly, it will not be hard for college students to trade some of their Facebook time for LinkedIn time in order to advance their professional presence in social media.
  2. LinkedIn is perhaps the only social networking site a young person’s future employer is actually active on. If business executives choose only one social networking site, they typically choose LinkedIn – so young job seekers definitely want to make sure they have a profile there. To assist potential employers finding him, remind the young person to include his LinkedIn public profile URL on him resume, cover letters, and e-mail signature.
  3. LinkedIn users can review and print the profile of the person with whom they are going to interview prior to calling or meeting her. This is an invaluable resource in helping interviewees understand who the interviewer is and finding areas of potential discussion and commonality for their upcoming interview. Remind the young person that the businessperson who wrote that profile is proud of every bit of information included in it. Understanding and remembering it will result in a much richer conversation during the interview, which should give him a competitive advantage over the other candidates for the job.
  4. Encourage the young person to prepare a video resume, and have her place the link to it in her Professional Gallery or the Website section of her LinkedIn profile. Video resumes are a powerful differentiator for college students, because not only can they go into more detail about their specific accomplishments, but they can also show their personality and passion for their current projects and future goals.
  5. LinkedIn allows students to make connections in college that will give their upcoming job search a huge boost. They may say, Yeah, but I don’t know anybody in business, so how can I really go about putting together that muskie net you talked about? Encourage them to connect with their fellow students, and remind them that the idea is not just to add more Level 1 connections but also the 2’s and 3’s to which those Level 1’s are connected. The minute a student connects with her roommate, she could be adding all the business executives her roommate’s parents know into her network. College students should also be connecting with friends of their parents or family members who are tied into the business community. That will allow them to begin having conversations with more seasoned professionals about what the student hopes to accomplish as he or she approaches graduation. Adding fellow students and family friends in the business community is one way to begin a successful networking career.
  6. Students can use LinkedIn to search for internships. Chances are the  company he or she wants to get an upcoming summer internship with is on LinkedIn. The student may be fortunate enough to find the specific person he wants to meet, but, if not, he may at least find people in the same department. He can then figure out if someone he knows is connected to those people. Most internships are found through networking, not through answering ads, and LinkedIn can give young people a head start on the networking they need to do in order to find that perfect internship. Students can also use the LinkedIn Jobs function to search for internships.
  7. When a student begins her formal job search in earnest, LinkedIn will allow her to look for the people she wants to sit down with to discuss the kind of job she is looking for and how she might go about getting it. These people will function as career mentors to her, and she will have a lot more opportunities to find the right mentors if she is connected to the right people on LinkedIn.
  8. LinkedIn can help students find recruiters who are involved in the industry in which they hope to find their first job. Recruiters love LinkedIn and are very active on it. Having an excellent profile also increases the chances of recruiters finding the student.
  9. LinkedIn can be used as the student’s home page or personal website. It can bring together all of the social networking sites he uses (his blog and his accounts with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc.). However, he will want to be certain the information posted on these other sites is in line with the professional image he wants to portray. His future employer does not want to hear about his experience hosting parties with beer pong and bikinis; that type of information can ruin his chances at a job.
  10. Special profile sections entitled Courses Honors & Awards, Organizations, Projects, and Test Scores are particularly helpful for students. In addition, the Volunteer Experience & Causes section allows students to list all of their volunteer work, college leadership experiences, and committees on which they served. This will help to differentiate them from students who have been less active while attending college. When the student is looking for a job immediately following her graduation from college, she probably won’t have a lot of formal job experience; these leadership positions and volunteer opportunities set her apart in the eyes of potential employers. Remember, she gets 2,000 characters for each job and educational entry on her profile. If the student has had these types of experiences, remind her to take full advantage of the Experience section as a way to exhibit her worth to potential employers or individuals who could assist her in her job search.

As valuable as LinkedIn and other social media tools can be in achieving personal and professional goals, they can be equally detrimental if a person’s online presence is inconsistent with his or her actual personality and character. College is the best time to begin thinking about who you are, what you stand for, and what type of company you wish to affiliate yourself with, and LinkedIn can get students started towards that positive, powerful, “professional personal brand” that will stick with them throughout their career.

Applying the Power Formula

  • Even though the young person in your life may be just beginning his professional career, he already has unique experiences that could be very helpful to him in his upcoming job search. Internships, organizational involvement (especially leadership positions), and summer employment can be explained on his LinkedIn profile in such a way that they will show prospective employers tat the student is the type of strong candidate they are looking for.
  • Employers aren’t the only ones who can write recommendations. Leaders of organizations, teachers, and professors can also help students substantiate some of the unique experiences they have had through a testimonial on LinkedIn.
  • The special profile sections and Professional Gallery feature can help students more effectively convey their collegiate experience in ways that will differentiate them from other candidates. Understanding and using these tools could significantly enhance the student’s ability to tell the story of his or her unique experience. Plus, the proficiency on LinkedIn is a skill many employers will regard as leading edge.
  • Students’ unique relationships with teachers, parents, mentors, and other students can lead to second- or third-degree connections that may help them land that important interview.

Enjoy Family-Friendly Outdoor Movie Night In Yorktown

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Daily Voice

Yorktown Parks and Recreation Department is hosting its annual outdoor movie night Thursday, July 16, showing “Surf’s Up” at dusk at the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center track, off Veteran’s Road.

A children’s concert featuring Beth and Scott Bierko will start the evening at 7:15 p.m., followed by additional musical performances by musician Ray Rubio.

Activities and giveaways will be provided by Alliance for Safe Kids. Guests are welcome to picnic and bring blankets and beach balls.

Outdoor movie night is free of charge. The Yorktown Community and Cultural Center is located at 1974 Commerce St., Yorktown.

‘Save a Life Day’ teaches valuable lessons to Yorktown’s youth

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Your Yorktown

Alliance for Safe Kids (ASK), a Yorktown Heights-based non-profit organization, returned Sunday, Feb. 8, with the annual “Save a Life” program. The program is intended to inform and empower high school students and adults alike to be “community allies” and first responders themselves to support individuals in crisis.

At Save a Life, students were able to register online for the event and attend a screening of the local documentary “Whispering Spirits” about Justin Veatch, a musician who tragically died of a drug overdose at 17 years old. Commentary was provided after the documentary by his father, Jeffrey Veatch. After the screening, the students were able to be involved in a variety of different interactive workshops.

One workshop focused on youth mental health with professionals who were able to provide bits of information on different misunderstood mental illnesses that are surprisingly common amongst the age group. At the end of the workshop, the students are able to sign up for a monthly discussion group at the Alliance for Safe Kids office, providing them with a resource for coping, information, and friendship. The next workshop involved the Yorktown Police Department entitled “House Parties.” Here, the YPD was able to provide the teenagers with useful information on what to do if they were to find themselves in a questionable situation. The police department was there to openly and honestly discuss with the teens what exactly happens when the police officers are called, and to prevent reckless behavior by partygoers that could potentially cause harm to themselves or others in fear of being caught. Hope’s Door was in attendance to lead “The Dating Game.” The interactive game had three contestants reading from scripts, all of which represented a different type of relationship. One was depicted to be an extremely abusive relationship, another represented a bachelor that seemed alright, but had some key warning signs (like constantly wanting to check his partner’s text messages or tell them who to hang out with) and the third contestant was “the good guy,” who was a prime example of a healthy relationship.

Alliance for Safe Kids Coalition Coordinator Liz Talbert noted that a lot of the teenagers “think that ‘that guy’ in the middle is totally fine and normal, and he’s clearly not. There are some hidden things going on.” With that, it’s clear that events like Save a Life are definitely great resources to educate these children. Lastly, there are a lot of hands-on displays including a state trooper who brought a drug display unit to help those who may be simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, there was a brief workshop on the basics of alcohol poisoning, and what to do if you think someone has it. This is not just beneficial but important, as it’s not taught in basic First Aid training. These students, participating in the event are what Talbert calls the “go-to” kids. These are the kids that will be the ones to notice that there’s someone whose been drinking a little too much, or that one of their friends is hanging out with the wrong crowd; They’ll be the ones to say something. By working with these “go-to” kids, the hope is they’ll be able to recognize the sign of alcohol poisoning, and know what to do. They’re the “first responders” until the police can get there.

Alliance for Safe Kid’s Save a Life is geared towards not just educating kids as to why drugs and alcohol should be avoided, but what to do in case an unforeseen situation arises. It seems like so much to just provide in a few short hours, but as Talbert describes it, “it’s just the beginning of a conversation.” There are programs going on throughout the year that support each and every workshop offered at Save a Life where the participating students can continue educating themselves, and working towards a safer and healthy community. There is also a program for adults on youth mental health that provides anyone and everyone with basic information so that they will be able to recognize that something’s just not right, and seek help for themselves or their family before it’s too late.

ASK was founded in 2002 by members of the Yorktown community in order to “provide a safety net for the youth and families” of Yorktown. ASK is an association that works with teenagers, parents, educators and law enforcement to provide the impressionable youth with the information and skills needed to make healthy decisions while also working with their parents to offer information about how to protect their children from these dangerous and unforeseen circumstances.

To do this, ASK uses a variety of different strategies. First, and most obviously they work to raise awareness of substance abuse and other destructive behaviors. Additionally, ASK reaches out to parents to promote communication between parents and children. In doing this, the hope is there will be reduced access to alcohol to teenagers as parents and older siblings learn to refrain from providing it. Likewise, ASK also strives to provide alternate activities to youth by organizing safe, substance-free opportunities for socialization.

Save A Life – From the Community

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Save A Life went down on Sunday February 8th and attendees had some wonderful things to say!

Just returned from today’s Save A Life program and I must say it was amazing. From the volunteer effort to the heart felt presentations both speakers and videos. Valuable information and resources provided. Thank you !! — Donna

The whole day was very insightful. The film on Justin Veatch made me cry, thank you for the tissues. When I saw the pillow that all our kids made when they were in middle school, it took my breath away. Such a talented young boy, whose parents are working hard so that another family does not have to go through what they have lived through, losing a child. Thank you ASK for this and all you do! — Dina

Teach our kids they do not have to be a follower but yet be a good leader as well as being a good friend to those in need. I am happy to have been a part of this with my daughter. Great job Alliance for Safe Kids. — Lucy

Information is power and we live in an amazing community filled with caring, giving people ! — Theresa

There is a lot of people out there that care about all these kids!!!! Kids please use all these resources if you or a friend is in need!!!! — Jennifer



Yorktown’s Alliance For Safe Kids Presents Its Annual Save A Life Forum

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Daily Voice

The Alliance for Safe Kids, Inc. (ASK) is hosting its annual Save A Life Forum on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Yorktown Stage and the Yorktown Community Cultural Center.

The forum is designed to inform and empower high school students and adults to be community allies and first responders to support teens and families in crisis,

The Yorktown Stage and the Yorktown Community Cultural Center is at 1974 Commerce St.

The four-hour event, free to more than 200 registered students and adults at Yorktown, Lakeland and Walter Panas high Schools, features exhibitors of support services, interactive workshops for students and adults. The event will include a screening of local documentary “Whispering Spirits” which tells the story of Justin Veatch, a talented musician from Yorktown who died of a drug overdose at the age of 17.

The film follows Jeffrey, Justin’s father, as his family grapples with their devastating loss while reconnecting with him through the music he left behind. The film will be followed by discussion with Jeffrey Veatch.

The day concludes with the Taste of Yorktown experience: a room filled with signature dishes from 12 local restaurants and the opportunity to vote for your favorite.

Schedule highlights include the following:

Adult and teen programs:

1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.: Documentary and discussion: Whispering Spirits

4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Exhibit Hall

4:30 p.m. to  5 p.m.: Taste of Yorktown

Adult programs:

2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Youth Mental Health First Aid

3 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Documentary: Choices

Teen programs:

2:30 – 3:45  The Dating Game – Hope’s Door House Parties; Alcohol Drugs and the Law – Yorktown Police Department, Youth Mental Health, The Community Network Team; Alcohol Poisoning and Drug Abuse – Phelps Hospital