Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Peter Doolittle: How your "working memory" makes sense of the world

"Life comes at us very quickly, and what we need to do is take that amorphous flow of experience and somehow extract meaning from it." In this funny, enlightening talk, educational psychologist Peter Doolittle details the importance -- and limitations -- of your "working memory," that part of the brain that allows us to make sense of what's happening right now.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Allan Witt T-Ball Fields

The Matt Garcia Foundation is committed to investing into sustainable resources. That is why we are dedicated to the Fairfield Pacific Little League T-Ball Field’s at Allan Witt Park. We have committed time and money to this cause and will continue to work on this until it becomes a reality for the youth of Fairfield. These fields will be next to our current fields at Allan Witt Park so we can have our whole League playing at the same location. We are working very hard on getting donations to complete our goal and build two new baseball fields that will be the future home for our T-Ball, Farm (Coach-Pitch) Divisions, and our new Challenger Division for children with disabilities.

We really need your help! If you can spare an hour or two to help our League please come down to the Allan Witt fields with your work gloves and any gardening tools you may have so we can make this dream a reality. We will provide our field improvement project days here on our website. Please keep checking our website for the latest dates and events!

You can learn more about the project by visiting the Fairfield Pacific Little League WEBSITE.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Eight Ways to Prevent Youth Violence

A single approach to preventing youth violence is not sufficient. A youth is affected many things in his/her environment and prevention must address those multiple factors.

Reducing Exposure to Violence. As a society, we are much better at protecting partners from a violent significant other today than 30 years ago.

We must now move ahead and protect children from the devastating effects of exposure to domestic violence (DV). DV traumatizes young people and sends them the wrong message about how to engage in interpersonal relationships. Every DV case that comes to the Courts should have a caseworker assigned to assess the well-being of the children in the family.

Excessive use of violent games and movies desensitizes our most vulnerable youth to the horror of violence, making it easier to commit violence. We should limit youth exposure to violent media just a surely as we limit their access to alcohol and tobacco. Community efforts to reduce neighborhood violence, such as neighborhood watch, can be very effective, as well.

School Success. We all need to experience success. A youth's main job is school and he needs to feel successful there. Programs such as Positive Behavioral Incentive System (PBIS), school based mental health, involvement in positive school activities, IEP's, and additional services for learning problems have proven that they can improve many children and teens feelings of accomplishment in school, thus reducing the likelihood that school frustration can contribute to future acts of violence by students.

Skill Building. Many "at risk" youth need help to build the coping skills they need to resist the "pull" of gangs and engage in healthy activities. (When is the last time you engaged in healthy exercise or eating without encouragement?) Youth need mentors that will help them with problem solving, anger management and dealing with the neighborhood bully. Many of us can take 5 or 6 hours out of our week to include a youth in our activities. Additionally, there are many skill building programs that can be used after and during school to teach skills and values and respect for others.

Trauma Therapy. Many youth who are at risk for violent behaviors have been traumatized at some time in their lives. They repeat the trauma they have experienced, sometimes violently, until they resolve it emotionally and cognitively. This can be done more effectively in therapy without the risk that a youth will act out his aggression on others.

Family Supports. Most parents want to be good parents. However, some lack skills and strengths they need to be effective parents. Some are willing to learn new skills, give up addictions, get treatment for a mental illness, get treatment for anger management or domestic violence, go to parenting classes, or enter family therapy for the sake of their children. When parents are willing to do these things, we must provide the supports necessary for them to be successful.

Reduce Bullying. Schools need to have a zero tolerance for bullying. They should to be teaching respect instead of accepting bullying as a normal thing kids do. There are anti-bullying programs that can be used school-wide. Programs like Olweus, "Character Counts," and "Don't Laugh at Me" have materials that can be used throughout a school to build an atmosphere of respect for others.

Put Your Best Foot Forward. In order to be successful, youth need to feel competent and confident. They need to hear praise for what they do well every day. What you pay attention to, will increase. Catch them being good and praise them to the rooftops. Show the goal, the way to go, and praise every step in the right direction. Youth can change their behavior, but they need encouragement to do so.

These are just a few ideas. There are many more. Think about what made you feel good about yourself as a child. These are the experiences that all youth need, especially "at risk/promise" young people. Each of us can play a part. It takes a community to stop violence.

Dr. Kathryn Seifert is a psychotherapist with over 30 years experience in mental health, addictions, and criminal justice work. Dr. Seifert has authored the CARE 2 and "How Children Become Violent, Professional Version." The parent version of How Children Become Violent will be released this fall. She speaks nationally on mental health related topics and youth violence. She is an expert witness in the areas of youth and adult violence and sexual offending.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Community Service Day

At the Matt Garcia Foundation we don’t want to complain about this, we want to create solutions to problems. It is with this spirit that we began our Monthly Community Clean Ups.

On the last Saturday of every month, volunteers get together and clean up a neighborhood in Fairfield. We pick up trash, work on landscaping paint windows, fix fences – all in an effort to improve our community. This is another example of community coming together to help make a difference.

The Matt Garcia Foundation Dream Team, is all about stepping up and stepping out of ourselves to serve others and our communities to be a part of the solution. Matt would say ” if you see a piece of garbage on the ground, please just pick it up” How simple is that! So, that is what we do.

For more information, please visit


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Importance and Need For After School Activities

Many parents feel that with the pressure on today's students that it might be cruel to consider enrolling their children into after school activities and programs. But there are very good reasons why it is the act of a responsible parent to take this course of action.

After school activity groups and programs have become more and more popular in recent years. The growth has been quite amazing. The primary reason for this is the working pattern of the parents. It is estimated that the average child spends around 15 to 20 hours per week without any parental or even adult supervision. They are left to their own devices and because of this many turn to petty crime as a means to alleviate their boredom and lack of structure. How many of us have seen documentaries of youth gangs where the majority of them say "there's nothing better to do around here" or something similar. After school activities are a superb remedy to this situation.

Crime is generally understood to be at its most prevalent immediately following the school day. I'm not suggesting that this is entirely due to the delinquency of modern day youth although it certainly plays a part. However, this part of the day is also a dangerous time to be a child with many traveling home unsupervised and possibly at risk. After school activities allow the children to be occupied during this time and allows a parent or other trusted adult time to pick them up from school after work.

Another 'big' concern with our children today is how prone they are to obesity. With the advent of computer games, internet communication, junk food and a lack of parental discipline our children s health is at a great risk and must be taken seriously. A well structured and physical after school activity can divert their attention from the desire to be at home and will greatly assist their physical condition and development as well as increasing social skills and abilities and helping to create a more rounded, healthy adult in later years.

There is a lot of pressure from parents and teachers for children to take their studies seriously with academic prowess being a much coveted goal but thought and attention should be given to preparing your child or children for life as an adult and the social, physical and mental benefits gained from after school activities make it an essential part of your child's progress into adulthood.

There is a lot of information that parents should be aware of regarding your child's development. Visit the after school activities hubpage for all the research you need.
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Matt Garcia Learning Center

A wonderful video produced by the Fairfield Suisun School District about The New Matt Garcia Learning Center. Matt Garcia, a former student of the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, became the youngest city councilman in the state of California in November 2007.

On September 1, 2008, Matt Garcia was murdered in a tragic case of mistaken identity. His death brought about a new commitment to furthering his cause of community service.

Note: The Matt Garcia Learning Center is supported by The Matt Garcia Foundation, but is not a part of the foundation. We are very proud of the wonderful things happening at The Matt Garcia Learning Center.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rodrigo Canales: The Deadly Genius of Drug Cartels

Up to 100,000 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico in the last 6 years. We might think this has nothing to do with us, but in fact we are all complicit, says Yale professor Rodrigo Canales in this unflinching talk that turns conventional wisdom about drug cartels on its head. The carnage is not about faceless, ignorant goons mindlessly killing each other but is rather the result of some seriously sophisticated brand management.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Abha Dawesar: Life in the "Digital Now"

One year ago, Abha Dawesar was living in blacked-out Manhattan post-Sandy, scrounging for power to connect. As a novelist, she was struck by this metaphor: Have our lives now become fixated on the drive to digitally connect, while we miss out on what's real?