AGN Article on Van Buren Frightmare

Amarillo Globe news writes about Van Buren Frightmare. Matthew Hite quoted:

Check out this link:

http://amarillo.com/entertainment/get-out-outings/2015-09-30/big-boo-returns-frightmare-reworks-season

Van Buren Frightmare

The downtown Amarillo haunt will nearly double in size this year, thanks to the addition of a new outdoor area.

Matt Hite, AAYC executive director, said the haunt has more improvements inside, too.

“We got a lot more help and a more professional-type setup,” Hite said. “We had artists come in and paint the walls … with a lot more details.

“We’re going the extra mile to make everything look more … realistic,” he said.

The haunt features 43 actors in several rooms that are generally Dark Ages-themed, he said.

“We added more face paints, costumes — everything has a lot more oomph to it,” Hite said.

how to go

 What: Van Buren Frightmare

o When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 31, plus Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28

o Where: 816 S. Van Buren St.

o How much: $25

o Information: 806-373-2292 or www.fearamarillo.com.

Parents: Do you know what your children are into this summer?

Parents: Do you know what your children are into this summer?

By Matthew Hite Amarillo, Texas

YIPPEE it’s summer time, kids are out and about, staying up late, sleeping in… Some organized activies but LOT and LOT of free time…  WAIT!  Parents this is a fun time for your kids but please be vigilant with what your kids are doing and where they are going.

Sometimes kids go and stay at their friends houses for a day or two or hang out all day places.  Do you know where they are, exactly, and what they are doing?  If they are staying at a friends or neighbors, cousins, schoolmates, etc; Do you know who else is there and what type activities go on there?

This is a breeding ground for lots of activities that you may NOT want your kiddos involved in or it could be a great safe and enjoyable experience for your kiddos.  How do you know?

Did you know that Childcare’s are required to screen visitors and keep your kids safe but they are also required to allow parent to watch, visit, and see exactly what goes on in the childcare.  Even with this policy bad things happen in childcares everyday.  It would be GREAT if these same policies were in place everywhere our children go, but that’s not the case.  If your kiddos are going somewhere and you don’t have access to them or can’t check on them…… Something is WRONG!

Here is a quick check-list of things you can do to make sure your kiddos are safe AND not into anything you don’t want them to be in.

  1. Keep in touch, Cell phones are a great thing
  2. Be honest and open with your kids about expectations while they are away from the house.
  3. Know and talk with the parents, adults and people that are around your kiddos
  4. An unannounced drop by to check on your kiddos is a GREAT idea, anytime.
  5. Check your kiddos social media and internet and see what they are posting and who they are with
  6. If you are uncomfortable with a situation just tell your kiddo(s) “NO” but be real with them and tell them why.
  7. Talk with your kiddo(s) make sure they know how to keep there body safe AND to get away if they become uncomfortable for any reason.
  8. Let your kiddo(s) know that you are there fro them and even if they are embarrassed or uncomfortable;  they can trust you to be there for them, no matter what and that they can tell you anything, anytime!  Open honest dialog.
  9. Be part of your kiddos life, do things with them and there friends.  Take interest in them and their activities!

Please use this check-list when they go to friends houses, go to a camp, enroll in a program or spend a lot of time anywhere.

It’s important with all the drugs going around that your children know the boundaries you have set for them and that YOU help them keep those boundaries and help them stay safe and secure.  There are many predators out there as well; know whom your kiddos are around and what influences those people have on them and what they are doing.

DO THINGS with your KIDDO

Did you know that enrolling in a class, program or activity with your child is a great way to get to know them and learn with them?  You get to see their friends and interactions with others and become a more in-depth part of their life.  Your kiddo will learn that we all learn, even as parents and its ok not to be in control all the time.

It is important to note that some kiddos get embarrassed when their parents are directly involved.  Sometimes your kiddos need to be away to grow more independent and to learn on there own.  As a parent you  can’t shelter your kiddos and be there every second of everyday.

OPEN DOOR POLICY

The AAYC has an open door policy, we invite you to come to any of our programs with your kid(s). Join the program and participate if you’ like.  The more adults and parent we have the better.  All our programs are designed so that the kiddos can go independently or with an older family member.

SCREENING

The AAYC also screens all our volunteers and staff to make sure they are safe and our administrative team is always watching the classes, programs, activities, other adults, parents and even kids because we want YOUR children to be safe.  Make sure the places your kiddos go are safe for your kids.

AAYC Child Safety Initiative

AAYC Child Safety Initiative Take a stand with us against Child Abuse

The AAYC Child Safety Initiative is one way WE work with our community, families and law enforcement agencies to keep your kids, our kids safe as we help develop them into future leaders of Amarillo.

Our goal is to help inform parents, please free free to copy and post this information. If you’d like to publish in pleae contact Matt.hite@amarilloyouth.net for permission.

The Death of Us

The Death of Us

Our Sedentary Lifestyles

 Are you tired all the time, stressed and have a hard time doing things that use to be easy for you?  Do you feel that YOU are not all you can be?  Did you know that many Americans has adapted to a sedentary lifestyle and that this is killing us.  A sedentary lifestyle is more than just spending an excessive amount of time sitting each day.

This lifestyle has negative health influences including increased anxiety, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and more.   Some people have jobs that require them to sit all day, others sit in front of the TV all the time. A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity. We joke a call people couch potatoes, well that’s what we are doing turning our body’s into curved, rounded versions of the image God created us in.

State of mind

As a kid I would go to school and sit most of the day but at least at school you get to get up every 45 minutes and move around; then there’s PE/athletics, Band, lunch and other activities as well.  Our problem is that then many youth in today’s society then go home to sit in front of a TV or computer screen all night and in their free time.

Why?  Well its simple we are training our kids this way.  When they are young, very young; we stick kids in front of the TV to entertain them and keep them busy.  As they grow up they get more and more technology; as adults we get busier and busier and spend less time out of the house doing things with people.  We mentally enjoy that time sitting, doing NOTHING in from of the TV; but it’s at the cost of our health.

Coupled with our changing diets, as we eat less fresh, more processed foods without paying attention to what we are putting into our bodies.

Obese but full

Did you know that just because you are full does NOT mean you are being nourished?  Fatty food seem to fill you and keep the hunger away longer but it’s not putting anything in your body you need.

Today’s society is overweight but under-nourished because we are putting junk in our bodies.  In school we learned Garbage-in/Garbage-out when working with computers.  It’s the same with our bodies.   What are you putting into your body.

Activity

As our population grows heavier and struggles more and more to do daily activities we all have to look at our activity levels.  Yes, YOU, and me and everyone we know.  I’m not saying we all need to goto the gym and become the next Arnold but we NEED to become active.  We need to take time with our kids going places, doing things, and getting out of the house.

Since man was created we have been walking….. Walking, walking, walking.  We all need to remember that our bodies are built to be in an horizontal (sleeping) or vertical (standing)  position; not the bent over form you have when sitting down.  Let’s all try to spend more time up and moving, on our feet.

Ultimately I thin it is imperative to get involved with an activity that requires movement that you enjoy on a regular basis if you want to stay with it.  Whether it be a sport, hobby or activity; its up to each of us to find SOMETHING to get us more active.

Desk Jobs

Ultimately, experts urge people to get out of their chairs and start doing something.   While this may not seem practical for those stuck in an chair or cubicle but small, simple changes like taking phone calls standing up can help. I encourage you to redefine our workouts into all moments, have a weight or stretch-band at your desk.

I spent five years sitting in a call center environment and growing chubbier and chubbier for it.   It’s so easy to grab a bag of chips from the vending machine or a coke from the machine.  if you have been on a job where you’re on the phone all day you understand the need to have something to drink.  Well let’s all try water.  I know yeah, water.  A friend of mine, Patty, introduced me to putting fresh fruit (cucumber, watermelon) into water to give it flavor without the additives and such that are in a lot of the drink mixes.  YUM!  It tastes good too.  I need to start doing more of this; but so do YOU!

Let’s do it!

This is not something easy for you to do alone, get your whole family involved, your co-workers and those that are around you!  Lets make a positive change in our lives TODAY!

Well I have been sitting here typing this for too long, time to walk around and do something less sedentary.  Same to you, right now DO IT!  Let’s go up, on your feet.  Right NOW!

Written by Matthew Hite  Amarillo, Texas

The Talk….

The Talk

by Matthew Hite

Amarillo, Texas

 

Parents, if you have not had the “talk” with your child(ern) its time.  NO not that talk.. The Talk about drinking.  Most children between the ages of 9 and 15 have access or friends that have access to drinks.  Does your child know?  Has your child experimented with drinking already?  Many parents turn the other cheek or pretend it’s not going on with “their kids.”  Don’t fool yourself… Have the talk….

Communicating with teens can be difficult.  It is important to lay a good foundation with your child before they hit the teen years…. and NOT JUST ABOUT DRINKING EITHER….  Your child will be exposed to the outside world, prepare them for it and talk to them before they are put into a situation about it.

Please remember that threats and lectures rarely prevent anything and are usually reactionary in nature.  Be proactive, talk with them and not too them.  Citing laws, rules and regulations will not stop most children.  They need to know these things but that in itself will NOT stop them.  One of the most valuable things you can share as a family is time where you speak openly and honestly with one another.  Maybe at dinner or just before bedtime,  find a time to talk with your kids and to become part of there life or they may not turn to you later when they are encouraged to experiment with things.

Talk to your children about your past drinking and share stories about it.  Be factual and let them know a few things that could happen to them if they do drink.  You need rules that are spelled out clearly.  Share your personal opinions, beliefs and thoughts about drinking and then clearly layout ground rules about drinking.  Work with your child and help them feel good about themselves.  Self esteem is vital so that they can say NO to those that admire later when and if approached.  Be a good parent and work on building a positive family environment so that your kiddo will be willing to talk with you.  Also be a good role model and practice what you preach.  Lastly know where you child is going, when they will be home and who they are will and follow up to make sure they are where they are suppose to be.

It’s a lot of work being a parent and I hope this will help you remember that YOU make a difference in your child’s life and that these tips can be applied to any topic; NOT JUST DRINKING!

Family values have NEVER been so important.  Kids today face a different world than their parents.  Family life is different, family structure is different but YOU can’t use this as an excuse.  Parents and children are spending less and less time together everywhere because of technology, social media, TV, video games and parent’s busy personal life.  YOU have to make TIME!   .

Yes the talk…. every talk…. every day… be a positive influence to your child, don’t just talk, listen!

 

 

Are you a bully? Are you a victim?

It’s been part of society since the beginning of time, bullying.  One person is bigger or more dominate and they take advantage of someone else.

Who is a bully?

The dictionary says to  bully is  to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person) : to act like a bully toward (someone): to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force.  (Source Merriam-Webster Dictionary http://www.merriam-webster.com/).  There are many degree’s and levels of bullying.  A few common examples are:  physically hurting/attacking someone, Malicious teasing, spreading hurtful rumors or gossip, cyber bullying, harassment of sorts, ganging up on someone or isolating someone and intimidating them.  Sending malicious or threatening text, emails, instant messages, blogs, social media and other electronic media is also bullying.

Are you a bully?  Are you hurting, threatening someone or using your strength, size or social status in a mean way? Chances are you are a bully.  It takes a lot of maturity to step back and admit that you are a bully!  The first step to correcting your behavior is to admit that you are a bully.

If bullies would just stop and put themselves in the other person’s shoes and really think about how that would make them feel. if you are a bully you may need to seek guidance from a trusted adult, school official or professional.  There is NOTHING wrong with asking for help to stop a cycle of bullying for the victim or the bully.

School and clubs

Bullying happens in all schools, it’s almost not avoidable.  If you or your child is being bullied, chances are others are as well.  many schools have bullying prevention programs that can help reduce bullying.  It is ALWAYS ok to go to the school’s councilor, coach, trusted adult or family member and talk about any bullying that has occurred.  The person being bullies is NOT at fault,  that person is a victim and needs help!

Adult intervention at school

Parents and adults please don’t be afraid to step up and be the adult in any situation where bullying occurs.  It’s best to keep a writing record documenting the bullying with details, times, dates and whom was there. DO NOT blame the victim, it’s not there fault.  Calling the school and reporting bullying is a great start.  Talk directly to the teacher(s) let them know what you have information on and make them aware of the situation.  Once the teachers are aware of the situation you can expect action to be taken by the school.  Ask the teacher(s) what procedures, rules and actions are in place to help the child.  If this does not help please go to the school’s administration and talk with the child’s assistant principal. The school wants to stop bullying but they can’t without YOUR help, adults.

On-line

On-line many times a bully will hid behind a fake profile, name or account to spread rumors, lies, and false information.   A quick and easy way to help solve this issue is to report and block anyone that you don’t know that sends you a random message or information that appears to be attacking or harming someone else.  Sometimes bully’s think they are trying to “help” others but usually if they are bent on hurting or spreading this type info, they are probably in it for another reason.

Are you being bullied?

If so it is important that you tell someone, a  trusted adult.  Your peers usually cannot help you and that might make it worse.  Get another adult involved.  Don’t be afraid to stand up to the bully in a public place in a non-aggressive posture, Don’t fight them, if if becomes physical get away.  There is NOTHING wrong with walking away from a physical encounter, heck RUN if you need to!  Another strategy to help you is to stay in a group when possible and to always try to have a few friends around.

As a bully it is important NOT to fight back or bully the other person, or find someone to bully them.  I know it’s NOT your fault, they are the one in the wrong.  Keeping it to yourself will not make it go away.  Avoid the bully if possible but don’t skip school or miss other activities because they might be there!

Written by: Matthew Hite, Amarillo, TX

Additional resources:

Stop Bullying
http://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/

Stop Bullying now
http://stopbullyingnow.com/

Stop Bullying Pledge and games
http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/promos/stopbullying/

 

 

On-line Predators

What you should know about On-line Predators

Written by: Matthew Hite; Amarillo, TX

Preface:

In the month of April the AAYC is focusing on Child Abuse prevention.  One of the often forgotten ways a minor is exploited is over the internet, on their phones and other mobile devices.  PLEASE take a few minutes to read this and share this with youth, parents and those that are around children.  PREDATORS BEWARE!

The information age

Today we are in the age of technology.  We spend hours a day viewing and working on technology items.  Whether it’s communicating with friends and family, sharing life events, playing games, watching videos, or even watching TV, YOU are being exposed to the age of technology.  Computer and online exploration opens a world of possibilities for children and can expand their horizons and expose them to different cultures, ways of life, and current events.  They can also be exposed to dangers and inappropriate content/contacts while exploring the internet highway.

There are individuals who attempt to sexually exploit youth through the use of the internet, social media and online services.

Your Child

Many times, children are curious and interested in sexually explicit material.  Some adolescent children may also be attracted to and lured by online offenders close to their age or who have the same interest and activities. Children can be seduced and most likely manipulated by some scary people.

If your child is approached by someone online that they don’t know and there is questionable activity going on YOU as a parent need to step in right away.  Bottom-line is that kids can be tricked with fake accounts, lieing adults and manipulating offenders.

Precautions parents should all take:

Teach your child and communicate with them

Explains what you expect from your child’s on-line use; set limits, explain dangers of the internet.  Let them know that it is NEVER ok to send explicit pictures to ANYONE on the internet or over their phone.   Many parents never discuss these things because they are uncomfortable.  This should be a continuing talk at the dinner table.

Access to accounts

Always maintain access to your child’s accounts.  Take time to check the accounts and see what is being said and done.  Be up-front with your child and let them know that you will be checking and monitoring their account.  Log-in and check their online accounts on a regular basis.  It might be best to do it with your child present so that they don’t feel like you are prying and they know exactly what is going on.

Set-up your own account

One deterrent to these people is to see active adults on-line comments and overseeing the account.  Make positive comments and like your child’s pictures.  Spending a few moments a week on a Social media account can really help and will help you monitor who is liking, comments and involved in your child’s on-line life.

Computer location

Keep computers in a common room or area of the house where the computer screen is visible to others in the household throughout internet sessions.  Disabling the web-cam or taping over the lens unless you use it for positive communications for  time to time can help as well.

Personal Information

Make sure that person information lie address phone, birthdate and other information is not being broadcast on your child’s account.

Mobile Devices

In todays world we face yet more problems,  mobile devices.  I recommend that parents check these devices on a regular basis as well.  Also I recommend that the devices be charged in a central location in the house and not be in the child’s room at night.  Please utilize parental control on your mobile devices and check what your child is viewing on a regular basis.

Prevention

If parents are informed and active it is much less likely that a predator will take interest in your child’s life.  We were all children at one time and as the age of technology evolves we must be more diligent to protect our youth because, now, more than ever children have explicit resources right at their fingertips.

On-line resources

There are thousands of resources on-line to help you learn, identify and report on-line predators.  We all need to watch and be vigilant in stopping inappropriate activities and making the internet a safer place for all.

Most social media sites like Facebook have a large area for online safety and option where you can secure an account and report an any suspicious activities.

AAYC

For more info about the AAYC (Amarillo Activity Youth Center) please visit our Official web-site http://www.amarilloyouth.org.  Follow us on instagram @amarilloyouth. Please like us on FaceBook as well: http://www.facebook.com/373aayc.