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Hakeem Rahim Goes To Washington

Mental health advocate speaks in capitol

Hakeem Rahim just wants to help. He wants to use his experience to aid others who may be suffering from what he called “an uncontrollable terror.” That terror was a panic attack and mental break. It’s something Rahim candidly discussed during a recent visit to Garden City High School, where he lectured about these terrifying experiences to the student body. Recently, he shared his story at a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., which focused on mental illness.

“I had delusions,” he said. “I thought I was Neo from The Matrix. I was jumping off the walls. I had all the classic signs of someone who broke from reality. It’s good to talk about it. It’s not good to hold it in.”

Rahim, who serves as a guest speaker for the nonprofit National Alliance on Mental Illness of Queens/Nassau (NAMI) in New Hyde Park, talks with students about his experiences before, during and after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2000. He’s speaks regularly with local school districts, including the Wheatley School.

Rahim suffered his first panic attack in 1998, his first year at Harvard University. During the spring of 1999, Rahim stated that he roamed the streets of his native Hempstead “possessed with a prophetic delusion that I had to share with everyone I met.”

In the spring of 2000, Rahim suffered his second manic episode. This included a complete break from reality, otherwise known as psychosis. “I had visions of Jesus and heard cars talk,” he recalled. At that time, he was hospitalized, and his long struggle to triumph over his illness began.

After he was released from the hospital, Rahim switched his major from African American studies to psychology to understand what was happening to him. But he had to take a year off.

“The complications with my condition and medication forced me to do that,” he said. “I ended up graduating with honors and went on to Columbia University, gaining dual masters in psychological counseling.”

For Rahim, talking about his past is two-fold. It aids his handle on the condition and may save a life in the process.

“I am so much more than my diagnosis….much more than a label. It is my hope that speaking out for compassionate and equitable care for every person living with a mental illness will help break the stigma that persists in this country to this day and will allow every American to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said.

In 2012, Rahim left his position as academic advisor to Hofstra, John Jay  and Mercy colleges, to concentrate on helping people with similar issues. NAMI’s programs peeked his interest.

“We are committed to making a better world for everyone living with mental illness and their families” NAMI Board President Janet Susin said. “Working with Hakeem is a joy. He cares so much about our cause and is such a wonderful success story.”

To date, he has spoken to well over 4,000 high school and middle school students on such topics as bullying, peer pressure, facing fears, and other mental health concerns.

“I’m glad that it’s getting national attention,” said Rahim. “I think the more we see mental illness is a life obstacle like any other illness, the more people will be accepting of it and try to help others.”

News

The Senior Center Expansion and Rehabilitation Project took a major step forward this month when the Garden City Board of Trustees unanimously voted in a special meeting to accept the gift of the model house from the Doubleday Court Development on Franklin Avenue. Project developers, The Engel Burman Group, graciously donated the house to the

Incorporated Village of Garden City. The one-story structure was originally built to serve as a model and sales office for the Franklin Avenue project.

 

“We are glad to have The Engel Burman Group as part of our village and thank them for this most generous gift. We look forward to providing a state-of-the art facility for our seniors in Garden City,” Mayor John Watras said. 

Department headed by former assistant director

The Garden City Public School District is excited to welcome Lynette Abruzzo as its new director of Pupil Personnel Services (PPS). The position was vacated by Catherine Wheeler, who retired this summer. Abruzzo began working in the district earlier this year in January as the assistant director of PPS. 

 

“I look forward to supporting the students here. To support their growth, help prepare them so that they have all the tools they need to be successful when they leave here. To be successful in their life and maximize their potential,” Abruzzo said of her plans for the new position. 


Sports

Dance Conservatory Program

 

The Garden City Recreation Department’s Dance Conservatory Program is pleased to announce the start of registration for its upcoming 2014-15 season. Director Felicia Lovaglio, along with Mary Searson and the rest of her staff, are excited to start off another fantastic year. The dance conservatory offers classes to Garden City residents ages 3 through adult which are non-performance based. Age is determined by the start date of the desired class. 

 

Note: Registration is by mail only until Sept. 23. Participants MUST be the required age by the start of the program in order to register. 

 

Each session costs $220 for 22 weeks of class. The schedule and fees for this year’s youth classes are as follows (all classes are 55 minutes long unless otherwise noted): 

Fall Children’s Tennis Classes

Registration for the start of the Fall 2014 Indoor Tennis Program for Children has begun at the Community Park Tennis Center. Walkins and non-resident children attending Garden City Public Schools* will be accepted beginning Sept. 11. Please make checks payable to the “Inc. Village of Garden City." Please note—classes are not considered day care and can not be declared for tax exemption.

* Non resident children who would like to register for the tennis program must prove they attend one of the Garden City Public Schools. Proof must accompany registration. An additional $50 fee will pertain to anyone in this category.

10 weeks of classes—classes will begin Thursday, Sept. 18


Calendar

Living With Pulmonary Fibrosis Program - September 18

Harpeth Rising Concert - September 19 

JV Football - September 20


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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