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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2013 Today: High 85, Low 65, Mostly sunny Tomorrow: High 83, Low 59, Sunny
Community support HoHoKams group provides more than $200,000 to local athletic organizations; p6
INSIDE Community p4, News p6, Opinion p16, Money p18, GetOut p23, Sports p28, The Finder p33 COVER STORY
A tiding of comfort and joy Toy closets provide Cardon patients with cheer during difficult times
SRP, teachers going above and beyond in the classroom; p18
By Eric Mungenast
Pops in EV
Q&A with longtime Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart; p23
Varsity Xtra Football quarterfinals a convergence of rematches; p28
ONLY IN THE TRIBUNE:
Stephanie Kimble, 8, of Mesa, looks over the selection of toys inside a Toy Closet at Cardon Children’s Medical Center, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. [Tim Hacker/ Tribune]
A smile — one of those tiny side smirks that causes a cheek to abut against the bottom of the eye — creeps onto your face when remembering all of the gadgets and gizmos held within the toy closet at Cardon Children’s Medical Center. This would be the moment when you’d try to blame the delightful giddiness on the inner child emerging from its shell, but it’d be a lie to say the outer man didn’t have a blast absorbing the sight of all the trinkets within the treasure trove. There was the wall-climbing Spider-Man — very cool, albeit a hint reminiscent of Regan from “The Exorcist” — DVDs, coloring books and a few Xbox titles, several Barbie dolls and a few Transformers to boot. There was a mini basketball hoop adorned with Disney princesses — a combination somehow logical and illogical at the same time — and a scented wax warmer for whatever reason. Even a few knitted caps and garments rested on >> See Toys on page 13
Party Patrols find, stop underage drinking By Katie Mayer SPECIAL TO TRIBUNE
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Mesa police Sgt. Rob Scantlebury and his squad spend most of their time in plain clothes, quietly working cases involving street drug dealers, prostitutes and thieves. Many times the community doesn’t see them, and isn’t aware of the work they’re doing behind the scenes. But on certain nights each year, they shift their atten-
tion to a more visible problem disrupting neighborhoods in Mesa — parties. As co-chair of the Mesa Prevention Alliance, a nonprofit group which aims to combat underage drinking, Scantlebury and a group of five or six officers take to the streets on specific nights about eight times each year for a special enforcement initiative, called “Party Patrols.” The goal of the patrols is to find
and stop parties, ensure kids return home safely, cite youth and adults for committing crimes and provide education, said Karen Frias-Long, executive director of the Mesa Prevention Alliance. The Party Patrols are funded by grants from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Magellan Health Services. Frias-Long often rides with police during Party Patrols and has >> See Patrols on page 13
Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of stories examining the efforts of the Mesa Prevention Alliance to curb alcohol consumption by East Valley teens. Part 1: Alliance: Slowing teen alcohol trends starts at home (Oct. 23; evtnow. com/5zk) Part 2: Educating students, adults equally important in underage drinking fight (Oct. 30; evtnow.com/608) Part 3: Alliance enlists helps of police to find parties, cite participants (Nov. 6; evtnow.com/60e)
eastvalleytribune.com | East Valley Tribune | WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2013
>> From page 1
the walls comfortably. The smile advances from that opening little smirk to something more when you remember exactly who will receive those items on the walls. They’ll be kids from the very young to teenagers, and the toys and books and movies and video games will end up in a patient’s hands a few moments after a rather frightening and trying time in his or her young life. Guidelines exist to delineate when, exactly, a kiddo can enter the closet to peruse its contents; without a few parameters, the closet’s (technically closets; there are seven closets for the building’s seven floors) purpose would diminish. The most common opportunities come just after an intensive procedure like a surgery or as compensation for undergoing a transfusion; going in for a regular appointment or something less severe won’t result in a visit. Staff members sometimes use it as incentive/bribery for children in recovery — walk two or three times today, they might tell a child, and you get a special trip to the closet. “I’d say the toy closet is the biggest motivator in the hospital,” said Sarah Fischetti, who works in Cardon’s Child Life Department.
Supplies needed Coloring books are one of the items the hospital could use — other items of need include things tailored toward teenage patients and infants to enjoy after their scary times — as the holiday season encroaches. The need is due to the fact that the items in questions, all the toys, books, games, DVDs and miscellany, that fill the seven
closets is received via donations from the public. This article isn’t meant to be a pledge drive — Cardon won’t run out of toys in the near future — but it is a gentle reminder during shopping season to pick up an item or two to donate to the hospital’s toy closets if you have a couple of extra bucks available. A donation can go directly to the hospital as long as its unused — homemade items are accepted as well — or it can be gifted until Dec. 9 through the toy drive conducted by Mesa City Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh. The effect that toy or book or video game or movie or scented candle maker will have on a child is immense. All of those items, Fischetti said, help Cardon fashion a sense of normalcy in an environment that is often anything but and make it a clean, well-lighted place. The toys can divert from the pain the kids feel and remove, or at least suppress, the negativity that has entered their lives. At the very least, one of those items can help kids like 8-yearold Stephanie Kimble — the girl whose photo accompanies this article — and Royce turned a bad day into something a little better, and a frown or a grimace into a smile. “It definitely changes his mood for the day, which is always nice,” Tricia said of her son’s experience. Items can be dropped off at Cardon’s front office, 1400 S. Dobson Road in Mesa, and more information is available by calling (480) 412-5437.
Westwood High School freshman Brailyn Sueing makes a promise not to consume alcohol by signing a pledge during the Mesa Prevention Alliance’s Alliance Touchdown Oct. 11 in Mesa. [Jared Mayer/Special to Tribune]
Patrols >> From page 1
seen everything from teens passed out from alcohol poisoning to youth with guns at parties. During one party, she saw 200 kids crammed inside one house. “Underage drinking is hard on the youth and it hurts our resources, like our hospitals and our police departments, and it has a domino effect for all of us,” Frias-Long said. On a recent Friday night Party Patrol, Frias-Long said police issued nine citations in connection with a party hosted jointly by a father and his teen daughter. In the backyard, police found teens and young adults drinking alcohol, ingesting Jell-O prepared with hard liquor, and even an 18-year-old with Viagra and condoms in his pocket. “This kind of behavior is a recipe for disas-
ter,” Frias-Long said. But what also worries police and alliance members is that — in this case — the parent was the person who provided the alcohol to the teens. And incidents like this have become more common, experts say. Mesa Prevention Alliance members who track data have learned that about 20 percent of high school seniors in Mesa acquire alcohol from a parent or responsible adult. Because of this trend, the alliance has placed an increasing focus on educating adults and holding offenders responsible. “At the party, one neighbor over in the yard said, ‘I’m just a neighbor, can I leave?’” Scantlebury said. “I told him, ‘It’s your job as a neighbor to be responsible. You as adults are responsible for the youth in your neighborhood.’” Scantlebury said that in
some cases, it can take officers up to four hours to return a teen safely to his or her parents, which can be draining on regular police resources. It’s also time-consuming for police officers to administer portable Breathalyzer tests, identify and search youth, issue citations and provide education and resources. The Party Patrols allow officers to focus solely on all of these tasks, rather than responding to other calls for service. “It frees other officers up to do their regular work,” Scantlebury said. Since the start of the fiscal year in July, the Mesa Prevention Alliance has had three Party Patrols that have resulted in 31 citations. Two of these were given to adults suspected of providing alcohol to youth or allowing them to consume alcohol, and the rest were related to underage drinking, Frias-Long said. In the city of Mesa, police handed out 164 citations for suspected underage drinking from the start of this year through the end of September, according to public records. In 2012, police cited 256 youth in connection with underage drinking. But beyond the numbers, Scantlebury really wants the community to understand that adults who purchase alcohol for youth can ruin their careers and hurt their children, and youth who consume alcohol can ruin their lives. “We’ve had to take seven >> See Alliance on page 14
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Fischetti’s something of a gatekeeper for the closet, and frequently has an opportunity to enter one of the seven mini Toylands as part of one of the more enviable jobs a person can have. It’s not a very long trek for Fischetti and the kids, as the every closet is located right across the hall from one of the rooms where many of their intensive procedures take place. But the physical distance is outweighed largely by the symbolic one, with a child moving from the darkness of an often nerve-wracking and inherently unfair experience to the light that is the room filled with treats and the ultimate reward for their minutes, hours, days, months or years of courage. “It’s like magic,” Fischetti said. “I always wish we had cameras in here to capture their reactions; it’s priceless.” She’s dead on with that point; watching a child enter one of those seven closets is no less than an utter joy that, upon reflection, makes the smile grow even larger. Take, for example, the circumstances behind the visit taken by 3-year-old Royce Rooker into the closet on the seventh floor during an oth-
erwise unimportant Monday morning. The boy had his tonsils taken out about five days earlier, but he was forced to come back to the hospital due to complications with his medication. He’s still such a small, small boy, and he walked into that room with an IV in his arm and the pole rolling at his side as if it were a dog protecting its owner. Royce was there with his mom, Tricia, who guided her son through a few of the selections and kept hinting at that wall-climbing Spider-Man; Fischetti said it’s fairly common for parents to “recommend” a toy they find interesting for their kids. “It’s a lot; even when we go to the store, he’s never able to go for it,” Tricia said. “It’s a little overwhelming because there’s so much stuff in there.” Some kids do become a little dumbstruck by the walls of toys, and Fischetti said it can take some kids a half hour to figure out exactly what they want. But Royce was a little more efficient than many of his young colleagues, and he had his eyes set on a specific item that featured a few characters from Pixar’s “Cars” franchise. Unfortunately, the item proved to be a bait-andswitch for the little guy: he expected a toy vehicle, but ended up with some kind of beanbag toss game. He was a little upset, but the hospital let him grab one of the Transformers figures, and that ended up being a winner for the young patient. “He’ll be playing with that for the rest of the day,” Tricia said afterward. Entering the closet as frequently as Fischetti does reveal a few trends as to which items children pick most often. Action figures, like Royce’s new Transformers, are popular among the boys, and baby/Barbie dolls are often the top selection or girls. For more time consuming and less invasive procedures like the aforementioned blood transfusions, kids tend to lean toward board games, arts and crafts, and especially coloring books. “We go through coloring books like crazy,” she said.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2013 | East Valley Tribune | eastvalleytribune.com
Alliance >> From page 13
kids to the hospital,” Scantlebury said. Gilbert father Barry Adkins knows firsthand the dangers that underage drinking and parties pose to youth. He lost his son, Kevin, in 2005, after the 18-year-old accidentally drank himself to death at a party where a 28-year-old man lived and allowed teens to drink. “It all starts with prevention at home,” Adkins said. “And if it can’t happen at home, then the schools really
need to step up and do it.” Adkins, who wrote the book, “Kevin’s Last Walk,” about his experience walking from Arizona to Montana with his son’s ashes in his backpack, speaks to parents and youth across the country about his loss in hopes of helping other families. “The issue is that there’s this perception in society that we’ve got to go out and drink, but not only are we going to drink ... we’re going to get hammered,” Adkins said. The most important message Adkins said he gives parents is that their children will
make a lot of important decisions during their teen years — such as decisions about college, employment and managing money — but the two most important ones are about drugs and alcohol. “You make a bad decision about one of those, and lives with a lot of opportunity can be down the drain in a hurry,” Adkins said. “All other decisions your child is going to make pale in comparison to this one.” The next Party Patrols enforcement in Mesa is scheduled for December. For more information, visit www.mesapreventionalliance.org.
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