Category Archives: Events

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Finding Your New Year’s Resolution

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It’s a new year, and with a new year comes new goals, challenges, and aspirations. We tend to emphasize a new  year as a time to hope for change, or maintaining good fortune in our lives. New Year’s resolutions are often made to address some of our most intrinsic, personal desires, reflecting a monumental change of either the self or those around us. New Year’s resolutions are also notoriously not upheld, yet we remain steadfast in our belief in creating them anyway. While there may not be widespread results of resolution success, it all starts with the idea, and we are better for it.

New Year’s resolutions, particularly health & fitness related goals (consistently some of the most popular resolutions), are too often trivialized and mocked by cynics. However, research suggests that making resolutions is a positive, proactive measure. Dr. Barbara Bushman, a clinical exercise specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine said “Research suggests that success is higher [among those who make resolutions], than those who make no resolutions at all.” So while those cynical friends of yours might point out that 90% of New Year’s resolutions dissolve within a month, keep in mind that your ideal resolutions are not in vain.

Of course, in all likelihood more than half the issue with that absurdly high resolution failure rate is the transition from the ideal to reality. Much is lost in translation when we focus too much on the big goal and not enough on the plan to attain it. Quick tips are to lower our New Year’s ambitions, plan ahead, keep track of our progress, tell a few friends about your goal (peer pressure can be a good thing sometimes!) and rewarding yourself for achieving staying on course one week at a time. If we can break those big goals into smaller parts, say like exercising first thing in the morning or right after work everyday, and eating one meal a week mindfully, we increase our chances of putting together that big picture. Tom Rath, a writer and expert on making these kind of changes, argues just for these “small wins” that result in an immediate payoff, and liken the chances of changing your habits overall. He even has a website that assess your habits and offers personalized suggestions.

So here in 2014, don’t be afraid of those ominous New Year’s resolutions, celebrate the idea of change you hope to make. Plan ahead, think small and keep yourself on schedule. Finding ways to better ourselves is important for our continued growth and development. Not to mention setting ourselves up for a series of small positive victories can give us that many more reasons to smile everyday. Dream big, think small and work your way into a routine. You might just find yourself living proof of your New Year’s resolution idea.

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Is Giving Tuesday Here to Stay?

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Amid the consumer spending frenzy that marks the recent addition of Grey Thursday, the traditional Black Friday, and the internet dealing Cyber Monday, the world got a taste of a different kind of spending in the second annual Giving Tuesday. #GivingTuesday, developed by New York’s 92nd Street Y and widely communicated through its partnership with the United Nations Foundation, has aimed to cap off the annual holiday spending week with a day dedicated to giving. It is a seemingly selfless response to the boom of the shopping season, but it is yet to be determined if this philanthropic day of giving will ingrain itself into our culture. It’s too early to tell whether this #GivingTuesday is here to stay, but the sheer volume of social collaboration is elevating fundraising, and our perception of giving, to new ground.

At first, it may seem odd that a day for giving would associate itself with arguably the biggest commercial sales events of the year. However, ithe numbers that have come out so far seem to have demonstrated some brilliance in the move. Donations increased by 90% for 3,800 nonprofits compared to 2012. This is an incredible amount of growth going from the first to second year of the event. This success can be attributed to the intelligent marketing, social campaigning, but perhaps most importantly due to the 10,000 partners comprised of charities, volunteer nonprofits, corporations, community centers and foundations that skyrocketed Giving Tuesday into the public consciousness.

The partnerships gave rise to social media collaborations, boosted by the help of celebrities and influential people vouching for the GivingTuesday cause. And boy was the social media world buzzing. #GivingTuesday went viral across the Twitterverse, totaling 320,000 total tweets during the full 24 hours, and 35,000 tweets and Facebook posts sent during its peak hour around the noon. Additionally, the advent of the #UnSelfie quickly proliferated as part of #GivingTuesday, with people posting images that highlight the cause they are support on their social media accounts followed by the #Unselfie hashtag. Partnerships with companies such as Google facilitated the 12-hour Google Hang-Out-A-Thon, an online event available to anyone with an internet connection to watch a series of guest speakers hold discussions regarding world issues, their work in the nonprofit sector, and how they aim to become change agents. The power of social media flexed its might, and some incredible interactions began to take place, with over $19.2 million being donated, up from $10.1 million donated last year across charities. Yet we are left wondering if it’s enough, is Giving Tuesday here to stay?

Giving Tuesday brands itself as the kick off to the giving season, not just a one day event. It’s in this vein that the the creators of this event hope to break through America’s stubborn rate of giving, which has been stuck at two percent of the GDP for two generations now. Whether consumer spending has gotten lower or increased over time (currently increasing), it’s troubling that giving has become so stagnant in the world’s most charitable country. It’s obvious that capitalism has afforded the U.S. the ability to donate, but sometimes consumer spending and saving can’t be the only metrics to shape our world. Behind the lead of #GivingTuesday,  we just might be witnessing the beginning of  a transformative change that has us not only spending and saving for ourselves, but truly giving to advance our society and improve our world.

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Should Obstacle Runs Be Available for Kids?


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While there is no set name for obstacles runs/endurance events/adventure races or mud runs, they have taken the public’s attention by storm the past few years.  If you have ever experienced any of these new wave of obstacle course runs like Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash or Spartan Race, you know just how thrilling the event can be. Using a combination of endurance and strength, adrenaline pumps through you as you climb, swim, crawl and jump through miles of obstacles, getting quite muddy in the process. It’s exhilarating, and leaves you somewhere between feeling like a champion of men and a little kid again. Which leaves me wondering, since these events are so much fun for adults, should obstacle runs be available for kids?

There is question over whether the adventure race environment would be age appropriate for children. The core demographic catered to ranges from early-20s to mid-50s, predominantly male with an age limit of 18 years old. Most of these endurance events are designed to simulate military style obstacles and training, complete with a couple of mandatory “hoorahs” everyone shouts before beginning the challenge course. It’s not so much that kids would not have fun running the event as it is instilling this branded,  military ethos at such an early age that will be increasingly exposed exponentially as they get older.

The most pressing concern is whether it is safe enough for kids to experience these types of obstacle challenges. Simply put, these challenge courses are dangerous, even for adults. You climb up twelve foot walls, jump into freezing (hypothermia-inducing) cold water, fall into deep pits of mud, crawl under barbed wire and run through live electrical wires. The peril of these obstacles is no joke, the “death” waiver you sign is done for a reason and the risk of doing these obstacles can end in tragedy.  It goes without saying (as I write it anyway) that children shouldn’t be subject to running through live wires, which frankly is conversation of its own that we choose to endure 10,000 volts of electrical shocks for fun, despite the dangers associated with that sort of thing.

So maybe given the health risks associated with events like Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash, kids shouldn’t be able to able to participate in full blown adventure races. However, the upsides of these events are too great to say children shouldn’t have any sort of exposure to them. At the core of the idea, these events encourage teamwork, collaboration, sportsmanship, play and persistence. You enter the event aiming to feel accomplished, but you can often join in teams and finish with teammates, helping each other get through the muddy course. If there was a way to modify these events and tailor them to children’s capabilities, few would argue these kinds of challenge courses wouldn’t be beneficial for today’s youth.

There is at least one organization that has created such a modified event. Spartan Race, which typically hosts 3-26 mile races with over 15 obstacles, has recreated an event for children called Spartan Kids. These races are for ages 4-13, and go between 0.5 to 1 mile in length. The obstacles are far more kid friendly while still imitating the adult version of the course (crawl under rope as opposed to barb-wire, jump over 3 foot walls as opposed to 10-12 foot walls, etc.).

The Spartan Kids Race is geared to encouraging kids to be physically active and become healthier. Their stated belief is that “the sense of fun and camaraderie inherent in our races will help instill within your kids a sense of excitement and respect for fitness.” Even the charity proceeds benefit, which typically would be an American military based organization, is instead the Kids Fit Foundation, a non-profit that aims to fund fitness programs for at risk youth and their families.  It’s still too early to tell if Spartan Race has found the right mix for kids. Other organizations like Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash still do not offer youth-versions of their obstacle courses. However, Spartan Kids Race may just have a blueprint for future obstacle runs oriented for the younger child, giving them a chance  to get on the outdoor adventure sweeping America, and get caked in a little bit of mud as well.

 

Check out this video of the Spartan Kids Race, played with the famous inspiring words of Rap preacher Eric Thomas