Thumbs up: To Sycamore Middle School student Olivia Cloat and her idea for a citywide community service event for kids. Today is the first Sycamore Kids Work Day event, where children of any age are encouraged to help clean up the city for the upcoming Pumpkin Festival. Participants are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. at Elm and Somonauk streets and split up into groups to pick up trash throughout the city. When they return with bags of trash, they’ll receive a kid’s meal coupon redeemable at 11 area restaurants. Olivia said she thinks it’s cool to see her idea put into motion. We do too. Thanks Olivia.
Thumbs down: To the failure to govern by our leaders in Washington, D.C. There’s enough blame to go around for both sides in this debacle. Although many politicians are using this crisis as an occasion for grandstanding and drawing attention to themselves, real people are being affected by the crisis in the form of lost wages and being told they are “nonessential.” Even for those who have not been personally affected, the first government shutdown since the 1990s reduces the public’s faith in government.
Thumbs down: To the technical difficulties associated with the rollout this week of the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, online at www.HealthCare.gov. The overwhelming interest in the marketplace, which opened this week under the federal Affordable Care Act, crashed beneath the weight of the Internet traffic as interested citizens sought to see what was available. Even on Friday afternoon, using the site was like trying to buy tickets to a popular concert – or waiting in a virtual government office. Delays and glitches are expected to decrease after the intial crush of visitors to the sites – but we hope the rollout issues aren’t a harbinger of troubles to come with the controversial initiative.
Thumbs down: To a lack of focus on the needs of the mentally ill. There was no gun involved, but there appears to be a common denominator between the woman who tried to breach security in Washington D.C. yesterday and recent mass shootings. Initial reports indicate the woman had a history of mental health challenges. Our world is increasingly complex and difficult to mange for the healthiest among us, but often times a confusing and unmanageable place for those suffering from moderate to severe mental illness. There are no easy answers, but finding effective answers should be a priority throughout our various government entities, and viewed as worthwhile to society as a whole. Most people who face mental illness can be helped and live productive lives, but many need more help and resources than are available today.
Thumbs up: To Genoa-Kingston High School’s “We Are One” campaign. The school-wide campaign instituted this year by new athletic director Phil Jerbi encourages students to support all of the school’s athletic teams. After paying $50 at the beginning of the year to join the club, students get free admission to athletic events. “We wanted the football players to come to the volleyball games, we wanted the volleyball players to come to the soccer games, and the soccer guys to come out to the cross country meets,” Jerbi said. “The other thing that ‘We Are One’ does is it gives the kids who are not necessarily athletes, maybe they don’t go out for other extra-curricular activities at all, to give them the opportunity to be a part of what’s going on.” Students have responded with enthusiasm, and reports are that school spirit is on the rise.