MEDIA RELATIONS: TODAY, DIRECTING CHANGE

Students create powerful videos about suicide prevention: ‘It could save a life’

By: Scott Stump, Today.com

Ben Finnie never wants another family to feel the pain that his endured last summer when his older cousin committed suicide.

Kaleigh Finnie, 19, a bubbly college student from the Woodlands, Texas, took her life on June 15, 2015, leaving her family to wonder what they could have done to prevent the tragedy. speak-loud-enough-mental-health-teens-today-tease-160524_e512195cfc376e6d477a99becfdd7840-1-today-inline-large

“I think if she had have reached out, her parents and her friends and family would’ve done everything they could for her,” Ben Finnie told TODAY. “Talking to them in the aftermath, they were so broken up. They feel like it’s their fault, when it’s not. They would’ve done anything to help her.”

Finnie, 16, is now helping to spread the word about suicide prevention and erase the stigma of mental health issues by working with the Directing Change program in California. The student at Murrieta Valley High School is one of more than 2,000 California high school and college students who have created 60-second public service announcement videos about suicide and mental health to raise awareness around the state.

To continue reading click here to be directed to Today.com.

MEDIA RELATIONS: Orange County Register, Premier Exhibitions Inc.

Bodies and Titanic exhibits to stick around until April

By: Lou Ponsi, Orange County Register

BUENA PARK — Two popular exhibits, originally scheduled to vacate the former Movieland Wax Museum last week, will stay put for at least four more months.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition and BODIES…The Exhibition were going to make way for a 54,000-square-foot attraction anchored by a 17,000-square-foot butterfly and hummingbird atrium.

One of the human figures that are on display at the new Bodies and Titanic exhibits, opening at the site of the former Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park was show in an running position.   ///ADDITIONAL INFO .01.bodiestitanicopening.0801.mg- 07/25/2013  - Photo by MICHAEL GOULDING,THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - Additional info, CQs, and keywords for searching: This is a preview of the new Bodies and Titanic exhibits, opening Aug. 1 at the site of the former Movieland Wax Museum. We are getting a personal tour of both exhibits before they open. This is expected to be the cover centerpiece of the daily's Go and Do section for Aug. 1.at the new Bodies and Titanic exhibits, opening at the site of the former Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park. ///ADDITIONAL INFO .01.bodiestitanicopening.0801.mg- 07/25/2013  - Photo by MICHAEL GOULDING,THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - Additional info, CQs, and keywords for searching: This is a preview of the new Bodies and Titanic exhibits, opening Aug. 1 at the site of the former Movieland Wax Museum. We are getting a personal tour of both exhibits before they open. This is expected to be the cover centerpiece of the daily's Go and Do section for Aug. 1.

One of the human figures that are on display at the new Bodies and Titanic exhibits, opening at the site of the former Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park was show in an running position.
Photo by MICHAEL GOULDING, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

With the various approvals taking longer than expected for the new owner, Butterfly Pavilion, city officials contacted Premier Exhibitions, which owns the Bodies and Titanic exhibits, and invited them to stay through April 17, said Ruben Lopez, Buena Park’s economic development administrator.

The city is selling the property for $2.5 million to Butterfly Pavilion.

Premier has Bodies and Titanic exhibits elsewhere in the country, but the Buena Park venues have been the most popular, particularly with medical students and other educational groups, said Kelsey Duckett, spokeswoman for Premier.

“We definitely did not want to leave in the first place,” Duckett said.

To continue reading, click here to be directed to the Orange County Register.

MEDIA RELATIONS: Los Angeles Times, Premier Exhibitions Inc.

Titanic and ‘Bodies’ exhibits will stay, for a little longer, in Buena Park

By: Debbie Zucco, Los Angeles Times

Premier Exhibitions Inc. announced Monday that it has worked out an arrangement with Buena Park to keep its “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” and “Bodies: The Exhibition” in the city for the next several months.

t300x182The exhibits were to have vacated the property at the beginning of January but now will have until April 17.

The “Bodies” exhibit offers a close-up look at the human body through a display of human specimens that have undergone a plastination preservation process. This exhibit, at 7711 Beach Blvd., has been touted as an educational aid for young students on up to pre-med level.

“This is exciting news,” said Kelsey Duckett, local spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based company. “We’re already booking schools for the next four months. This buys us some time to continue to look for a place, to scout out various locations. Hopefully, we won’t be shipping things back to Atlanta.”

To continue reading, click here to be directed to the Los Angeles Times.

Media Relations: The Daily Pilot, TEAM HUGS

MEDAL-WINNING OLYMPIC ATHLETES HELP NEWPORT KIDS WITH JOG-A-THON

By Nicole Knight Shine, The Daily Pilot

Olympic and Paralympic athletes turned out for Newport Heights Elementary School’s jog-a-thon fundraiser Wednesday morning in Newport Beach.

Aaron Peirsol, a five-time Olympic gold-medal swimmer and a Newport Harbor High School graduate, and Brent Poppen, a bronze medalist in wheelchair rugby in the Paralympic Games for disabled athletes, led students in the jog-a-thon’s opening run. Students raise money by requesting pledges for each lap they run.

The event is Newport Heights’ biggest annual fundraiser. Last year, it raised $30,000, PTA vice president Janet Montgomery said. The money goes toward classroom supplies, physical-education equipment, school assemblies and field trips.

Similar jog-a-thons are held at schools across the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

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Media Relations: The Bakersfield Californian, TEAM HUGS

PARALYMPIC ATHLETE TO LOCAL KIDS: YOU, TOO, CAN OVERCOME ADVERSITY

By Lauren Foreman, The Bakersfield Californian

Jazmin Cervantes, a fifth-grader at Williams School, stood in front of about 90 of her peers and bent her right leg — a request from a guest speaker talking to the group Friday.

That speaker, Paralympic athlete Brent Poppen, is making his way to about 17 schools in the Bakersfield City School District to share his story.

He picked Jazmin, a nervous volunteer, to help him demonstrate the function of a spine.

Poppen, a baseball and football player at the time, was paralyzed after sustaining a spinal injury while wrestling at a church summer camp he attended when he was 16-years-old.

For the most part, the Long Beach native had only ever been told yes. Yes, he could go to college. Yes, he could play college sports.

“After I got hurt, those same people who said ‘yes, yes, yes’ flipped the switch and said ‘no, no no,'” he told the fidgety and talkative group of students.

They listened more intently as Poppen continued.

He told the group how he accomplished his dreams and went on to become a two-sport Paralympic athlete, winning the bronze medal in wheelchair rugby in 2004 in Athens, Greece, and competing in wheelchair tennis in 2008 in Beijing, China.

He came to the local elementary campus totting his autobiography, “Tragedy on the Mountain,” and a children’s book he wrote, “Playground Lessons: Friendship And Forgiveness.”

His goal is to attract more districts to an initiative he calls Team HUGS, Helping Us Give Strength.

The motivational speaker, also a rehabilitation counselor at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, commutes about two hours from his home in Paso Robles to work with children, and mainly their families.

He said when he was hired: “I know you think you’ve hired me for the kids, but I’ve been that kid. Kids are resilient.”

It’s the parents — like his own who blamed themselves, asking why they let him go to that camp — who need him.

Poppen said his family and friends helped him get through trying times.

After his wrestling accident, Poppen came within days of losing his life to a blood infection he stubbornly ignored.

His sister brought him to the hospital.

Reminding at-risk children they have a support system is part of what Poppen does through Team HUGS. He’s visited hundreds of schools sharing what he’s learned, that there’s always hope and the possibility of beating adversity.

It’s a message that doesn’t come cheap. Poppen’s daily rate is $750, but he gave BCSD a discount.

“I have a soft spot for these kids,” he said.

Briana Alvarez, the afterschool coordinator at Williams School, also used part of her budget to buy 10 of the author’s books for her students.

“We have a lot of students who like to pick on other students,” she said, hoping Poppen’s message would resonate with her group.

“I’m hoping they will be inspired to reach their goals in life or just in school,” Alvarez said.

Poppen said it was a tall order, but his hope, too.

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