This isn't just the start of holiday season; it's germ season as well. That's why many of us will be hacking away and looking a lot like Rudolph before winter is over. "The average adult gets one to three respiratory illnesses each year, and women, especially if they're moms, tend to catch even more," says Charles Gerba, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona and coauthor of The Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu.
By Helice "Sparky" Bridges
Founder and CEO
Difference Makers International
"The deepest desire in the human spirit is the craving to be acknowledged."
-William James, Father of American Psychology
DID YOU KNOW?
• Children who bully are more likely to come from home situations in which there is little warmth and little positive adult attention.
• Two out of three teens are verbally or physically assaulted every year.
• A victim of bullying is twice as likely to take his or her life compared to someone who is not a victim.
-Source: Mental Health Systems, Inc. - San Diego, California
So often we hear people say, "kids are so mean today." The media is flooded with stories about bullying and cyber bullying. Front page newspapers tell the tragic stories of young people committing suicide because they were constantly bullied. In an effort to put an end to this social issue facing today's youth, Difference Makers International has begun a grassroots campaign that is helping all kids feel safe- socially, emotionally and physically.
"There are no bullies--only people who need to be loved." Helice "Sparky" Bridges
Can we make this change? You bet! In my opinion, there are no bullies-only people who need to be loved. Our work teaches young people how to eradicate bullying, avert adolescent suicide and make dreams come true through the power of acknowledgment. We are collaborating with the Mental Health Systems, Inc. Bully Prevention Training so that every teacher and student will know how to end bullying.
Our school, family and community Power of Acknowledgment Training Programs will soon be delivered to over 30,150 elementary, middle school students and high schools in San Diego with a community outreach to approximately 100,000,-creating conversations that shift the focus from what's WRONG to what is RIGHT.
Our "Who I Am Makes A Difference"® Blue Ribbon message has impacted over 30 million people worldwide and has been translated into 11 languages. The Blue Ribbon Story appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul recounting the story of a 14 year-old boy who did not commit suicide because his father honored him with a Blue Ribbon and finally told him he loved him. This story was made into a photo movie receiving over three million hits on YouTube.
Recently our school assemblies and student leadership trainings were delivered at Parsons Middle School in Redding, California and Northeast Intermediate School in Midland, Michigan with gymnasiums packed with nearly 1,000 students, teachers, parents and community leaders.
To show students how they could eradicate bullying in a minute or less, I gave them an opportunity to step to the front of the auditorium, speak into the microphone and do one of the following: 1) Publically apologize for bullying or harming anyone, 2) share their dreams and ask for support or 3) or tell someone how they make a difference and honor them with a "Who I Am Makes A Difference"® Blue Ribbon.
In an instant, students leaped out of their seats and ran down from the bleachers. One by one they stepped to the mike, said their name, and without asking were enthusiastically applauded.
"I want to honor my math teacher," one boy announced. "I always mess up in class but you just keep encouraging me." Then the boy placed a Blue Ribbon over his teacher's heart, cheered him on for his dreams and gave him a hug.
"I'd like people to stop putting me down for my weight," a girl timidly requested. The audience exploded with applause as a way of publicly saying that they were sorry.
"I want to be a football player," announced the small 5' proud 7th grader. "Outstanding," I shouted inviting everyone to cheer Mike on for his dream. They did!
"I want to apologize for bullying my little brother," said the 9th grader. "He's a really great guy and I love him." His younger brother raced down to the open arms of his big brother. They hugged and cried openly. The auditorium went silent. Later on the principal told me that the big brother was the biggest bully in the school.
"I am a bully," said the 15 year-old girl. "I want to apologize for being so mean. I don't really want to be mean, I just get so angry all the time. What I really want is to make friends and treat people nicely, but I don't know how." Everyone in the gymnasium leaped to their feet and gave her a thunderous standing ovation.
Following these assemblies, students continued to apologize, share their dreams and acknowledge their teachers and siblings. Many immediately called their parents to say there were sorry. Teachers were shocked with the kindness taking place in their classrooms and hallways. We would like to see this occur across campuses worldwide.
Together we can eradicate bullying. "IGNITE WHAT'S RIGHT"™ has exploded into a nation wide campaign. Students, parents, teachers, neighbors and clergy are inviting us to teach programs. Contact us to find out how your school (K-12), college, organization business and/or neighborhood can help all kids feel safe-socially, emotionally and physically. Contact us at: DifferenceMakersInternational.org, firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-753-0963.
You don't have to be a professional photographer to take beautiful pictures. With these expert tips from 20-year National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson, you could take the ultimate photo - one that you'll love and that could win you a dream prize:
Work the Reflections - Reflections always add visual drama to pictures and can make an otherwise ordinary scene interesting. But reflections require calm waters, so get out early in the morning before the winds kick up. Also, get lower and closer to the surface of the water to get more reflections. Even a small puddle of water can produce large reflections if you are right down to the surface.
Collect the Details - Detail pictures do wonders for a set of travel pictures. Not only do they offer a welcome variety in the scale of the images (pictures get dull quickly when they are all shot from the same distance and viewpoint.) They can also reveal telling aspects of a place and its story.
Keep it Simple - Clutter kills too many pictures. Simplicity is powerful. Usually that means cleaning up the background, leaving out extraneous, unnecessary detail. So watch your framing carefully, and especially watch the edges of the frame.
Keep an Eye out for Shadows - It doesn't happen every day, but occasionally a great shadow will make a great picture. Often you'll need to get up higher to see the shadows well, and you'll need to tune your eye to see how dark they can be and what sorts of interesting shapes they may form.
Move Around to the Back - Trying different viewpoints is always a good idea, but too often we don't go far enough. Going clear around to the backside of the action can make images that offer a fresh perspective. Too often we follow old habits and shoot everything from the front.
Energizer is teaming up with the National Geographic Society for the fourth annual Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest, giving photographers the dream opportunity to see their photo appear in an ad in National Geographic magazine and winning their choice of three inspiring trips at different locations across the globe. The program is part of the new Energizer campaign called "now that's positivenergy."
Enter your best shots at www.nationalgeographic.com/lithium by June 30, 2011. Contest judge Jim Richardson will review all of the entries and select two finalists in each of 6 categories. From August 15 through September 15, the public will be asked to go online and vote for their favorites. Once the Category Winners are determined, Richardson will help choose a Grand Prize Winner, to be announced on or about November 8, 2011.
Holidays can be difficult for anyone. For Service members coping with invisible wounds and members of the National Guard or Reserve who return to civilian lives that do not involve those with whom they served, this time of year can be especially stressful.
"Citizen Warriors may feel isolated following deployment, and large events such as holiday parties can be overwhelming," Col. (S) Christopher Robinson, senior executive director of psychological health at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), said.
To help Service members and families reintegrate and manage stress, the DCoE-sponsored Real Warriors Campaign (www.realwarriors.net) provides tools, tips and resources such as the ones below to encourage Service members, veterans and military families coping with invisible wounds to reach out for support.
Reconnect with Family:
"When Service members return from deployment, friends and family may want to celebrate their return," Robinson said. "If large parties feel overwhelming, Service members should talk about their anxieties and what friends and family can do to celebrate their homecoming."
* It is common to feel frustrated during the reintegration process, but it takes time to reconnect. It may help Service members experiencing stress to schedule time with their partner, children and parents to learn about new routines and to talk about experiences during deployment.
* Talking to friends and family may ease frustrations.
* Service members, veterans and military families can also reach out to health consultants at the DCoE Outreach Center (http://www.realwarriors.net/livechat / 866-966-1020) for free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Mentally Prepare for Parties and Events:
People may be curious about deployment, and some of their questions may make Service members uncomfortable.
* Service members may want to try to anticipate questions and think about their response before events.
* Service members can decide what they feel comfortable sharing and should know they do not have to go beyond that.
From cider to eggnog, alcohol may often feel like a holiday tradition.
* It is important, however, to limit alcohol consumption.
* Studies show that drinking alcohol can cause serious problems that could negatively affect Service members' health and relationships in the long run.
"After deployment, Service members may feel alone, especially if they are separated from their unit," Robinson said. "Service members may feel like no one understands how they feel."
* While Service members may want to isolate themselves from family and friends, being around others is important to their well-being.
* It may help to make plans to socialize with friends and family in comfortable places, and to stick with the plans.
* The Internet may be a valuable way for Service members to stay connected to their unit, but they should not let online interactions replace socializing with friends and family.
Reach Out for Help:
"Many warriors feel isolated after deployment, and those feelings are increasingly common among members of the National Guard and Reserve who return to a civilian job and may not maintain relationships with those with whom they served," Robinson said. "Our warriors aren't alone, though, and I encourage Service members and their families to reach out for support through resources like the Real Warriors Campaign, which provides tools and tips for warriors at http://www.realwarriors.net."
* Service members, veterans and military families can also reach out to trained health professionals at the DCoE Outreach Center for support 24/7 by logging onto http://www.realwarriors.net/livechat or calling 866-966-1020.
Kids love summer vacation, but parents often find it difficult to keep them engaged in productive activities. And most kids experience a summer learning slump during their time away from school. According to the National Summer Learning Association, at best, students show little or no academic growth over the summer, and at worst they lose one to three months of learning.
It's possible to give kids a fun way to keep up with learning by providing engaging books that feature hands-on activities. Three new books from DK Publishing will help kids of all ages fill their summer with science fun.
"One Million Things: Space" (July 2010). Perfect for backyard sleepovers and camping trips, this book serves up imagery and information about all things cosmic: from planets, moons, and comets, to black holes, nebulae, distant solar systems and more. Young readers won't be able to wait until sunset to start exploring. Elementary-aged kids will:
* Learn about spherical and irregular asteroids by playing a computer game.
* Find out about volcanoes in the solar system by comparing them to firecrackers.
* Explore the universe with stunning photographic galleries.
"I'm a Scientist: Backyard" (July 2010). Part of a new series for younger readers, this book introduces kids to the world of science with a wealth of outdoor experiments. With clear, step-by-step instructions, the book is full of bite-sized experiments that help children absorb science easily. Preschoolers and early elementary students will learn how to:
* Make a sun dial and tell time using the position of the sun.
* Find out a tree's age and then measure its height with just a stick and a piece of string.
* Learn about centrifugal force with a simple bucket of water.
"Big Idea Science Book" (July 2010). A comprehensive guide to key topics in science with a unique difference - an online component with 200 specially created digital assets that provide the opportunity for dynamic, hands-on, interactive learning. Older children can learn from video clips and interactive animations that take them:
* Inside plants.
* Around the human body.
* Deep below the surface of the earth.
Help kids flex their mental muscles during the summer with exciting projects and experiments that make learning fun. For more on these and other summer learning books, visit DK.com.
If you think your family could have their own series, this may be your chance. Documentary style show looking for some of the most dynamic, funny and interesting families in Americas, are you one of them? Give us your story. Please include your name, where you live (city/state), type of business-be descriptive, tell us about the members of your family what a typical day is like and how it came to be that you are working a raising a family on your own.
Do you feel like the hardest working Parent in America?
Are you a mom or dad who works in a family business, has a hectic schedule, and an interesting story to tell? Then we want to hear from you! A new series on a MAJOR Cable Network wants to spend some time walking in the shoes of the hardest working moms in America and it just might be you! This opportunity could lead to a series of your own!
Perhaps you own and operate a family BAKERY with four kids.... or maybe you run a DOG BREEDING business with triplets on the way... or maybe you're a woman working in a male dominated field like construction or or steelworker who's adopted 10 special needs children. The tougher the job and the more interesting family the better.
If you'd like to share your story, please email email@example.com and tell them a little about yourself. Please include the names and ages of all of the members of your family and contact information, as well as photos of you at work and at home. Please provide contact info and family pics along with your story.
Do you think single moms are glorified and single dads fall into the Mr. Mom caricature? Read what a real single dad has to say about all this in William McCloskey's guest appearance on Lisa Belkin's Motherlode blog at the New York Times.