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Author Archives: Sayre Savage

May Youth Highlight: Madina Abdi

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MadinaMadina is a Sophomore at Lewiston High School, and a member of our Mid-Maine Region’s Advisory Council. Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Madina and learning more about her.

Tell me a little about yourself…

I’m a very social person, I like being around people, and I’m very curious. I like to know what is happening around me. I like to join events and volunteer at various places around the community.

How are you involved with Youth MOVE Maine?

I am a member of the Advisory Council in the Mid-Maine Region.

What part of Youth MOVE Maine do you find helpful or inspiring?

I like what I am doing now [with Advisory Council], it inspires me because it is working against stigma and trying to change Lewiston to make it better for all of us, and it inspires me because that is what I want to do – I want to change what is going around and try to make Lewiston better for youth like me and for younger kids as they grow.

What do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing youth today?

Abuse of drugs, and growing up too fast. There are young kids that want to be mature, and they do things that older kids and adults would do. They grow up too fast, and they’re not enjoying their childhood.

How do you think we could make youth voice more represented in the world today?

Have more events that are held by youth, youth should be working on the events and feel like they are part of the event and the planning of events.

What is your favorite passtime?

Reading. I read anything, I am reading Anthem right now. I also like to volunteer and give my time to others.

Youth MOVE Maine joins Penobscot Job Corps to host an Open Mic Night in Bangor

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Youth MOVE Maine joined Penobscot Job Corps Center at COESPACE in Bangor to host an Open Mic Night. Youth from all over shared personal stories, poems, and songs! The event focused on bullying, resiliency, and nonviolence.

The event was moving and powerful for so many of the participants. Many of the presentations were very emotional, afterwards peers would go up and hug the presenters. The night concluded when the emcee – a Job Corps student, reminded everyone in the room that, “we are a family, we might be dysfunctional, but we are a family.” The support and love between everyone in the room was overwhelming.



Youth MOVE Maine Hikes to End Homelessness

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A view of the festival at the Bangor Waterfront.

A view of the festival at the Bangor Waterfront.

On Saturday April 9th, members from the Youth MOVE Maine North office in Brewer, joined over 1,000 hikers at the Annual Hike for the Homeless to benefit the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter. According to the shelter’s Facebook page, over 1,000 hikers joined the event, raising over $36,000 to benefit the shelter.

YMM North Staff (left to right) Kaylee, Sam, and Hannah Joy.

YMM North Staff (left to right) Kaylee, Sam, and Hannah Joy.

The event began at one of 4 starting locations in either Bangor, Brewer, Herman, or Hampden and everyone hiked from their starting location to the Bangor Waterfront for a festival of prizes, food, fun, and friends!

As part of our mission as Youth MOVE Maine, we desire “to impact systems of care, we use youth-driven and youth-guided practices to create awareness surrounding issues important to young people.” Homelessness is an issue that affects many young people in Maine, and one that many of those engaged with our organization hold dear to their hearts.

It’s Not Your Fault

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Disclaimer: The entries in this post are fictional.

Dear Diary,

I had to call in sick today for the second time this week. I don’t think my concealer will hide the newest bruises that now adorn my neck. It’s my fault, really. I know better than to leave dishes in the sink. Last night had been the worst by far; I’d never seen Roger so enraged before, if you could even call it that. The way he clenched that knife had me questioning how far he’d really go.

Of course, I know that Roger would never hurt me on purpose. He just shows his love for me differently than what people are used to. At least, that’s what I told my sister when she saw my black eye last month. She didn’t understand; but that’s only because she doesn’t know Roger like I do. He really is a loving man, one I’ve been head over heels for ever since we met that day in the coffee shop. It was like something you’d read in a fairytale, with the subtle glances from across the room and the way time seemed to stop when we locked eyes. He made me feel like a princess. But lately, it’s like our dream romance is beginning to feel like a nightmare.

This is the diary entry of a normal woman. Let’s call her Margaret. Margaret is your average romantic. She enjoys long walks on the beach and kissing in the rain. When she met her Roger, it was a dream come true. He was so sweet to her, always buying her chocolates and bringing home flowers. They were in love, the kind of love that makes you blind to the world around you. Margaret and Roger were the happiest a couple could be. However, that feeling didn’t last too long.

The first abuse had been a couple of months after their honeymoon had ended, and they’d been together for almost a year. Their love was still going strong, but the happiness had started to fade. It all started one Tuesday night. Margaret was home cooking dinner, when Roger came slamming through the front door, rattling the whole house. He’d had the most awful day at work. Roger was infuriated, swearing the world was out to get him. So when Margaret accidentally burnt his chicken dinner, his fuse went off. He slammed his hands down on the dining table, cursing at his wife, telling her that she was incompetent and stupid. Margaret had never seen him like this before and tried to comfort him, saying she was sorry and that she would make him a new dinner. This only angered him further. He saw her as weak, cringing every time he let another curse fly from his tongue. When Margaret tried again to soothe her enraged husband, like a whip, his hand struck out, hitting her cheek in a flash of pain. She drew back, completely startled, holding her own palm to her throbbing face. That’s when the first tear dropped. That’s when the pain began. That’s when she became a victim of domestic violence.

If this were a book, when Roger came through the door would’ve been the moment that the readers started screaming for Margaret to run. Or, when he started cursing her out. Or, when he hit her. All of these moments would have been perfect for her to leave. These are all strong warning signs of domestic abuse. According to domesticviolence.org, domestic abuse, or violence, is an intentional act that one person uses in a relationship to control the other. This abuse does not have to be physical; it can be emotional, sexual, or psychological. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, and anyone can be an abuser. Like Margaret and Roger, the relationship can be perfect at the beginning, a fairytale, but then suddenly change for the worst. I’m not saying that you should give up trying to find “the one”, but just be cautious if your significant other starts acting a little strange and showing the above mentioned warning signs.

It is also important to know that if you are a victim of domestic violence, you are not to blame. It is never the victim’s fault, although it’s common for the abuser to make them think so. Domestic violence is not an accident, so don’t make excuses for the abuse. They might say that they’re doing it out of love, but trust me, if that were really true, they would be giving you kisses instead of bruises.

Fa La La Family

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Although the radios have been playing those classic Christmas tunes since Thanksgiving, I wasn’t prepared this year for the festivities to begin. Usually, this time of year is my favorite, but this year I just wasn’t feeling the holiday spirit. Maybe it was the inevitable gloom that always hangs in the air when it’s nearing the day when the year is scheduled to end. Maybe the fact that I had none of my Christmas shopping done was the reason I wasn’t in the holiday mood. Anyways, now that the ever-loved day has come and passed, I have finally realized why I wasn’t so cheery this year. I didn’t fully understand the meaning of Christmas until I realized it was so much more than receiving gifts.

When I was younger, Christmas meant presents and excitement. The whole month of December was about preparing for the morning in which my brother would run across the hall to my bedroom and wake me up. From there, we’d rush downstairs, careful not to peek in the living room where our unopened gifts awaited, and spend the next ten minutes trying to get our parents on their feet. Then came the agonizing period of time where my brother and I, barely able to contain ourselves, would complain about the rule that said my parents had to have their coffee before the fun began. When we were finally allowed to explore under the tree, there was no hesitation in my brother and I as we tore through all of the wrapping. Once all of the toys were opened and A Christmas Story had played at least three times, it was then that waters began to calm. We would all go off in our separate directions, eager to play with our new treasures. That was my Christmas back then. Of course I won’t forget to mention the other traditions such as putting our fake tree together, struggling to reach the top for placing the angel, and secretly sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to steal some of Santa’s cookies. All of these memories hold a very special place in my heart. These were the few days in the year where all of the drama faded away, and the light of seasons’ greetings took place.

However, as time has passed, I’ve come to appreciate these holidays for something more. No longer do I dwell on receiving more gifts. The anticipation of material items has been replaced with the joy of spending time with the ones I hold dearest. I’ve also learned that one’s family doesn’t always mean blood. While my brother was off in Colorado, exploring his newfound adulthood, I had begun to think it would be an uneventful Christmas, spent with only my parents. This was not the case. Instead of a lonely holiday with my parents, we spent the day with our closest friends, some that have started to become more of a second family. The fact that we did not share blood with the people we were celebrating this sacred holiday with did not matter. There were so many laughs shared around the table as we ate our hearts out, telling stories from past memories. There was dancing and singing; you could feel the love in the air. It was a beautiful sight, family and friends combined, everyone enjoying themselves as the evening faded and the Christmas festivities came to an end. When I got home that night, I couldn’t stop smiling, replaying the fun from the past couple of hours. This, I thought to myself, this is what family feels like. This is what the holidays are all about.

Mental Illness in Teens

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Mental Illness: A wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior.

Although the cause of most mental illnesses are not known, it has become clear that many of these conditions are caused by environmental circumstances but also by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological factors. Mental illnesses however are not a character fault and is not a shortcoming in their personality. 

One very common Mental Illness is Depression.  Depression is a major and very common mental illness in the USA. In 2013, an estimated 2.6 million adolescents had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. I believe that school is partially to blame for this. It’s not that I think learning is bad; I actually love to learn. I just think that schools are going about it all the wrong way.

School now is all about passing, not about learning. Cramming to remember everything so you can pass the one of the three grades that count towards your report card is stressful. Along with doing all your homework so your H.O.W( Habits of Work scores participation at our school) scores don’t go down is too much, physically and mentally. After doing this week after week you get exhausted and you can only handle so much. This causes sometimes a downfall into Depression, making school a place you definitely don’t want to be. Anxiety is another mental illness that people in the US struggle with.

Anxiety is even worse for teens. For example, I know at least 15 people who have anxiety almost everyday because of what the education system has become. Whether it is that we only get about three grades a quarter that average together or that we have too much homework. There is a picture that I’ve seen before and along lines of this it says “they expect me to wake up at six, go to school for eight hours, then practice for three, do homework, study, and get eight hours of sleep and then everything else I have to do at home.” If you say that homework and studying takes about three hours that is 2o hours and if you add the eight hours of sleep that is 28 hours. More than you can get done in one day. Being expected to do all of the cause anxiety

Mindyourmind.ca has created a list of 10 factors that lead to teen depression. First on the list is academic stress. Academic stress is a mental distress associated with the anticipation of academic failure. or even unawareness to the possibility of such failure. Teens endure an enormous amount of pressure in school. Now with the cost of college rising and stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause you to become depressed,

The second factor on their list is Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure. Social Anxiety is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. During teenage years you are expected to have an array of friends that all adore you. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for teens that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.

The next supporting factor is the ninth on their list is Low Self-Esteem. Low Self-Esteem causes a person to feel unworthy, incapable, and incompetent. In fact, because the person with low self-esteem feels so poorly about him or herself, these feelings may actually cause the person’s continued low self-esteem.  Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From having to be around people you think are judging you at school to not being treated right at school and nothing happens about about.

What I think is crazy is all of the factors to depression all happen at school. Obviously something is happening at school and we need to stop it.

Little Do You Know About Autism

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Catlaina Vrana is the name of a girl I met at my high school.

When I first met her, Cat had a very unusual bracelet on her wrist.

I asked her where she got it, purely out of curiosity.

Turns out, that bracelet was for autism identification.

Imagine my surprise.

It hadn’t even crossed my mind that this stranger in front of me might be autistic. However, I believe that to be a good thing. I didn’t judge a book by its cover and with that, bloomed an opportunity to make a new friend. Plus, Catlaina, or Cat, agreed to let me interview her for this piece, as over the following weeks, we became close schoolmates.

Catlaina Vrana is a 17 year old senior from a small town in Kansas. She was born with autistic disorder, or classic autism. Cat begins by telling me that autism is different for everyone because the spectrum is very wide. One of the biggest side effects of autism disorder is having sensory issues. For example, when Cat goes into a crowded place such as Walmart, because her brain doesn’t know how to separate everything, it can be very overwhelming. She can see all the lights flickering and hear everyone talking all at once. To help control all of this chaos, Cat has her own pair of noise cancelling headphones. Recently, she decorated them with rainbow colors and sparkly star stickers. See, Cat is very creative. She told me that every autistic person has a “special interest”, something they’ve been studying for a very long time. For her, it’s art. Let me be the first of many to tell you that Cat is very talented when it comes to drawing and capturing beauty with her various mediums. In fact, she gave me the chance to see her illustrations for her new book.

As a senior, Catlaina had to decide what she wanted to do for her final project; it had to be something that would captivate her audience and showcase purpose, education, and of course, her talent with a pencil. She choose her project subject to be writing and illustrating her own book called Ella Autie, about a young girl with autism. Cat thought this was a great idea because a while ago when she went to the Auburn Library to check out books about autism or autism spectrum disorders, she couldn’t find any proper stories.. “They were not very good,” remarked Cat. “The part that really bothered me is the part about our representation. [First of all], the majority of the books were written by non-autistic people, or neurotypicals. [Second], the autistic character was [almost always] a boy, which is [reasonable because] boys are more likely to have autism than girls, but that meant there wasn’t much ‘Girl Power’ being showcased. [Third of all], the behaviors [of the autistic characters] were never explained. Yes, we see that Johnny flaps his hands, but nowhere in the story does it say why Johnny flaps his hands.” (Side note: Actions such as flapping of the hands and rocking back and forth are called stimming. According to Wikipedia, stimming is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but most prevalent in people with autistic spectrum disorders.) Now, because of Cat, there is a book about autism out there, written by an autistic person; and Ella, the main character, actually explains everything, especially stimming, throughout the story. Although, Ella isn’t alone. A friend, Sarah, joins in on the adventure by learning about autism and exploring it alongside Ella. This is what makes the story so realistic. Sarah doesn’t bully Ella, she just doesn’t understand autism.

When I asked Cat about bullying and how people treat her because she’s autistic, she told me that as she got into high school, sarcasm and silly metaphors became more widespread, and as she got older, the more she realized that she needed a sense of humor in order to make friends. Fortunately, Cat is a very light-hearted, fun-loving person and has come to be a very good friend of mine since I first met her. I’ve also learned a lot since I first met her. For example, the difference between saying “has autism” and “is autistic”. When you’re talking about someone and you say “So and So has autism”, it sounds as if that person has a disease. Cat was telling about how often autism is compared to certain diseases such as cancer, diabetes, AIDS, etc. It’s not a disease. Cat was born autistic. It’s in her genetics. It’s a whole different thing. It’s so perverted to think that you could cure her of something that IS her, as if autism were some kind of sickness. Cat says “it’s like ripping apart [a piece] of your soul”.

Bangor Trunk or Treat!

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On Monday October 26th, the Bangor Region attended the Bangor Housing Authority’s Annual Trunk or Treat event. The housing authority’s parking lot was full of cars decorated and passing out candy. The Bangor team was well represented with a couple Witches and a Squirrel. The Trunk or Treat event gave area kids the opportunity to go trick-or-treating in a fun, safe, and comfortable space. In addition to the trick-or-treating, Bangor Housing also put on a haunted house inside their offices. The Trick or Trunk event was a great success, we can’t wait for next year!

Lyrics Soothe the Soul

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“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag,

drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin

like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?”

Firework by Katy Perry has always been one of my favorites. I could never stop myself from jamming out to the kicking beat when it came on the radio. Yet, only recently have I really dug deep into the heart of the song, passed all of the rhythms and melodies, to where the true meaning lies.

Simply glancing at Katy Perry’s Firework makes the listener think of parties or a good time. The beat makes you want to try out all of your new moves, rock along with the sound, but a second look brings you to a whole new perspective. The pop song Firework is about being proud of who you are and screaming it out loud for the whole world to hear. Life can be very difficult at times, with stereotypes and status quo pressuring us to be someone we’re not; but this particular song urges the listener to forget about all of it: the social status, popularity, others’ judgement, etc.

“Cause, baby, you’re a firework

Come on, show ’em what you’re worth

Baby, you’re a firework

Come on, let your colours burst

You don’t have to feel like a wasted space

You’re original, cannot be replaced”

As you can see, Katy Perry’s lyrics are meant to be much more than a good dance beat. Like many other songwriters/singers, Katy wrote this song with a message for all of the listeners, something for us to think about, something that would hopefully inspire the audience. Lyrics are important because they give a song its purpose, its meaning. Although, sometimes the meaning can not be found in the individual words, but the overall story.

When broken down, lyrics of a song are simply poetry, and according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word “lyric” is defined as: “a poem that expresses deep personal feelings in a way that is like a song”. A songwriter/singer will pour out their heart and soul in their words when telling a story via music. Love, pain, grief, happiness, and everything in between can contribute to the power behind the song’s meaning. They want the listener to hear them, and understand the message. The writer tells a story with the hopes that we will be able to relate to it. We might portray the meaning as something else, but regardless, we connect.

For example, one of my most favorite songs is Reason by Hoobastank and although it’s mostly about love, I don’t always make that connection. I might be having trouble with school or friends, and I will listen to this song and instantly feel better. It’s true, the words don’t relate to what I’m dealing with, but the feelings I get from the singer’s story is what really helps me.

Music is like medicine for me. Whenever I’m having problems with my friends, school, or just having a bad day in general, I always turn to my music. It’s a great outlet for me, and it really helps me calm my stress. Reality can become too much to bare sometimes and when I need a break, I find the sweet sound of another’s story is a great distraction. Plus, connecting with a song and meaning can be very soothing. When I need to think things over in my life, I listen to serious, slow music; and when I need cheering up, I jam out to my party playlist, with songs such as Firework. All in all, I think if it weren’t for music and their lyrics being there for me when times get tough, I might have gone crazy.

The Thing About Music

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                When I first found out that this month’s topic was song lyrics, I was ecstatic. Music has always been part of my life. From listening to Simon and Garfunkel with my dad and Bruno Mars with my sister to classical music at school or Rend Collective at youth group. Now that I’m in highschool I sing in the choir and I try to sing my best . Just like my sister did when she was part of her own choir at the high school. Music allows people to express themselves when words or actions can’t.

Lately I’ve been listening to music a lot lately, especially because we can listen to Spotify at school. My go to song right now is Part of Your World by Jodi Benson. I know it’s from the Little Mermaid but I don’t care. This song from my childhood brought back so many memories. When I was younger I used to watch The Little Mermaid a lot. To this day it still is my sister’s favorite Disney movie ever. We would spend hours upon hours sitting in front of the TV watching it on repeat. The thing is I don’t think that i was wasting my time.

              In my boss’s car she keeps her iPod, and every time we get into the car someone grabs the iPod and turns on their favorite song. So the other day we were in the car on our way to drop off one of my friends before we went to the DMV. I scrolled through almost all the songs in her iPod before I came across Part of Your World. I immediately decided to blast it  Like almost every other time I’m in her car we had two other people in the car. They aren’t from the US and I guess had never watched The Little Mermaid. So as I’m shouting along to the best song ever they sit in the back seat flabbergasted and have pure amazement on their faces. Throughout the whole song they giggled. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone laugh that hard in my entire life.

               When you look back on that song it has a lot of meaning now that I didn’t have when I was younger. Before I just really liked the way it sounded and its catchy tune. But now it means so much more. I challenge you to think of a song from when you were a little kid and listen to it again.  I know that you will deduce something totally different about the song now then you thought of when you were little. This line from the song speaks to me so much, “Bet you on land they’d understand they don’t reprimand their daughters”. As much as I’d like to admit it I’m not a perfect daughter.This statement helps me so much and shows me that when you don’t follow the rules obviously you’re going to get punished. Most of the time my parents are right and I shouldn’t go against all of the things that they say.

                I will forever have that hilarious memory because of this one song. Part of Your World by Jodi Benson has been so much for me throughout my life. Most people don’t realize how much a song can affect your life and how many happy, crazy, and funny memories one song can create. From when I was younger and watched The Little Mermaid on repeat to now when the lyrics of each song really speak to me. This song will forever be in my memories. This is how song lyrics affect me.

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