Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Born in the U.S.A.

Congratulations to Sandra Bullock re her new baby boy. According to news reports, Louis Bullock was born in New Orleans and adopted by Ms. Bullock in January. With all the attention on foreign adoptions these days it’s marvelous to see a celebrity respond to a child in our own backyard.

My husband and I had a two-year-old blond, blue-eyed daughter when we adopted a bi-racial boy and girl in the early 70s. People stared at us and asked personal questions that were intrusive and rude, “Where were they born? Do you know anything about their background?”

We politely responded that Elizabeth and John were born in Los Angeles and that’s all we shared with strangers. We had limited information about their biological parents as records were sealed in those days and L.A. County Department of Children’s Services only provided brief knowledge – both were healthy, alert and ready to be placed in a loving home.

In the late 70s fewer couples applied to adopt children born in the U.S. The “crack” pandemic hit urban neighborhoods and women under the horrific influence of drugs gave birth to babies with serious health issues ranging from mental retardation, physical defects and severe emotional disorders. Babies placed in foster care waiting for adoption languished for years in institutions and group homes as families looked to Korea and other Asian outposts for infants. Single women and gay couples were denied the right to adopt a child in this country so they turned to agencies in China where baby girls were readily available.

Today, there are more than 500,000 children growing up in foster care in this country. Substance abuse and HIV among pregnant women has substantially declined. Single men and women and gay couples can adopt infants and older children from public and private agencies but they continue to reach out to Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe. Families adopting Russian born children are not told the truth about the mother’s prenatal alcohol abuse. One adoptive mother went so far as to return a child with severe psychological problems to Russia without adult supervision on the long flight home.

Madonna, Angelina and Brad, Meg Ryan and others have the resources to provide excellent health care, a superb education and a nurturing environment for their adopted children but they should look closer to home for a child in our welfare system eager to be part of a family.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Familiar Face in the Crowd

I watched Jerry Brown standing in the middle of the theater lobby all by himself. I waited to see if a campaign"handler" joined him but no one appeared by his side. He looked uncomfortable as guests mingled in the large crowd greeting one another. This was a night of gaiety -- 62nd independence celebration of the State of Israel. Finally, I walked over to him, "Hello, Jerry, you don't remember me, I worked on your campaign when you ran for community college board."

"Good to see you, not many people worked on that campaign."

The solitary candidate for Governor of California appeared the same to me as he did in the 70s, alone in a crowd, few people recognized him. He looks just like his father, the late Governor Pat Brown, yet he exudes none of the warmth or social skills that people admired in Brown senior.

Jerry needs to loosen up, extend a hearty handshake, a pat on the back or he'll have few voters campaigning for him again.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Paradise or Perfidy?

There’s no recession in San Francisco. Last weekend I drove down the hill from elegant Pacific Heights to upscale Chestnut street, and then a short distance to the newly-renovated arts and culture Presidio. I smiled at “foodies” lugging bags of fruits and vegetables from the Embarcadero farmer’s market then watched crowds milling in Union Square waiting for the cable car to Ghirardelli Square for a chocolate bar. So many choices in this sparkling emerald city.

Gentrification made its mark -- Victorian homes in the Haight have been treated to a fresh coat of paint and brightly trimmed front doors. Where’s the smell of incense and pot? It’s still a mix of leftover hippie 60s along with moms pushing $800 strollers to nearby Golden Gate Park. I gazed at parents loading babies into car seats in super size BMWs while their golden retrievers swiftly scrambled between the two children ( a perfect family for a Silicon Valley venture capitalist).

Local pride and memory lingers in each community. Stinky fish trails out the door of restaurants in Chinatown while elders smoke in front of shops selling “authentic” Chinese trinkets made in India.

The shimmering Golden Gate Bridge links the city to Marin County where million dollar A-frames stack up the hillside overlooking snug harbors with impeccable yachts.

But there’s more to the “city by the bay.”

Forget cappuccinos and croissants in the Mission or Potrero Hill -- homeless encampments in doorways, worldly possessions stuffed in plastic bags piled high in shopping carts and those fortunate enough to get off the street for a night can get a room in rundown hotels. From former Mayor Willie Brown to current Mayor Gavin Newsome the landscape in downtrodden enclaves of the city haven’t benefited from the boom. Members of San Francisco’s social and political elite have geographic amnesia, a tradition that lingers from one generation to the next.

I left my heart in San Francisco, not.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Locke High School Students Defy Stereotypes

February 2002, L.A. Youth writer Bianca Gallegos investigates Locke High School, a campus in need of attention.

Some of L.A. Youth’s most closely read investigative articles are about schools. Readers alert us to problems on their campuses, or we hear stories about something that seems amiss, as in the case of Locke High School. Teen writer Bianca Gallegos, a senior at Marshall High School in leafy Los Feliz, was outraged that two LAUSD high schools could be so far apart in academic achievement, safety, graduation rate, etc.

“Teachers don't teach. Kids sneak textbooks out of the class. The best students leave and the worst students transfer in—that's how things have been at Locke High School in Watts, one of the most troubled schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Senior Lucia Ortiz described classes taught by substitutes, or by teachers who didn't bother with lessons. Other students told her that some teachers slept in class or talked on their cell phones.”

February 2010. Teacher Jerica Coffey invited L.A. Youth editors Mike Fricano and Laura Lee to speak to students in her English class at Locke High School #3. That first visit grew to a core group of young writers sharing their stories of growing up in South Central L.A. They defied the stereotypes as disengaged gangbangers and dropouts with compelling narratives about their goals for college and careers, providing a better life for their parents and changing the negative images of impoverished black and Latino teens by mainstream media. Covette, Gabriel, Yesenia, Maritza and Frank published their stories in our March issue.

We celebrated their achievements with a “blow-out” party – balloons, flowers, speeches and each student reading aloud their personal story. The school auditorium was filled with parents, friends, teachers from nearby middle schools, siblings and the L.A. Youth staff.

The group of five expanded to 12 eager writers in the past week and a commitment to meet every Thursday from 3 – 6 pm in Ms. Coffey’s classroom. Mike and Laura are reaching out to the community for a passionate journalist to share his/her time once a week at Locke so that every teen gets to experience a one-on-one relationship with an adult editor.

We’re a necessary idea.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Protect Children in Foster Care

L.A. Times columnist Tim Rutten is outraged at the number of deaths of children in the L.A. County foster care system. So am I.

With a $2 billion budget, more than 7,000 employees and the highly experienced Trish Ploehn, Director of Dept. of Children and Family Services, overseeing the agency, where’s the safety net for kids? The tragedy of childhood death is a larger social issue, addressing individuals in their environment with layers of poverty, addiction and domestic violence.

Parents have a duty to protect their children from harm. Children enter the child welfare system unprepared for the onslaught of social workers, police officers, mental health professionals, lawyers, judges and others. Their role is to protect the child. Child welfare practitioners and policymakers must be more responsive to the communities they serve. Private caregiver agencies must be monitored with more frequency and closed for even minor infractions.

I want social workers to be more aggressive in investigating and removing children from parents, foster parents and other caregivers with the first sign of abuse. And, I want child welfare workers and parents to access family support services and reunification where a positive outcome is possible.

L.A. County Dept. of Children and Family Services reduced staff and cut support services due to the budget crisis. The Board of Supervisors need to rescind the order for budget cuts. The county needs to hire more social workers, lighten the case worker load and provide more staff training before another child dies.

I’ve worked with foster youth who’ve had a positive experience with a social worker. As the publisher of L.A. Youth, the newspaper by and about teens, I’m extremely proud of our special project giving youth in the foster care system an opportunity to tell their personal stories. Through the Foster Youth Writing and Education Project, which began in 2003, we provide foster youth an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and a forum to voice their concerns, while also informing readers about the system and the challenges foster youth face every day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Reunion

“We need progressive health care, tax reform, creative social welfare, job opportunities.” All part of Obama’s 2008 campaign – not! These were 29-year-old Cathy O’Neill’s messages to voters in 1972 as she campaigned for the 23rd District State Senate seat.

I was part of her ambitious and enthusiastic cadre of volunteers in the general and primary elections. We set up campaign headquarters in her neighbor’s garage in Pacific Palisades. Most of us were young mothers, toting diaper bags and strollers in the crowded space. We stuffed envelopes, walked precincts, made phone calls (with crying babies in the background), urging voters to endorse the bright, visionary candidate.

Cathy, a young social worker and political activist, lost the election by a few hundred votes.

Losing the election didn’t stop Cathy. She went on to found the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, a leading United States-based advocacy organization focusing on the needs of refugee women and displaced families. Op-eds frequently appeared with her byline in national and international publications. President Clinton appointed her Director of the United Nations Information Center in Washington, D.C.

Sunday afternoon we held a campaign reunion in the same Palisades home, this time indoors, continuing the “potluck” campaign tradition. How did 38 years passed so quickly? We shared photos of grandchildren, compared Medicare plans, chatted about our winding-down careers and complained about the lack of social reform. Cathy joined us late in the afternoon having spent the past few days in a hospital ICU. Her loving husband, noted journalist and author Richard Reeves, pushed her wheelchair up the stairs while we clapped and cheered at her tenacity to party while immobile and whispered voice. Multiple surgeries in the past 10 years, followed by other complications would depress anyone, yet this vibrant woman managed to join in the laughter as we told campaign stories -- hors d’oeuvres (Lipton onion soup blended with sour cream and a bag of chips served 50 people at one fundraiser) her campaign wardrobe limited to three suits and how she defended her position as a Catholic pro-choice while under attack from local churches.

Cathy never compromised her values, unlike many of our current elected officials. She paved the way for women to seek office and challenged the status quo. The same issues she was passionate about are shouted by community organizers at rallies, in churches, at backyard barbeques, and on the Internet, etc. Sadly, we haven’t made much progress since 1972.

Cathy’s legacy is extraordinary.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Modest Man

Tributes to movie executive Gareth Wigan filled the pages of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, New York Times and international entertainment blogs when he passed away Feb. 13. He was a highly respected producer, studio executive and production chief at Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and partnered with Alan Ladd, Jr., Lucy Fisher and others.
I celebrate his life and contributions as a dedicated volunteer and strategic advisor to L.A. Youth. We met last year when he called to inquire about getting involved with us, not just sitting on the board to raise funds, but to participate in day-to-day programs we offer young journalists.
Last night there was a memorial service for Gareth at Sony Pictures. Tributes by top entertainment talent, clips from his many films and amusing stories by his children brought me to tears.
He never mentioned his distinguished career. We were too busy talking politics, L.A.’s high school drop-out crisis, his love of opera and my constant angst about raising money for L.A. Youth. We even branched out to share notes about our families.
Bluster and ego so often displayed by Hollywood executives was not his style. We will miss his quiet dignity and contribution to L.A. Youth.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Penny Wise, Pound Foolish"

1. Do you want to see more teens roaming the streets without supervision, joining gangs, creating unsafe neighborhoods?
2. Do you care that more children and youth are obese and at high-risk for serious health issues?
3. Do you enjoy swimming laps in the city pools?

Check off “not applicable” if you live on the Westside or other upscale neighborhood. These issues don’t impact your life. Most homes in Beverly Hills or San Marino have pools in the backyard (some have tennis courts, too). Children who live in these neighborhoods have after school and summer activities -- private college prep tutors, gymnastics class and music lessons or lounging on the couch plugged in to an iPhone and laptop.

But childhood obesity, nowhere safe to play or cool off on a hot summer day are crisis problems for thousands of families in Los Angeles because Mayor Villaraigosa has cut jobs and programs in L.A. City parks and recreation centers.

The city has a huge budget deficit. Cutting these critical “safety nets” will cost taxpayers more money as youth with nowhere to recreate join gangs, commit crimes and are confined in over-crowded juvenile detention facilities. Health insurance rates will rise with the increase of juvenile diabetes and ultimately the city will need to hire more police (or pay millions in overtime) to combat neighborhood crime from aimless teenagers.

This is a short quiz but the answers have long-term consequences.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Special Teacher

With more than 20 years in the trenches with teen journalism I still get teary-eyed when I read a note like the one here from a teacher at Locke High School in South L.A. L.A. Youth Editors Mike Fricano and Laura Lee visited her class last week and plan to continue weekly visits. She brought a few students to our Saturday editorial meeting.

Locke has been in turmoil since it opened in 1967. It’s one of the lowest achieving schools in California. Racial tension between black and Latino students brought police in riot gear to the campus to break up fights in May 2008. Faculty and administrative turnover is a revolving door. On September 11, 2007, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) approved a motion to turn over control of Locke High School to Green Dot Public Schools, an outside charter management organization.

“ I just wanted to say thank you for letting me crash the Saturday meeting. As a teacher who has committed my life to working in some of the most disenfranchised urban communities, I have only worked in severely segregated schools. My experience bringing students to the Saturday meeting and hearing such generative discourse representing students from diverse walks of life was inspiring beyond words. It made me think a lot about the importance of integrated schools. My students rarely get an opportunity to interact with folks who are not Black or Latino, nor do they often have the chance to interact with young people who are not living in poverty.

At the risk of sounding overly romantic, I think that LA Youth has the unique opportunity to bring a democratic experience to youth that they are not getting in school. What a rare and sacred thing in today's society.

Thank you so much for making the effort to include my students in your
community. I think they felt intimidated, yet empowered by the experience. It means a lot to them and to our entire community! In fact, Frank's mother has told everyone she knows that her baby is going to be published in a newspaper. For a student like Frank, this is one of the few times in his life that he feels a sense of academic identity. This is why his mother could not believe that he was writing a piece for LA Youth. I am grateful for your time and interest in their stories.”

In community,
Jerica Coffey

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

The first time I vacationed in Palm Springs I was 12 years old. It was the only place my family could afford -- the prices are low in summer as the temperature climbs to 115 degrees. Palm Springs is located in Coachella Valley, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. The desert is surrounded by the San Jacinto Mountains. In winter you can swim laps in a heated pool
and look up at snow-capped mountains. Not far from Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park, 800,00 acres of massive granite formations, prickly trees, the San Andreas Fault, coyotes and jackrabbits.

Today, Palm Springs is home to aging boomers, retirees, a large gay community, casinos, numerous golf courses and the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation. On the north side of the 10 is Desert Hot Springs, described by locals as "Desperate Hot Springs," home to once fashionable spas, now swarming with meth labs, headquarters for notorious gangs and families struggling to survive above the poverty level. In March 2009 local and federal law enforcement agencies busted these depots of illegal activities.

I shop at Von's, corner of Gene Autry Rd. and Highway 111, in Palm Springs. Standing near the check-out I noticed a tall, glass cabinet with cartons of cigarettes, packs of Nicorette and large containers of Similac (powder baby formula). "Why is Similac under lock and key?" I asked the cashier.

"People steal the baby formula and use it as a "filler" for cocaine."

Two towns in the Coachella Valley, four miles apart, yet galaxies removed in housing, education, and culture. How did this happen and will the balance be restored or will the infection spread?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Trying to Survive Without a Phone

My friend, former teacher Ken Lawrence, cannot afford an iPhone, Blackberry or any other mobile device. He’s disabled, survives on a frugal budget, and his lifeline to doctors and 911 has been out of order for more than three weeks. When a life-threatening asthma attack occurred in the middle of the night, he reached for his land phone -- no dial tone.

Ken’s neighbors alerted me the next day. I called AT&T hoping to speak to a real live person. No such luck, there’s only a recording with a long menu for services. “Our first available appointment for service is February 1.” I hollered back at the recorded voice, “that’s over a week, he’s disabled in a wheelchair.”

“Thank you for calling AT&T,” was the final message.

The repairman finally arrived Feb. 1. He moved cables, climbed the telephone pole and tested the phone with various devices. “The phone’s working,” he reported and left.

An hour later it was out of order and still doesn’t work.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Superbowl Surprise!

Eating healthy is a challenge this weekend for Superbowl fans. If you’re the party host Sunday, thrill your guests with Kimchi Chicken Stew, Quinoa with Grapes, Sesame Chicken Salad and Broccoli Puree. Food guru Michael Pollan would approve, you’d be following his “Food Rules.”

I know, you’re thinking, “Yuck!” But you’ll love these dishes created by L.A. Youth’s teen writers as part of our healthy eating package for the March issue. Those nasty nachos loaded with orange, slimy cheese will sit on your hips for days. And the stark, white sour cream dip is definitely a no-no with those “double-dipper” carrot sticks. Remember, the guy on the couch will dip in, take a bite, return for another dip. Did he sanitize his hands?

About those ribs and slaw…’ll consume 7,000 calories with sweet b-b-que sauce and tons of mayonnaise burying the cabbage. How about ice tea instead of 4-5 beers?

Let me know if you’re inspired to follow my advice. And, happy game day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Youth Media Gets Deserved Attention

Dear Friends,

I haven’t forgotten you, been soooo busy with new projects for L.A. Youth; watching endless hours of TV coverage of Haiti earthquake and aftermath; business trip to New York; and, raking leaves and other debris in my backyard after the deluge of rain 10 days ago.

Good news……L.A. Youth was awarded a $100,000 matching grant from the Challenge Fund for Journalism VI, a collaborative of The Ford Foundation, McCormick Foundation and Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Gotta hustle to identify new donors and diversify our funding base.

Speaking of partnerships, the Youth Media L.A. Collaborative met Jan. 29 in our office to officially launch a partnership among local youth media organizations. Those of us working with young people in print, video, radio and the Web will share resources and collaborate on community reporting projects. Thanks to The McCormick Foundation for bringing us together and supporting the pilot project with a $50,000 grant.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates in a few days.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Surviving and Thriving in Hard Times

As a couple of friends and I cruised down an alley to find a spot to kick back and smoke a joint, we saw a head with long blond hair pop up from a dumpster. In front of the dumpster was an old 10-speed that had been put together piece by piece. Every piece on the bike was a different color. Someone said, “Oh! It’s only one of those dumpster divers.” Then I realized that it was my mother. I told my friends, “Hey! That’s my mom. Turn around!”

My friends knew my mom was homeless, so they said, “Cool. Maybe she’ll smoke a joint with us!” So we turned around. Now, it had been about two and a half months since I last saw or heard from her. I went through the whole, “Hey! Long time, no see” bit. After the small talk, I realized there was not much else to say. We sparked up a joint and offered it to her. She said, “Geez! That’s a big joint!” Then she told me how she didn’t feel like it because she was too amped.

My mom is a speed addict. Whenever she has money it almost always goes for drugs. Once in a while, she gets a motel room but that never lasts long because the drugs run out and so does the money. My mother is also a dumpster diver. She digs in dumpsters for food, clothes, things to recycle and anything else she can find. On Christmas I got a bag filled with a fluorescent pink Frisbee, silver rings, a plastic watch and other fun things. All of this stuff came from dumpsters. But I don’t care because I love her and it’s the thought that counts. To prove it, I wear all the rings and sometimes even the watch.

The writer was 16-year-old Julie Smit, whose moving story of her mother’s 15-year addiction to drugs and homelessness appeared in L.A. Youth in 1994.

This wasn’t the kind of story found in a traditional high school newspaper.

High school journalism has been losing ground since the 1970s due to education budget cuts. The student press was dealt another blow in 1988 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that administrators had the right to censor articles intended for publication in school newspapers.

On January 11, 1988 I decided to start a teen newspaper. With no money, no office space or even a computer, I gathered a dozen high school youngsters and told them we are going to put out a newspaper they could call their own. I appointed myself publisher, editor, head fundraiser and chief delivery person.

In our first year, we published two issues, circulation 2,500. Twenty-two years later we are publishing six issues annually and circulating 70,000 copies. We distribute the paper, free, to 1,300 teachers in middle and senior high schools throughout greater Los Angeles.

L.A. Youth’s mission is to fill at least some of the gap created by the demise of the student press. We offer teens a haven, a place where they’re encouraged to express their opinions. But I also want the paper to continually remind policy makers of the plight of kids who are marginalized in foster care and elsewhere. And I want to make mainstream media aware of kids who live with trauma and violence on a daily basis.

In their private lives teens write lively, expressive thoughts every day. They scribble in diaries or share their innermost secrets with friends and strangers by posting them on blogs, MySpace and Facebook. Some of the pieces we publish, like Jessica Bernstein’s account of her nose job, require an amazing degree of self-confidence. Jessica interviewed her plastic surgeon and posed for before-and-after photographs. Sherry Lee, in a piece entitled “My So-Called Boobs,” wrote good-naturedly about the advantages of small breasts: she could hug people close to her, run around without a bra and sleep face down! They’re definitely L.A. Youth originals.

Marvin Novelo decided that he wanted to write about being gay:

When seventh grade began and I was 12 years old, I was very much aware that I was gay. It was the little things, such as how I felt when I saw guys in the locker room. I resented being gay and I wanted to think it was a phase I would grow out of. In church, my pastor would explain how homosexuality is an “abomination of nature, the sin that is the worst next to murder.”

At Byrd Middle School the motto should have been, “No fags allowed.” People were yelling, “Look! That guy’s a queer!”

Toward the end of ninth grade, I was jumped on the way home by a group of boys who kicked me in the stomach and head. No one helped me.

The role of adult editors is to coach and nurture the young talents at L.A. Youth, to recognize the value of their ideas and guide each through weeks or months of writing and re-writing until a compelling story emerges. It can be a slow, arduous journey, the teen writer sitting side-by-side with an editor, carefully scrolling through paragraphs on a computer screen and then trying to make them better. A few stories have taken up to a year before they’re ready for publication. But I tell myself it is worth the wait; after all, it takes courage to write something that you know thousands of readers will be judging.

L.A. Youth tilts strongly toward personal journalism. But we don’t avoid controversy and we are proud of the investigative articles that our young writers have produced over the years.

Some of our investigations result from a concern that when awful things happen to teens, almost no one seems to pay attention. Teen staffers Jennifer Clark and Katrina Gibson began one such project by prowling through records at the Los Angeles County Coroner's office. Their assignment was to reconstruct the lives of young people killed by violence during a one-month period in the county.

We knew that most would be homicide victims, their lives ended early by guns and knives in gang initiations, scuffles with police, drive-by shootings and so on. L.A. Youth would try to put faces on some of the victims, whose deaths generally went unnoticed by the outside community.

Morgue records yielded home addresses and next of kin information for the victims. Jennifer and Katrina sent off letters to parents or other survivors, asking for photos of the teens and anecdotes about their lives. We would publish their obituaries.

As our readership expanded and our journalism got better, we made a concerted effort to reach the neediest teens. We had to build relationships with three overlooked groups:

--Young people living on the streets. They lived with trauma and violence on a daily basis, often selling themselves into prostitution and becoming addicted to drugs. They were so marginalized that no one gave them a second thought.

--The hundreds of foster care children moving in and out of group homes or other shelters. Most were refugees from abusive or broken families. Some were so emotionally scarred that they retreated into silence.

--Teens afflicted with various mental disorders. The lucky ones had parents able to afford therapy, medications and special schooling. Others, including those who found themselves on the streets or funneled into foster care, might or might not receive appropriate treatment.

We set out to find writers in the three groups whose first-person stories would convey the reality of their lives. Our intent was to influence policy makers with the power to improve services for these teens, and to remind the mainstream media that they existed.

Our teen writers walk in the door questioning adult assumptions and stay long enough to challenge our values with their honest and sometimes brutal writing. Here is what resulted when they decided to create “The Teen Commandments: 10 Things We Hate About Mom and Dad (and how to change them)”:

--Have meals with us at least once a week. Talk instead of watching TV or reading during the meal.
--Don’t compare us with other people. Don’t say, “Why can’t you get A’s like your sister?”
--Don’t pretend to be a teenager. It’s weird when parents use teen slang or try to dress like us. You don’t have to act like us to communicate with us.
--Tell us the reasons for the rules you set.
--Don’t tell us how our lives will turn out. We have to figure some things out by ourselves.
--Respect us as we are. ‘Don’t insult our likes and dislikes. Show some interest in the things we like.
--Listen to us instead of lecturing.
--Suggest activities we can do together, but don’t force anyone.
--Encourage us in our activities, but don’t put too much pressure on us if we don’t win.
--Look at us and tell us that you love us.

These kids don’t pull punches no matter what the Supreme Court decided.