Tag Archives: children

Ferguson Children

How to Talk About Ferguson with Children

Ferguson Children

When momentum-shifting events occur in this country, such as the likes of the volatile situation in Ferguson, Missouri, it’s important to recognize that this news is almost impossible to avoid. We should not be naive to think that children, whether they are watching or not, will undoubtably come across it on various TV channels, on their computers, tablets, on public streets and newspapers. Thus, it’s important not to suppress a child’s curiousity about the subject, nor ignore the subject when kids are aware that it is happening. As kids begin to head back to school, they will be looking for a sense of direction on these issues both at home and at school, and maybe relying on their teachers to help them understand current events. That said, here are some tips and advice in addressing issues such as the case in Ferguson involving violence, race and politics.

Open Up Communication on the Topic Get ahead of the issue by bringing up at home or in the classroom so the children know right away you are not tip toeing around the event. Ask them what they know or what they have heard about the situation in Ferguson. Make sure they understand it’s ok to express what they are feeling about it and what they are thinking. Considering the heated talk about race, police brutality, riots and politics, it is better to allow children an outlet to say what is on their mind than letting them simply internalize the moment.

Clarify the Situation There is a good chance that children won’t fully understand a situation like the Michael Brown case in Ferguson and the rioting they have been witnessing streamed on loop on various TV networks. They may, for example, misinterpret the risk the situation has of affecting their own family and community, while most of the violence has been isolated to the St. Louis region. You can reassure kids by clarifying the gravity of the situation, the imminent (or lack of) danger and asking them what they think they are seeing on TV or in the news. It’s better to help children clarify then wrongly assume you know what they are thinking.

Educate Yourself and Plan Ahead 

Children can experience a multitude of reactions to traumatic events. As a parent/educator, consider it a part of your job to research and learn reactions children might exhibit after witnessing the street violence and protests the past few weeks. Do your homework and find the resources in your community that can help you gain information on managing the reactions of children to these types of events. Knowing ahead of time who you can go to and where you can access help for the children will make it much easier to give your community’s youth the proper guidance.

Be Ready

Again, think ahead and know your own personal plans in addition to your local school and community’s plan in case of dealing with impactful, possibly traumatic events. While we can’t control what is broadcasted on television or how far reaching these events affect children and adults alike, being ready gives us some semblance of control that consequently gives children some sense of security. Don’t be afraid to revisit topics long after events like the Michael Brown case have passed.

I remember distinctly the ramifications of the 9/11 attack growing up, and how teachers, even a year or more later would gather us in small groups to reflect and discuss how we felt about the attack then, how we felt about it with the passing of time and if anything had changed. While it may have seemed unnecessary to some, looking back I’m happy we were given those opportunities to speak our minds in a comfortable setting with friends and teachers we knew had a vested interested in our well being. We don’t ever know for sure when these kinds of events will pop up, but we can be prepared ahead of time to foster communication and knowledgeable support for our children and students in our local community.

kidsoutdoorplay

Healthy Risks of Play

kidsoutdoorplay

In this day and age, the dangerous risks of play seem to outweigh the healthy risks of play. There is a growing concern that a “policy of fear” has reshaped how children play to an extent that they are missing out on vital learning. For whatever the reason may be, fear of injury, fear of lawsuits, budget restraints,  outdoor play has been either reduced or controlled to such an extent that there is worry children are missing out on good opportunities to learn firsthand values such as resilience.

When I was in elementary school, I remember getting some of my first real scrapes and bruises from outdoor play activities. It was one of my first times riding a bike down a hill, and in a nervous fret I tumbled to the pavement, suffering big cuts and bruises along my forearms and legs. I was hurt and afraid to go to school the next day with all of my peers around me. Amid my crying and self-pity, the adult who was with me said quite simply that I don’t need to cry, accidents happen and my injuries would heal with time. Besides, he added that I had earned my first “strawberries” referring to the gashes on my forearms and that they were cool. Even though I was still hurt, I went to my next schoolday with some confident butterflies in my stomach and explaining how I got my “strawberries” with a smile on my face. There were a lot of oohs and aahs, but for most part my peers were more curious than anything, even sharing some of their own stories. I made out ok with my classmates, and within a few weeks the scabs had completely healed.

Now the moral of this story isn’t necessarily to make injuries cool or label them something like “strawberries”, but rather to instill confidence, learn from mistakes, rise from a fall and confront the challenges ahead of you or other children. Outdoor play offers a natural way to learn about ourselves, gain values and build character through invaluable experiences. The UK-based founder of Outdoor Play and Learning (Opal) Michael Follett believes that children learn through “primary, first hand experience,” and that, ” They need to fall over, they need to cut themselves, have bumps and bruises.”

Creativity, self-reliance, courage and resilience are just some of the values and healthy risks of play. Even though injuries do happen, not all are negative and can be productive for teaching lessons and developing children. That being said, it is important to reduce some risks, such as ensuring children at play apply enough sunscreen, stay hydrated, take breaks and dress appropriately for the outdoors. Once they are prepared, it is important to let them explore finally all on their own. Allowing children to play at their own risk allows them a window of independence, builds trust and opens new doors of creative opportunity and experience that can be valuable for the rest of their lives.

 

Autism Speaks

MLB, NBA Raise Autism Awareness

Autism Speaks

April is Autism Awareness month, and several of the nation’s most popular professional sports leagues are working together with Autism Speaks to bring autism awareness to the public focus. MLB, NBA, even NASCAR are marketing awareness campaigns within their own sporting events and commercial spaces.

MLB will be having each of its 30 teams raise awareness for the disorder during one home game in April or at another point in the regular season. Furthermore, the league will provide special opportunities in a safe, friendly environment for families and individuals affected by autism.

The NBA is raising awareness in a variety of ways. It will also have several teams host Autism Awareness nights during the month of April. On April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day, Madison Square Garden and the NBA TV Studio were lit blue as part of the Light it Up Blue initiative, where more than 2,000 buildings worldwide were lit blue to raise awareness for the growing disorder. Similar to the pink ribbons used for breast cancer awareness, coaches and announcers on April 1st wore the blue Autism Speaks puzzle lapel pin, and did so again the following night during TNT’s national broadcast of the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Los Angeles Lakers basketball game.

Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, and has grown tremendously since it’s inception in 2005. Autism, a general term used to describe a group of complex disorders of brain development, affects nearly 1 in 88 American children. It has been far more prevalent with boys (1 in 54) than girls (1 in 252), but still affects over 2 million American children, and tens of millions worldwide. While most cases of autism seem to be related to a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development, research is ongoing. That large, high profile sports leagues such as MLB and the NBA team up with Autism Speaks is a responsible initiative to generate fundraising and good visibility on such a important issue.