Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor Nov. 5

Nov 06, 2020

Immense thanks to those caring individuals

The family of Fred O. Heald of Beach Road, Lincolnville, would like to take this opportunity to thank friends and neighbors for the prayers, cards and love which we have received upon the death of our beloved father, brother, grandfather and uncle. He will be deeply missed.

The Heald Family

Lincolnville

A skatepark brings benefits

I was just a kid when the Starfire Skate Park was built in Camden. I can still recall the grand opening, more so its essence than specific details. Andy Macdonald (one of the most successful skaters in the world) made an appearance, along with Paul Zitzer and Buster Halterman.

An enormous crowd of residents assembled for a showcase at the new skate park on a gorgeous summer day. The professional riders began showcasing their skills on the freshly built ramps, and they were ripping! My eight-year-old brain couldn’t fully grasp how these skaters were performing such gnarly tricks with effortless finesse. Oohs and ahhs echoed off of the ramps as parents and kids looked on in splendor. I'll never forget the sound of their wheels spinning as they caught air or locked into a stall on the coping.

Their grip tape sparkled, refracting the sun, as did the eyes of the captivated audience. Once the pros were finished with their demonstration, they stuck around to chat and autograph posters (I still have mine today!) Needless to say, this is one of my fondest childhood memories, as I now understand the impact it had on myself and the community.

Fast forward a couple decades, and skateboarding still plays a role in my life, but its importance transformed. In 2018, I began working at Oceanside High School as an ed tech and behavioral health professional (BHP) in a behavioral special ed program.

Around this time, I began to see skateboarding as more than a sport. Part of my job as a BHP was to find alternative and therapeutic ways to engage students around academics and social and emotional learning. Often, I would turn to skateboarding as an outlet of sorts to provide myself with a respite from the stressors of work.

Then, it clicked. Skateboarding can help some students, too. Skateboarding can be a tool for anyone to free themselves of stressors and convoluted thoughts that build up in one’s mind. It taps into many facets of positive psychology on both a cognitive and physical level. When an individual is performing a task that requires this focus, their brains are momentarily freed of negativity and detrimental thoughts, that if not monitored, can proliferate into serious mental ailments.

Another important aspect of developing and maintaining good mental health practices is based around setting and achieving goals, regardless of the magnitude of them. Whether you’re busting out 900’s like Tony Hawk, or learning how to drop in on a halfpipe for the first time, you're working at a specific goal, an achievable goal, and that is crucial for strengthening one’s overall life satisfaction.

While working at OHS, I witnessed countless students express interest in skateboarding, biking and rollerblading. Not all young people find success navigating mainstreamed team sports, so it’s meaningful for them to find a way to get outdoors, breathe fresh air and get their bodies in motion.

This is why I feel strongly about having a skatepark built in Rockland, and why I'm writing this now. I genuinely believe it's paramount for youth in the area to have a healthy outlet and a place to get excited about after school hours. I cannot think of a better environment to develop healthy life habits, build lasting relationships, work towards meaningful goals and discover their identities than a skatepark. It's a goal worth working toward!

Zackary Wincklhofer

Rockland

Caring for the community

Coretta Scott King reminds us, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” In a year, when the needs in our communities are stark and many, may we be informed compassionate citizens as we decide who to support with whatever financial resources we have.

The Restorative Justice Project of Maine delivers some of the most valuable service to community. The Knox Country Board of Commissioners will meet soon to determine their allocations for 2021. I urge them to support RJP.

For over a dozen years, I have been an RJP volunteer serving both as a mentor and circle facilitator. When I began word about restorative justice was just around getting around in midcoast Maine. What thrills me today is the widespread support and involvement restorative justice practices have from Knox County teachers and principals, local police and prison personnel, Sheriff Carroll, lawyers, judges, District Attorney Irving and an amazing corps of citizen volunteers.

No denying there is a collective hunger to solve problems, care for one another better, and break down punitive, ineffective responses to misbehavior and crime that fail to address the root causes of behavior or to meet the needs of those harmed. In response to this hunger the Restorative Justice Project has been providing leadership to our community for 15 years.

The Project cannot financially do this alone. With a braided funding strategy, asking numerous agencies, municipalities, grantors and citizens to give what they can, we collectively build robust restorative practices throughout the community that are proactive, and hold all accountable for their behavior.

So what can the Commissioners support? Early on the Waldo County Jail was transformed into the Reentry Center, a place where men ending their time of incarceration were supported by staff and community volunteers in the work of reintegrating into the community as productive citizens. Today there are plans for a similar approach in Knox County.

We have learned so much since the Belfast Center opened, from the experience there, best practices from similar facilities around the country, and from the relationships with those who have been incarcerated and are desirous of changing the trajectory of their lives. Funds from the Commissioners would help transform this Knox County conversation into a reality.

Those who have taught me the most in my experience as a volunteer are the women, men and their families who whom I have a relationship. They have invited me to to sit, laugh, cry and work along side them as they did the hard work of being honest and vulnerable about their actions that harmed others, the conditions of their lives and the needs they have that will enable them to make the changes they desire. Be assured, these changes will benefit many, their daughters and sons, parents, friends and our communities.

I urge the Knox Country Commissioners to be among the informed, compassionate citizens Ms. King speaks of and support the Restorative Justice Project in your 2021 allocations.

Judy Mullins

Owls Head

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