March 19, 2013 > Making Fremont safer
Making Fremont safer
Submitted By Sanjana Chopra
"We don't have to give up our lives to serve," said Rodney Clark, Executive Director, SAVE (Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments) in his address at the "Safe and Peaceful Fremont: A Leadership Conference" held at Fremont Family Resource Center on March 9. His words aptly described the sentiment behind the conference, which was organized by Art of Living Foundation as part of its Stress-Free, Violence-Free Community Campaign.
The conference, aimed to integrate solutions to make Fremont a safer and more peaceful community, brought together leaders from various city departments, non-profit organizations and common citizens. The City Government was represented by Councilmember Raj Salwan and Commissioner Yogi Chugh of the Planning Commission, who gave the city's vision. Raj urged the citizens to engage with the city with their concerns and ideas. Yogi mentioned that the five-six members of the city council alone cannot create a safer and more peaceful community; it can be achieved only if everyone works together.
A City panel was followed by representatives from the Fremont Police Department discussing neighborhood safety. Interim Chief Richard Lucero gave statistics about crime in Fremont and stressed that robberies and burglaries were getting his prime focus at the moment. He was accompanied by Geneva Bosques, PIO/ Community Engagement Manager for FPD. Geneva talked about the various ways that people can stay in touch with the Police Department and also engage in the neighborhood watch program that really helps in cutting down crime in our neighborhoods. They both mentioned that tips given by alert citizens of a neighborhood have always been most effective.
The panel on domestic violence and teenage violence included Dr. Gayathri Sundar, Board member, Narika and Rodney Clark, Executive Director, SAVE. Both gave very moving as well as inspiring speeches that stirred the audience into probing what they were really doing for the community and how they can serve more. Gayathri shared surprising statistics of how prevalent domestic violence is in the South Asian community and what we can do to support them. Talking about teenage dating violence, Rodney mentioned how many of these kids had never seen what a real relationship is like. They get their foremost education from what they see around them, in their homes. Adults have to lead by example.
This was followed by a panel on School Safety which had representation from the Board of Fremont Unified School District - Desrie Campbell, Clerk, FUSD and the President of the Fremont Education Foundation, and Lily Mei, Board Member. They brought up the issues of school security in the post-Newtown era and the steps they were taking to address this. They discussed the subject of bullying in schools. One of the school principals present at the conference was invited by Desrie to share how the school dealt with this issue.
As part of the solutions side, a presentation by Priya Mayureshwar from the YES for Schools program of International Association for Human Values demonstrated how a lack of awareness leads to problems among young children. YES is being conducted in a number of schools around the Bay Area with amazing results. More information can be found at: http://www.youthempowermentseminar.org/.
The Art of Living Foundation, represented by senior instructors Sanjana Chopra and Manik Advani shared how breathing exercises can have a transforming effect on the mind. Art of Living workshops are conducted in over 150 countries worldwide; a center is located in Fremont. For more information, visit: www.artofliving.org.
Moderator for the evening was Karishma Anand, who volunteers with AOLF and the Stress-Free, Violence-Free Community Campaign. The campaign joins thousands of citizens from schools, organizations, corporations, and the government in a collaborative effort to build a stress-free, violence-free society. "We want to create a community where every member feels connected to a greater whole, empowered to create positive change around them. We will do this by engaging everyday people into compassionate action, inspiring them to stand together as a collective force of change," said Karishma.
The campaign will host a launch event Saturday, March 24 at 4 p.m. at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center with global humanitarian, social reformer, and spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
For more information, visit: www.stressfreeviolencefree.org