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Internet safety program helps children Interactive workshop for parents and caregivers of students in Carbon County

Published December 11. 2010 09:00AM

Verizon and PBS39 are partnering for a second year in a row to teach Carbon County students how to be safe on the Internet.

During the Carbon County Commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Daniel J. Reavy, director of external affairs for Verizon, announced that the Verizon Foundation will give PBS39 $5,000 to continue "Be More ... Tech Savvy" in Carbon County. The initiative began last year after Verizon, PBS 39 and Carbon County District Attorney Gary Dobias established a partnership.

Reavy explained that the program was well received last year and, this year, hope to impact 1,500 children in the Weatherly and Jim Thorpe Area school districts.

"Our children are growing up in a digital world," he said. "That's how they communicate, learn and share ideas. Online technology has had a tremendous impact to society, and its role will continue to grow with further advances. It is our goal to continue to grow to meet those demands. Verizon is proud to partner with PBS39 in this important and innovative initiative to keep children and families safe throughout Carbon County.

"We have an obligation to lend support to collaborate with nonprofit organizations for the greater good."

Reavy then presented Erin Firestone, the director of creative services and education at PBS39, with a grant for $5,000.

Firestone thanked Reavy for the grant and the commissioners for allowing them to make the presentation at the meeting.

"Without Verizon, we wouldn't have the means to come to Carbon County and expand our reach," she said, adding that last year, the program was held in 13 high schools in Carbon County. Be More ... Tech Savvy is an interactive workshop about Internet safety for parents and caregivers of students in Carbon County.

"Each year, we're tailoring the program so we stay up to date," Firestone said. "The Internet is always changing. There is something new every week."

She added that the grant will help cover the cost of reformatting the program for middle school children and paying the facilitators to go into the schools and give the presentations.

Firestone noted that the program's parent workshop covers topics like: How do students use the Internet; What are the dangers?; Instant Messaging, Cyberbullying, Intellectual Property and Plagiarism, and Cyber- security.

Students are taught: Cybercommunity Citizenship; Personal Safety; Predator Identification; and Plagiarism and Theft of Intellectual Property. She also said the program aims to try and stop children from pushing the send button and cyber bullying other children.

The commissioners thanked Reavy and Firestone for their support of families in this county and commended them on their efforts.

In a related matter, the commissioners also voted to support the Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative Board's statement, which addresses the need to combat drug and alcohol use in children; as well as mental health issues in today's youth.

Jeanne Miller, co-chairperson of the collaborative was there to talk about the collaborative and read the statement that the board was adopting.

She said that the collaborative has made significant changes in today's youth through various programs, but more still needs to be done in the fight against children drug and alcohol use and getting more programs involved to help children with mental health issues.

"This is such a team effort and I'm committed and I think that fact that the commissioners and school districts and everyone is willing to say that these are issues that affect all of us, we need to look at them and say what can we do to make things better in Carbon County," Miller said.

She then read the statement, which says: "The Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative has confirmed through multiple sources of data and community assessments that behavioral health issues (drugs and alcohol and mental health) among young and families are a severe problem that affects the institutional fabric of our families, schools, and community.

"We need to address these issues as a disease impacting the body, mind, and relationships, and eliminate the stigma associated with these illnesses. We are committed to challenge all members of the community to come together to help combat these issues to promote a healthy and productive community."

The commissioners thanked Miller for her support of the children and the county.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, who is also the co-chair of the collaborative, credited Miller for establishing a lot of the programs that the collaborative created since it started in 2002.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said the county is committed to this effort.

"We're in, Jeanne, as you know," he said. "We're encouraging people in this county to join the fight. We've seen the problems with drugs and alcohol and suicides and various things that tear apart the fabric of our families and we need to fight back. Everyone joining collectively to try to promote a healthy community is what we're striving for."

O'Gurek also urged Miller, Reavy and Firestone to join efforts because they all have the same goals in mind.

The Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative is a board created by Partners for Progress as a way to help children and families. The collaborative is made up of various county agencies, law enforcement officials, school districts, court officials, hospital administration, nurses, and more.

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