This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sturgis prepares for annual parenting fair

By Maribeth Holtz
Sturgis Journal

Parents will be empowered to take charge and will learn about kindergarten, car seats, meth, the Internet, sibling rivalry and more at this year’s Kiwanis Parenting Fair.

Set for 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at Sturgis Middle School, the fair is free and open to the public.

This is the 14th annual fair and Jane Dickey, director of Sturgis Youth and Family, said about 500 people, mostly from St. Joseph County, take part each year.

Dickey organizes the fair with the help of volunteers.

This year will offer two keynote sessions with psychologist Ray Guarendi, a variety of mini-sessions with local professionals who volunteer their time, free lunch and about 65 booths relating to children and families.

Keynote speaker

Guarendi plans on empowering parents to take charge at this year’s fair.

Guarendi will give a presentation titled “You’re a Better Parent Than You Think” at 9 a.m. and another presentation titled “Back to the Family” at 2:10 p.m.

The first presentation will refute myths parents hold about parenting that experts have been telling them for years, such as there is a psychologically correct way to handle every situation and that making mistakes in parenting will damage children.

Guarendi said this speech is a way to encourage parents to take charge and be a strong parent for their child’s sake.

The second presentation is the result of a three-year analysis of 107 strong families. The presentation will give insight on their views of authority, house rules, spirituality, communication and more.

“If the parents want to laugh and come away feeling like they’re the parents, these sessions are for them,” Guarendi said.

Guarendi is a father of 10 adopted children and has a radio show in over 40 states and Canada.

Based out of Ohio, Guarendi has written several books and has been a guest on “Oprah,” “Joan Rivers,” “CBS This Morning,” “700 Club” and more.

Guarendi is a returning speaker to the Kiwanis Parenting Fair. His last presentation in Sturgis was in 2003 and Dickey said he was chosen to come back because he was so popular and funny.


Mini-sessions will be held from 11 a.m. to noon and from 1-2 p.m. Parents will be able to choose from a variety of sessions, such as “Ready to Learn About Math,” “Parenting a Spirited Child,” “Being Kind to Yourself for Your Baby’s Sake,” “Meth: What You Should Know,” “Parenting your Online Child,” and more.

“Kindergarten Today: Preparing Your Child for Success” will be given by Robert Matkin, principal of Wall Elementary School, and Wall kindergarten teachers.

The session will let parents who have children soon going into kindergarten know that kindergarten today is a lot more academic than they may think it is. Parents will walk away with a list of specific ideas on how to prepare their children for kindergarten as well as registration dates and times.

Laura Rhodes, educational outreach coordinator for WNIT Public Television, will give presentations about learning with math and early learning. She said she will show parents how to use educational TV as a tool for learning. While too much TV can be problematic, Rhodes said educational programs on TV can be very helpful — especially in teaching math, which many parents feel uncomfortable about.


Free childcare will be provided for those who can’t make other arrangements. Childcare is provided by Eastside Kiwanis members and student volunteers and will offer activities for every age group.

Children ages 4-10 may go to Creative Gymnastics for $4.

Pre-registration is required for those who want to take advantage of the free childcare.

Something for everyone

Dickey said there is something for everyone at the parenting fair, from people who are just thinking about having children to people who are pregnant, or have infants, toddlers, elementary-aged children, or teenagers. Grandparents and other relatives who raise children are also encouraged to come.

Dickey said many parents come every year to network with other parents and to have a break from parenting.

“A lot of people who have come for years and years come because it’s their day,” she said.

The day also gives kind of a mini-retreat for children, too, with activities away from parents, Dickey said.

Darlene Good, mother of an 11-year-old, has come to the parenting fair nearly every year since she became a mother. She said it gives her good ideas and lets her know that she’s in the same boat with a lot of other parents when it comes to problems with raising children.

This year she plans on going to the mini-sessions on meth and the Internet. She’s also looking forward to the keynote speaker.

Preregistration for the fair is not necessary, but is encouraged. To register, call Sturgis Youth and Family at (269) 659-3664 by Wednesday.


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