Aspiring Marine battling cancer honored at ceremony in Somerset

SOMERSET In 2016, the family of Matthew Pierce has a single wish: for the 20-year-old aspiring Marine to be cancer free.

Pierce and his extended family shared his story at the Marine Corps League headquarters on High Street on New Years Eve.

A ceremony and presentations with the Young Marines from the Battleship Massachusetts and assembled Marine league members included Bruce Aldrich, the commandant, telling Pierce, Anything you need, youre our family now. Youre part of us.

Aldrich presented him an honorary membership and a miniature brass model of the Iwo Jima flag-raising memorial to bring to the hospital for good luck and courage.

Matt Pierce, who lives with his parents in Achushnet and Portsmouth, Rhode Island, was fulfilling a childhood dream studying war and peace at Norwich University in Vermont to become a commissioned Marine officer when unexpected adversity struck him.

Earlier this year, Matt suffered a bad bump on the back of his head after horsing around, which drew attention to a much more serious issue.

At first, doctors removed what they thought was a cyst before the family received his cancer diagnosis on Sept. 15.

Pierce has Ewings sarcoma, cancer of the bone and soft tissue, which occurs most frequently in children and teenagers.

Surgeons at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Womens Cancer Center have scheduled an operation to remove his malignant tumor mass and part of his skull, replacing it with a plate, his parents said.

The operation is scheduled for Jan. 12. The surgery follows seven rounds of chemotherapy treatment.

The recovery will be lengthy, said his mother, Christine Farley. It includes eight to 10 weeks in the hospital, five weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatment through June. Its a solid nine months, said Farley of Portsmouth.

Hes got the best attitude. We pulled him out of college, away from all of his friends. He never complained about it, Farley said, describing her sons maturity as this is a job I have to do.

There was only one bad night in late September after his 20th birthday when he questioned why this had happened to him.

Farley stood in the league headquarters next to Joan Pierce, Matts bonus Mom, and Farleys husband, John, Matts bonus Dad, as the family calls the step-parents. Matts dad, Steven, of Acushnet, also stood proudly in the family circle.

This has definitely been a uniting experience. Were all there for him, Joan Pierce said.

His siblings include brother Zachary Pierce, 14, and sister Cassidy Silva, 21, Joans daughter.

Muslim boys are being kidnapped and brainwashed before being traded by jihadis

Jihadis are kidnapping young boys and selling them as ready-made suicide bombers for £30,000 in Pakistan, according to a leading figure at a south London mosque.

The chilling claim was made by an unnamed source in Daily Star Sunday, who related the story of a boy from a wealthy Pakistani family, who had been kidnapped but had made a remarkable escape from a camp ringed with barbed wire, with guards with AK47s. 

Pakistani police have also reportedly identified 200 camps holding up to 200 children and teenagers. 

Do parents give their kids too much control?

Children today are growing up in a very different world than the one their parents experienced.

Research shows that 69 percent of 11 and 12-year-olds have a cellphone purchased by their parents, and 76 percent of teens use social media.

In his new book, The Collapse of Parenting, Dr. Leonard Sax says that parents today are too often letting their kids run the show.

Fifty years ago, 30 years ago, parents would say, No dessert until you eat your broccoli, but now its a question: How about if you try three bites? Sax told CBS This Morning Monday. I think in a certain way you need to expect kids to behave like adults, but you should not give them the authority of an adult.

According to Sax, the shift in authority can be explained by larger shifts in American culture.

In a previous generation, 50 years ago for example, most Americans trusted the president, most Americans trusted the school, Dr. Sax said. Today, the majority of Americans dont think they could trust the government and when a kid gets into trouble at a school, the parents swoop in like attorneys to mount the defense and the result is that the authority of the parent is undermined.

Sax, who has been a family physician for more than 20 years, identifies three problems as being uniquely American: a culture of disrespect, the explosion of children and teenagers on medication and overscheduling.

(Parents) think that if they are authoritative parents, their kids wont like them, but your job as a parent is to teach right and wrong, to keep your kids safe. Dr. Sax said. [Be a] parent first and a friend second.

For more of Dr. Saxs thoughts on parenting, watch the video above.

Holiday event provides kids with bike building skills and safety tips

Resident Gloria Gaona is all about planting seeds of hope into the lives of community residents. She devotes a large portion of her time helping others in need. “Everything I do is for the community,” she said. “I try to get everyone involved. They are always instrumental in what they do.”

Colton Joint Unified School District enrollment center specialist Patricia “Patty” Carrasco concurs with Gaona. Carrasco’s livelihood revolves around helping othersprimarily the lives of students and their families. “When I got this job I prayed that the Lord could give me a job where I can help the community,” explained Carrasco. “We have found a lot of families that are living in their cars or in hotels.”

In a collaborative effort between several local agencies and nonprofit organizations, dozens of at-risk teenagers and children were given the chance to build bicycles and keep them as gifts during the Seeds of Hope bike building event at VFW Post 6476 on Dec. 15.

Several representatives from Southern California Honda Dealers and Colton Police Department officers gave the youth instructions on bike building and riding safety tips.

Photo/Anthony Victoria: Colton police officer Corporal Ray Mendez giving a young boy instructions on how put on a helmet during the Seeds of Hope bike building event at the VFW post 6476 on Dec. 15.

Gaona, who remarked that this was the first time the city had held a bike-building event, said she was referred to Southern California Honda by local philanthropist and San Bernardino resident Tracylyn Sharrit. It was then that the automobile dealership chose to help Seeds of Hope as part of their annual Honda #HelpfulHolidays event. Gaona related she sought out the school district in hopes of helping needy children and teenagers.

“It’s very humbling to give back,” Gaona said. “My joy comes from the end product. I love seeing the faces, and I love seeing intermixing with the community. For some of these people it may be the only gift they are getting this season. We’re just a group of individuals who love to give.”

Carrasco explained the children were picked by district community liaisons through need and merit. The former cause was determined by identifying if the student qualified for the National School Lunch Program.

Elaine Aldrete said her son Jimmy, 11, a beginning rider, learned a substantial amount about constructing a bike and safety tips. Aldrete believes the experience provided to the young participants provided more than just recreational ability.

“It think it’s been awesome for my son and for the other children that were invited,” she said. “While it’s all fun, it’s also the first time many of them build something. These are good skills to learn because it enforces growth.”

“I think it was cool that I was able to build my own bike,” Jimmy said. “The first thing I am going to do when I get home is ride it.”

Acupuncture ‘safe and effective’ for chronic pain in children

Study leader Angela Johnson, practitioner of Chinese medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL, and colleagues publish their findings in the journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies.

Chronic pain is defined as any pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. It is estimated that around 20-35% of children and teenagers across the globe have chronic pain.

Treating adults with chronic pain has its difficulties, but treating children with the condition is even more challenging; there is little evidence on effective drug therapies for chronic pain in children, and health professionals are often wary of providing certain treatments to youngsters because of their vulnerability during growth and the fear of possible long-term health implications.

Effective treatment of pain can be particularly difficult because its subjective; but with children, it is increasingly difficult because a child may not be able to communicate effectively depending on the age and accurate recognition of pain, adds Johnson.

As such, the search is on to identify safe and effective therapies for chronic pain in children, and with this latest study, Johnson and her team may have found one: acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a practice used in traditional Chinese medicine, which involves stimulating certain pressure points on the body, most commonly with the insertion of thin needles through the skin.

While acupuncture is considered an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults, there is little information on whether the procedure may be an effective form of pain relief for children.

This study looked at the effect of acupuncture in children directly, rather than examining data collected from adults, says Johnson. This focus is especially important, since children experience pain in different ways than adults.

Acupuncture reduced pain, improved quality of life

Johnson and colleagues enrolled 55 children and adolescents aged 7-20 years to their study, all of whom had chronic pain conditions.

Each participant attended eight sessions in which they received an individually tailored acupuncture treatment, with each treatment lasting around 30 minutes.

Using the Adolescent Pediatric Pain Tool (APPT), participants rated their pain and nausea before and after each treatment. The APPT asks patients to disclose pain areas through a body outline diagram and describe pain intensity through circling words such as no pain and worst possible pain.

The researchers found that participants reported a significant reduction in pain throughout the entire eight sessions and from the beginning to end of each individual session, with greater pain reduction reported in the earlier sessions.

What is more, through the completion of the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, the researchers found patients experienced improvements in overall health and reductions in social, emotional and educational problems.

According to the researchers, their findings suggest acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment option for children with chronic pain. Johnson adds:

The results of this study suggest that acupuncture can have a profound positive impact on the health and well-being of children who experience the disabling effects of chronic pain.

Like any good doctors, we want to reduce childrens suffering, and we hope that this study will be a first step in our being able to do more for these kids.

Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study detailing a new form of acupuncture that researchers say could reduce high blood pressure.

Atascocita Branch Library holiday train display provides entertainment for kids

Through the entire month of December, children and teenagers flocked to the Atascocita Branch Library to witness an impressive 12-foot by 5-foot Department 56 train display featuring glistening running model trains, a quaint village scene, snow-covered ski slopes and even a moving ski lift system.

The set belongs to Lee Mehan, the husband of Atascocita Branch Library’s children’s librarian Dawn Mehan.

“This is my husband’s train set,” Dawn said. “He started collecting trains about 30 years ago and we just started adding houses. While working at my previous library, we had the idea to set it up for the public to see. We displayed this at Christmas for four years at my previous library, and this is the third year we (have) set it up here.”

According to Dawn, the elaborate display takes approximately 15 hours to set up, which occurs over the Thanksgiving break. Come New Year’s break, the display will be disassembled and removed until next year’s holiday season.

The train display receives a lot of attention from the community not only because of its impressive size and detail, but also because it serves as an interactive Polar Express I-Spy game for children and teenagers.

“The kids go around with a little card and find figurines and things inside the display,” Dawn said. “We’ve been offering the game in conjunction with the display for the entire three years we’ve been here.”

After participating, kids were rewarded by having artwork displayed on the wall in a paper train for the public to see.

For more information about the Atascocita Branch Library, visit

Notable drug, homicide cases in 2015: Police report

The Jakarta Police’s annual year-end report shows that drug and murder cases were the most notable criminal cases in Greater Jakarta in 2015 because of their frequent occurrences and unsettling impacts.

The report lists that people in Greater Jakarta gave most attention to five criminal cases, particularly murder and drug cases.

In 2015, the city police made several big seizures of drugs. In July, for example, they arrested two drug traffickers, who were allegedly affiliated with a Chinese drug syndicate, for possessing 360 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine worth Rp 574.4 billion (US$42.5 million) in North Jakarta.

In August, Jakarta Police seized 37 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, with an estimated value of Rp 56 billion ($4.02 million) from three people suspected of drug smuggling, including a 26-year-old Nigerian who allegedly belongs to a Guangzhou-Jakarta international drug syndicate.

Also in the same year, the police handled some homicide cases that put many parents in Greater Jakarta on alert because of the involvement of children.

In October, a 9-year-old girl was found dead in a cardboard box in a dump near her house in Kalideres, West Jakarta. A forensics examination found that she had been murdered and raped. Traces of semen were found in her genitalia.

A week later, the police announced that Agus Darmawan, aka Agus Pea, was responsible for the rape and murder. Agus was the girl’s neighbor who was known to be friendly to children and teenagers. In the same month, residents of Jasinga found the dead body of a teenage girl in a forest in Jasinga, Bogor, West Java.

The residents and the police suspected that she had been raped and tortured as she was discovered wearing only a skirt and bra, while her face was wounded and bloodied.

A month later, the police named one of the teen’s relatives the suspect in the rape and murder case.

According to the 2015 report, drug and murder issues were among cases that showed increases in numbers, along with fires.

The report lists that 71 murders were committed in 2015 – 4 percent more than in 2014.

Also in 2015, the police saw an 8 percent increase in drug cases, having received 5,305 reports.

Meanwhile, the number of fires increased by 6 percent from 708 cases in 2014 to 754.

In 2015, fire broke out in a number of places, from houses to factories.

The most fatal fire took place in a factory belonging to cosmetics firm Mandom in Bekasi, West Java in July.

Five workers were killed on the premises and 52 others were injured. The death toll increased gradually to 28 as many of the severely wounded did not survive.

The police named two employees of a contractor that fixed gas installations at the factory as suspects for their negligence of not installing eight new flexible tubes in the aerosol production area, as they had been assigned to do by Mandom.

Aside from revealing those results, the 2015 report also shows that the Jakarta Police dealt with 44,304 criminal reports throughout 2015. “Compared to 2014, the total number of crimes in 2015 decreased by 0.86 percent. Although it is not significant, the decrease shows improvement in the police’s performance,” said Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian in a recent press conference. (agn)

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From Nikes to cats and family, kids are grateful for so much

Editors note:

This week, with the holiday season and the year 2015 both coming to a close, the Times-News is running a series of articles on being grateful — what residents and leaders are thankful for every day, and the benefits of gratitude for a healthy, happy life. At the Times-News, we are grateful for our amazing community and loyal readers. What are you grateful for?


Ask parents what they’re grateful for and the answer will often be their children, but what are kids grateful for?

The Times-News interviewed young children and teenagers at the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County to answer that question. The responses ranged from humorous to genuine. Some responses were perhaps beyond their years. But it didn’t take long for any of the kids and teens interviewed to come up with at least one thing they’re grateful for.

Jessica, 16

Im especially grateful for the Boys and Girls Club because for the three years Ive been coming here, theyve helped me through so much stuff. Whether its with school or with home problems or anything that deals with anything in life, theyve helped me get through it. Not only me — theyve helped every child thats come to this club with anything theyve needed help for.

Kaliyah, 7

Im thankful for my mom because she takes care of me.

Amira, 7

Im grateful for the money to buy my expensive Nikes that no store makes anymore.

Noah, 6

Im grateful for my cat because it likes me and lets me pick it up and stuff.

Christian, 9

Im grateful for my family. Theyre always nice and they protect me from my brothers when they start to be mean to me.

Maya, 9

Im grateful for everything I have because most people dont even have anything.

Rook, 8

Im thankful for my family because they take so good care of me because they love me.

Zayden, 7

Im grateful for my family because most people dont have families.

Destiny, 7

Im grateful for my family because they take good care of me.

Azul, 8

Im grateful for my family because they take care of me all the time.

Mohammed, 16

Im grateful for my family. Im grateful for the country I was born in, Egypt, and basically Im grateful for the education that I have now. Im grateful for having such a privileged life.

William, 11

Im grateful that we only have to pay $5 a year for membership to the boys and girls club.

Angelita, 10

Im grateful for my mom because she fixes me food and gives me what I need.

Avery, 10

Im grateful for all of the special events we have, like the Santas Workshop and Christmas party and all the family events and stuff. 

Jiromy, 11

Im grateful for my family because of all the things they do for me, like they cook, they help me.

Julius, 12

Im grateful for my family because they care, give me food, shelter. 

Anthony, 12

Im grateful for my family because theyve always been there for me.

Sarah, 17

Im grateful to the Boys and Girls Club staff that are supportive and always willing to help you succeed. Theyre really invested in you.

8 simple new year’s resolutions for families

Dont skip breakfast
People of all ages should start the morning with a healthy breakfast. Those who eat protein and healthy carbohydrates with fiber in the morning have more energy and are more productive at school or work. And, while you may need a strong cup of coffee to get you moving in the morning, start with water to hydrate and avoid sodas and fruit flavored drinks to reduce calories from sugar while avoiding added preservatives, artificial ingredients and food colorings.

Increase family movement
If youre concerned about your childrens level of activity, remember that a healthy lifestyle starts with the parents. Encourage greater activity by getting the entire family involved. Consider monthly contests while using a step counter (pedometer) to keep track of each of your family members steps throughout the month. Let the winner pick out his or her own healthy award, such as new walking shoes or a favorite fruit smoothie. Think about all the family-fun activities you can participate in, such as hiking, gardening or playing a game of backyard football. If you have a dog, implement the four-legged weight loss plan by going to the dog park on the weekends or taking daily walks. All that moving around will add up, and each step of activity is a step toward better health!

Cook with the kids
Ive seen that youngsters are more open to trying new foods when you involve them in the cooking process. Take them with you to the grocery store and let them pick out fruits, vegetables and nuts (if they are not allergic) that interest them. Depending upon their age, invite them to watch or help you cook with their ingredients of choice so they feel involved in the meal. This also promotes more family time as an added bonus.

Set limitations for watching television, texting on the phone and playing video games. Our society sits far too often! We dont want our children to become couch potatoes by spending less time moving and more time relaxing and snacking. These behaviors can increase the risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Keep things positive
Children dont like to hear what they cant do, so focus on being supportive and positive, and let them know what they can do. Celebrate their successes to help children and teenagers develop a good self-image. Stop negative self-talk as well especially in front of the kids!

Dont forget about mental health
Mental health is just as important as physical health. There are so many activities your children can pick up to keep the mind healthy and stimulated, such as reading, learning a new language, playing an instrument or starting a new hobby.

Leave time to just be
Make sure your children are not over-scheduled with daily activities. Unstructured play time is important, as this allows little ones to use their imagination and explore their creativity, while also decreasing their stress levels. And while you are doing this for your child, try to do this for you, too.

For many of us, the most successful resolutions are ones that decrease stress and are easily included in everyday life. Focusing on making small lifestyle adjustments can make all the difference in your familys lives. Parents the healthier lifestyle remote control is in your hands. By choosing the healthy options, you can make 2016 the best one yet for you and your family.

Have a question for the Healthy Kids panel? Ask it here. Read more from the Healthy Kids blog raquo;

Fire marshal offers tips for safe New Year’s celebrations

New Years fireworks cause injuries to thousands of people annually, primarily children and teenagers, according to the Tennessee Fire Marshals Office.

State officials recommend those celebrating the occasion attend professional firework shows instead, but have offered the following list of safety tips for those celebrating at home:

Never allow children to handle fireworks, including sparklers, which can reach 1,200-degree temperatures.

Carefully read and comply with all safety warnings.

Wear eye protection when handling fireworks.

Ensure others are out of range while lighting fireworks, and never point fireworks at people or animals.

Light all fireworks on flat surfaces, away from homes and dry leaves.

Do not attempt to relight fireworks that have malfunctioned.

Ensure a bucket of water and hose are nearby.

Check the operation of every smoke alarm in your home.

Prepare and practice an escape plan in case of house fire. Choose a meeting place outdoors.

Before entering a house or public party, make sure the building appears safe and allows for easy exits. Familiarize yourself with the locations of all exits.

Do not allow exit paths to become obstructed by chairs or other furniture. Leave the building if fewer than two exits are available.

Plan a meeting place outside the home or building you will be in, and select one contact that everyone should call if separated during an emergency.

If an alarm goes off, exit the building calmly.

Do not re-enter a building once you have exited. Leave rescue measures to firefighters and other trained personnel.