Our View: Way to go, Idaho

September 20, 2013 

One of our favorite opinion pieces to assemble is our “Way to Go, Idaho” offering, now in its fourth monthly installment. We don’t have to scramble to find things to praise and promote because there is such an abundance.

COMMUNITY POLICING EFFORTS

Congratulations to the Boise Police Department after its community policing was recognized by the International Association of Police Chiefs earlier this month. The association tapped Boise in the category of cities with populations between 100,000 and 250,000.

Mayor Dave Bieter said that declining crime rates over the past eight years are evidence of the department’s success and that Chief Mike Masterson and his department are deserving of the accolades. City Council President Maryanne Jordan said community policing serves a dual purpose: to make us safer and more closely knit.

It is not a stretch to connect this dot to Boise’s earlier recognition as one of the 20 Safest Cities in the country, according to a list compiled by Business Insider magazine earlier this summer. Boise ranked No. 7.

COPING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

Second, we’d like to cite the courage of Liza Long, the outspoken Boise mom who is dealing with the mental illness of a 13-year-old son.

Though criticized at times for “outing” her son’s afflictions and documenting his outbursts in her writings, she nonetheless has put an advocacy face on an uncomfortable topic that desperately needed one.

Through a blog, other writing and personal appearances around the country over the past year, Long has shared the coping and compassion mechanisms that have allowed her to help other parents attempting to raise children who suffer from mental illness.

A profile of Long in Wednesday’s Statesman by Katy Moeller gave an account of this mother of four who has had to deal with knife attacks aimed at her by her own son. Through it all, though, Long has juggled the goals of enriching her relationship with that son while attempting to remove the stigma of mental illness that they both face.

Her writing and advocacy work have earned her recognition from the Idaho Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. We can all learn from her family and her example. As Long said in Moeller’s story: “We have to be able to support each other.”

MORE ON HELPING TEENS

We wanted to share some of the examples of the good work going on in the Treasure Valley designed to help teens in a variety of ways:

• We thought you would like to know about the families hosting teenage exchange students for the 2013-14 school year and the organizations that work to find homes for the students. The exchange programs work to build international relations and promote diversity in schools. An example is Education First Foundation for Foreign Study, which is holding a “Welcome Orientation” for more than 65 exchange students and host families at 11:45 a.m. Saturday at Bear Creek Park in Meridian. We salute the exchange students, who come from far-away places to experience life in the United States, the families who host the students, and the organizations that promote building international relationships one student at a time.

• A few years back Dan Long was named SBA Small Business Person of the Year, and he got to meet President Barack Obama at the White House. Having just sold his business that same year, Long launched another career — helping kids navigate their sometimes troublesome teen years. He founded Teen Habits with the mission of helping youth “create purposeful and powerful lives.” Among the offerings on his website are learning techniques he calls Flexible Formats (www.teenhabits.com ). He and co-director Maureen O’Toole have introduced them at local schools such as Taft Elementary (sixth grade leadership program), High School Summer Leadership Boot Camp, Idaho Health & Welfare Independent Living program, and youth-centric organizations including Y Camp and Boys & Girls Clubs.

• We also want to applaud the Treasure Valley Youth Safety Summit held Tuesday in Meridian, where kids from throughout the area received important guidance on potentially life-and-death circumstances they could encounter. They saw what it was like to text on phones while trying to drive a go-kart and to be bullied during a competition, and they learned strategies they can use to say no to drinking and drugs.

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